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AUTHOEITY


140


ATTTHOKITY


in England, Jean Jacques Rousseau in France. Hobbes was a philosopher. Rousseau a rhetorician. Whoever knows Hobbes well can have Httle to leam from Rousseau. Hobbes is rigidly logical; such inconsistencies as appear in him come from a certain timidity in speaking out, and a humility that ap- proaches nigh to hypocrisy. Rousseau always sjjeaks boldly, mak^ no pretence to orthodoxy, and frequently contradicts himself. His brilliant style won him the ear of Europ>e; he popularized Hobbes. To the philosopher. Rousseau is contemptible, but Hobbes is an antagonist worthy of any man's steeL The best that can be said of Rousseau in philosophy is that he drew out of Hobbes's principles conclusions which Hobbes was afraid to formulate. Hobbes made of the VHng a despot: Rousseau showed that, on Hobbesian principles, a king is no better than the peoples bailiff, unless indeed, by mUitarj- force or otherwise, he can prevent the people from assembling and decreeing his deposition. Hobbes starts, and Rovisseau after him, by contradicting Aristotle. According to Aristotle, man is "by nature a State- making animal"': the iT^Hi\HH nf<1 man. if he is to thrive at all, develops into the family man. and the family Tnn-n into the citizen; and wherever there is a city, or a nation, there must be self-government, or. in other words, ci^-il authority, whether vested in one or in many. Authority is the very breath of mans nostrils, as he is a progressive being. Isolation and anarchy are fatal to human progress. Effort, with- out wmch man cannot thrive, though it be an effort. and not an initial endowment passively received, Aristotle calls "natural". "The State-making effort is "natural " toman; so is authority "natural . and, as such, of God. adds Thomas Aquinas. But Hobbes took "natural"' in quite another sense. That he held to be "natural"' which man is, antecedently to all effort and arrangement on his part to make him- self better. Further, his philosophy was tinged with the Calvinism of his day, and he took it that man is of himself "desperately wicked ". What was natural, then, was bad. bad on the whole. Reason being an firig inal endowment of man, Hobbes allowed reason to be natural. He allowed also, with Plato, that wickedness is irrational, by which concession Hobb- ism is marked off from a celebrated theory stated at the beginning of the second book of Plato "s Re- pubhc, to which theory in other respects it bears a strong reemblance: the theory being that right by nature is the interest of the stronger, and only by convention becomes the interest of the State.

"This allowing of wickedness to be against reason is a weak point in the logic of Hobbes. But Hobbes would have it that reason is by nature utterly unable to contend with wickedness, that it is overborne by. and made subservient to. passion, and so is degraded into cunning, ttihti becoming more wicked by his posses- sion of reason. Of himself, in his "state of nature "". Hobbesian man is a savage, solitary, sensual, and selfish. "When two human beings meet, the natural impulse of each is to lord it over the other. By force, if he is strong, by stratagem, if he is weak, every Tnan seeks to kill or enslave every other man that he meets, ilan's life in this state of natiu¥, says Hobbte, is "nasty, brutish, and short." So it would be, in an English fen. and in most other places. But Rousseau"s imagination carried him to the Pacific Isles: he became enamoured of "the noble savage ". He fell in with Hobbes's notion of the " natural ", as being what man is and has antecedently to all human effort. But the " citizen of Geneva ". as he called himself, was curiously free from Cal-i-inistic bias, and believed enthusiastically in the primitive, unmade, natural goodness of man. In Hobbess ■view, though not in Rousseau's, man had every rea- son for getting out of his "nasty" state of nature. This was done by a pact, or convention, of every


man with all the rest of mankind, to give up soUtude with its charms, its independence, and its liberty oi preying upon neighbours, and to live in society, the social body thus formed ha\-ing all the rights of the indi\"iduals contributing to form it. This compact of man with man to quit soUtude and live in societj', to abandon nature and submit to convention, was called by Rousseau. "The Social Contract '". The body formed by it, commonly called the State. Hobbes termed "The Leviathan ", upon the text of Job. xli, 24. "there is no power upon earth that can be compared with him. ..."

To Hobbes and to Rousseau the State is omnipotent, containing in its one self absolutely all the rights of the citizens who compose it. The wielder of this tremen- dous power is the General WUl, measured against which the Tnll of the indi%-idual citizen is not onlj- powerless, but absolutely non-existent. The indi\-idual gave up his will when he made the Social Contract. "No rights against the State ", is a fundamental principle with Hobbes and Rousseau. To live in the State at all means compliance with every decree of the Gen- eral WiU. But there is a difficulty in locating this General Will. Hobbes, with laudable perspicacity, seeing that tyranny is better wielded by one man than by a multitude, contemplates the multitude resigning all their power into the hands of a Single Person, and denying themselves the right of meet- ing without his calling them together; so that, by the simple expedient of never calling them together, the Single Person may incapacitate the people from ever resuming the power which is only theirs when they are all assembled. The General Will in that c-ase is the will of the Single Person. Hobbes's loca- tion of the General WLU is not lacking in clearness. But Rousseau would have the sovereign authority to be the inalienable right of the multitude — hence called the "Sovereign People". They may, if they will, employ a king, or even an emperor; but his majesty, in Rousseau's phrase, is "Prince" not "Sovereign"', and at stated times, without his calling them together, the Sovereign People must meet and decide, first, whether they wiU continue to support a throne at all; secondly, whether the throne shall further be filled by the present occupant. Rous- seau "s location is also clear, so long as it is under- stood that the General WiU is simply the will of the numerical majority of the Sovereign People. Such a General Will is ascertained by the simple process of counting heads. If in a State of 20,000 citizens. 15.000 vote aye, aye is the General Will, not the ■n-iU of the majority only, but of the whole 20.000 together; for though 5,000 persons detest the pro- posal, such detestation Ues only in the individual vrH. sometimes called the "casual will", and the individual will has ceased to exist by the Compact. Personally they detest the measure, but with their ■Real WUl"' they approve it. Thus, as Rousseau says, they remain as free as the wUd man in the woods, obey none but themselves, and foUow their o-wn wiU everywhere.

But a canker-worm lies at the root of this, as of all ultra-democratic doctrines. AU originate in a manifestly false supposition, that one man is as good as another. In any sane pohty, the predominant InteUigence must guide the counsels of the State, not the predominant WiU, which may be no better than caprice. But inteUigence is not necessarily attached to majorities. Rousseau himself falters in presence of this awkward truth, and re-states the General WUl, as the wUl which the people liave of good in general, albeit in a particular case they are mistaken in what they take to be good. Thus they ■svUl one thing, and vote for another. The Real Will in this case is not to be gathered from the actual vote of the majority. The Real WiU b of that which the majority would have voted for, had they knowr