What Purpose Should the State Serve?





What Purpose Should the State Serve?

The term state has become synonymous with civilization where men began recognizing the merits of structure and cooperation. Similarly, in contemporary society reaps the benefits of state. However, the functions of state may at times prove ambiguous. A clear outline of the utilities of the state will enable modern society to leverage its provisions. One definite utility of state is that it was created to further man’s ambitions.

The state’s primary function is self-preservation, humanity’s pursuit of a more luxurious life. Hobbes acknowledges that man though innately violent would of his own volition give up his sovereignty to live a more peaceful life. “… in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, in which we see them live in Commonwealths, is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of war…” (Hobbes ch. 17). Although the man cherishes freedom to chart out his destiny in entirety, they would rather sacrifice their liberty at the altar of a peaceful life.

Another core tenet of the state is to protect the individuals that are under its jurisdiction. In the Leviathan, men recognized the vulnerability of isolation and the strength that comes with numbers. “…if there be no power erected, or not great enough for our security, every man will and may lawfully rely on his own strength and art for caution against all other men….” (Hobbes ch. 17). As an individual, man does not present a formidable force against malicious neighbors hence his need to submit to greater power. To this end, man will marshal up forces with other like-minded individuals to guarantee his security.

The state exists to safeguard the covenants erected between men. It is in accordance with man’s nature to pursue self-interest even when it means breaking his promises. Devoid of repercussions, man will push the boundaries of his evil and any agreement he makes will hold no weight. “…And covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all” (Hobbes ch. 17). The state ensures that any entity that subscribes to any treaty upholds it; rogue participants are duly punished. In order to add value to the threat a state puts out, it must be equally militarized.


Work Cited

Hobbes, T. (1903). The philosophy of Hobbes in extracts and notes collated from his writings. HW Wilson Company.


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