Hobbes, Locke

Describe the difference between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. This may have to do with how each thinker defines the law of nature, or how power is negotiated between the ruler and the ruled. Keep in mind that in Hobbes, the ruler is the “sovereign” and the ruled are the “subjects.” In Locke, the “executive” is the ruler and does not have limitless power as the “sovereign” in Hobbes.

Second part of essay: Maximilien Robespierre’s speech, referred to as “Justification for the Use of Terror” argues for the need to strengthen the state against enemies from within through the use of terror. He writes,

“If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.”

Can you think of a time in U.S. History when this policy of using terror to subdue rebellion was used? (Another way of thinking about “terror” is the use of state-sanctioned violence.) Alternatively, can you imagine a political situation in this country in which Robespierre’s recommendation to use terror as a means to subdue rebellion would be warranted?

Sample Solution