To What Extent Are the Ideas of Hobbes and Kropotkin Relevant Today? Discuss with Reference to Scott Turner's Article 'Global Civil Society, Anarchy and Governance'

Topics: Civil society, Non-governmental organization, Thomas Hobbes Pages: 5 (1800 words) Published: February 11, 2013
To what extent are the ideas of Hobbes and Kropotkin relevant today? Discuss with reference to Scott Turner's article 'Global civil society, anarchy and governance'.

Modern day technological advances and globalisation are posing challenges for the traditional realist state centric system. Through the development of organizations such as the European Union and also non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty international the concept of a global civil society emerges. While the idea that a global civil society more accurately describes modern day political and international relations than the assumptions of realism is debatable, it poses a different perspective. It terms of Hobbes and Kropotkin they offer conflicting views on the state and anarchism. Hobbes’ ideas are fundamentally realist and Kropotkin’s ideas revolve largely around cooperation characterised by the organizations aforementioned. This essay will explore Hobbes and Kropotkin’s ideas in more detail in order to derive if they are relevant today with close reference to Scott Tuners article ‘Global civil society, anarchy and governance’.

To derive to what extent Hobbes and Kropotkin’s theories are applicable to modern day societies their key ideas must be understood; Hobbes’ anarchist argument is structured around the belief that there must be a social contract and an overarching sovereign to prevent a constant state of war. His realist views constrict him to believe that as there is no international governing authority, no global leviathan, states will be in constant pursuit to validate their power. Tuner epitomises this when he explains that ‘the only law is the natural right of self-preservation’ between states. Hobbes views societies that exist without a sovereign and state as barbarian cultures. Kropotkin however believed an ideal society is a stateless society, one that could be attained through anarchy. He believed an ideal society could be conceived in which a sovereign did not exist. He described the state as a product of capitalism which he believed to be unjust as the strife for profit is at the expense of others. He claimed “Societies already begin to encroach everywhere on the functions of the state, and strive to substitute free action of volunteers for that of a centralized state” demonstrating his affliction to capitalism. He proposed that harmony could be attained by agreements amongst people and not submission to an overarching authority for the sake of ‘production and consumption’. The major factor that has prompted the formation of such apposing theories is based on the fundamental claims regarding human nature. Kropotkin understands human nature to be social and peaceful allowing for society to strive without a state power. Hobbes on the other hand believed humans are much more animalistic in nature meaning we act individually to satisfy our own needs regardless of how our actions may affect others. Turner has provided evidence to support both Hobbes and Kropotkin’s theories of human nature and anarchy in modern day societies through conflicts and peaceful demonstrations. This essay will provide evidence for their continuing relevance and seek to discover which, if either is more prominent in today’s society.

Kropotkin’s foresight was accurate as his conclusions and ideas seem no less valid today than they were when he wrote. Rebellions against dictators and governmental regimes are still extremely prevalent nowadays demonstrating Kropotkin’s theory of anarchism in action. Kropotkin criticised the centralized system in which the bureaucratic elite thrived while failing to provide sufficiently for the masses and persistently emphasised that the state is a source of violence. He believed “The law is an adroit mixture of customs that are beneficial to society, and could be followed even if no law existed, and others that are of advantage to a ruling minority, but harmful to the masses of men, and can be enforced on them only by...
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