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Anarchism and Thomas Hobbes’s Ideas Essay


The ideas of Thomas Hobbes concerning the organization of the society are based on the social contract theory and a set of arguments about human nature that majorly contradict the ideas of anarchism. In this paper, the discussion of the two perspectives will be overviewed regarding the perception of human nature and the structure of society.

Thomas Hobbes: General Ideas

Hobbes elaborated on his ideas concerning the political obligation in his work titled Leviathan. In this book, Hobbes explained in perspective on human interactions as those in need of constant supervision of authority. The latter is represented by the government or a monarch and supported by the related institutions such as law enforcement. In that way, following this idea, the concept of hierarchy becomes one of the key bases for the existence of society and the maintenance of order.

Anarchism: General Ideas

The ideas of anarchism challenge the meaning of the political obligation. This set of perceptions and way of thought is deemed rather unconventional knowing that the vast majority of the world’s most prominent philosophers and sociologists theorized about the society as a hierarchically organized body supported from within by its inner laws that are based on the rules and regulations established by the political authorities and institutions.

Anarchism keeps to the belief that states are illegitimate and should be abolished. However, in philosophical anarchism the perceived coerciveness of the states does not serve as the basis for a moral imperative to destroy the latter; instead, it rather points to the weakness of the states’ attitudes and courses of actions.

Human Nature

From Thomas Hobbes, human nature is violent and competitive. In turn, the social contract theory is based on the idea that giving up some of their natural rights willingly, humans organized in a civilized society where their social rights were protected by the higher authority enforcing the law, order, and establishing safety for everyone who obeys the law. In that way, according to the ideas of Hobbes, freed from the limitations maintained by the state authorities and institutions, humans would drawback to their natural state of war of everyone against everyone. Consequently, from this point of view, the authority of the state can be seen not only as an entity serving as the source of order but also as a necessity ensuring the survival of civilization.

At the same time, the anarchist perspective on human nature differs significantly and has the concepts of autonomy and self-management as the core ideas. Differently put, according to philosophical anarchism, the common sense of humans is based on following the rules that ensure their survival, and therefore war and destruction are seen as unnecessary and unnatural states. In turn, based on the belief that violence is one of the major features of human nature, the existence of the state as an institution regulating and controlling people’s violent behaviors is seen as unneeded and artificially imposed.


Hobbes’ idea about the structure of the society is founded on such concepts of the pursuit of power and private property. Differently put, these two desired entities represented the reasons for the potential conflicts and clashes in society. Hobbes imagined the latter as a strictly vertical structure were reaching the top was the ultimate goal of every human being. As a result, the fight for bigger properties and power was seen as the only state in which humans could exist in an unregulated society without a fixed institution or figure to whom this power would be willingly given as described in the social contract theory.

In turn, the major difference in the ideas of anarchism as compared to those of Thomas Hobbes is based on a different view on the private property. In the anarchist theory, private property covers only personal possessions. At the same time, it does not include the means of production thus preventing the emergence of large businesses and corporations, and capitalism as a phenomenon. The latter is seen as one of the major drivers of conflicts in society and not the personal properties of individuals that are not associated with massive amounts of power enabling the pursuit.


To sum up, one can briefly outline the ideas of Thomas Hobbes as based on the social contract theory and the vision of humans as violent by nature and eager for power that is sealed in the property. According to this set of ideas, the human society is perceived as structured vertically and supported by the strict hierarchy securing the power in the hands of specialized authorities and institutions focused on the protection of the human rights. In turn, the anarchist ideas view humans as filled with common sense preventing destructive and threatening behaviors. According to the anarchist vision, humans are perceived as capable of organizing horizontally without the need for the harsh authorities holding the power.

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