WORLD: When great Leviathan is replaced by a dying rat, anarchy will necessarily follow

When Thomas Hobbes wrote his book, the Leviathan, he likened the state to a mighty fish, using a biblical symbol. His basic argument was that if human beings are to organize their society for their own benefit, so as to overcome each ones’ greed to grab things for themselves alone, there was the need of a great authority by way of a state, so that order and peace can prevail.

This was the beginning of the discussion of many theories about the state in modern times. Many aspects of Hobbes’ theory have been enriched by others, like John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and very many others.

While the nature of the state was subjected to many different kinds of analysis, the central argument that there should be an authoritative structure to order the affairs of the entire society, which would be called the state, was solidly agreed upon. Developments on the rule of law and the enforcement of laws were made with the basic understanding that this authoritative structure will remain within the society in order to hold it together.

Closer examination of the manner in which this authority was created and maintained in different countries would demonstrate a few common features. Most importantly, this authoritative structure is to be based on laws. While there were various views on the manner in which the laws are to be made, there was a fundamental agreement that when the laws are thus made, they require the compliance of everyone. Furthermore, in order to ensure this compliance, law enforcement agencies were developed and the cost of this was to be borne by the state. Additionally, within a democratic state, this authoritative structure must always conduct its affairs in a just manner. Towards that end, the Judiciary, the Prosecution branch and the Investigative branches of the Police were developed, to work within strict rules and ensure that the state could function authoritatively and justly.

This imposed a heavy burden on any government, as the creation and maintenance of this authoritative structure requires considerable financial and human resources. The generation and maintenance of these resources was an essential element of state intervention.

Ultimately, the government’s commitment to the responsibility of maintaining a functional system of exercise of authority within a framework of law and due process became the very foundation of arrangements for staying together as organized human societies. Since then, the 
overall presumption has been that wherever the governments put all the necessary resources into maintaining these authoritative structures, there will be peace and order. Similarly, where governments fail to meet these obligations, there will be disorder and conflict within societies.

That presumption is based on the assumption that in living together as organized societies, there will always be causes for disorder and conflict among various groups and individuals. There can never be the complete elimination of the possibility of disorder or even violence.

The only manner in which disorder and violent conflict can be prevented, is by the exercise of state authority through its law enforcement capacity. For that purpose, the state also acquired the rights to use of violence to counteract any attempts to undo the established order and established framework for dealing with conflict.

The most dangerous situation that can arise for society is when a government or series of governments ignore their fundamental obligation to maintain this authoritative structure, including to supply the necessary human and financial resources for its effective functioning.

When the state abdicates from these obligations, or when it becomes incapable of dealing with the maintenance of such an authoritative structure, then such a society could face many negative consequences. A government that refuses to allocate resources to maintain the structure needed to keep the society together endangers that whole society. Unwise policies or misuse of resources in ensuring the existence of such an authoritative structure can only result in social anarchy. In such a society, things fall apart and entire lives within the society would turn out to be cruel and violent. People will find it impossible to ensure their protection.

The ultimate aim of maintaining an authoritative state structure is the protection of the people. Being without such a structure is being without the possibility of protection. The absence of protection results in insecurity, exposure to danger and chaos. This is where a weak government takes its society. Such governments drive people to anarchy. And a government that drives people to anarchy does not have a legitimacy to exist.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-023-2018
Countries : World,
Issues : Administration of justice, Democracy, Freedom of expression, Human rights defenders, Right to remedy, Rule of law,