Thus, it is not just threats to the well being of citizens — or even the citizenry’s fears of those threats — that compel governments to take action against those threats and certainly not the rights-abridging actions government officials so often do take. It is threats that the government deems worthy of public attention that will be acted upon. …. The problem is not that we live in a world of Hobbesian states; it is that we live in a world of failed Hobbesian states.
While the analysis is interesting, there are two point the author misses, and misses badly.
The first is that while the mainline conservatives in the US have been guilty of using fear in this way to promote specific military actions, the “liberals,” the left wing, has been far more effective at using this same strategy in the realm of social and environmental issues. The author says:
But that failure has not stopped liberals from arguing, as the saying goes, that politics stops at the water’s edge. And so when they have tried to chastise conservatives for using security for political ends (even though they do the same thing themselves), they have often found themselves, particularly since the Reagan years, hopelessly outgunned.
Liberals have clearly not been “outgunned” in using fear as a motivator. From jobs to social security to “global warming,” to guns, to abortion, to medical care, liberals routinely and effectively use fear to expand government power.
The second is that the author completely misses the point of the problem at hand. He argues that Hobbe’s idea was the state would be a “disinterested party,” and he seems to imply the problem is that the state has far too much interest in things. Really, it’s human nature, sin nature specifically, that is the problem here. So long as there is a state that can use fear to coerce, there will be people who will use that coercion to expand state power. The more state power expands through the coercion of fear, the more people there will in the any given society that will be willing to use this coercion of fear to “make their mark,” to grab the brass ring of money, power, or whatever else.
Witness Al Gore, who has spent his entire political career making the case for “global warming,” through a long string of fear mongering films, speaking tours, etc. Along the way, he’s become a multimillionaire, maybe a billionaire, by investing against the companies he’s using fear to tear down. And now he’s sold his soul to the oil money he says he so hates — which tells you he didn’t believe in “global warming” in the first place. He was after the power, pure and simple.
The Hobbesian State fails because it is based on a failed worldview — a false view of humanity and the world. When seeing failure on this scale, we should reconsider our worldview, rather than simply asking for tweaks or changes that will “solve the problem.”