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A Political Contradictionary from A to Z













OBBSIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY: Thomas Hobbes contrasts the hierarchically organized state, the title character of his 1651 book, Leviathan, with what he terms the State of Nature, where life without the rule of law is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." As Hobbes saw it, due to the scarcity of things in the world, there is a constant and rights-based, "war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes). The 'natural' state, one without effective leadership, without internal organization, or what the contemporary world would term functional social or governmental institutions, is recognized by Lester Brown (Plan B 3.0) as a Failed State. Granted, the world Hobbes knew was pre-Industrial and proto-Capitalistic. But he lived through the violence that stemmed from a state consumed by conflict over religion and who would be the leader (England's Civil War 1642-1651). Hobbes' thoughts have been used to support a social Darwinist definition of success -- the victors are by definition, the fittest, and human beings will follow their own narrowly defined self-interest. Morality and social consciousness don't matter. What does matter is Power, and while Hobbes might not have considered it in these terms, the profit margin.

Adam [Wealth of Nations] Smith, is often championed as the Father of the Free Market, where a tunnel vision focus on bottom line profits defines self-interest. However, Smith's writings suggest he has been misunderstood and that he took a more compassionate, cooperative outlook:

In almost every other race of animals each individual, when it is grown up to maturity, is entirely independent, and in its natural state has occasion for the assistance of no other living creature. But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and show them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them.

Adam Smith, Book I Chapter 2, Wealth of Nations as found in Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

HISTORY is written by the winners, at least for a while.
Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.
George Bernard Shaw

HOPE: The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.
Stephen Ambrose

HATE: If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.
Hermann Hesse