Saturday 21 February 2015

Hobbes on Warre

Further to my reflections on Leviathan and the concept of war in my previous post, perhaps the words of the man himself might be in order:
"There Is Alwayes Warre Of Every One Against Every One. Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. For WARRE, consisteth not in Battell onely, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to contend by Battell is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of Time, is to be considered in the nature of Warre; as it is in the nature of Weather. For as the nature of Foule weather, lyeth not in a showre or two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many dayes together: So the nature of War, consisteth not in actuall fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is PEACE."
War is seemingly something approaching a default metaphysical state, or at least a given and established tendency in nature. War is to be assumed, peace is what is to be explained. Bellicosity comes first, co-operation second. Moreover, war per se is divorced from any specific actions or means and becomes like a climatic state.

Is Gaia a Leviathan? Without deference to such a terrestrial deity—"that Mortall God, to which we owe under the Immortal God, our peace, and defence"—are we in a state of war? I'd prefer to retain a sense of concrete practise to 'war'—i.e. to insist that the means matter. However, it is a more complex question than just this.

Gaia does not much resemble Hobbes' deity in the details (or the illustrations) but certainly the concept of sovereignty needs to be re-evaluated at its roots and that must surely mean a meeting of these figures.