Hobbes’s discussion of the complex functions of the Leviathan’s body and its different possible forms of government all boils down to his strident belief that a body with two or more heads cannot function peacefully. He lists many other advantages inherent to absolutist monarchies. A monarch’s interests are necessarily the same as the people’s because he shares both a physical and a political body (the Leviathan) with the people, whereas in sovereign powers composed of groups, the members of a governing council do not share a body with their subjects. Since a monarch can choose his own advisors and meet with them in private, he will receive better counsel than aristocratic or democratic governors. Conflicts over the succession of governmental power are impossible because the sovereign is solely empowered to determine his successor.
Crucially, no matter how the sovereign gains his sovereignty he holds the same rights and responsibilities. Whether by force or agreement, in both cases he gains his power through contract. The precise nature of the contract and dominion is all that differs, as the contract by which the sovereign who gains his power through universal consent results from the people’s universal fear of one another, while the sovereign who gains his power through force is backed by a contract resulting from the people’s fear of the sovereign himself.
The form of dominion vested in contractual sovereignty is analogous to the dominion that a parent holds over a child. Naturally a child is “owned” by both its parents, yet since no subject can obey two masters, only one parent can have absolute dominion over the child. A mother will often enter into contract with a man, granting him absolute dominion and sacrificing personal rights to attain security. Just so, the contractual sovereign is granted his “paternal” authority. By contrast, the sovereign who acquires his power by force holds a dominion similar to that of a master over a servant. Although his power is called despotical, this sovereign, like the paternal sovereign and unlike the slave-holding master, holds his power by way of contract. Therefore, in the end, though the authority ascribed to different sovereigns may be termed paternal or despotical, the actual nature of their power is exactly the same. Above all, since both forms of sovereignty are consented to by a social contract grounded in fear, Hobbes considers them equally valid.