There are three kinds of sovereign authority instituted by agreement: monarchy (where power resides in one individual), aristocracy (where power resides in a group of people), and democracy (where power resides in all people willing to assemble for the sake of government). All other variations of government can be reduced to these three categories (for example, an elected monarchy is really a democracy, because sovereignty resides in the people who elected the monarch). Of the three possible versions of the Leviathan, Hobbes argues that monarchy is best, for several reasons. A monarch's interests are the same as the people's, because his political body is the same as his public body (the king's "body" is both his own natural body and the body of the state--the Leviathan). Contrastingly, in sovereign groups, the rulers do not share a body with the public. Secondly, a monarch will receive better counsel than aristocratic or democratic governors, because he can select experts and obtain their advice in private. Third, a monarch's policies will be more consistent because he is of one mind. Fourth, civil war is less likely in a monarchy because the monarch cannot disagree with himself. Finally, succession of sovereign power is more stable in a monarchy because the sovereign can choose his heir and the method of succession.

Commentary

Hobbes's political state, the Leviathan, is a monster. The name "Leviathan" itself refers to the Biblical sea beast: "None is so fierce that dare stir him up . . . his teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. . . . His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. . . . When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid . . . Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear" (Job 41:10-33). Yet Hobbes takes this creature as the inspiration for his political state, because the Book of Job describes Leviathan as "King of all the children of pride." Hobbes's political state has to be a Leviathan, the most terrifying of all monsters because it must subdue the pride inherent in its human constituents, and it must use fear to prevent a recurrence of the state of nature.

The horrors of the state of nature are always lurking behind the state of the Leviathan. Civil war within the Leviathan causes the artificial body to collapse and all the subjects to fall into the state of nature. Fear of the state of nature is one reason for avoiding civil war. Fear of the sovereign Leviathan is another. The Leviathan is constructed to combat the fear of the state of nature, but it is capable of doing so only by wielding fear as its own weapon. Thus, in Hobbes's view of things, fear never disappears from human existence. However, there is a security accompanying fear of the Leviathan, an assurance of peace and the preservation of life. In contrast, fear of the state of nature has no such assurance. Thus the fear experienced by people living within the Leviathan is infinitely preferable to the fear experienced by people living within the state of nature.

Hobbes's political Royalism is clear when he abandons consideration of the other possible forms of the Leviathan, aristocratic and democratic, in favor of monarchy. Although Hobbes offers certain reasons for valuing monarchy above all, his philosophical argument does not necessitate monarchy's preeminence. The rest of Leviathan develops one kind of Leviathanic sovereignty at the expense of the other two, but Hobbes's framework leaves room for equally strong arguments in favor of aristocracy or democracy. Hobbes was a monarchist and his writings reflect this, but there is no reason why Hobbesian philosophy could not be used in a less totalitarian context. Hobbes has a historical reputation for validating absolute monarchy, and his work is often dismissed as dictatorial. But it must be remembered that, for Hobbes, sovereignty does not only reside in a king but also in sovereign congresses and sovereign democracies.