Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 19
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Interestingly, however, Hobbes supports preemptive violence and attacks on potential
enemies. Hobbes writes:
And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both
enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their End, (which is principally their own
conservation, and sometimes their delectation only,) endeavor to destroy, or subdue one
another. And from hence it comes to passe, that where an Invader hath no more to feare,
than another mans single power; if one plant, sow, build, or possesse a convenient Seat,
others may probably be expected to come prepared with forces united, to dispossesse, and
deprive him, not only of the fruit of his labour, but also of his life, or liberty. And the
Invader again is in the like danger of another.
And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any man to secure
himselfe, so reasonable, as Anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons
of all men he can, so long, till he see no other power great enough to endanger him: And
this is no more than his own conservation requireth, and is generally allowed. Also
because there be some, that taking pleasure in contemplating their own power in the acts
of conquest, which they pursue farther than their security requires; if others, that
otherwise would be glad to be at ease within modest bounds, should not by invasion
increase their power, they would not be able, long time, by standing only on their
defence, to subsist. And by consequence, such augmentation of dominion over men,
being necessary to a mans conservation, it ought to be allowed him. (61)
If participants in a commonwealth, including the sovereign, are bound by the Golden Rule and
the success of the commonwealth depends upon obeying it, it is contradictory to Hobbes's
theories regarding civil governments and societies. Hobbes's support of pre-emptive violence or
"Anticipation" seems to fit in more adequately with the individualized state of nature (61). In
the state of nature, which is anarchic and contains participants who are motivated by and obey
their self-interest, it makes sense that citizens would find themselves susceptible to paranoia,
especially in terms of protecting themselves and their property. Therefore, individuals residing
in the state of nature or other forms of government in which a sovereign or other ruler does not
exist are implicitly more prone to use pre-emptive violence to prevent any future theft of their
possessions or violence to their persons. In a commonwealth, when an individual has a
sovereign in whom to entrust their safety, pre-emptive violence seems contradictory to the
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/25/?q=rochester: accessed December 10, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .