Thomas Hobbes, who is considered one of the founders of modern political philosophy, spent a great amount of time during the Renaissance-to-Enlightenmenttransition period coming up with ideas about everything from government to history to ethics… myriad topics and philosophical pontification, which included the social contract theory found in Hobbes’s famous book Leviathan.
The work concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory. Hobbes wrote that civil war and the brute situation of a state of nature (“the war of all against all”) could only be avoided by strong, undivided government.
Because of its position of leadership, I agree that a strong government can do wonders for uniting people and encouraging success. In the US especially, with as deadly as people cling to the government and its symbolism, people take their social cues from politicians and political rhetoric.
And that’s gotten us to where we are now.
Obama pissed off “the right”… they, blinded by their fear and ignorance, spewed all kinds of hate that ranged from “He’s Kenyan!” to claims that he only won because he’s black. [Sidenote: He’s half-white/half-black.]
Now, it’s “the left”‘s turn to be incensed at the disgrace of humanity embodied by drumpf & they’ve risen to the challenge of name-calling and deriding.
The 2016 election & the ensuing social turmoil has revealed an ugly side of American Life. School shootings. KKK and neoNazi marches. An opioid epidemic. People emboldened to share their hate and lash out in their insecurity. Divisiveness. Defensiveness. Downright defectiveness.
I’m reminded of a passage from Leviathan:
When two, or more men, know of one and the same fact, they are said to be CONSCIOUS of it one to another; which is as much as to know it together.
The 24/7 news cycle merged with the accessibility and share ability of opinion on social media… Tensions ran high… SJWs and the PC Police geared up… angry Republicans got angrier…
And people started sharing their worst.
Becoming radicalized members of their parties.
More and more anti-“them” and demanding of strict adherence to their beliefs.
Harsher and more hateful.
And that’s both sides.
America’s very own version of Sunni v. Shiite.
We’ve become more and more conscious of peoples’ selfishness, carelessness, and callousness as political opinion has morphed and metastasized, and overtaken civil society. Political issues dominate and frame thought. And it’s been used to separate.
People I thought loved me separated me in their minds. When I fell in love with another woman, they deemed me unworthy of equal rights (or, hell, even normal treatment at Thanksgiving). Politics > family, apparently.
That separated me from them in my mind, too… as the types of mindsets I didn’t want in my life.
Coming to an understanding, knowing of one and the same fact, made us conscious of our differences that revealed unflattering truths as many social issues do.
The same pattern has emerged with school shootings. We become conscious of those horrors, then of the outside influences tainting the government’s position on the issue; the disgust from which gets attributed to every member of the associated political party… and the negative cycle continues. And the message becomes: Sorry, kids, you’re on your own. Serpentine.
We’ve become conscious of the worst parts of ourselves and Ourself.
Ego reigns supreme.
Our society’s narrative has shown people an ugly reality of humanity. Morality & values have been corrupted by labels & goodness subjectified, evil justified by dogma… and it’s been disheartening.