Welcome to the Community

Please choose one of the options below to log in and get stuck in!

Login with PPUK

Proposal for a Citizen's Army&Can it be squared with the liberal principles of T.Hobbes' Leviathan?

edited August 2016 in Policy Discussion
Nature (the art whereby God hath made and governes the world) is by the art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal. For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs, the begining whereof is in some principall part within; why may we not say, that all Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs and wheeles as doth a watch) have an artificiall life? For what is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and the Joynts, but so many Wheeles, giving motion to the whole Body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating that Rationall and most excellent worke of Nature, Man. For by Art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON-WEALTH, or STATE, (in latine CIVITAS) which is but an Artificiall Man; through of greater stature and strength than the Naturall, for whose protection and defence it was intended- Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes, p.vii*

So... here's another policy idea, to chat about at Wednesday's London PPUK pub meet up, if there's enough interest: With the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming the next President of the US distinctly looming, what might be the foreign policy implications for the UK? Mrs. Clinton, it has been argued, has been in the past a foreign policy war hawk: https://electronicintifada.net/content/hillary-clinton-more-dangerous-donald-trump/16316 As partners in the "special relationship," can we in the UK avoid getting dragged into another disasterous war in the Middle East? (John Prescott now says "We got it wrong on Iraq.") I would argue: not without boosting our own military capacity- If we rely partly on the US for our defence, we can't be fully independent of US foreign policy. As it is, we're in the shadow of the US and Russia, militarily: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/09/russia-can-outgun-british-troops-leaked-report-suggests/ So how to boost our own military capacity? One relatively cheap way of doing it, might be national military service, on the Swiss army model. I want also to refer to a classic text of liberalism, Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, to see if it's ever possible to make such a proposal, and by advocating a form of conscription, not completely contradict the principles of enlightenment** liberalism and individual rights.


"All healthy Swiss men aged between 18 and 34 are obliged to do military service and all are issued with assault rifles or pistols which they are supposed to keep at home:" (Full article- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21379912.)
The Swiss system needn't be copied exactly. It would be fairer (to all) to include women. A good method of getting it up and running might be through expanding the UK's existing Reserve Army. (This used to be called the Territorial Army.) If the Universal Basic Income was also a policy, if/when the PPUK are in government, citizen's mightn't necessarily have to be paid for their military service. Well, maybe a bonus on top of the UBI. For pacifists and anti-militarists, there could be alternatives, like doing environmental work or working in a hospital.

Reputation of power, is Power; because it draweth with it the adhaerance of those that need protection.
So is Reputation of love of a mans Country, (called Popularity,) for the same reason.

...Arts of publique use, as Fortification, making use of Engines, and other Instruments of War, because they conferre to Defence, and Victory, are Power;
- Leviathan, pp.50-51

From reading Leviathan, it looks like Hobbes had in mind a regular, professional army, not a reserve/conscript army, as the means of defence organised by government: And they that give to a man The Right of government in Soveraignty, are understood to give him the right of levying mony to maintain Souldiers; and of appointing Magistrates for the administration of Justice. -p.85

In fact, Hobbes would probably say conscription is illegitimate in the social contract between citizen and state, since deployment in war puts you at risk of getting killed,and no one can give up their Right to refuse this: no man can transferre, or lay down his Right to save himselfe from Death, Wounds, and Imprisonment, (the avoyding whereof is the onely End of laying down any Right, -p.86

The only way round this is to would be to give citizens Right of Refusal to do military service, but to do another form of public service instead. It would still be obligatory, but wouldn't oblige themselves to put at bodily risk.

*Leviathan,Thomas Hobbes (Pacific Publishing Studio, 2011)
**A great book on the Enlightenment: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7774325-there-is-no-explaining-the-pure-experience-there-is-only


Sign In or Register to comment.