How Did Thomas Hobbes and John Locke View the Purpose of Government?

John Locke believed that the government existed in order to help protect people and to help society function, while Thomas Hobbes believed that people needed the government to tell them what to do, or otherwise, there would be nothing but fighting among people. Locke supported a representative government such as the English Parliament, while Hobbes supported the absolute power of leaders such as kings.

Locke believed that people had rights that were intrinsic and could not be taken away by others, such as the right to property and to happiness. He believed that people should be free to make their own choices as long as they were not dangerous to others. Locke also believed that the government should be representative and that the people should have the opportunity to elect leaders. However, despite this belief in representative government, Locke only wanted people with land and an education to be able to be elected because he felt the average person would not be able to make good decisions for the nation.

Hobbes believed that people at their core had tempers and were mean when left alone because nature forced them to be that way in order to survive. He thought that people would not be able to be productive or live in peace without a strong authoritative power telling them what to do. He believed that this should come in the form of an absolute ruler so that there would always be a “consistent exercise of political authority.”