Generation of a Common-wealth

The finall Cause, End, or Designe of men, (who naturally love Liberty, and Dominion over others,) in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, (in which wee see them live in Common-wealths,) is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of Warre, which is necessarily consequent (as hath been shewn) to the naturall Passions of men, when there is no visible Power to keep them in awe, and tye them by feare of punishment to the performance of their Covenants, and observation of these Lawes of Nature set down in the fourteenth and fifteenth Chapters.

For the Lawes of Nature (as Justice, Equity, Modesty, Mercy, and (in summe) Doing To Others, As Wee Would Be Done To,) if themselves, without the terrour of some Power, to cause them to be observed, are contrary to our naturall Passions, that carry us to Partiality, Pride, Revenge, and the like. And Covenants, without the Sword, are but Words, and of no strength to secure a man at all. Therefore notwithstanding the Lawes of Nature, (which every one hath then kept, when he has the will to keep them, when he can do it safely,) if there be no Power erected, or not great enough for our security; every man will and may lawfully rely on his own strength and art, for caution against all other men.

And in all places, where men have lived by small Families, to robbe and spoyle one another, has been a Trade, and so farre from being reputed against the Law of Nature, that the greater spoyles they gained, the greater was their honour; and men observed no other Lawes therein, but the Lawes of Honour; that is, to abstain from cruelty, leaving to men their lives, and instruments of husbandry.And as small Familyes did then; so now do Cities and Kingdomes which are but greater Families (for their own security) enlarge their Dominions, upon all pretences of danger, and fear of Invasion, or assistance that may be given to Invaders, endeavour as much as they can, to subdue, or weaken their neighbours, by open force, and secret arts, for want of other Caution, justly; and are rememdbred for it in after ages with honour.

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Another Businesse of the Soveraign, is to choose good Counsellours; I mean such, whose advice he is to take in the Government of the Common-wealth. For this word Counsell, Consilium, corrupted from Considium, is a large signification, and comprehendeth all Assemblies of men that sit together, not onely to deliberate what is to be done hereafter, but also to judge of Facts past, and of Law for the present. I take it here in the first sense onely: And in this sense, there is no choyce of Counsell, neither in a Democracy, nor Aristocracy; because the persons Counselling are members of the person Counselled.

The choyce of Counsellours therefore is to Monarchy; In which, the Soveraign that endeavoureth not to make choyce of those, that in every kind are the most able, dischargeth not his Office as he ought to do.

The most able Counsellours, are they that have least hope of benefit by giving evill Counsell, and most knowledge of those things that conduce to the Peace, and Defence of the Common-wealth. It is a hard matter to know who expecteth benefit from publique troubles; but the signes that guide to a just suspicion, is the soothing of the people in their unreasonable, or irremediable grievances, by men whose estates are not sufficient to discharge their accustomed expences, and may easily be observed by any one whom it concerns to know it.

But to know, who has most knowledge of the Publique affaires, is yet harder; and they that know them, need them a great deale the lesse. For to know, who knowes the Rules almost of any Art, is a great degree of the knowledge of the same Art; because no man can be assured of the truth of anothers Rules, but he that is first taught to understand them. But the best signes of Knowledge of any Art, are, much conversing in it, and constant good effects of it. Good Counsell comes not by Lot, nor by Inheritance; and therefore there is no more reason to expect good Advice from the rich, or noble, in matter of State, than in delineating the dimensions of a fortresse; unlesse we shall think there needs no method in the study of the Politiques, (as there does in the study of Geometry,) but onely to be lookers on; which is not so. For the Politiques is the harder study of the two. Whereas in these parts of Europe, it hath been taken for a Right of certain persons, to have place in the highest Councell of State by Inheritance; it is derived from the Conquests of the antient Germans; wherein many absolute Lords joyning together to conquer other Nations, would not enter in to the Confederacy, without such Priviledges, as might be marks of difference in time following, between their Posterity, and the posterity of their Subjects; which Priviledges being inconsistent with the Soveraign Power, by the favour of the Soveraign, they may seem to keep; but contending for them as their Right, they must needs by degrees let them go, and have at last no further honour, than adhaereth naturally to their abilities.

And how able soever be the Counsellours in any affaire, the benefit of their Counsell is greater, when they give every one his Advice, and reasons of it apart, than when they do it in an Assembly, by way of Orations; and when they have praemeditated, than when they speak on the sudden; both because they have more time, to survey the consequences of action; and are lesse subject to be carried away to contradiction, through Envy, Emulation, or other Passions arising from the difference of opinion.

The best Counsell, in those things that concern not other Nations, but onely the ease, and benefit the Subjects may enjoy, by Lawes that look onely inward, is to be taken from the generall informations, and complaints of the people of each Province, who are best acquainted with their own wants, and ought therefore, when they demand nothing in derogation of the essentiall Rights of Soveraignty, to be diligently taken notice of.

For without those Essentiall Rights, (as I have often before said,) the Common-wealth cannot at all subsist.

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Wolven hearts

Much quoted recently is Desmond Tutu’s exhortation that ‘love is stronger than hate’ – but it is not. Hatred is far stronger than love. The world would be happier if it were not so, but hatred is the strongest motivator of mankind.

I wonder that our demagogic politicians see no irony in examining and condemning the sewer of social media for spreading hatred when their own trade depends on it. Perhaps it is only unapproved hatred which is to be condemned, and indeed hated. Even in the Church of England, the one established body which is meant to be lapped in love, the faction making the most progress in its agenda is that of the ‘progressives’, succeeding by spitting untamed hatred at all opposition.

The wolf seeks meat; it is relentless and merciless; while single wolf may be cautious or even playful, a pack of wolves is unbridled, bloodthirsty, exulting in the kill and the tearing apart of the victim. It is raw nature. Likewise is mankind, and perhaps our concept of ‘hate’ is no more nor less than the wolf’s instinct.

Democratic politics necessarily involves the stirring up of hatred. An absolutist system may avoid it, but only if long established and unchallenged:  the tyrannies of the Twentieth Century are a lesson in the extremes of murderous hatred as a political method, both as to the way they took power and how they held it. Even in our more sophisticated climate the most effective political campaigns involve fomenting hatred by class, status, political tribe, race or other irrelevancies. Read any political headline for your evidence.

Hobbes observed in De Cive a speech in Rome’s troubles ages:

Pontius Telesinus; who flying about with open mouth through all the Companies of his Army, (in that famous encounter which he had with Sylla) cryed out, That Rome her selfe, as well as Sylla, was to be raz’d; for that there would alwayes be Wolves and Depraedatours of their Liberty, unlesse the Forrest that lodg’d them were grubb’d up by the roots. To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe.

In this Telesinus, interpreted by Hobbes, puts his finger on it: overthrowing a tyrant is moment’s victory, but the place from which they arose will breed ever more wolves, for the real enemy to liberty and love is mankind.

What to do then, if this is the case?  Start by recognising it, accept that we are not perfectible and every one of us contains the same flaws, and mankind will be the same until the very end of the age. Then we will have an understanding of the clay from which society and the demos and built, and build our commonwealth accordingly. Perhaps also those of goodwill and good sense should be in a better position to check our own wolfish instincts.

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What happened to the hard rain?

Before Dominic Cummings left his position in Downing Street a year ago, great things were promised.  That summer he promised that a Hard Rain was coming – and we have not had even a drizzle.  The Blob spread an umbrella.

We need the rain now more than ever, and not just a rain but a torrent of the whole waters of the Alpheus and Peneus driving through the befouled stables of Whitehall.

A key reform was going to be the hiring of “weirdos and misfits with odd skills”, and it does need weirdos and misfits – anyone bringing wild thinking to shake up the inertia into which a system settles. I have had more than a few glimpses of the Whitehall machine and can see they would squeeze anyone original out. How the system does anything right is a mystery.

Many good and dedicated people work in Whitehall, often in the lower ranks, heads down doing the job, but dedication and goodwill just keep a thing chugging along. A monoculture ossifies. Failings are baked in and innovation strangled at birth. I have watched this many times. A drifting system too allows anyone with a personal political idea to seize the wheel  and take the whole thing their way with no resistance. A minister wanting to steer the system meets resistance from the established civil service system, because it is the duty of the senior mandarins to warn and moderate, which can be taken too far. Someone working from within can bypass that.

Day by day examples pour out of wasteful and harmful initiatives, training courses designed to sabotage and to disaffect. Unseen by the public are papers produced apparently out of boredom and policy documents which have no relationship to what any minister can have said, and ministers end up being dragged along and defending what they never authorised. The public are not blind, and they can see that a government elected to take charge but which cannot control the system entrusted to it is despicable in its weakness.

Halving the size of the Civil Service could help – it would reduce redundant capacity and the temptation to do unnecessary things. Target first those who abuse their positions to push political projects in opposition to the government’s political thrust; then the actual redundancy within the ranks will become clearer. At the same time, tear up the Civil Service aptitude tests and start again with a system which allows weirdos and misfits, because they are needed to be the yeast in the dough, to break the lazy consensus and find ways to do what the monoculture dismisses.

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Absolute Soveraignty

As I have heard some say, that Justice is but a word, without substance; and that whatsoever a man can by force, or art, acquire to himselfe, (not onely in the condition of warre, but also in a Common-wealth,) is his own, which I have already shewed to be false: So there be also that maintain, that there are no grounds, nor Principles of Reason, to sustain those essentiall Rights, which make Soveraignty absolute. For if there were, they would have been found out in some place, or other; whereas we see, there has not hitherto been any Common-wealth, where those Rights have been acknowledged, or challenged.

Wherein they argue as ill, as if the Savage people of America, should deny there were any grounds, or Principles of Reason, so to build a house, as to last as long as the materials, because they never yet saw any so well built.

Time, and Industry, produce every day new knowledge. And as the art of well building, is derived from Principles of Reason, observed by industrious men, that had long studied the nature of materials, and the divers effects of figure, and proportion, long after mankind began (though poorly) to build: So, long time after men have begun to constitute Common-wealths, imperfect, and apt to relapse into disorder, there may, Principles of Reason be found out, by industrious meditation, to make use of them, or be neglected by them, or not, concerneth my particular interest, at this day, very little.

But supposing that these of mine are not such Principles of Reason; yet I am sure they are Principles from Authority of Scripture; as I shall make it appear, when I shall come to speak of the Kingdome of God, (administred by Moses,) over the Jewes, his peculiar people by Covenant.

 Objection From The Incapacity Of The Vulgar

But they say again, that though the Principles be right, yet Common people are not of capacity enough to be made to understand them. I should be glad, that the Rich, and Potent Subjects of a Kingdome, or those that are accounted the most Learned, were no lesse incapable than they.

But all men know, that the obstructions to this kind of doctrine, proceed not so much from the difficulty of the matter, as from the interest of them that are to learn.

Potent men, digest hardly any thing that setteth up a Power to bridle their affections; and Learned men, any thing that discovereth their errours, and thereby lesseneth their Authority: whereas the Common-peoples minds, unlesse they be tainted with dependance on the Potent, or scribbled over with the opinions of their Doctors, are like clean paper, fit to receive whatsoever by Publique Authority shall be imprinted in them.

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