Is it true that Thomas Hobbes is an advocate of the absolute power of the sovereign?
Hobbes suggests that if a man wishes to reach this feeling of self-preservation, then it is necessary for the individual to submit their rights and liberties to some form of sovereign through the contract. It is then the responsibility of this authority to serve the individual who has submitted to this contract, and it is, therefore, the responsibility of the authority to guarantee that the individuals live, and property is guaranteed. This leads to the establishment of the system of a monarch who is thus the absolute authoritative figure, rendering the citizens of this authoritative figure powerless and without rights against the sovereign as the authoritative figures commands are to be adhered to absolutely by the subjects of the monarch no matter how unfavourable or detested the decisions of the sovereign may be. It is worth noting however that Hobbes did not allow for the sovereign do not have any moral duties, Hobbes believed that moral duties should be bestowed upon the ruler and the ruler should be obligated by natural law, furthermore as a result of the reciprocal contract entered into by the subjects the actions carried out by the sovereign will be done so with the aim of attaining what is best for the protection of the commonwealth which benefits all individuals within the dominion. If the authoritative figure were being denied the rights of total authority over their subjects, then it Is likely that the state would make a swift return to the feudal state of nature as previously described. From this, it is apparent that Hobbes is an advocate of despotism or absolute power.
A sovereign achieves his power through natural right; the social contract helps the sovereign achieve this sovereign power by bolstering the efficiency of this particular natural right. This is explained by Hobbes within the list of the sovereigns rights and faculties, which include (but aren’t exclusive to) the right to try and to give punishments to his citizens, the right to engage in war with other dominions and the right to hold absolute sovereign authority over his subjects. Within a state of nature, the individuals would all possess these rights, but because the individuals have agreed to commit their rights to a sovereign, the sovereign is thus able to differentiate himself from the subjects as he is now in ownership of the natural right. This natural right that the sovereign is now in possession of is largely more beneficial and influential than it would’ve been in the state of nature as the sovereign’s subjects have voluntarily submitted their rights to the sovereign granting him more powers. This explains that the social contract serves to substantially increase the power and influence of one individual by awarding him the natural right.