Las Torres de Lucca. International Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol 5, No 9 (2016)

Needed but Unwanted. Thomas Hobbes’s Warnings on the Dangers of Multitude, Populism and Democracy

Mikko Jakonen


The purpose of this article is to analyse Hobbes’s understanding of democracy. The first part of the article analyses the role of democracy in the social contract. It aims to show how there exists a democratic element at the beginning of the process of social contract, in which the multitude is transformed into a people. However, after the first social contract is made, Hobbes aims to reduce the power of the people by leading the process of social contract on to another level, on which the power of the people is assigned to a representative of the sovereign power, for example a monarch. The second part of the article aims to explain the practical reasons, provided by Hobbes in different parts of his political theory, for his aversion to a democratic form of government. Main reason for this, it is argued, is that democratic government is closest to the unwanted multitude. Thus, in his political theory Hobbes uses democracy to build sovereign power, but does not trust it as a form of government.