The State of War (c. 1755-1756)
But even if it were true that this boundless and uncontrollable greed had developed in all men to the extent which our sophist imagines, it still would not produce that state of universal war between everyone which Hobbes dares to depict in all its repulsiveness. The frantic desire to possess everything is incompatible with the desire to destroy all one's fellow men; and the conqueror who had the misfortune to remain alone in the world, having killed everyone else, would not thereby enjoy anything for the very reason that he would possess all. What are the riches themselves good for if not to be imparted to others? What would be the use of possessing the whole universe, if he was its sole inhabitant? What! Would his stomach devour all the fruits of the earth? Who would gather the produce of the world's climates for him? Who would witness his empire in the vast solitudes where he did not live? What would he do with his treasures? Who would eat his food? For whose eyes would he display his power? I see. Instead of massacring everyone, he would put them all in irons, so that at least he would have slaves. This immediately changes the whole nature of the question; since it is no longer a question of destroying, the state of war is abolished. The reader here may suspend judgement. I shall not omit to discuss this point.
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Publication information: Book title: Rousseau on International Relations. Contributors: Stanley Hoffmann - Editor, David P. Fidler - Editor, Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 33.
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