The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic

By Thomas Hobbes; J. C. A. Gaskin | Go to book overview

right be punished, cannot of right be resisted; and he that cannot of right be resisted, hath coercive power over all the rest, and thereby can frame and govern their actions at his pleasure; which is absolute sovereignty. Contrariwise he that in a commonwealth is punishable by any, or that assembly that is dissolvable, is not sovereign. For a greater power is always required to punish and dissolve, than theirs who are punished or dissolved; and that power cannot be called sovereign, than which there is a greater. Secondly, that man or assembly, that by their own right not derived from the present right of any other, may make laws, or abrogate them, at his, or their pleasure, have the sovereignty absolute. For seeing the laws they make, are supposed to be made by right, the members of the commonwealth to whom they are made, are obliged to obey them; and consequently not to resist the execution of them; which not-resistance maketh the power absolute of him that ordaineth them. It is likewise a mark of this sovereignty, to have the right original of appointing magistrates, judges, counsellors, and ministers of state. For without that power no act of sovereignty, or government, can be performed. Lastly, and generally: whosoever by his own authority independent can do any act, which another of the same commonwealth may not, must needs be understood to have the sovereign power. For by nature men have equal right; this inequality therefore must proceed from the power of the commonwealth. He therefore that doth any act lawfully by his own authority, which another may not, cloth it by the power of the commonwealth in himself; which is absolute sovereignty.


CHAPTER XXI
OF THE THREE SORTS OF COMMONWEALTH

1. HAVING spoken in general concerning instituted policy in the former chapter, I come in this to speak of the sorts thereof in special, how every one of them is instituted. The first in order of time of these three sorts is democracy, and

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