The purpose of this essay is to analyze the relationship between society and the State, their connection, and to discuss the existence of a community without laws. The government appeared only at a fairly late period of human history, in which, however, people are used to living and therefore perceive the State as something natural, without which it is impossible to exist and live. Nevertheless, entire human communities, relatively developed, existed within the framework of a non-state order. Society needs a tool with which to manage the vast masses of people. Stateless society cannot exist and develop; it is neither viable and nor sustainable.
The appearance of the State is a natural process of historical development. This interaction is very complex, reflecting the complicated and contradictory processes of the development of society itself. The fact is that individuals live and act in society in pursuit of their interests, which do not always coincide with common interests. In addition, there are various classes in society that have their own interests. According to Hobbes (1970), the emergence of the State is preceded by the so-called natural state, a state of absolute, unlimited freedom of people equal in their rights and abilities. People are equal to each other in their desire to dominate, to have the same rights. Therefore, the natural State for Hobbes is, in the full sense, a state of “war of all against all” (Hobbes, 1970, p. 100). Absolute freedom of man – the desire for anarchy, chaos, continuous struggle, in which the murder of a man by man is justified. In this situation, the natural and necessary way out is to restrict the absolute freedom of everyone for the common good.
People must mutually restrict their freedom in order to exist in a state of social peace. They agree among themselves on this restriction, and this mutual self-restraint is called a social contract. While restricting their natural freedom, people also delegate the power to maintain order and monitor compliance with the commitment to a particular group or individual. Thus there is a state whose power is sovereign; it is independent of any external or internal forces. The power of the State, according to Hobbes, should be absolute, the State has the right in the interests of society as a whole to take any measures of coercion against its citizens.
Unlike Hobbes with his thesis about the war of all against all, Locke believes that the original absolute freedom of people is not a source of struggle, but an expression of their natural equality and readiness to follow reasonable natural laws (Locke, 1967). This natural readiness of people leads them to understand that in the interests of the common good, it is crucial, while preserving freedom, to give part of it to the State, which guarantees the further development of society. This is how the social contract between people was reached, and how the State was created.
The main goal of the State is to protect the natural rights of people, the rights to life, liberty, and property. It is easy to see that Locke departs significantly from Hobbes’ theory. Hobbes emphasized the absolute power of the State over society and people. He emphasizes something else: people give the State only part of their natural freedom. The State is obliged to protect its natural rights to property, life, and liberty. According to Locke (1967), the more rights a person has, the more extensive the range of his or her responsibilities to society. The government does not have absolute arbitrary power. The social contract implies the responsibility of the State to its citizens. If the State does not fulfill its duty to people, if it violates natural freedoms, people have the right to fight against such State.
The theorists of the political and philosophical movement, called anarchism, claim that society is quite possible to coexist peacefully with each other and with other societies, bypassing the apparatus of coercion and oppression called the State. Researchers state that “The term ‘state of nature is largely an artifact of a discarded belief in a dichotomy between natural and civilized people. Today most human scientists believe that all societies are equally artificial and equally natural” (Widerquist & McCall, 2015, p. 235). Society can not just exist without the State; it already exists without it. A person is well aware that they need to work to feed themselves, that they cannot violate the basic moral foundations. The State does not sow grain, build houses, or even treat the sick – people do it all.
Anarchists state that without government, society will not descend into a ‘state of nature or chaos and wars. According to Perlin (2017), the anarchist believes in a moral urge in a person; people are rational and powerful enough to live without authority and still hold the society together. If a community is assembled exclusively from people who understand each other and live according to the principle of peace, then theoretically this society will not need laws. In essence, their psychology itself stimulates in them all those actions that are necessary for the automatic establishment of order.
Anarchy, as a model of justice and fraternity, is undoubtedly the most attractive ideology. At the same time, it is as utopian as it is attractive. Everything in the world has errors and deviations from the ideal – this is what the world stands on. People can strive for the perfect, but never achieve it, yet anarchy is built on an ideal society, which is already utopian. Even if to reject the idea that all people are ignorant, greedy, selfish, vicious, it is natural, and there is nothing to do about it; therefore, anarchy is impossible, there will still be one problem: the human capacity. People can try very hard, but the result will not match the ideal, it is impossible to get rid of the evil elements in human nature.
Relations between the State and society must be reviewed, and the State must increasingly weaken participation in the life of the people, thereby encouraging them to be self-organized. It will take a long time, but it will happen, and globalization, as an irreversible process of the evolution of human relations, will contribute to this in the first place. The goal of the State is to protect class, group, national, and other interests. Its main purpose is to manage social affairs, ensure public order and security. The State resists anti-social, destructive forces, and therefore it must be a powerful organized force, have an apparatus of management and coercion.
Hobbes, T. (1970). Leviathan. Glasgow.
Locke, J. (1967). Locke: Two treatises of government. Cambridge University Press.
Perlin, T. M. (2017). Contemporary anarchism. Routledge.
Widerquist, K., & McCall, G. (2015). Myths about the State of Nature and the Reality of Stateless Societies. Analyse & Kritik, 37(1-2), 233-258.