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Please explain Macpherson's criticism of hobbesian pol. theory as possessive individualism

What is possessive individualism?
How hobbes is justifying it in his theory according to Macpherson.
How did it justify capitalism or entrepreneurial activity?

Comments

  • Sir, macpherson has criticised Hobbes for ‘beginning as individualist and concluding as absolutist’ since he bestowed state with absolute sovereignty,even over and above the church.

    And the idea of natural right to property was proposed by John Locke for which he was called possessive individualist.

    For capitalism to sustain and strive, it needs possession of property(so that you could built industry)and it also serves as fruit of one’s labor giving you enough motivation to work even harder.

    And hence your question had been incorrectly framed. You stand corrected sir :smile:
  • edited July 11
    Possessive individualism basically means whatever man earns , he earns because of his own merit and he owes nothing to the state for it.

    For Hobbes life of human is the most essential element to struggle for and for that he has created a state after a social contract of all men with all. Hobbes says man should delegate all the powers to state and the power to punish also.(absolute state)

    MacPherson says Hobbes rather than securing human life actually limited man's liberty by creating an absolute state. He says Hobbes made man's preservation of life " a means " and state absolutism "the end" (whereas Hobbes says he did the opposite)

    Now look , in mediaeval times there was no single authority who controlled the state. The power was in the hands of kings , emperors , feudal lords , church etc..
    Capitalism can't work under such a system where there are multiple laws under multiple authorities. Capitalism to expand needs well framed laws and a state that has authority to punish (in case poors stand for revolution against capitalism , the state will save the capitalists) .Now when Hobbes creates an absolute state he actually favours capitalists because this is what exactly capitalists want.

    Note : Welfare state and all these measures for poors are instruments of capitalism to calm the revolutionary nerves of the poors. By providing wages to the poor (universal basic income ) etc ... Capitalists actually sustain their surviving period and fool the poors.

    Hope you have now a better clarity.
  • edited July 11
    The question is correct.

    Criticism is generally levelled against a person on the basis of perceived faults i.e you think something, the other person thinks something else, you think your ideas are right and you end up criticising the other.

    In order to understand Macpherson’s criticism of Hobbes in this context, it is necessary to understand Macpherson’s ideas first.

    Macpherson was a left-leaning political theorist who spent much time trying to revise the liberal democratic theory. In his quest he often criticises parts of liberalism which are directly related to capitalist market society.

    It is in this context that Macpherson coined the term ‘possessive individualism’. He gives a detailed explanation of possessive individualism in his book ‘The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke’. The bottom line of his argument is that possessive individualism is where the individual is essentially the proprietor of his own person and capacities, for which he owes nothing to society. Macpherson says that this is what drives capitalist market society or possessive market society. He also says that the concepts in theory of Hobbes like – enforcement of social contract, individuals wanting more utility or power are all helping in establishing this very kind of society.

    For possessive individualists the individual was seen neither as a moral whole, nor as part of larger social whole, but as an owner of himself. Macpherson criticises this and he wants citizens to respect social obligations that they have towards other members of a society as well. By criticising these features of liberals he is trying to come up with a theory for social democracy.
  • The question is correct.

    Criticism is generally levelled against a person on the basis of perceived faults i.e you think something, the other person thinks something else, you think your ideas are right and you end up criticising the other.

    In order to understand Macpherson’s criticism of Hobbes in this context, it is necessary to understand Macpherson’s ideas first.

    Macpherson was a left-leaning political theorist who spent much time trying to revise the liberal democratic theory. In his quest he often criticises parts of liberalism which are directly related to capitalist market society.

    It is in this context that Macpherson coined the term ‘possessive individualism’. He gives a detailed explanation of possessive individualism in his book ‘The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke’. The bottom line of his argument is that possessive individualism is where the individual is essentially the proprietor of his own person and capacities, for which he owes nothing to society. Macpherson says that this is what drives capitalist market society or possessive market society. He also says that the concepts in theory of Hobbes like – enforcement of social contract, individuals wanting more utility or power are all helping in establishing this very kind of society.

    For possessive individualists the individual was seen neither as a moral whole, nor as part of larger social whole, but as an owner of himself. Macpherson criticises this and he wants citizens to respect social obligations that they have towards other members of a society as well. By criticising these features of liberals he is trying to come up with a theory for social democracy.

    So Macpherson termed and used possessive individualism in negative connotation?
    निष्काम कर्म

  • So Macpherson termed and used possessive individualism in negative connotation?

    Yes
  • The question is correct.

    Criticism is generally levelled against a person on the basis of perceived faults i.e you think something, the other person thinks something else, you think your ideas are right and you end up criticising the other.

    In order to understand Macpherson’s criticism of Hobbes in this context, it is necessary to understand Macpherson’s ideas first.

    Macpherson was a left-leaning political theorist who spent much time trying to revise the liberal democratic theory. In his quest he often criticises parts of liberalism which are directly related to capitalist market society.

    It is in this context that Macpherson coined the term ‘possessive individualism’. He gives a detailed explanation of possessive individualism in his book ‘The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke’. The bottom line of his argument is that possessive individualism is where the individual is essentially the proprietor of his own person and capacities, for which he owes nothing to society. Macpherson says that this is what drives capitalist market society or possessive market society. He also says that the concepts in theory of Hobbes like – enforcement of social contract, individuals wanting more utility or power are all helping in establishing this very kind of society.

    For possessive individualists the individual was seen neither as a moral whole, nor as part of larger social whole, but as an owner of himself. Macpherson criticises this and he wants citizens to respect social obligations that they have towards other members of a society as well. By criticising these features of liberals he is trying to come up with a theory for social democracy.

    What my understanding of capitalism is laissez faire state, market based economy with limited govt interventions. As Hobbes had made state absolute with only restriction on the "basic of due procedure of law", even right to property being alienable hence not justifying capitalism. please tell me the gap in the understanding
  • Possessive individualism basically means whatever man earns , he earns because of his own merit and he owes nothing to the state for it.

    For Hobbes life of human is the most essential element to struggle for and for that he has created a state after a social contract of all men with all. Hobbes says man should delegate all the powers to state and the power to punish also.(absolute state)

    MacPherson says Hobbes rather than securing human life actually limited man's liberty by creating an absolute state. He says Hobbes made man's preservation of life " a means " and state absolutism "the end" (whereas Hobbes says he did the opposite)

    Now look , in mediaeval times there was no single authority who controlled the state. The power was in the hands of kings , emperors , feudal lords , church etc..
    Capitalism can't work under such a system where there are multiple laws under multiple authorities. Capitalism to expand needs well framed laws and a state that has authority to punish (in case poors stand for revolution against capitalism , the state will save the capitalists) .Now when Hobbes creates an absolute state he actually favours capitalists because this is what exactly capitalists want.

    Note : Welfare state and all these measures for poors are instruments of capitalism to calm the revolutionary nerves of the poors. By providing wages to the poor (universal basic income ) etc ... Capitalists actually sustain their surviving period and fool the poors.

    Hope you have now a better clarity.


    What my understanding of capitalism is laissez faire state, market based economy with limited govt interventions. As Hobbes had made state absolute with only restriction on the "basic of due procedure of law", even right to property is alienable hence not justifying capitalism. What am I missing here?
  • The question is correct.

    Criticism is generally levelled against a person on the basis of perceived faults i.e you think something, the other person thinks something else, you think your ideas are right and you end up criticising the other.

    In order to understand Macpherson’s criticism of Hobbes in this context, it is necessary to understand Macpherson’s ideas first.

    Macpherson was a left-leaning political theorist who spent much time trying to revise the liberal democratic theory. In his quest he often criticises parts of liberalism which are directly related to capitalist market society.

    It is in this context that Macpherson coined the term ‘possessive individualism’. He gives a detailed explanation of possessive individualism in his book ‘The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke’. The bottom line of his argument is that possessive individualism is where the individual is essentially the proprietor of his own person and capacities, for which he owes nothing to society. Macpherson says that this is what drives capitalist market society or possessive market society. He also says that the concepts in theory of Hobbes like – enforcement of social contract, individuals wanting more utility or power are all helping in establishing this very kind of society.

    For possessive individualists the individual was seen neither as a moral whole, nor as part of larger social whole, but as an owner of himself. Macpherson criticises this and he wants citizens to respect social obligations that they have towards other members of a society as well. By criticising these features of liberals he is trying to come up with a theory for social democracy.

    What my understanding of capitalism is laissez faire state, market based economy with limited govt interventions. As Hobbes had made state absolute with only restriction on the "basic of due procedure of law", even right to property being alienable hence not justifying capitalism. please tell me the gap in the understanding
    You are missing the context..
    Hobbes was a utilitarian and hence believed in maximizing individual happiness( maximizing individual entrepreneurship, as can be deduced)
    and for that he conceived state.

    As he said without social contract life outside society would be 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'.' so state provides security, stability and continuity which is must for Capitalism.
    Capitalist even support monarchy if stability and security is given. Ex. Iran before 1979, present Brunei.

    Realisation that state itself can stifle individual initiatives was realised later and hence limitation on state power by subsequent scholars.

    Political language can be misleading as
    Greatest happiness of greatest number may seems like a democratic and socialist concept (welfare of all)
    But it is also favoring capitalist initiatives.

    @IndianaJones can explain better.
    निष्काम कर्म
  • Possessive individualism basically means whatever man earns , he earns because of his own merit and he owes nothing to the state for it.

    For Hobbes life of human is the most essential element to struggle for and for that he has created a state after a social contract of all men with all. Hobbes says man should delegate all the powers to state and the power to punish also.(absolute state)

    MacPherson says Hobbes rather than securing human life actually limited man's liberty by creating an absolute state. He says Hobbes made man's preservation of life " a means " and state absolutism "the end" (whereas Hobbes says he did the opposite)

    Now look , in mediaeval times there was no single authority who controlled the state. The power was in the hands of kings , emperors , feudal lords , church etc..
    Capitalism can't work under such a system where there are multiple laws under multiple authorities. Capitalism to expand needs well framed laws and a state that has authority to punish (in case poors stand for revolution against capitalism , the state will save the capitalists) .Now when Hobbes creates an absolute state he actually favours capitalists because this is what exactly capitalists want.

    Note : Welfare state and all these measures for poors are instruments of capitalism to calm the revolutionary nerves of the poors. By providing wages to the poor (universal basic income ) etc ... Capitalists actually sustain their surviving period and fool the poors.

    Hope you have now a better clarity.


    What my understanding of capitalism is laissez faire state, market based economy with limited govt interventions. As Hobbes had made state absolute with only restriction on the "basic of due procedure of law", even right to property is alienable hence not justifying capitalism. What am I missing here?
    Look. The more power to state = the more power to capitalists. Because it's the capitalist who funds the state and holds indirect power.

    Fascism is the most extreme form of capitalism. State absolutism being an other form of capitalism where citizens follow the rules and can't be deprived of life according to procedure established by law .
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