Hobbes And Malcolm X 's Views On Political Legitimacy Essay

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I attended a dinner party with an upper class, white 17th century philosopher and a Muslim black nationalist from the 1960’s – hypothetically of course. One might think that they would have absolutely nothing in common; however, Thomas Hobbes and Malcolm X have more in common than it appears. While the two theorists are very different, they share several common ideas about political legitimacy. In this paper, I will argue that although both Hobbes and Malcolm X would agree that a government must provide protection for its citizens to be considered legitimate, Malcolm X extends that criteria to include provision of equal representation and benefits, as well as the ability for citizens to change or abolish government. First, I will discuss each of Hobbes and Malcolm X’s understandings of political legitimacy. Second, I will deduce how each theorist would interpret and address the other’s ideas. Finally, I will present my own interpretation and position on political legitimacy. While enjoying hors d’oeuvres, the topic of discussion centered around criteria for political legitimacy. Thomas Hobbes led the discussion, outlining what he believes to be legitimate government. While American politics were founded on strict theories of consent, Hobbes is less concerned with the method by which a government is formed. In Leviathan, Hobbes mentions two paths for a sovereign to acquire power, a “Commonwealth by acquisition…[and] a Commonwealth by institution” (Hobbes, p. 110). Thomas

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