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Opinion - The prevalent state of nature 

2021-04-19  Staff Reporter

Opinion - The prevalent state of nature 
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Kennedy Mabuku 


In the 21st century, it has become more appealing to security, criminal, and policing practitioners to discuss matters that concern society most. The preceding statement will lose its relevance without including human security as a subject of broader concern. In my view, humanity’s existence is shaped by security as there is hardly tangible survival and human development without security.

The paper focuses on one component of Thomas Hobbes’s social contract theory, The State of Nature. To summarise immemorially, there was a period in human history where there was no state at all or sovereign government. To address human undertakings› anarchic nature, people entered into a social contract which saw them surrendering some part of their rights to the sovereign state or monarchy to preserve their security. 

Hobbes imagined that the constant threat of human life characterised the state of nature. There was no authority to govern natural laws, the power struggles invited serious conflict resulting in unmanageable atrocities. Since people lived in chaotic conditions of constant fear, lawlessness, solitary conditions, poor, nasty, and brutish, life was short-lived. The prominent members in the society enjoyed the acquisition of more natural resources than the less privileged members. Described in brief, the state of nature was an unmanageable state of human affairs. 

The striking departure point for the present write-up is the assumption that the state of nature came to an end when individuals entered into a social contract at the beginning of human civilisation and political affairs. In contrast, while acknowledging the state of nature that existed before the political sphere, I take a different stance on the preceding theoretical assertion. 

With the perusal of the state of nature’s attributes as opined already, there is little doubt to acknowledge the state of nature was never disjointed from human dealings. This somewhat contradictory observation is due to man’s nature of persistent ferret for contingency desires; consequently, humankind and the state of nature becoming impenetrable fortresses. 

In Africa, a conspicuous disparity between the rich and the poor has increasingly widened the gap. The above has also undeniably contributed to generational poverty, stressful social conditions, and, to some extent, cases of suicides. 

The increased death toll due to passion killings, domestic violence, sophisticated crimes such as genocide, crime against humanity, and war crimes are a sign of current affairs. Unequal distribution of resources, the society that incessantly bleeds poverty, corruption, and selfish motives still claim massive territory in the African space. 

The prevalent security threats through clandestine terrorist activities, extremism, insurgencies, and armed groups still contribute to humanity’s misery by causing large-scale death and impacting life expectancy. The evident state of anomie with the disappearance of social norms and values that grilled the African society is a plausible insecurities trend for the present days. 

Be it as it may, the infancy scholarly exploration on the national and human security field also makes it difficult for the continent to leapfrog obstacles associated with the state of nature as described by Thomas Hobbes.

The connection between this paper and the above perspective is that there is an obvious conclusion: the state of nature’s prominent features, as Hobbes described, still exist. It is more appealing to state that the initial conditions as stated account for man’s misery; life is brutish, poor, and nasty for the majority and short-lived in contemporary society. 

The survival of the fittest is more apparent while at the same time acknowledging the existence of a sovereign state and the authority to hold accountable law violators is noticeable. Predominant features of the state of nature are more worrisome than ever before.

Finally, the itinerary to safer and more secure African societies requires consented effort from both stakeholders, and the first step to do this is the ability to fathom national and human security domains in the current state of nature. 

2021-04-19  Staff Reporter

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