The importance of controlling Leviathan

Adriana García García*

In the mid-17th century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the image of a biblical monster, the Leviathan, to illustrate the power of the State and its function of maintaining social order. It has since remained a symbol of fear-invoking power and unmatched sovereign strength.

The foundation for the potentially monstrous power of the Leviathan is one of the main obligations of the State, perhaps the most primary one of them all:  to maintain security within its territory. If a State does not fulfill that function, all other possible aspirations, from the offer of high-quality public services, to economic development and the respect and promotion of fundamental rights, are deeply compromised and, in extreme circumstances, can become even impossible.

The problem is that, to fulfill the responsibility of providing security, the State needs to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

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