THE ONE WHO MADE THE LOCK ALSO MADE THE KEY
Thomas Hobbes on encryption and decryption in the face of sovereign power and authority
In this essay, I look at the way that Thomas Hobbes offers not only the building blocks for state power and sovereignty (as he is so famous for doing) but also a basis by which to resist those very things. Even as Hobbes constructs a vast and awe inspiring network of sovereign forms of authority, he shows how those forms are produced, in a sense, out of thin air. Hobbes’ understanding of language as a series of decisions that are made in ways that render the sovereign’s own decision derivative, as well as his understanding of theology as offering us a vision of a human community who must collectively decide on things in the absence of God’s ongoing instruction both serve to undermine and expose the emptiness of sovereign pronouncements. In this way, Hobbes can be read as a radical theorist and a theorist of resisting the very encryption that he is at the same time responsible for theorizing and producing.
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