In 1994 the world publicity was shaken by the events in Rwanda, which later were written down in the history books as ‘Rwanda crisis’. According to the local sources, however, this tragedy had been rooted long before the indicated year, particularly it is reported to start in 1990. 1990 is marked by Uganda forces having invaded Rwanda. In addition, this was aggravated by the fact that two presidents of Burundi were assassinated.
In order to get the more complete outlook on the situation before the crisis one should be aware that in 1994 (before the black day of the President of Rwanda, Habyarimana, killing) there were one million of displaced people in Rwanda constantly fleeing from the north of the country to the capital Kigali (1, 2006). Hence, to accommodate for all this vast mass a very huge refugee camp had been organized. After their President was killed these people rushed to the city to grab everything they could.
As a result there were more than 300 000 deaths between 1990 and 1994, which prevents us from limiting the crisis to the year of 1994 only (1, 2006). But this was only a preface. In brief, the Rwanda crisis can be described as follows: “The lives of nearly a million people had been taken within 100 days in 1994, as extremist members of the Hutu majority turned on the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus, vowing to exterminate the Tutsi and their influence on Rwandan society” (2, 1994:4). This massacre was stopped only when the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) threw down the acting genocidal government.
Yet, that developed into another blood bath with over two million of Hutu refugees heading for Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zaire (current the Democratic Republic of Congo), etc. Just five days from July 14 to 18, 1994 about 850,000 people crossed the border to Goma in eastern Zaire (2, 1994:5). Even today these to the great extent, innocent Hutus are deprived of basic human rights and numerous cases are known when their human rights have been abused by the RPF (that is now at the helm) and they were returned by force to their Motherland where they do not have any rights at all.
The major part of the refugees fled out because of fear convinced (owning to Hutu Power propaganda) that the Tutsi were a “subhuman” race willing to enslave and extirpate the Hutu people. However, their genocidaires quickly took over the refugee camps. Instead of safety refugees found intimidation, starvation, tortures and death. International humanitarian organizations were powerless and forced to provide aid through the genocidaires or just leave hundreds of thousands of refugees in trouble and distress.
The Rwanda crisis proved how unprepared was the international community to dealing with refugee crises that involved threats to peace and security in the world. What is more, the novel Rwandan government together with their allies from Zaire attacked and wiped the refugee camps off the face of the earth claiming that ‘the camps posed incredible and intolerable threat to Rwandan security’ (3, 2006). Thousands and thousands of refugees were killed.
Thousands more fell victims to cholera that set in along with other contagious diseases (such as dysentery, malaria, etc. ) as a consequence of people’s exhaustion, lack of food and drinking water. One may suppose that the described above conflict and crises that follows may definitely be a vivid example of Hobbes’ ‘rational’ theory according to which every man lives in fear, as well as the father of rational philosophy did himself. Hobbes once mentioned: “Fear and I were born twins together” (4, 1996; I: 11).
In his main theoretical work and his masterpiece, the Leviathan, Hobbes suggested that there are two methods of state formation: commonwealth by institution commonwealth by acquisition (4, 1996; XIX: 147). With regard to the former, Hobbes supposed that at the uprise of civilization, individuals existed in such state of nature, when life was a perpetual conflict in which men were one another’s enemies. Furthermore, different individuals had relatively equal power, thus being unable to guarantee actual personal security for themselves.
As a result, due to such hostile environment, the individual, suffers “continued fear, and the danger of violent death ” and a way of life that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (4, 1996, I: 12). Even more, “nature hath made men so equal in faculties of body and mind…” that no “man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he” (4, 1996, XVII: 118). In general, this may be regarded as a society without acting laws and authorities with “all man have a right to everything”, and situation when “no action can be unjust” (4, 1996, XVII: 118).
Moreover, the described state of nature leads, according to Hobbes, to the condition of war – “war of all against all,” in which human constantly seeks to destroy each other in an incessant pursuit for power (4, 1996, XVII: 118). However, this is not the war we are used to denote with this word. It is rather a condition of awareness about enemies than the act of violence itself. Instead of promoting war, Hobbes emphasizes that war cannot bring any benefits or provide any additional security. His purpose is to convince the readers that ruling power would save people from those unnecessary perils caused by the state of nature.
Hence, such unfavorable state of nature, as Hobbes puts it, should and will prompt individuals to organize a ‘civil state’ with a monopolistic sovereign on the head by means of force and coercion. Such monopoly with absolute power will be able to ensure to the individuals safety from other members of their society, as well as protect from external intrusion. Therefore, from the recognition of the necessity for social order and peace people consent to obey to the sovereign. (4, 1996; XVIII: 127).
Therefore, it would be more accurate to consider Hobbes’s ‘war’ to be a kind of competition or contest not the real military operations involving victims and bloodshed. It can be compared even to the emulation between two men who want to attract some woman they both like. Moreover, the author of Leviathan himself drives us to this conclusion by the following words: “So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory” (4, 1996; XVII: 119). He explains this again by the human nature, namely its faults: “…
all men are by nature provided of notable magnifying glasses (that is their Passions and Self-love,) through which, every little payment appeareth a great grievance; but are destitute of those perspective glasses, (namely Moral and Civil Science,) to see a farre off the miseries that hang over them, and cannot without such payments be avoided. ” From this point of view, it seems, to my mind, obvious, that Rwanda civil war is not the case of Hobbes’ ‘state of war’. For Hobbes seizure of power meant improvement of the living conditions of people, even more it was the only way of providing them.
The best society organization, from his standpoint, was the commonwealth in the meaning “a multitude of people who together consent to a sovereign authority, established by contract to have absolute power over them all, for the purpose of providing peace and common defense” (4, 1996; XVII:124). As it has been mentioned, “the purpose of establishing a commonwealth is to escape the state of nature and to provide peace and the common defense of the people; the sovereign is responsible for ensuring this defense” (4, 1996; XVII: 124).
Remarkably, that the so-called ‘sovereign’ should not necessarily be a single person – it (or ‘he’ as Hobbes uses denotes it) may be comprised of a group of people who purpose at a common aim. Moreover, the sovereign’s task is not limited to promoting safety of the people but according to Hobbes, it covers also promotion of economic well-being of the community, sufficient nutrition, etc. By the latter Hobbes implies “distribution of materials conducing to life : in concoction, or preparation, and (when concocted) in the conveyance of it, by convenient conduits, to the public use.
” (4, 1996; XVII: 126). Furthermore, ruling from the fact that there is no such state that can fully supply itself with all necessary resources, as “there is no territory under the dominion of one commonwealth, (except it be of very vast extent,) produceth all the things needful for the maintenance of the whole body,” Hobbes supposes that the state will import goods or resources from other states through normal trade (4, 1996; XVIII: 137). Hence, as we can see the situation with Rwanda coup d’etat and Hobbes’ process ad goal of taking power are worlds apart.
The same refers to the consequences. Whereas the latter should theoretically results in prosperity of the citizens, the former lead, in fact, to the numerous casualties, famine, etc. Furthermore, in Rwanda there was no realization of ‘rational choices’, rather it was the outburst of ethnic hostility than an effort to capture power in order to improve the welfare of the people. In addition, though Hobbes’ tenet primarily touches upon sovereignty established on the basis of agreement, the scientist maintains that sovereignty reached through acquisition i.
e. force entails the same rights and obligations covered by the contract (also called ‘covenant’ or ‘social contract’, which is “the act of giving up certain natural rights and transferring them to someone else, on the condition that everyone else involved in making the contract also simultaneously gives up their rights. People agreeing to the contract retain only those rights over others that they are content for everyone else to retain over them”) (4, 1996; XVIII: 139). The only difference is the way in which the sovereign comes to power.
If a sovereign comes to rule by institution he is supported because people fear each other. And, in contrast, if he comes to rule by acquisition he is supported because people are afraid of him himself, which does not goes apart with the theory of state of nature. Hence, in both cases, the people literally enjoy the same rights, whereas in Rwanda they were completely deprived of any rights. Nevertheless, for Hobbes the second method can be compared with slave-master relationships (without a slave having right to rebel), in Hobbes’s own words:
“The master of the servant, is master also of all he hath; and may exact the use thereof; that is to say, of his goods, of his labour, of his servant, and of his children, as often as he shall think fit. For he holdeth his life of his master, by the covenant of obedience; that is, of owning, and authorizing whatsoever the master shall do. And in case the master, if he refuse, kill him, or cast him into bonds, or otherwise punish him for his disobedience, he is himself the author of the same, and cannot accuse him of injury” (4, 1996; XVIII: 141).
David Gauthier also argues that “a servant is hardly involved in the decision making calculus of the master; instead the servant exists to carry out the former’s dictates” (5, 2000:114). Yet, on the Rwanda’s example, the people defended and rebelled against their genocidaires, thus, they refused to perform the role of servants presupposed by Hobbes. To sum up, the Rwanda crisis has nothing in common with possible transfer to Hobbes’ model of state organization. It was founded on the ethnic hostilities that caused in the long run change of ruling power.
Moreover, the purpose of the new government, in my opinion, was not the welfare of the people and the country but mere revenge for years of oppression. What is more, the people, though proving to some extent their natural (in accordance with Hobbes) inclination to being enemies to each other, did not resign themselves to the fact that they should be obedient and humble servants but rebelled instead and fought until the last breath. Nevertheless, even if the conflict is motivated by not the ethnic animosity but the rational choice, I will not recommend Hobbes’ reform of the society organization.
At first glance, the objective and functions of his Commonwealth seem to be very promising, for example, preserving the society, establishing an internal order or peace, defending that peace against external violence, etc so that after all individuals can live peaceably (4, 1996; XVIII:145). However, I do not believe in such Utopia as for me it is evident that Hobbes’ state has all features of what is considered or ca turn in future into the totalitarian state (recall those master-slave relationships, overall power of the sovereign, etc.
). Our history has already proven that this form of governing is not applicable and is out-of-date with regard to our world and our life. Whatever the conflicts are, and no matter what leaders come to the rule they should bear in mind that our future is democratic one and there is no place on the earth to dictators and totalitarianism.
1. Rwanda the Great Genocide Debate. Retrieved from University of Dayton Library on February 14, 2006: http://www. udayton. edu/~rwanda/articles/genocide/noendinsight.html 2. Rwandan apocalypse by Chris McGreal in Goma, Ian Katz from Guardian, Saturday July 23, 1994, p. 4-6. 3. The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide 1959-1994, published by Hurst and Company Ltd, 1995. Retrieved on February 14, 2006 from: http://www. humanrightsfirst. org 4. Hobbes, Thomas (ed. ) Tuck, Richard “Leviathan”. Cambridge University Press, 1996 5. Gauthier, D. P. (2000). The Logic of the Leviathan: The Moral and Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 114-116.