chapter  14
12 Pages

Looking ahead: The convergence of the realities of security, education, and development in Africa


Security from harm is vital to any community and has preoccupied human society throughout time. In contemporary settings, it is notable in the works of many of the thinkers who argue for, at the very least, a minimalist ethics, proponents of liberalism, and the libertarians in their emphasis on a minimal state. Indeed in the Western context the contractarian thinkers Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau are frequently footnoted when it comes to advancing arguments about the foundational principles and formation of the state and outlining the roles and duties of state governments. These contractarian thinkers have employed the notion of a so-called ‘state of nature’ to depict an imagined context of the life of human beings in ungoverned, pre-political settings, and the need for a political embodiment of the people that can oversee and ensure security from harm and the preservation of life. They invoked the notion of a ‘state of nature’ to deduce so-called ‘laws of nature’, which may be construed as laws of God that are known through reason, in theorizing the establishment of civil society. What they considered to be characteristic in the ‘state of nature’, however, delineates their point of departure from each other. Hobbes (1992) saw individuals as very atomistic and greedy and considered this atomistic greed as tantamount to being in a state of war with each other; therefore it was conducive neither to stability nor to sustained security, nor to the preservation of life. Thus he advocated a powerful sovereign (a person or assembly), one that is to be above the law, in whom people would renounce the unlimited liberty they had in the ‘state of nature’ in return for security and stability to avert the constant fear of death.