Hofstra Law Review


There are a few substantive thoughts about the future that I wanted to share before letting you get acquainted with each other at the reception. But in order to talk about the future, I will have to go back to the past.

On a beautiful spring day, April 5, 1588, there was a young woman in an advanced state of pregnancy strolling along a beach on the south coast of England when she had an experience that is directly comparable to sitting in your office at the World Trade Center and seeing an airplane heading for your window. She saw the 2,400 ships of the Spanish Armada, with 30,000 men aboard bent on invading England. The shock drove the young woman into labor, and she gave birth to a son who eventually grew up to be the English philosopher named Thomas Hobbes.

And Hobbes, who is the source of this story about the circumstances of his birth, wrote in his famous work Leviathan that the origin of the state was in people's fear of violent death at the hands of others, whether they be criminals or enemy soldiers, and that the success of a state should be measured only by the degree of its ability to protect us-not by its success in achieving any other goal, but simply by looking to the extent to which it provided physical safety from violence. The premise is that people are fundamentally creatures of emotion, and that the most basic emotion of all is fear, so we must give strength to the state as a consequence of our fears of what others will do to us.

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