Intended for healthcare professionals


NHS is picking up the pieces as social safety nets fail

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 30 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2360

Thomas Hobbes

Rajan and McKee miss the main point of Hobbes' statement. He was the tutor to an aristocratic family and was writing in the period shortly before the English Civil War. He was arguing that states need a powerful leader, a monarch, because the alternative was anarchy in which life was "nasty, brutish and short".

The war, which Hobbes avoided by going to Paris, was indeed nasty and brutish, but it allowed people to discuss the political principles that are the core of democracy. At a time when populist politicians are again arguing that a dictatorship is safer than democracy we must not give credibility to Hobbes that he does not deserve.

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 June 2019
Michael Peel
Graham Road Surgery