Movie quotes to live by: ‘If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.’
The Godfather II, Paramount, 1974
Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) delivers this classic in the second installment of the Godfather in 1974.
It reminds me of a concept I learned in Political Philosophy class on Social Contract Theory about the one ‘fact’ that makes all people equal – the ability they have to kill someone else.
The Mafia seemed to grasp that concept.
Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan (1651) about “this war of every man against every man”. The notion that man in the state of nature was in a state of war.
The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice. Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice and injustice are none of the faculties neither of the body nor mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his senses and passions. They are qualities that relate to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man’s that he can get, and for so long as he can keep it.Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan
I’m not sure if Mario Puzo or Martin Scorcese had knowledge of Hobbes.
His was a last ditch attempt to establish the right of sovereigns to absolute rule on grounds other than divine right. Fifty years earlier, James I had written about it in Basilikon Doron but the facade was cracking during the rule of his son Charles I.
Rather than succeeding, Hobbes was used as an argument that a sovereign is given power by the people when they forgo their liberties for the safeguards provided by the leader.
Power of the people and all that.
From the organised crime perspective, the final line rings true
that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thine distinct; but only that to be every man’s that he can get, and for so long as he can keep it