lfb.org / By Douglas French / March 1, 2013
Last month a fire broke out in the engine room of a 14-story cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico. The fire disabled the vessel, leaving 4,200 people on an inoperative tub in the middle of the ocean.
What happened next? Political theorists of the Hobbesian persuasion would assume that violence would take over. After all, on the ship, there was no leviathan to keep order, no apparatus of coercion to be the final arbiter and enforce justice with jail and death. The ship was 150 miles out in the ocean. No chance to call in FEMA, or the National Guard, or police.
The horrible conditions would surely cause outbreaks of theft and turmoil. How could anyone’s possessions be safe? The unsanitary conditions and lack of climate control would surely drive people to madness.
Instead, cooperation broke out.