2John Locke Key Work: Two Treatises of Civil Government. Ideology: Locke believed that the rights of individuals to life, liberty and estate come before the rights of society. He advocated a Social Contract Theory where the individual surrenders to the community his natural right to enforce the law of nature, in return for “the preservation of life, liberty and estate” by the community. Locke’s theory of government also established the “Separation of Powers” – legislative, executive and judicial.
3Locke Quotes"Government has no other end but the preservation of property.""Where law ends, tyranny begins."“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.”“All mankind... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”“Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”Not hugely relevant, but one I like! -“Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him.”
4LawLocke has a more positive view than Hobbes of man in the state of nature.Each individual is aware of “natural laws” that include the right to liberty, equality, and self-preservation.Natural Laws are ordained by God and understood by all rational beings.Yet, each man will interpret the natural law differently, some using it to justify personal vendettas/ambition.As such, a social contract is again required to protect.Once entered, the social contract is totally binding and enforced by law. All who live under it are bound by it.The contract is established primarily to protect individual rights to life, liberty & property and is enforced by a limited government.
5The central importance of Property Locke argues that in the state of nature, God gave the earth to all human beings.Men are free to make use of the earth’s resources.All humans are held to own their own bodies.When they mix their labour with nature, that which they are utilising becomes their property and is no longer part of the common store. Consequently, humans can claim a natural right to property, upheld by the natural law.Lockean provisos: i) no one should take more than they can make use of, ii) one must leave “enough and as good” for others.
6Tacit consentLocke insists that by remaining in the country, everyone is deemed to have consented to be ruled by the government. This entails tacit, not explicit consent.David Hume objects to such reasoning: “If you were to ask most people whether they had ever consented to the authority of their rulers, they would be inclined to think very strangely of you and would reply that the affair depended not on their consent but that they were born to such obedience.”A further problem concerning consent is that only those who own property have a right to vote. This is due to the fact that government simply exists to uphold rules concerning transference of property. To suggest that those without property must tacitly consent to be governed without any political voice is surely an act of enslavement.
7Further CriticismsNozick argues that it is difficult to justify the idea that mixing one’s labour with land gives one indefinite rights to that land – “If I own a can of tomato juice and spill it in the sea so that its molecules mingle evenly throughout the sea, do I thereby come to own the sea?” (Reductio ad absurdum)A right to inheritance of that land is even more difficult to uphold – if all is inherited, how can future generations “mix their labour?) – here it would seem that “property is theft!” (Proudhon)For Locke, property rights are an integral part of human freedom. Inequality simply reflects the way in which God rewards the industrious.Yet, such inequality surely excludes many from the freedoms that Locke appears to hold dear and does not satisfy any reasonable doctrine of distributive justice.