The third area that the magistrate may be concerned in involves the general moral virtues and vices of society. In other words, those who argue for theocracy ought to be restricted in their speech. The reason for this — and a mature political one — is that most men use power for their own advancement and those who are intolerant of others should in turn not be tolerated — such groups are not to be trusted with any path that may lead them to power and the overthrow of the liberties of others.
Similarly, factions ought not to be tolerated if their numbers grow to threaten the state. The option is to accept and tolerate such diverse Protestant fanatics — or kill them all; but the latter is not very Christian, Locke reminds his readers. Shaftesbury sought a policy of toleration against the Anglican policy to unify the Kingdom under its brand of Protestantism. The Church of England, as its name suggests is a particular nationalist brand of Protestantism in which Bishops sit with Lords in the Upper Chamber of Parliament.
Locke repeats the purpose of government of securing the peace and tranquillity of the commonwealth and stresses the separation of the Church and State in what can be seen as the glimmerings of his minimal state theory. This, incidentally, is symptomatic of a mind-body dualism as it affects the political realm , in which a philosopher asserts the primacy and hence freedom of the mind while accepting the subjugation of the body, a dichotomy that Locke only gradually moves away from.
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By , for instance, we again see evidence of a change in his thinking towards Protestant dissenters Catholics standing outwith the Lockean picture. In his second essay on Toleration Tb in the year he expands on his critique of uniformity. He demands what a policy ought to be if all dissenters are in error — should they be all hanged? But if there is a fear of them is it because of the manner in which they are treated by the authorities, or if there is a fear that they may influence other people, then why not let others choose by their own consent to follow or not, or if it is feared that supporters of dissenting doctrines shall multiply, then either dissenters are attracting others because of the truth or orthodox teachers have become slack in propagating the truth.
In notes for his Atlantis , he proposes stringent laws to deal with vagrants, demands that everyone work at their handicraft at least six hours a week, that limits be put on migration across parishes, and that tithingmen be put in control of assuring the moral purity of their jurisdiction one tithingman to twenty homes. Between and Locke scribbled thoughts on the springs of human action. Thus prior to the penning of the Two Treatises , we find a John Locke who is becoming increasingly concerned with the direction of Restoration policy with regards to religious toleration, and although he remains very conservative in his moral outlook, the formulation of a new approach is evidently developing.
The government, he declares with a stronger and more influential voice, ought to remove itself from the religious matters of the nation. The separation of the state and religion is now paramount in his philosophy, all it needed was a structure within which such a minimal, non-interfering government could be justified. It would be wrong to debase the coinage to match the number of notes that the Bank of England printed.
Marxists, for example, assume Locke to have proposed a labour theory of value, whereas the libertarian economist, Murray Rothbard, argues that what Locke propounded was a labour theory of property, not of value. For elsewhere, Locke observes that the fair price a term that has wended down through the ages from Aristotle is that which is generated in a market on a particular occasion, tempered by notions of Christian charity to avoid gaining excess profits leaving enough for others, as Locke advises for the enclosure of land.
Labour — active productive labour, based on rationality and productivity — increases the wealth of the nation, it does not generate a system of fair prices. There is a scholarly debate on when the Two Treatises were written.
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In opening the Two Treatises , diligence and perseverance pay off for the reader — and on a pedagogical note, I would recommend following Laslett beginning with the Second before the First Treatise. The First Treatise paves the way, as Locke advertises in his Preface, to justify government by the consent of the people.
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Chapter I. Secondly, since Filmer believes that no man is born free, men cannot [or should not be able to] choose their governors, thus government by consent is to be rejected on the epistemological grounds that the masses do not possess the intellectual wherewithal to elect their leaders. But a description of affairs under absolute monarchy does not in itself provide a justification of establishing government on popular consent, nor does the presumption that men would live in a miserable condition rebut the claim for absolutism.
Chapter II. Chapter III. Questioning the validity of the former does not imply a concurrent questioning of the latter. And thus Sir Robert was an Author before he writ his Book In other words, potentiality does not imply actuality. Locke presses the point — whence does Adam receive his power over others?
By becoming a father, Filmer thirdly argues and thereby provides a justification for his patriarchy. Chapter IV. The two are separable issues, and Filmer, Locke notes, often deploys linguistic ambiguities in his terms to assert his theory without actually justifying it.
Chapter VI. This time, Filmer presents a justification: since the father gives life and being to a child he therefore possesses absolute power over him. A parent may, arguably, alienate his rights over a child, Locke notes, but a child cannot alienate the honour due to his parent, an argument Filmer ignores. Chapter VII. Accordingly, power over resources and political power are distinguishable and should be treated as separate issues. Chapter VIII. Chapter IX. If we are to have one ruler, we should know who that person is otherwise there would be no distinction between pirates and princes.
How successful is Filmer in describing this? Chapter X. Chapter XI. With such a convoluted theory, surely God would have given us indications as to his meaning, after all, Locke adds, Scripture tells us whom we can and cannot marry. Filmer offers several descriptions of Biblical characters possessing power, but Locke disallows them all.
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Firstly, Filmer says evidence of patriarchy is that the ruler possessed the power of death over people — to which Locke replies, anyone may have that power. Secondly, the ruler possessed the power to raise and army and to make war — to which Locke replies, as can any commonwealth, or indeed, any individual can also possess that power, implying that the power to wage war is independent of sovereignty and is merely attached to the ability to raise an army.
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The rejection of the divine right theory of monarchy and of absolutism now complete, Locke turns his attention to outlining and justifying his own conception of government and the rights of citizens. It is one of the greatest texts in political philosophy and deserves a close reading. He defines political power as the power of making laws and executing penalties, the preservation of property, and of employing the force of the community in executing the laws and defending the commonwealth from foreign attack. Power, he stresses, must only be used for the public good.
Locke outlines his theoretical construction of the state of nature. Given God gave the earth to all of mankind, Locke envisages the state of nature as a state of perfect equality in which each person has the freedom to do as he sees fit without asking leave or depending on the will of any other man. Reason teaches man not to harm his neighbour or his liberty or possessions, but also that he is right to punish those who transgress against him.
Indeed, aggressors — those who violate the freedom of others — live life by another implicatively unnatural standard, one that is irrational and thus dangerous. So far has Locke moved away from his conservative Oxford days of erring on the side of magistrates. The state of nature is not just a theoretical conception, for wherever there is a lack of government or arbitrating institutions between men or nations, the state of nature presides.
But the state of nature is distinguishable from the state of war, a dissimilarity Locke criticises followers of Thomas Hobbes for not making. The state of nature is governed by peace, goodwill, preservation, and mutual assistance, whereas the state of war is a condition of enmity, malice, violence, and mutual destruction. Incidentally, Locke deemed the West Africans enslaved by the Royal Africa Company to have been taken prisoners in a just war against them, thus defending, if somewhat naively, colonial slavery. Locke rebuffs the argument that a man can enslave himself to another, because, ultimately, he may take his own life and by so regaining his freedom thus deprives the slave master of his power.
Freedom, Locke notes in passing, is not something to do as one pleases, as Sir Robert Filmer [and many since] would describe it in order to reject it that is, a straw man fallacy. Chapter V. The expansion of private property also increases the net yield to the commonwealth that is, causes economic growth — something Adam Smith was to later develop. Private property also clarifies resource ownership and thus removes areas of contention. When a man mixes his labour with anything and by drawing it into his private ownership, he makes it more valuable.
The benefits of private ownership can be readily compared to those nations in which few people reside upon commonly owned tracts. To turn children out of the home before their reason has developed sufficiently is to throw them out amongst the beasts and into a wretched state. Once they are mature enough, children have the ability and hence the right to choose what society they wish to belong to; accordingly, Locke emphasises that parental power should not be confused with political power.
The society that develops from conjugal and kinship origins tends to posses commonly established laws and a judicature, as well as an adjudicating authority. All men are equal before the law, including those passing legislation. The created commonwealth then possesses the power, a power delegated to it by the citizens, to punish transgressors and external aggressors and to protect the property of its members. In removing themselves from the state of nature, men hand over the power to punish to the executive; but where the process of appeal is lacking, men remain — or at least their social relations remain — in the state of nature.
When their property is not safe, then people cannot think themselves as being in a civil society.
Community begins with consent, Locke argues, and this consent can only be majority consent, as universal consent is impossible to gain. Consent of the governed is the only justifiable form of government, but of course critics are going to ask for evidence for consensual government. Locke replies that the lack of evidence does not imply that early governments were not formed consensually, but because people were initially equal in the state of nature, it can be deduced that they consented to put rulers over and above them. Any power given to the government was given to secure the public good and safety and the defence of immature societies from external aggression, but once the legislators or executors of the law sought to use power for their own interests then it becomes vital for men to understand the origins of government and the limitations to its power, so that they may find methods to prevent such abuses of power.
A people are free to remove themselves from their government — that is, they are free to secede and to establish a new commonwealth if they see fit, for only an explicit promise or contract can put man into a society and, just as children upon reaching maturity are free to leave their parents, so too are men free to leave their society. Chapter IX Locke raises the question as to why a man may give up his freedom that he enjoys in the state of nature. He answers because that state is full of uncertainty and it is also exposed to aggression. The state of nature lacks established, known and settled laws, a known and indifferent judge, and the power to give a judge execution of the law.
In the state of nature man has two powers — to preserve himself according to the Law of Nature and the power to punish criminals. In such a free state, all men are of one community making up a society distinct from the animals.