"Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." -John Adams

Welcome to Patriot's Lament. We strive here to educate ourselves on Liberty. We will not worry ourselves so much with the daily antics of American politics, and drown ourselves in the murky waters of the political right or left.
Instead, we will look to the Intellectuals and Champions of Liberty, and draw on their wisdom of what it is to be a truly free people. We will learn from where our Providential Liberties are derived, and put the proper perspective of a Free Individual and the State.
Please join us!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Part 2: John Locke

Rothbard puts it this way, "If Liberty found its martyr in Algernon Sidney, it found its elaborated systematic defense in the 'Essay concerning Civil Government' of the noted philosopher, John Locke."
He goes on to say, " The Essay, we now know, was written in the early 1680s at about the same time as Sidney's Discourses; it was therefore written when Locke too was a Revolutionary plotter against Stuart Rule, and NOT, as had been assumed, as a conservative ex post facto rationale for the Glorious Revolution."
Locke starts his theory with the state of nature, where each man is able to maintain himself by mixing his labor with his hands. This gave the "mixer" ownership of land that was before unowned or unused. It becomes his private property, which he is able to sell, trade, or use to whatever benefit or detriment he chooses. Basically the fruits of your labor are yours.
The owner also has a Right to defend his property, which is now beyond just his own person, and this was the rationale that Locke used for the purpose of government, that governments are instituted among men to protect property. If the government fails to protect or, even worse, becomes destructive to private property, it is the Right of the people to remove that government, since the only reason men consent to its existence is merely to protect their property.
Locke put it this way, "Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war against the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence."
Locke's first Treatise was written to refute Sir Robert Filmer's "Natural Power of Kings" that claimed the absolute Monarch was ordained by God, saying Adam was the first Monarch ordained by God. Locke attacked this theory, and claimed if it were true then Adam's lineage would be the only rightful heirs to any kingdom. Locke also pointed out that God gave Adam dominion over the animals and land, NOT other humans.
We need to remember what was going on here--the King had been deposed, and some folks wanted to reinstate a monarch. Others did not. I think we can see that the ones who wanted to reinstate a monarch were the ones who would directly benefit from having one, a benefit of both finance, position and power. Of course the local serf doesn't benefit from having a monarch; Kings don't normally give land grants and positions of power and wealth to serfs plowing fields or working in textile mills. He gives gifts to his buddies, the ones who either help him into power, or the ones who help keep him in power.
 The revolutionary John Locke, on the other hand, sought to give people power over their own lives, and for them to keep the rewards of their labor, not to have it arbitrarily taken at whatever whim the monarch or his governors might have. He simply stated that men ought to be free, and any government that men agree to, can only exist at the pleasure of the society. And any violation by that government made itself not only useless but criminal.
Locke had a huge influence on Thomas Jefferson's "Declaration of Independence," and some even accused Jefferson of plagiarism. I don't really see it that way myself; nothing is new under the sun. If we can't look to our past great thinkers and expand upon them, what good are they? What good is it for us to discuss and pursue Liberty if our posterity cannot use what we find to progress even further?
Back to the point, and I will try to expand on this later: Revolution was first and had to be first thought of to be a Right of the people before they could actually revolt. Locke showed that this was not a bad thing, and that  people will normally not revolt until the abuses of the government finally become too much to bear. What the 17th century thinkers changed was the actual thought, that the people had not only a Right but a Duty to throw off the chains of oppression brought by any government, even a King that claimed a Divine right to rule. Our American Heritage of Secession and Revolution had to first be justified against thousands of years of thinking to the contrary.  And this thought was simply that the lowly man had just as much Right as the King himself, to be free to do as he pleased.
More from Locke; In all States and Conditions the true remedy of Force without Authority, is to oppose Force to it. The use of force without Authority, always puts him that uses it into a state of War, as the Aggressor, and renders him liable to be treated accordingly.

But if they, who say it lays a foundation for Rebellion, mean that it may occasion Civil Wars, or Intestine Broils, to tell the People they are absolved from Obedience, when illegal attempts are made upon their Liberties or Properties, and may oppose the unlawful violence of those, who were their Magistrates, when they invade their Properties contrary to the trust put in them; and that therefore this Doctrine is not to be allow'd, being so destructive to the Peace of the World. They may as well say upon the same ground, that honest Men may not oppose Robbers or Pirates, because this may occasion disorder or bloodshed. If any mischief come in such Cases, it is not to be charged upon him, who defends his own right, but on him, that invades his Neighbours. If the innocent honest Man must quietly quit all he has for Peace sake, to him who will lay violent hands upon it, I desire it may be consider'd, what a kind of Peace there will be in the World, which consists only in Violence and Rapine; and which is to be maintain'd only for the benefit of Robbers and Oppressors. Who would not think it an admirable Peace betwixt the Mighty and the Mean, when the Lamb, without resistance, yielded his Throat to be torn by the imperious Wolf?

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