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Second Treatise of Government (Hackett Classics)

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• Edited by C. B. Macpherson.The Second Treatise is one of the most important political treatises ever written and one of the most far-reaching in its influence.In his provocative 15-page introduction to this edition, the late eminent political theorist C. B. Macpherson examines Locke's arguments for limited, conditional government, private property, and right of • Edited by C. B. Macpherson.The Second Treatise is one of the most important political treatises ever written and one of the most far-reaching in its influence.In his provocative 15-page introduction to this edition, the late eminent political theorist C. B. Macpherson examines Locke's arguments for limited, conditional government, private property, and right of revolution and suggests reasons for the appeal of these arguments in Locke's time and since.


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• Edited by C. B. Macpherson.The Second Treatise is one of the most important political treatises ever written and one of the most far-reaching in its influence.In his provocative 15-page introduction to this edition, the late eminent political theorist C. B. Macpherson examines Locke's arguments for limited, conditional government, private property, and right of • Edited by C. B. Macpherson.The Second Treatise is one of the most important political treatises ever written and one of the most far-reaching in its influence.In his provocative 15-page introduction to this edition, the late eminent political theorist C. B. Macpherson examines Locke's arguments for limited, conditional government, private property, and right of revolution and suggests reasons for the appeal of these arguments in Locke's time and since.

30 review for Second Treatise of Government (Hackett Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    100 things I’ve learned† from Ayn Rand'sJohn Locke’s “Second Treatise of Government”: 1. God gave the world to Adam, and his successive heirs. 2. Therefore, by the natural laws of succession (i.e. primogeniture), that means everything in the world should now be owned by one supreme King. 3. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound so good. 4. Hey! What’s that over there!? 5. As I was saying, everything in the world is owned in common by everyone. 6. But not like the stupid way the English do it with “Common land”, 100 things I’ve learned† from Ayn Rand'sJohn Locke’s “Second Treatise of Government”: 1. God gave the world to Adam, and his successive heirs. 2. Therefore, by the natural laws of succession (i.e. primogeniture), that means everything in the world should now be owned by one supreme King. 3. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound so good. 4. Hey! What’s that over there!? 5. As I was saying, everything in the world is owned in common by everyone. 6. But not like the stupid way the English do it with “Common land”, where no-one can do anything without getting everyone’s permission first. 7. If that were the natural state of things, then father couldn’t just put lots of meat on the dinner table for the whole family to eat, he’d have to tell everyone what their portion was first, and that would be madness. 8. Rather, anyone should be allowed to just take anything they want. The very act of taking it makes it theirs. 9. This is clearly how God intended things, as he commanded man to work, and thus my labour in picking up an apple makes it mine. 10. Don’t be greedy though. You’re only allowed to take anything you can actually use before it spoils. 11. This applies to land too. You can simply take as much land as you like without asking anyone’s permission, but only if you’re actually able to properly tend to it. 12. Some people claim that this is reducing the Commons, but they’ve obviously never learned how to count. Land that is well looked after produces ten times as much value as land that’s just lying idle. So if I take 10 acres and use it to feed myself, society hasn’t lost those 10 acres, it has gained 90 acres. Or maybe even 900! 13. If you have taken too much from the commons — say, too many plums — then one way to avoid having them spoil is to trade them with someone else. If someone gives you lots of, say, nuts that will last a year for your excess plums, then crisis avoided! If those plums spoil now, it’s his fault, not yours. 14. And now, better yet, get someone to give you sparkly metal for those nuts. That will never spoil! 15. Now that you have property that is rightfully yours, you’re allowed to use lethal force to defend it. 16. If someone has already managed to steal everything you own, then your recourse is to the law. 17. But if someone is actively trying to steal something — say, your coat — from you right now, then you don’t have time to go find a magistrate somewhere to stop him, so instead you’re entitled to just kill him. 18. Nature itself tells us this is obviously so. Just as you can’t reason with a wild animal, any person who resorts to force against you is no different to a beast of prey, and should be killed like one. 19. Oh, and when I talk about laws of nature, you know what I mean. I don’t want to go into detail of how that works, but anyway I don’t need to, as it’s all as obvious and plain as commonwealth law. Clearer, in fact. 20. Just like how when a husband and wife disagree, it’s obvious that someone needs to make the final decision, and naturally that will be the man. 21. So, yes, anyway, it’s the thief’s fault that I don’t have time to go find a judge, so I’m allowed to kill him if I can. 22. And when I say “kill”, I also mean that I can force him to be my slave instead. After all, he’ll be happy to be a slave instead of being dead. And any time he decides that he doesn’t like it any more, he can just refuse to do what I say, thus bringing about the death he obviously wants instead. 23..99 And now that I’ve derived from first principles that ‘society’ is just a collective formulation of all these natural rights, it’s fairly obvious how government should work… 100. Unfortunately I lost most of the first draft of this treatise, which was an excellent fisking of that ass Filmer. But, oh well, that’s probably OK, as surely no-one believes him any more anyway, and now you get to read this instead. And if this is as good as I think it is (and, trust me, it really is that good!), then the lost pages are no great loss at all. — † With the proviso that I’ve only read it, not studied it. PS: I strongly recommend Jonathan Bennett's ‘translation’ into modern English. It makes it so much easier to see the crazinessunderstand the text.

  2. 4 out of 5

    B. P. Rinehart

    "3. Political power, then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of [private] property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good." So I finally have read political philosophy that makes sense. This is the philosopher that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison swore by and who "3. Political power, then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of [private] property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good." So I finally have read political philosophy that makes sense. This is the philosopher that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison swore by and who is essential to understanding modern democratic governance. With this treatise, which was a polemic against absolute monarchy, you see the project started by Aristotle in his Politics finally reach its conclusion--for the most part. This book is not a relatively long read when you consider its subject matter so I will not have to go into a extended summary on it. Basically, humanity starts out in a very free, very equal state of nature were everything is shard with every one and the law of nature which is reason rules all. If you cause conflict you go into a state of war and all just measures can be used to subdue you. It is constant in nature, and after it, that preservation of yourself (first) and others is key which means slavery is not allowed of yourself or anybody else. When you start to acquire private property though, the state of nature is not a very good place to be any more and this is where [hu]man start[s] to make a civil society and all the laws that come with it. Civil society, while nice, is not perfect and it is when your government starts messing with your ability to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of property then you have a right to revolution. This treatise, of course, is really known for its establishment of what we now call liberal government. It is the main reason I feel this to be the best work of political philosophy I have read. Locke says that in the end it does not matter what form of government you have. The reason is that two principles have to be in place: a.) the government relies on the consent of the people or citizenry and b.) that the government acts in a limited role, doing only what is necessary for the well-being of civil society. This last point is easily the most confusing because what any society considers necessary is not set in stone. This is just a very short, abridged and inadequate summary of some of the knowledge in this book. The reason I don't go into more detail is because it is much better that you read this book yourself than hear it second hand. This goes especially if you live under a government that is theoretically limited in its role and based on the consent of the governed because you are basically living in John Locke's commonwealth. If you had to read one book on political philosophy, this is the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    It feels sort of like Hobbes for optimists, except he places a much higher emphasis on personal vs. collective property rights, which comes across as the precursor to most of the capitalist-oriented d-bag philopshy that's sprouted up in the past century. The notion that not being able to personally own something makes it useless and trifiling to us gets its foundation here. I could see Karl Marx frothing at the mouth and writing some bitter diatribe after reading something like this. I was also It feels sort of like Hobbes for optimists, except he places a much higher emphasis on personal vs. collective property rights, which comes across as the precursor to most of the capitalist-oriented d-bag philopshy that's sprouted up in the past century. The notion that not being able to personally own something makes it useless and trifiling to us gets its foundation here. I could see Karl Marx frothing at the mouth and writing some bitter diatribe after reading something like this. I was also surprised at just how much of this is grounded on cherry-picked scriptural references, probably explains why it's almost obnixously upbeat. If nothing else his writing style is waaaaay easier to get through than Hobbes's Leviathan.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This is Locke’s most famous political work, in which he explains the role of legitimate government and the basis for legitimate revolution. Locke argues that the people have the right to dissolve the government if it is usurped by a tyrannical executive power, or if the government ignored its own duties. Then the people have the right to reform the structure of government so that it protects against future abuses of power or breaches of trust. Locke wants to show that his argument for a right to This is Locke’s most famous political work, in which he explains the role of legitimate government and the basis for legitimate revolution. Locke argues that the people have the right to dissolve the government if it is usurped by a tyrannical executive power, or if the government ignored its own duties. Then the people have the right to reform the structure of government so that it protects against future abuses of power or breaches of trust. Locke wants to show that his argument for a right to revolution will not lead to excessive unrest, so he emphasizes that as long as people have a reliable way to change their laws, they are unlikely to resort to force to overthrow the government. There’s also a chapter on the rights of parents over their children (Chapter 6: Of Parental Power), in which Locke argued criticized the prevalent idea that "the power of parents over their children [is] wholly in the father, as if the mother had no share in it; whereas, if we consult reason or revelation, we shall find, she hath an equal title." Locke’s discussion of slavery allows for one way that he says slavery can be legitimate: The state of slavery can result from a continued state of war between the winning side in a just war and the defeated aggressors, in which the winner has the right to enslave the captives in return for sparing their lives. There’s a clear contradiction between this theory and slavery as it actually existed, since Atlantic slavery was hereditary. I reread this book in the Well-Educated Mind Histories Group. I haven’t looked at any secondary sources except the Stanford Encyclopedia article on Locke - the section on the Two Treatises of Government can be found here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/lo...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This book was assigned reading for the "Social and Political Philosophy" class at Loyola University Chicago. It's a rewarding, yet easy, read. John Locke's Second Treatise has long been mentioned as a major factor in forming the mindsets of the authors of the Constitution of the USA. There is certainly, as Wittgenstein would put it, "a family resemblance", but a study of the library contents of the period indicates that actually it may not have been much read at the time. It certainly wasn't his This book was assigned reading for the "Social and Political Philosophy" class at Loyola University Chicago. It's a rewarding, yet easy, read. John Locke's Second Treatise has long been mentioned as a major factor in forming the mindsets of the authors of the Constitution of the USA. There is certainly, as Wittgenstein would put it, "a family resemblance", but a study of the library contents of the period indicates that actually it may not have been much read at the time. It certainly wasn't his most popular book. In any case, when the framers spoke and wrote, their references were much more often to the idealized days of the Roman Republic than to the theories of Locke or any other roughly contemporary political philosopher. Still, the kind of thinking enunciated by Locke was apparently in the air and his arguments regarding governmental legitimacy are powerful--at least to those of us indoctrinated since childhood with such ideals as that governments require legitimization beyond brute force or tradition. The basic idea is this: governments derive legitimacy from the consent of the governed--in other words, they are contractual arrangements. Any notion that this is historically descriptive is certainly dubious, but the idea is certainly relevant to the founding of this republic years after his death. It was also, during that period, apparently both realistic and practical, the existence of the American frontier allowing adults the possibility of opting out such contracts. Of course, Locke has his blindspots. He does deal with the issue of children, endorsing the idea that young men upon attainment of their majority ought be able to become outlaws. Tho young boys remain coerced, they have the prospect of freedom. He does not, however, at least to my recollection, give thought to girls and women. Nor does he think of those adult members of the community who are, owing to physical or mental disability, unable to fend for themselves. Most egregiously, however, he neglects the native inhabitants of the American and of all other habitable frontiers of his and of our later revolutionary age. Still, it is a powerful idea and an attractive one. So powerful and constituative is it of the secular American religion that the loss of the frontier, of any realistic way to opt out of the American system, out of any governmental system, constitutes a radical challenge to the very foundations of the claim that the United States of America is in any way specially sanctioned. I should very much like to live in a society in which this, the matter of governmental legitimacy, was an issue of actual concern, rather than of pious mythologization. Any government worthy of our respect must needs include among its functions the maintenance of real means to escape its authority. Indeed, making allowance for race and gender blindness, our government, and that of our Britannic parent, used to act with some mind to just that when the mythic frontiers of America and of Australia seemed quite real. Oh, it was half-assed and self-serving, but frontiers were seen as social safety valves and these, and other, governments did make some efforts to make it possible for citizens to get away from noxious authority by such means as the Northwest Territories and Homestead Acts. Nowadays, however, while rugged individualism and frontier virtues are still invoked by the political priesthoods, the actual fact is quite the contrary. Our government grows ever more intrusive, ever more oppressive, ever more inescapable and ever more disrespected while it should, at least, be striving to engage with the other powers and principalities in order to create the conditions for all of them to obtain and maintain legitimacy. This can be done. Science fiction writers has dealt with this issue for decades, solving the problem of legitimacy in various ways. On one extreme there is the vast body of literature about pioneers in space, usually just hi-tech versions of sixteenth through eighteenth century colonists, pioneers, adventurers, pirates and the like. These pictures are, of course, unrealistic, given the technologies involved and the capitalization that they would entail. On the other extreme, and more realistically, there have been some who have envisioned futures when vast areas of our planet have been depopulated in order to allow for outlawry. As I recall, Huxley makes a wilderness Australia the alternative to his dystopian brave new world and a private retreat the haven for psychedelic pilgrims in his Island. Neither work out, but they could. Here, in the Midwest, we have created a national park in the Indiana Dunes by exemplary intention. Unless nature forces the issue by radical depopulation, such an effort will not yield immediate results. If the nations unitedly decided to create a frontier of, say, Australia (assuming it would be big enough and clement enough to be a real alternative to those not liking the existing social contracts available elsewhere and willing to bear the hardships of independent outlawry), it would have to occur over time given the interests of its current inhabitants. Otherwise, one might consider global efforts to reduce the human population and perhaps concentrate the remainder so as to allow ever-increasing frontier areas everywhere, frontiers offering freedoms ranging from weekend excursions to lifelong escape. Or, and this I just have a glimmer of, perhaps future developments in computer technology, the world-wide web and self-induced altered states of consciousness will allow our descendents other dimensions of freedom barely imaginable to us now, but real enough to them as to serve as alternatives to unwanted authority. In any case, John Locke, way back in the transitional years of the 17-18th centuries, got me started worrying about this stuff. Quite an accomplishment!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Even if all of the concepts in this book are bullshit it is still an important read because powerful people thought it was important. I enjoy the idea that property is a product of labour, but it really doesn't hold up in most circumstances, and especially not in our world of scarce resources (I can't just pick a plum and claim it mine). I like the idea of a 'state of war' in which all the rights and duties fly out the window. But, when do I know if I'm in a state of war. And, furthermore, if by Even if all of the concepts in this book are bullshit it is still an important read because powerful people thought it was important. I enjoy the idea that property is a product of labour, but it really doesn't hold up in most circumstances, and especially not in our world of scarce resources (I can't just pick a plum and claim it mine). I like the idea of a 'state of war' in which all the rights and duties fly out the window. But, when do I know if I'm in a state of war. And, furthermore, if by breaking my 'rights' the opposition enters into a state of war with me, what substance do those rights have? And then so much of what is right and wrong is defined by those in power, so unless there's a serious and obvious breach, I have no 'right' to declare that those Powers have entered into a state of war. Locke created an ultra-rational basis of government and authority that doesn't work in our unkempt world. But it is still a basis of some sort, and it was apparently influential on the constitution of that one country who's international influences distorts everyone's reality. This sort of work is powerful because it gives people the 'rational' justification to do what they want to do. It's something that everyone should read. And, really, I did enjoy the read, and I won't judge a book by its influence for good or bad (as any important book could be construed in which ever way you want to interpret its influence). note: I was extremely confused by his stance on slavery. At one point it seems like a slave is his/her master's property, but in another point Locke seems to say that an individuals liberty (liberty being a type of property) can never be sacrificed. I don't understand how I can justifiably become a slave, and if I can't then no slave is justifiably property (which would be congruent with modern notions of human rights).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    A book much talked about (sometimes maligned) but rarely read. There are several good reasons, namely Locke articulates a rather clear and logically coherent theory of resistance--but more on that later. Like Hobbes and Rousseau, albeit with different and more godly conclusions, Locke analyzes man in his state of nature. What is this state of nature? It is men living together in reason without a common superior (III.19). If that is so, then why would anyone surrender a portion of his liberty and A book much talked about (sometimes maligned) but rarely read. There are several good reasons, namely Locke articulates a rather clear and logically coherent theory of resistance--but more on that later. Like Hobbes and Rousseau, albeit with different and more godly conclusions, Locke analyzes man in his state of nature. What is this state of nature? It is men living together in reason without a common superior (III.19). If that is so, then why would anyone surrender a portion of his liberty and authority to incorporate into a state? Locke gives a clear, if not entirely consistent answer: men incorporate together because of the precariousness of solitary existence. Agreed, but if the state of nature is what it is, then why do men have to worry? Labour as Distinction and Valuation: Labour creates a distinction between “his” and “common.” Labour begins the distinction of property. Whatever a man cannot use for himself returns to the realm of “common” (V.29). Locke argues, contra later libertarians, that things have an intrinsic value, though not absolutely so (V.37). Their value depends on their usefulness to the life of man. Labour puts the difference of value on everything (V.40). Labour puts the value on land. Labour gives the right of property (V.45). Money, however, has subjective value (V.47). It Has value from the consent of men. I think Locke has struck a good balance here. His emphasis on labour and the land maintains a healthy work ethic (a point Adam Smith capitalized on, much to the anger and ire of the Misesian School). He ends his treatise with a discussion of representative government and the right and limits of resistance.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael O'Brien

    I think that the best description for this book is that it formed much of the Founding Fathers' source code behind their political thought, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Now, we largely take it for granted that all men are created equal and are endowed with natural rights. In 1690, in a time when the Divine Right of Kings was still very much in acceptance, Locke's contention that all men are have the same natural rights was a revolutionary notion which he developed in I think that the best description for this book is that it formed much of the Founding Fathers' source code behind their political thought, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Now, we largely take it for granted that all men are created equal and are endowed with natural rights. In 1690, in a time when the Divine Right of Kings was still very much in acceptance, Locke's contention that all men are have the same natural rights was a revolutionary notion which he developed in justification of England's Glorious Revolution which overthrew King James II. Because of Locke's major influence on Thomas Jefferson, I read this book. Surprisingly, Locke forms many of his beginning basis of his arguments on natural rights from the Bible --- something that I was not told about in either high school or college in their mentions of his political philosophy. Probably not a good book for a weak reader, but definitely worth the effort for anyone seeking to learn the background from which America's greatest patriots drew their principles during and after the American Revolution.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    The gist of Locke's political philosophy is amazing, especially in the context of when it was written, but I was disappointed with his fuzziness in a few areas: Property rights: What if property rights protection causes more harm than benefit to an impoverished local population? Locke's defence of property rights is based, after all, on his proposition that private ownership is preferable to letting resources go to waste. Unfortunately, it seems that what constitutes "going to waste" is The gist of Locke's political philosophy is amazing, especially in the context of when it was written, but I was disappointed with his fuzziness in a few areas: Property rights: What if property rights protection causes more harm than benefit to an impoverished local population? Locke's defence of property rights is based, after all, on his proposition that private ownership is preferable to letting resources go to waste. Unfortunately, it seems that what constitutes "going to waste" is subjective. Rule of the Majority: It's what he advocates and defends on a common-sense level for a few pages, but then never ventures to comment on the danger of tyranny of the majority. Of course, Locke was confused or untruthful in writing about the legitimacy of human slavery. And, he also looks at everything, especially in the property chapter, with the notion that whatever is best for mankind is best period. What about the Earth as a whole?

  10. 5 out of 5

    C

    Whether or not Hegel was right that history is inevitably moving in a positive direction, he was most assuredly right that History is moving a direction that can limelight past social contradictions. When we look at Locke we see Hegel’s claim completely vindicated. His Second Treatise is both revolutionary for its time, and conservative for ours. Moreover, Locke, while challenging mainstream Political Theory of his day (e.g., Men are beasts in a state of war, and Kings have divine rights, and Whether or not Hegel was right that history is inevitably moving in a positive direction, he was most assuredly right that History is moving a direction that can limelight past social contradictions. When we look at Locke we see Hegel’s claim completely vindicated. His Second Treatise is both revolutionary for its time, and conservative for ours. Moreover, Locke, while challenging mainstream Political Theory of his day (e.g., Men are beasts in a state of war, and Kings have divine rights, and Monarchies are good forms of government), simultaneously leads along a path that would have us owning people, abusing animals, and ignoring the concerns of the commons. How does Locke do this? Knowing the answer to this question is paramount, as Locke more than anyone influenced the American founding fathers, and sons of liberty, in their propaganda and political ideals. Locke begins his Second Treatise with some interesting claims. Man is born into a state of nature, where all he obeys are the laws of nature. These laws of nature are in fact reason, granted to us by a deity who owns us. Reason, without any deep argumentation, convinces us all that we have a right to life, liberty, and property. Unlike Hobbes, Locke does not believe we are born into a state of war; it’s only when someone transgresses against the laws of nature, which we find ourselves in a state of war. Being too irrational to defend ourselves, or at least defend ourselves utilizing a proper punishment and retribution, we desire a common and neutral judge. That judge is the state. In order to defend the notion of protecting property via the state, Locke has to demonstrate how we come to own property. At first the earth is teaming with sustenance, and provisions. As man begins to labor over the earth, so that which he labors over becomes his. After all man owns his laboring appendages, and therefore, he mixes his ownership with the earth’s goods, and comes to own them too (but doesn’t God own man, and thus his appendages…). Since we are in a state of nature though, where preservation of life is paramount, we cannot take more than we need, or as Locke calls it, let things spoil or go to waste. Then, without the slightest justification, Locke states that therefore the work of our servant belongs to us. How the hell does someone labor over a man for him to become our servant? This is never justified, but given Locke’s private affairs, and personal life, it’s no doubt he’d have to sneak this line in to his political treatise. Locke for instance sat on the board of many companies that employed children, and enslaved foreigners. He thought children should be put to work at the age of three. But I digress…. Man also somehow can labor over an animal and thus own it too. Odd. Locke is confident that the earth will reap us a greater harvest, the more we work it, therefore, despite the fact the commons, in the state of nature, provides us with plenty, we can have even more plenty by labor. To a degree this is true, but it’s increasingly becoming clear that our industrial labors are having the opposite effect on the planet, destroying what once was plentiful. Now that we have a super abundance, Locke needs to justify why we can step away from his old rule of the taking of no excess, and hoarding to the point of spoilage. For this Locke augments his shoddy labor theory of value. Man comes to agree that money, be it gold, or paper, which cannot spoil, than represent that which we trade it for. Now instead of hoarding my home with 100 apples, 90 of which will rot, I’ll keep 100 apples worth of gold on reserve. Of course Locke never actually explained how money came to share an equivalent value with the goods it is exchanged for. Mere agreement does not allow for universal equivalent of value. For this, we must consult Marx. Moreover, it’s completely unclear that people did unanimously come together and ‘consent’ to using a common currency. Again, consult Marx. Oddly this prospering and industrious society has all taken place prior to the erecting of a state. The Marxist truism that bourgeois thinkers read their own society back into history, and implore their own categories of thought – which derive from material circumstances – as timeless tools for analysis, is vindicated when one reads Locke. Man now requires a state to protect his property. No longer does man owe himself to the common lot, but uses the state to augment his own affairs, relying on the state to protect the commons, but the only protection the commons needs is preservation of property, and defense against transgressions. We went from a land of plenty, with our fellow man in mind, to find ourselves in a land of property, where the plenty is sectioned off, people are owned – without justification – and our only duty to our fellow man is to leave him alone. If he cannot make his way in society, it’s clearly his own fault. Funny how we all have a right to property, but only extreme minorities actually has it. Thus Locke is both a revolutionary and a conservative. An enlightener, and a charlatan. A man of liberty and a man who sanctions owning humans. Despite his contradictory nature, he earns a small round of applause for those in favor of democracy. Locke is convinced that legislation can only be consented to when it passed by a majority, and not by a king. A king is literally in the state of war at all times, a man who sets the law, but completely operates outside it. In regards to the essay on liberation, it’s a perfect example of what Zizek refers to as Liberalism’s inability to tolerate what it deems extremism. That is, liberals pretend to be for an open society, of tolerance, and religious expression, until you encroach on what they deem to be intolerant, and radical. Locke thinks all religions ought to be tolerated, except Catholics and atheists. The Catholics are beholden to the pope and thus cannot be loyal to the society they live in. And atheists can lie. That’s right, the reason you cannot trust atheists, is that they can lie. Stupid. One wonders how Locke didn’t instantly realize everyone can lie! Read Locke, and if you cannot generate a critique, you’re long lost to liberal ideology. If you can generate a critique, socialism embraces you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rashaan

    Job Title: Men of Industry Organization: Locke’s Utopia (as outlined in Second Treatise of Government) Location: The Commonwealth Salary: Depending on experience and circumstance FT (+ over) Job Description: Under general supervision of God, men of industry are responsible for making the land productive, working to ensure individual prosperity, which will secure civil harmony so man’s true destiny and society’s objecktives are met. Specific areas of responsibility include: -Self-preservation; Job Title: Men of Industry Organization: Locke’s Utopia (as outlined in Second Treatise of Government) Location: The Commonwealth Salary: Depending on experience and circumstance FT (+ over) Job Description: Under general supervision of God, men of industry are responsible for making the land productive, working to ensure individual prosperity, which will secure civil harmony so man’s true destiny and society’s objecktives are met. Specific areas of responsibility include: -Self-preservation; protects individual properties and liberties. -Prevents encroachment and destruction of other fellow citizen’s properties. -Self moderates so the government doesn’t have to intervene and resources are equally shared. -Manages the land, which God gave dominion of; plans, directs and supervises the cultivation and maintenance of grounds. -Oversees and directs individual honor and reputation to maintain and increase merit in general society. -Ensures government is fair and treats equally all men of property and industry. -Relinquishes a few rights to enjoy freedom among equals. -Allows and acknowledges that whichever law is not stipulated by the government is therefore an inherent freedom to by enjoyed and protected, meaning non-regulation is freedom. -Monitors government; reviews, tracks and evaluates governing outcomes; creates and submits reports in a timely manner. Takes primary responsibility to lead and/or assist with special projeckts, including the development of new legislation, technology or special events, as assigned, from start to completion. -Plants or reaps no more than individual’s own fair share. - Submits self and property to the common law but allows that the government’s laws are strictly to administer enjoyment of property. This position requires frequent use of independent judgment and discretion, as well as a high degree of skill and ability, including physical and economic means, in work organization, professionalism and communication. Must be proficient in agriculture, politicking, privilege, and entitlement. Maintains appropriate decorum and holds fast to the faith that individual desire ensures good for all fellow citizens; collaborates with publick and politicians, as needed. Understands that an individual man cannot destroy himself nor his property. Acknowledges that absolute monarchs are but men themselves. Represents the Commonwealth and the virtues as dictated by the Christian God and Lord wherein the following philosophy is maintained: God, when he gave the world in common to all mankind, commanded man also to labour, and the penury of his condition required it of him. God and his reason commanded him to subdue earth i.e, improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour. (21) Therefore provides other services that contribute to the achievement of Divine goals and civil society's objecktives. Intellect, committed work ethic, and property required. **This is not an equal opportunity employment; only strong and able men of property need apply. How to apply: send self West Organization website: www.carpediem.com Email replies to: [email protected]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike M.

    I've been aware of John Locke for a while now - you could even say I was a bit of a fan of his - so when I saw The Second Treatise of Government in a library, it immediately caught my eye. I swiftly read the introduction to the work and made the decision to carry on reading. Now, I’m not saying that the introduction (written by editor, Thomas P. Pearson) was particularly interesting, in fact it was quite the opposite, but I was intrigued by the fact that the introduction seemed to point out some I've been aware of John Locke for a while now - you could even say I was a bit of a fan of his - so when I saw The Second Treatise of Government in a library, it immediately caught my eye. I swiftly read the introduction to the work and made the decision to carry on reading. Now, I’m not saying that the introduction (written by editor, Thomas P. Pearson) was particularly interesting, in fact it was quite the opposite, but I was intrigued by the fact that the introduction seemed to point out some possible flaws in Locke’s ideas. For those who aren’t in the know (I’m so cool,) John Locke is a highly influential 17th century philosopher and enlightened thinker who was famous for his ideas regarding liberty, natural rights, and the role of government. Perhaps most impressive, Locke directly influenced Thomas Jefferson’s idea for the Declaration of Independence, with many historians making claims that essentially stated Jefferson all but quoted Locke. The Second Treatise of Government is the work of Locke that has had the most influence throughout the years, and, as such, it tells us a great deal about what would become the foundation for most American political philosophy. Locke based his ideas upon the concept of limited government control and innate rights, both of which became key topics in the world of political soon after he helped popularize them with The Second Treatise of Government, which makes this book extremely historically important. The biggest thing that The Second Treatise of Government has going for it is its importance. Even today, it’s still incredibly relevant to a good portion of political discourse in America. I am a firm believer that reading up on Locke’s ideas is a great way to further your understanding of a lot of contemporary American thought. Aside from contextualizing modern issues, it is also a very interesting read, with many unique ideas and perspectives that aren’t seen commonly in modern times. As a whole, it’s an entirely different experience from any modern expression of political ideals. As much as I enjoyed The Second Treatise of Government, it was a bit of a slog to get through. The writing falls on the denser side of the literary spectrum, with certain passages requiring a few takes to fully comprehend. The language is also obviously outdated, due to being written some odd three hundred years ago and the same can be said for some of Locke’s concepts. A few of Locke’s ideas aren’t as applicable to modern times as they were to the 1700s, which can create a bit of a disconnect among 21st century readers. Along with that, there are times when the writing becomes repetitive and drags, creating some immensely boring stretches, but these are in the minority, with the majority of the book being quite interesting. The Second Treatise of Government definitely isn’t for everyone and it surely has its flaws, but I would highly recommend it if you’re interested in contemporary thought or the founding ideals of America.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Imani ♥ ☮

    I've "read" this one twice now and apparently have the same reaction to it. Whereas before, when I read this as a wee bitty freshman in college, and I am now more seasoned to see even more bullshit in this text than before. Unfortunately, Locke and I will never get along. I understand the pertinence of this text in relation to the ultimate project of America's Founding Fathers. I understand that Locke's analysis of property is essential in understanding modern day capitalism - especially as it I've "read" this one twice now and apparently have the same reaction to it. Whereas before, when I read this as a wee bitty freshman in college, and I am now more seasoned to see even more bullshit in this text than before. Unfortunately, Locke and I will never get along. I understand the pertinence of this text in relation to the ultimate project of America's Founding Fathers. I understand that Locke's analysis of property is essential in understanding modern day capitalism - especially as it relates to land rights and Manifest Destiny. I even understand that Locke sets the foundation for the justification of colonization and chattel slavery. And I still don't like him. There's nothing that wins out. He's not only a racist hypocrite, his writing isn't that hot (even Hobbes is better). Very boring. The concepts are interesting but I will have to go with Hobbes' take on the state of nature. Locke's faux concern with democracy is also frustrating, since he obviously does not care about most folks having a say in government. Blah blah blah Locke.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alix

    This is a classic text for political science and worth reading to understand the argument that democracy and property rights are instrumentally tied - even if you read with an eye to critiquing this argument.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    Interesting read for those who seek a career or education in government.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    If it's any consolation, Locke is way easier to read than Hobbes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lovely Fortune

    I think this is my second time within less than a year that I've had to read Locke's second treatise. I appreciate how this document shaped American Democracy, but gosh darn, I did not want to have to read that in such close proximity twice.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Readorable

    I'm a fan of his ideas on the state of nature and the state of war.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Locke's seminal work laying out his philosophy of the contract between government and governed. A key focus is 'consent of the governed' as well as 'property', by which he means not just physical possessions but also life and liberty. It's easy to see how much of this structure and relationship between the state and individuals made its way into the Declaration and Constitution in the following century, including its closing chapters on tyranny and the circumstances under which government needs Locke's seminal work laying out his philosophy of the contract between government and governed. A key focus is 'consent of the governed' as well as 'property', by which he means not just physical possessions but also life and liberty. It's easy to see how much of this structure and relationship between the state and individuals made its way into the Declaration and Constitution in the following century, including its closing chapters on tyranny and the circumstances under which government needs to be replaced.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    Locke's political theory begins with the state of nature where men have perfect freedom within the bounds of the law of nature to pursue what is necessary for their preservation. In the state of nature also is a state of equality "wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another." In this state of freedom and equality, the law of nature is that each ought to respect each other's ends so that the state of nature is a state of balance. The state of nature is Locke's political theory begins with the state of nature where men have perfect freedom within the bounds of the law of nature to pursue what is necessary for their preservation. In the state of nature also is a state of equality "wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another." In this state of freedom and equality, the law of nature is that each ought to respect each other's ends so that the state of nature is a state of balance. The state of nature is not, Locke says, a state of license and men, through reason, can see that self-regulation (self-limitation) is essential for their own good. But this harmonious state of affairs does not exist in reality for some men seek more than their due, placing the other's property at risk. In this jeopardizing situation, men consent to the creation of a government to regulate social interactions by law so that the common good is achieved, and to the limitation of government so as not to perpetuate private interest at the expense of the whole. Locke's theory rests on a biological foundation. We seek our preservation and well-being (both, generally, "property" in Locke) as any animal does. Good is what brings us pleasure. Bad is what brings us pain. This part of Locke is straight forward. In theory, humans should all be equal in power but this is Locke's error. Men in a "state of nature" are not equal. They vary in character, intelligence and ambition as well as physical strength. This results in inequality which is accentuated with the accumulation of material property and money. It is this inequality, not equality, that necessitates the formation of government by individual consent. Inequality explains why there is deviation from the law of nature where men ought to respect the ends of others and not seek more than their fair share (Note: Locke's statement that, were it not for corruption, the world would have no need for civil society. But this begs the question as to why there is corruption). Through reason, men abstract what ought to be from the state of nature and make it the founding principle for the commonwealth: the end of government is the protection of the common good, i.e., the freedom of individuals to preserve their body and material means in ways that respect the ends of the other, and holds aggressors (those who invade an other's right) in check. Locke's political theory is built upon this theory of human nature and his assessment of both is about as good as it gets. C.B. McPherson, who writes an introduction to the Second Treatise, over interprets Locke's theory of property, focusing on property as wealth whereas Locke makes it clear that property is body and the body's welfare, not just land, business and money that, at least in some significant way, serve the body's welfare. And Locke never deviates from his fundamental principle that the end of government is the good of the whole, not private interest at the expense of the whole. Where Locke goes astray is that he anchors his law of nature in the Will of God. Locke's empiricism, perhaps, leads him to deny inherited, innate principles that are embedded in our very biology. Locke looks up to the heaven for his ultimate foundation, when that foundation likely rests on his, and our, biological being.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jack Hansen

    John Locke is a most fundamental influence on the United States of America's foundation. His worldview, logical mind, and sense of justice for men and women in society pave the way for our founding fathers. The reading can be challenging because of his style but the gist is clear once read. Locke introduces the reader to the reasoning behind the choices one makes in becoming a member of society. All societies differ in many ways but the source of power in a society may be abusive to its people or John Locke is a most fundamental influence on the United States of America's foundation. His worldview, logical mind, and sense of justice for men and women in society pave the way for our founding fathers. The reading can be challenging because of his style but the gist is clear once read. Locke introduces the reader to the reasoning behind the choices one makes in becoming a member of society. All societies differ in many ways but the source of power in a society may be abusive to its people or unfair in its attempt to maintain power. Locke then proceeds to suggest something rare; a society that is for the people who live and work within its laws in a harmonious fashion. He is a proponent of an individual's right to property, fair judgment, and protection of his life from anyone or anything that tries to impose their will over his to further their own power. He believes that a commoner should yield to an authority when authority is legislating from a mutual understanding that protects everyone. Locke also points out that if the authority forces its power over a commoner for personal gain, then the righteous one is the commoner and is justified in rebelling against such authority. Locke's Second Treatise of Government concludes that any power given up to authorities who remain in power and arrange for successors to their political positions cause the people, communities, and commonwealth to forfeit their power. For this reason, temporary positions of power allow a society to right itself once it diverts from its original course because the people can make the corrections as they see fit.

  22. 5 out of 5

    M

    Very important material presented in a way that comes off as dull and dry. (Maybe it was dull and dry back then too). While every thinking person should have a notion of what Mr. Locke was trying to get across they should not suffer through the original text. A square deal might be reading a well thought out synopsis with snippets of the most important text. It's interesting to read about his postulations of society citing both nature and scripture. His establishment of family building is off, Very important material presented in a way that comes off as dull and dry. (Maybe it was dull and dry back then too). While every thinking person should have a notion of what Mr. Locke was trying to get across they should not suffer through the original text. A square deal might be reading a well thought out synopsis with snippets of the most important text. It's interesting to read about his postulations of society citing both nature and scripture. His establishment of family building is off, for families didn't start as a nuclear unit. He takes this assumption and runs it to reach a conclusion about monarchy. Families started as big groups of people, not mom + dad + spawn. But I'm nitpicking. Was refreshing to read how even though dad had domain of his family since he turned his labor into food and profit he did not have full control over his wife as he did his children (until they became old enough to be kicked out). Read a good synopsis of this tome but leave a copy on your bookshelf to look pedantic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    SeRRo

    Locke has been considered father of liberalism and for valid reasons. His Second Treatise of Government is an answer to Hobbes' Leviathan. It also sets the basis for a social contract theory based on a state of nature, but unlike Hobbes he brings God into the equation. It is interesting that for Locke property means "life, liberty and estate". Locke also sparks controversy today because of his advocacy for slavery as he put it "master has authority over his slaves". Yet he says that people have Locke has been considered father of liberalism and for valid reasons. His Second Treatise of Government is an answer to Hobbes' Leviathan. It also sets the basis for a social contract theory based on a state of nature, but unlike Hobbes he brings God into the equation. It is interesting that for Locke property means "life, liberty and estate". Locke also sparks controversy today because of his advocacy for slavery as he put it "master has authority over his slaves". Yet he says that people have the right for revolution if the state does not guarantee the basic rights on which the social contract has been established. Still, his writings have influenced both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the USA. He also led the foundations for Enlightenment and influenced thinkers like Voltaire or Rousseau.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Peter Martuneac

    If the framers of the US Constitution are the Founding Fathers, then Locke and his Second Treatise on Government are our Founding Grandfather. The spirit of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are based primarily on Locke’s writings here. I especially like his concept of the people’s ‘right to revolt’, declaring that if citizens find their government no longer tolerable, they have the RIGHT to cast it down and replace it. Small wonder that Locke did not originally attach his name to this If the framers of the US Constitution are the Founding Fathers, then Locke and his Second Treatise on Government are our Founding Grandfather. The spirit of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are based primarily on Locke’s writings here. I especially like his concept of the people’s ‘right to revolt’, declaring that if citizens find their government no longer tolerable, they have the RIGHT to cast it down and replace it. Small wonder that Locke did not originally attach his name to this treatise. A brilliant work that literally changed the world, a must read for philosophers and political scientists alike.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Max Ritter

    John Locke was an incredibly influential writer and thinker. But his writing is dense and outdated, so hard to sift through, and it's all a little redundant now. I love old theory writings but this one didn't really jump off the page at me, and plus Locke was super racist when it came to indigenous Americans. His beliefs are basically structured around keeping property in the hands of the elite so long as they seek to "better the collective stock of mankind", which seems very in line with some John Locke was an incredibly influential writer and thinker. But his writing is dense and outdated, so hard to sift through, and it's all a little redundant now. I love old theory writings but this one didn't really jump off the page at me, and plus Locke was super racist when it came to indigenous Americans. His beliefs are basically structured around keeping property in the hands of the elite so long as they seek to "better the collective stock of mankind", which seems very in line with some of America's greatest problems. But, of course, life liberty and property. Natural rights. All that stuff. So he has his moments too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fiddlinmike

    How can you not give this book at least a 4? It is one of the most important works of political philosophy in the history of man. Having said that, modern readers may not fully appreciate Locke out of context from his day. Chapters 1,2,5,8-11 really lay out Locke's vision for government. To me these are the core concepts that helped form the US Constitution almost a hundred years after Locke wrote it. I admit to skimming through much of the stuff about parental societies, Kings, war, etc.... I How can you not give this book at least a 4? It is one of the most important works of political philosophy in the history of man. Having said that, modern readers may not fully appreciate Locke out of context from his day. Chapters 1,2,5,8-11 really lay out Locke's vision for government. To me these are the core concepts that helped form the US Constitution almost a hundred years after Locke wrote it. I admit to skimming through much of the stuff about parental societies, Kings, war, etc.... I felt like I got the idea, and Locke was a bit repetitive.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paloma *The Romance Queen*

    Very helpful if you want to understand government had to read it for my modern political theory class (I thought I put it up here that I was reading this...oh well lol) ok read...for academic purposes ....I'm not a libertarian so...... but still this is a vital in political theory and anyone who fancies themselves "political" or aspires to be..should read this one

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    an apology for being a grubby and prim owner of other human beings

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    John Locke may have some interesting ideas... most of which I disagree with, but his writing is so dull! He's a yawn.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Duffy

    What can I say? Lets all get some private property?!

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