Hobbes and Locke and the beginnings of “liberalism” (pp8).



EXTRACTS (ii) from LOCKE (The Second Treatise on Government – Of Civil Government. Page references are to W.T. Jones in the Harrap series):


1.         For Men being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker; All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, sent into the world by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not another’s Pleasure. (ch II, p 165)


2.         All Men are naturally [i.e. “by nature/born into”] a State of Equality, wherein all power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident than that Creatures of the same Species and Rank should also be equal one amongst another without Subordination or Subjection; unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above another… Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth, without authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature. (ch II, IV, p 156 – 7)


To understand political power and derive it from its original, we must consider what state men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature; without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man. (reference?)


Thus we are born free, as we are born rational (ch VI, p 160)…


[the state of nature] is not a State of License; though Man in that State have an uncontroulable Liberty to dispose of his Person or Possessions, yet he has not Liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any Creature in his Possession but where some nobler Use than its bare Preservation calls for it. The State of nature has a Law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone; And Reason, which is that Law, teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions. (ch II, p 164 - 5)


3.         The great and chief end of mens uniting into commonwealths and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. To which in the state of nature there are many things wanting… (ch V, p 182)

Civil Government is the proper remedy for the Inconveniences of the State of nature, which must certainly be great, where Men may be Judges in their own Case. (ch II, p 166)


4.         … no one can be subjected to the political power of another without his own consent. The only way whereby any one puts on the bonds of civil society, is by their agreeing with other men to join and unite into a community, for their comfortable, safe and peaceable living one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties. (ch VIII, p 170 – 1)


            Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to everyone of that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things where the rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man… (ch IV, Of Slavery, paragraph 22)


This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power is so necessary to, and closely joined with, a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it but by what forfeits his preservation and life together. For a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact or his own consent, enslave himself to anyone, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life when he pleases. (ch IV, paragraph 23)


Hence it is evident, that Absolute Monarchy… is indeed inconsistent with Civil Society. (ch VII, p 175)   


… slavery… is the state of war continued between a lawful conqueror and a captive. [Once a compact is made between them, the state of war and slavery ceases.] (ch IV, paragraph 24)


5. … there remains still in the People a supreme Power to remove or alter the Legislative, [and, it follows, the Executive, since this is answerable to the Legislative in Locke’s scheme] when they find the Legislative act contrary to the Trust reposed in them. (ch XIII, p 197).


The Reason why Men enter into Society, is the Preservation of their Property [and] that there may be Laws made… as Guards and Fences to the Properties of all the Members of the Society… Whensoever therefore the Legislative shall transgress this fundamental Rule of Society… by this Breach of Trust they forfeit the Power the People had put into their Hands… and it devolves to the People, who have a right to Resume their Original Liberty… (ch XIII, XIX, p 199)






On Property (Of Civil Government, ch V, p 177 ff)


6.         Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to it, at least where there is enough and as good left in common for others. (p 178)



The same law of nature that does by this means (i.e. by allowing us to take from it what we need in the state of nature) give us property, does also bind that property too. “God has given us all things richly” (I Tim. 6.17) is the voice of reason confirmed by inspiration. But how far has he given it to us? To enjoy. As much as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in. (loc cit)


.. that same rule of property, viz. that every man should have as much as he could make use of, would still hold in the world, without straitening anybody, since there is land enough in the world to suffice double the inhabitants, had not the invention of money, and the tacit agreement of men to put a value on it, introduced (by consent) larger possessions, and a right to them… (paragraph 36)


[so] … it is plain that Men have agreed to disproportionate and unequal Possession of the Earth, they having by a tacit and voluntary consent found out a way, how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of, by receiving in exchange for the overplus, Gold and Silver, which may be hoarded up without injury to any one, these metals not spoiling or decaying in the hands of the possessor.  (p 181)


Nor is it so strange as … it may appear that the property of labour should be able to overbalance the community of land. For ‘tis labour indeed that puts the difference of value on everything. (ch 5, p 179)


And thus, I think, it is very easy to conceive… how labour could at first begin a title of property in the common things of nature, and how the spending it upon our uses bounded it… Right and conveniency went together, for as a man had a right to all he could employ his labour upon, so he had no temptation to labour or more than he could make use of… it was useless as well as dishonest to carve himself too much, or take more than he needed.  (paragraph 51)


10.       he who appropriates land to himself by his labour, does not lessen but increase the common stock of mankind. For the provisions serving to the support of human life, produced by one acre of enclosed and cultivated land, are… ten times more, than those, which are yielded by an acre of land, of an equal richness, lying waste in common. (p 179)