Meant to Be (The Infinitum Government Book 2)

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  1. Meant to Be
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Terrell believes very strongly in an ordered, practical lifestyle. Nothing good, after all, ever came from following impractical urges and impulses. Nearly finished with school, it is time to focus on the next step in his life—settling down at his estate, Fivecoats, and marrying a suitable spouse to oversee it while he pursues his academic leanings. When his father sends word that he has found the ideal man for Terrell to marry, Terrell can only be pleased—despite the misgivings of his best friend. Marriage, after all, is perfectly practical, and such things as romance highly impractical.

Kirian wants nothing to do with practicality. His parents chose to be happy over being practical, and he refuses to settle for less, no matter what everyone around him says. But then he is forced to marry a man who is colder than ice, settle into a marriage that seems to be in all ways practical, but in no way happy. But beneath the surface of his new spouse, Kirian sees something far from icy, something he realizes he wants—but which seems to belong to another man. In his zeal to portray Locke as the wicked defender of an even more wicked capitalism.

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Meant to Be

MacPherson misses the real thrust of Locke's argument which is to protect people, all whom are property owners in one sense or the other, from the wicked use of political power. The approach of Strauss, Cox, and MacPherson in interpreting Locke has been attacked from many quarters. Peter Laslett calls MacPherson's reading "thoroughly unrealistic and occasionally unhistoric. He points convincingly to the absolute, arbitrary power of monarchs as Locke's real target and observes that all men have property that is subject to government encroachment. John Dunn argues that MacPherson's reading misses the traditional Christian elements in Locke's thought, specifically the importance of charity and duty, and presents as evidence Locke's notes on the just price to support his contention that Locke was concerned with economic justice in the Scholastic tradition.

However, by far the most complete and convincing refutation of the whole Strauss-Cox-MacPherson reading of Locke as Hobbesian and Marx-style capitalist is presented by Martin Seliger in the context of his investigation of The Liberal Politics of John Locke Seliger's detailed reading of Locke is probably the most comprehensive treatment of Locke's political theory in the literature today.

His volume is both an exegesis of Locke's writings and an attempt to investigate the nature of modern liberal political thought. Here, we will be most concerned with his reading of Locke's theory of property which he, too sees to be the linchpin of Locke's political thought.


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Seliger begins by observing that most of the "confusions" found in Locke's theory of property stem from misinterpreting Locke's attitude toward equality. While it is clear that Locke posited political equality, in the state of nature, he never assumed there would be equality of possessions. Locke presumed that differing natural capacities would lead to different amounts of property, and the use of money would simply enable men to enlarge their possessions, not to create inequality per se. Seliger is unique among Locke scholars in that he sees no problem with Locke's assumption that men would want to enlarge their possessions.

Refreshingly, he understands the desire to accumulate property evidences good sense. He, too, points out the contractual nature of the wage relationship and makes the important observation that in order for a person to hire labor, the employer must be able to exchange the fruits of his own labor acquired at some time past. Seliger affirms that both the economic and political spheres depend upon consent and agreements among adults. However, he further argues that of the two spheres of agreement, the political sets limits for the economic and so is above the economic in importance.

While Locke seems to emphasize the right to property above all other rights, his emphasis was symbolic. Just as his use of the broad definition of property is symbolic of the rights to life, liberty, and estate. Rather than having any special status, then, the enjoyment of property is subjected to political decisions just as any right is regulated by the political process. Seliger supports his contention by showing that Locke always describes freedom as bounded by law, either natural law in the state of nature, or conventional law within civil society. Law is necessary to "maximize" freedom, that is, to protect individuals from the arbitrariness of their fellow man.

Law, according to Seliger's Locke, is a formalization of the public will, which itself is a resolution of the conflict among private wills. Within the legal code, one major tenet is that "people should have property" and should not have it subjected to the will of the government. To Seliger, Locke's major concern was to protect property from arbitrary political ruling, not simply to protect property per se. Seliger goes on, however, to claim further that Locke describes a moral supremacy of the political sphere, and it is here that his interpretation is open to serious challenge.

Seliger supports his view by once again going back to property in the state of nature. Here, he claims, Locke believes that the economic contract, the agreement to use money allows men to satisfy irrational desires and distorts intrinsic value of things while the political contract serves to overcome and regulate the anti-social results of these basically irrational pursuits. At first glance, Seliger's statements seem to make sense. Locke does use the language of irrational desires and distortion of intrinsic values.

He describes an early stage of human existence "before the desire of having more than men needed, had altered the intrinsic value of things, which depends only on their usefulness to the life of man," and later he argues that "The greatest part of things really useful to the life of man. Gold, silver and diamonds are things that fancy or agreement hath put the value on, more than real use, and the necessary support of life.

The language of intrinsic value is not an integral part of his argument and perhaps can be read as a sop to tradition. Even if we accept the premise that Locke really believed in some philosophical hierarchy of values, however, this does not necessarily imply that he disapproved of the changes in values brought about by money, or that the changes were irrational.

In fact, all the evidence presented so far in this essay supports exactly the opposite view. Certainly, the concept of an intrinsic value of things that is morally superior to market values plays no role in his economic thought. Seliger's second argument for the moral superiority of the political over the economic realm is even less convincing.

He claims that equality is a virtue and since Locke posits a natural political equality and not a natural economic equality, Locke must have been showing the moral superiority of political life over economic. Even if that were the case, it is not self-evident that the actual political order is more conducive to equality than the economic order. The whole issue is muddied by the fact that Seliger gives no discussion of the nature of equality but then, neither does Locke.

There is evidence, however, that if the equality Seliger has in mind is some notion of equal treatment, Locke did see a rough and ready sort of equality in economic interactions. In his short piece on the just price mentioned earlier in connection with Dunn's criticism of MacPherson Locke states that the market price is the just price, and that the economic activities of entrepreneurs in the marketplace will lead to a pretty "fair and equal account.

Seliger goes on to argue, however, that the supposed moral superiority of the political order over the economic order is further evidenced by Locke's attitude toward economic regulation. This is a particularly important problem since Locke explicitly stated that labor gives title to property in the state of nature, but "in governments the laws regulate the right of property. Since Locke did not mention any instances of economic regulation in the Two Treatises , Seliger turns to the economic writings for specific instances of Locke's attitude toward state regulation of economic activity, but reads far more into Locke's statements about regulation than can be supported by the texts.

Seliger asserts that Locke did not in his economic writings oppose all forms of economic regulation, only ill-advised ones. His opposition to interest rate regulation is well-known as is his conviction of the futility of price regulation in general. This is clearly not a laissez-faire policy prescription, yet neither is it an argument for "credit regulation" as Seliger suggests, nor is it typical of an attitude that favors limiting private initiative to "discourage the concentration of capital.

It certainly is stretching the passage beyond the breaking point to argue that it shows Locke's concern for preventing too great a concentration of capital for the sake of the public interest. Seliger's attempt to show the moral supremacy of the political over the economic sphere misses the point of Locke's writing. Locke's Treatises , like his economics contain both normative and descriptive passages.

Much of Chapter V of the Second Treatise , the property chapter, is descriptive. It describes how autonomous individuals with the desire for ease, comfort, and enjoyment operate within the constraints set by nature to overcome the limitations of the economic environment. In Locke's thought, government is the logical arbiter of conflict exacerbated by economic growth. Government is not superior to the economic institutions evolved by reasonable men, government is a means to accomplish a desired end. In his attempt to counter MacPherson's characterization of Locke as a partisan of an evil, unlimited, oppressive capitalism, Seliger has taken the tack of showing how Locke really believed in a limited, restrained form of welfare statism.

Seliger's Locke endorses government which controls the alleged excesses of capitalism and metes out a measure of charity to those in distress. Seliger's Locke would be quite comfortable with modern western-style democratic governments where government undertook all manner of economic regulation and property transfers so long as it could be shown to represent the "manifest advantage of the public".

Perhaps this is one more instance of a modern commentator anachronistically reading contemporary ideas back into the writings of an early political thinker, or perhaps Seliger is correct that the nature of contemporary liberalism was shaped by the implications of Locke's theory of property. Whichever alternative is the case, it is clear that Locke himself would have been horrified by the excesses of the modern welfare state on grounds both of efficiency and equity.

Locke the economist would have recognized the absurdity of much of the bureaucratic maze that controls current economic life, and would have railed against the foolish and inefficient forms of economic regulation to which the individuals within the modern welfare state are subject. Leo Strauss was essentially correct in his claim that Locke believed effective government would have to take account of the passions or interests of individual citizens in framing legislation. Locke's own economic pamphlets drive home the point again and again that regulation which fails to take incentives into account is worse than useless.

Current legislation that erects disincentives to economic growth would probably have set him to writing tract after tract with titles like "Some Considerations of the Disastrous Consequences of Setting Up a Department of Energy and Lowering the Supply of Petroleum Products. Locke would also very likely have been horrified by the fiscal structure of modern governments and here, his objection would be primarily on the grounds of equity.

While he believed that governments had the right and duty to regulate property for the good of the whole of society, his basic premise was that "people should have property. The King had no right to arbitrarily confiscate or reallocate property among citizens unless there was an overriding public interest. It is no doubt true that the "overriding public interest" without clear agreement on what constitutes such an interest provides the loophole for the modern welfare state.

Locke himself presumed such an interest would be obvious, and limited to alleviating starvation and defense against the princes of other countries with whom Britain existed in a state of nature, or at worst, a state of war. MacPherson was essentially correct in arguing that Locke believed most people would agree on the proper limitations on government control over property, but not because he excluded all the poor and laboring classes from his definitions of "the people. Much has been made of a passage in the Second Treatise in which Locke refers to "amor sceleratus habendi, evil concupiscence" as a cause of corruption in societies.

Seliger considers this one more evidence of the irrational nature of economic wants. However, when the reference is taken in context, it clearly refers to the greed not of productive property owners, but to the greed of princes who lust after the wealth of their subjects and who need to be restrained by the wary public. Locke could not imagine men living long in a state of nature because he couldn't imagine those ends being satisfied in a civilized manner without a government to referee disputes and to provide a legal setting.

However, it is incumbent upon government to abstain from subverting the economic ends of its citizens by overstepping its mandate.

Author: Megan Derr

In this important sense, government is subservient not to the economy per se, but to the wills of the people who above all desire to protect their lives, liberties and estate. This is the overriding message of the Two Treatises of Government and the relationship between government and the citizen's property rights. Full citations for works listed in the Endnotes may be found in the following Bibliography.

Peter Laslett, ed. All references to Locke's Second Treatise are to Laslett's edition. Laslett argues convincingly that Locke wrote the Two Treatises to provide intellectual support for Shaftesbury's revolutionary plotting during — Richard Ashcraft in a recent paper puts the date a bit later — which serves to intensify its revolutionary intent. Laslett's Introduction to the Two Treatises , p. Second Treatise , p. Grotius and Pufendorf, both of whom were familiar to Locke, argued that men received the right to property from the consent of the original communal owners in the state of nature.

Locke on the other hand denies that this is true ownership simply by virtue of God's original gift. The major thrust of his argument however was not directed primarily against Grotius and Pufendorf, but against Robert Filmer who had argued in the Patriarcha that God gave the world absolutely to Adam from whom contemporary monarchs were directly descended and who therefore had the right to parcel out land as they saw fit by right of donation from Adam.

See Locke's Second Treatise , p. This was especially apparent in Grotius for whom every individual was surrounding by the Suum , that which belongs to a person, or was "proper" to it. Included in the Suum were one's "life, limb and liberty. Second Treatise , pp. Israel Kirzner has noted the entrepreneurial nature of the labor which creates property, as has Karen I. John Locke. Economist and Social Scientist.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Many political theorists have assumed Locke was espousing a labor theory of value in an economic sense in the Second Treatise although there is no support for such a belief. See Karen I. Vaughn's article, Winter, This description of the development of a money commodity appeared in Hobbes' Leviathan and shows up again much later in Menger's Principles of Economics The Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois, , p.

Kendall, John Locke , p. Consider, for example, Locke's Second Treatise , pp. For that which acts any community, being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way; it is necessary the body should move that way whither the greater force carries it, which is the consent of the majority. See Lois G. Schwoerer's article, Strauss, Natural Right and History , p. Sidney was convicted of treason for writing against Filmer's Patriarcha.

Sidney used many of the same arguments Locke had used in the Second Treatise. See Peter Laslett, pp.

This was Peter Laslett's major contribution in his introduction to the Two Treatises. In fact, I agree with Richard Cox that Locke had absorbed and made use of Hobbesian ideas, but he cannot be viewed as simply an extension of Hobbes, nor does the history of Locke's concealment of his authorship support the contention that he did so solely to avoid being called a Hobbist. Richard Cox, Locke on War and Peace , pp.

Cox, Locke on War and Peace , pp. See C. MacPherson, Political Theory , p. MacPherson makes the mystifying statement that Locke "identifies money and capital, and assimilates both to land," without any clarification about what this means either economically or politically. Although MacPherson never specifically explains why he believes capitalism requires differential rights, he probably has some vague idea that because incomes are unequal in capitalist societies this must be justified by differences in rights rather than in capacities. See Fox-Bourne's biography for Locke's poor law reform.

Locke's Some Considerations , p. For more on Locke's attitude toward the poor see the article by Vaughn Locke, Some Considerations , p. MacPherson, Political Theory , pp. MacPherson here seems to view all possible moral codes as equally valid: both the "bourgeoisie" code that preaches work hard, accumulate, and be well off, and one that says don't bother working very hard but depend on the efforts of others to sustain you.

He also seems to be suggesting that there really were significant differences in rationality between rich and poor as well as differences in values. Laslett's, Introduction, p. On this, see Vaughn's John Locke. This is the major thrust of Locke's first economic essay, Some Considerations. After " vain ambition, and amor sceleratus habendi, evil concupiscence, had corrupted mens' minds into a mistake of true power and honour.

Men found it necessary to examine more carefully the original and rights of government; and to find out ways to restrain the exorbitances, and prevent the abuses of that power which they having intrusted in another's hands only for their own good, they found was made use of to hurt them. Laslett notes the correct interpretation of this passage. Csajkoroski, Casimir J. Dunn, John. The Political Thought of John Locke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Grotius, Hugo.

Edited by James Brown Scott. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Kendall, Willmoore. John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, Lamprecht, Sterling.

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Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke. New York: Columbia University Press, Larkin, Pascal. Cork: Cork University Press, Laslett, Peter, and Harrison, John. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Locke, John. Essays on the Law of Nature. Edited by W. Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, , MacPherson, C. Marx, Karl. Theories of Surplus Value. Translated by G. Bonner and Emile Burns. New York: International Publishers, Meek, Ronald L. Studies in the Labour Theory of Value.

London: Lawrence and Wishart, Pufendorf, Samuel. De Jure Naturae et Gentium. Oldfather, vol. Schochet, Gordon ed. Wadsworth, Seliger, Martin. The Liberal Politics of John Locke. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Tuck, Richard. Vaughn, Karen I. John Locke: Economist and Social Scientist. Yolton, John W. John Locke: Problems and Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambidge University Press, Ashcraft, Richard.

March 21—23, Washington, D. Hundert, E. Kirzner, Israel. Laslett, Peter. Lemos, R. Marshall, Paul. Olivecrona, Karl. Parsons, Jr. Riley, Patrick. Ryan, Alan. Schwoerer, Lois G. Viner, Jacob. He was regarded by the founder of Liberty Fund as one of the key thinkers before the founding of the American Republic. Although Filmer wrote in the s, 40s, and early 50s, many of his essays were republished in when once again there was in England major conflict between the friends and the enemies of unlimited monarchical power.

While this portion of the Two Treatises also contains criticisms of Filmer, it includes as well powerful criticisms of the much more famous seventeenth century advocate of political authoritarianism, Thomas Hobbes. In the Second Treatise , Locke defends the crucial claims that:. Each of the next eleven entries comments on the themes and purposes of crucial chapters in the Second Treatise and provides passages from those chapters which nicely express those themes and purposes. The passages are marked by paragraph number. This chapter is the bridge from the First Treatise to the Second Treatise.

He rejects the idea — which he associated with Thomas Hobbes — that governmental authority can be founded on mere force and violence. In this very dense and important chapter, Locke explains what he means when he says that, by nature, all men are equal and free. Since we are all beings of the same fundamental character, we are equal in our rights. And, for Locke, this means that no individual is naturally subordinate to any other individual. No man is by nature master or ruler; no man is by nature servant or subject.

Locke concludes that this means that, by our natures, we are each free to order our actions and dispose of our persons and possessions as we respectively see fit. Several of these arguments are entangled in the passage below.

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Since no man exists for the purposes of any other man, Locke concludes that all acts of subordination are unjustified and wrong. Locke also offers the strangely misdirected Workmanship of God argument. Since we are made by God, we are each the property of God. Hence, the killing or enslavement is wrongful.

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The problem here is that this argument does nothing to establish that men have the rights that Locke wants to say men have. The third argument, which is in the last several lines of the passage below, seems to be that, since every person ought to pursue his own self-preservation and every one must somehow take account of this fact within his own conduct, each person should — in the course of pursuing his own self-preservation — not interfere with other persons pursuing their self-preservation.

In this chapter, Locke also argues that men in the state of nature, i. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.

In fact, Locke argues, just as we can have a state of peace within the state of nature, we can have a state of war when we are in a political state. We are in a political state i. Thus, again contrary to Hobbes, fleeing from the state of nature does not at all guarantee escape from the state of war. Indeed, if we create a Hobbesian sovereign who may do to us anything he chooses, we are likely to be worse off than we would be in the state of nature.

Furthermore, and very characteristically, Locke insists that political rulers are always subject to the same fundamental norms as all other individuals. That is why when political rulers engage in force without right, they are simply engaged in larger scale criminality than normal, workaday criminals. And here we have the plain difference between the state of nature and the state of war, which however some men have confounded, are as far distant, as a state of peace, good will, mutual assistance and preservation, and a state of enmity, malice, violence and mutual destruction, are one from another.

Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth, with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature. There are two chapters in the Second Treatise which stand out because of both the importance and the uniqueness of the arguments which they present. The first of these is chapter II which seeks to provide grounding arguments for a natural right to freedom which, essentially, is a right of self-ownership. So Locke must show how property in external possessions can arise without universal consent and in the face of the fact that in some sense God gave the earth to all mankind.

The doctrine which Locke develops in the face of these problems is ingenious and complex. Only a few of the highlights of that doctrine can be mentioned here. And only a few key passages are cited below. Locke argues that we should not think that the initial common ownership of the earth requires individuals to get universal consent before using and appropriating. For, if we believed this, justice would require that people simply sit and starve — so as not to trespass on the common property of mankind at large.