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The Nature Of Government Essay, Research Paper

John Locke, an influential early liberal English philosopher, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a brilliant political theorist and one of the main figures of the enlightenment, have a considerable importance in political thought, for which they are best known.

The Second Treatise of Government by John Locke places sovereignty into the hands of people. Locke imagined an original state of nature in which individuals rely upon their own strength. His argument is that people are equal and invested with natural rights in a state of nature in which they live free from inside and outside rule. The state of nature has a base on the law of everyone being equal and independent. However, “though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license.” Therefore, “no one ought to harm one another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” Nobody has the right to treat human beings as instruments to their own satisfaction or even have power over another human being; everyone is free and enjoy the gain from their own work. If someone violates the natural law, he is considered as an aggressor and every man has the right to make the aggressor pay for his aggression.

On Locke’s view, all rights begin in the individual property interest created by an investment of labor. So, common property could be turned into private property if one mixes one’s physical labor with it. However, “the enjoyment of the property … in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure.” Locke believes that people will understand that in order to protect themselves and their property, they must come together into some sort of body politic and agree to certain standards of behavior. Although each individual in the state of nature has the right to enforce the natural law in defense of property interests, the formation of a civil society requires that all individuals voluntarily surrender this right to the community at large. So, in this civil society, the people submit natural freedoms, when they “have so consented,” to the common laws of the society in order to receive the protection of the government.

Locke says that whenever the legislative shall “take away and destroy the property of the people … or reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power … or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people…,” the people have a right to resume their original freedom and establish a new legislature as they shall think fit. The government exists to…

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