Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Slavery and Conquest
• Chapter IV: the master has the power to kill the captive at any time. There is a “choice”
between being killed and becoming a slave.
• Locke wants us to understand that there are 3 distinct kinds of power with differing
origins and purposes:
o 1) Slavery
o 2) Parental power- disdained by god for the good of children who cannot manage
their own property (owned goods and own personhood/livelihood). Locke
emphasizes more on the second sense- on livelihood.
o 3) Political power- life and property
• Conquest gives conqueror the right to those he has conquered. If one cannot go to the
courts, Locke still believes that the individual has a right to appeal to heaven/to resort to
force. The lesson: people conquered by aggressor never lose the right to regain their
former liberty. The aggressor never gains a lawful title to gain his aggression.
• Even in a just war, the conqueror gets no rights and no political power over the
vanquished. The victor may lay claim to a part of the aggressor’s property for reparations
for injuries suffered in the war, but that is all. The victor cannot touch the remainder of
the aggressor’s possessions. Neither can the victor put the aggressor’s children into
Kings and Government
• Locke could not have been unaware that most of the world’s governments came to power
• If government breaks trust, then the people have a right to replace that government
• A tyrant uses power to benefit himself (e.g. bad kings). But Locke asserts that any form
of government that does injury to the people is considered tyranny. Any government that
acts contrary to law loses all claims to be called a legitimate government. The people who
are oppressed by this government may rightly oppose it.
• In a state of nature, Locke argues that liberty is enjoyed but not license
• Revolutions are difficult to start- it only occurs when there is large evidence that there
has been a long train of abuses, evidence of repeated injustices that convinces the public
that the government prepares to commit injustices to their citizens.
• Governments can be dissolved from conquest or from within. Conquest is easy; another
country comes, they invade and overthrow the government. Dissolution from within
occurs, according to Locke, when legislator is altered. Change that legislator, and you
abrogate the fundamental act of liberty.
• Governments can also be dissolved by the people- if the government takes possessions
away from the people, then this is considered an act of war. In any event, it is not the
people that rebelled against the government, but rather the government that rebelled
against the people. Locke says: “the people shall be judge”. It is fitting and proper that 2
the people should judge the performance of the legislator/government. The government
though, has the means to resist the people. It has the army and the police. So the ultimate
judge is God alone. The ultimate appeal is the appeal to heaven.
• Hobbes insisted that sovereignty is indivisible- if parliament and the kind disagree, then it
results in civil war. Locke believes that there is a shared legislative power, where the king
participates in some part.
• In the case of Canada today, after the passing of a bill, then it is reviewed by the
Governor General. What if the Governor General says no? That does not happen because
he is the phantom sovereignty. He accepts what the parliament passes.