3. Locke: Equality, Freedom, Property and the Right to Dissent
Articles Blog

3. Locke: Equality, Freedom, Property and the Right to Dissent

October 11, 2019

Prof: If so,
then let’s go on to John Locke, another major scientist and
another major founder of political and social philosophy
and theory. I’ll do again what I did with
Hobbes. We will again do briefly,
for those who are not interested in lives and history.
So first I introduce you,
our friend today, John Locke.
He was born in 1642 in Somerset.
His father was a captain in a
parliamentary army; a kind of small gentry,
not particularly wealthy but not poor either.
In ’52, he went to Oxford,
and it was noted that he was “idle, unhappy and
unremarkable” in Oxford.
Well if you do not have a 4.0
at Yale, don’t panic. Right?
You still can be John Locke.
There are somebody who blossom
later; he was a late blossomer.
But by the end he was doing
well, and in fact he became an official;
you know, English universities called teachers officials.
Officers–even at Yale,
you know, we are called officers of Yale
Corporation–kind of, I think, an old English
tradition. Anyway, he was admitted,
and then in ’64 he gave an address to the college.
And this is a very important
address because this is when we can learn the views of young
John Locke. And quite clear from this
address that, in fact, early in his life he
was very traditionalist and quite authoritarian:
The kings are good and the people are beasts.
So in a way he was Hobbesian.
In fact, you know,
in the Two Treatises he stays away discussing Hobbes.
But, of course,
the ghost of Hobbes is all over the place.
Well, a little about the
times–’49, I already mentioned, Charles I was executed.
The monarchy was abolished for
a time. Oliver Cromwell became Lord
Protector of England. But though he was very popular
among many, he really could not control the
struggle between the military and the parliament,
and the chaos–what Hobbes experienced in the ’30s and
early ’40s– in some ways continued.
It was probably not as bad as
before but was still very bad. Well when Cromwell died,
his son tried to become Lord Protector–
did not succeed, and finally it was decided to
call back Charles I’s son, Charles II, to become King of
England. So the monarchy was restored.
So these will remain turbulent
years, and, of course, the kind of turbulence does
color what Locke stood for. Well, just a picture of Oliver
Cromwell for you, and then Charles II,
who was King of England for twenty-five years.
Well there is a New Haven
connection to all of this. Not all of you may know that.
But I’m sure everybody knows
where Whalley Avenue is, and where Goffe Street is.
Well this has something to do
with England and John Locke. Two of the judges of the trial
of Charles I, Edward Whalley and William
Goffe, were accused of regicide. And they escaped England in
1660, and they went to Boston. Well they did the wrong choice,
right? They went where Harvard is,
rather than going where Yale is.
But Boston was an unsafe place,
too much under the control of the crown.
So therefore they went to the
right place, right? And where can it be?
Of course, New Haven.
So they came to New Haven.
And you probably know where
West Rock is. Anybody was up on West Rock?
A few of them.
Well, in West Rock you see a
sign which says “Judges’ Cove.”
So if you go there,
there is a little cove and, according to the legends,
Whalley and Goffe hided in this cove.
So here you go,
history comes back home. Then they moved actually to
Milford and lived in a house there, and I have a picture of
this house. I don’t swear my life on it
that this is really the house in which they hided,
but that’s what some historian tells me.
Okay, then there is a turning
point in the life of John Locke in ’66 when he meets a
formidable person, whose name was Anthony Ashley
Cooper. Well, he was a high aristocrat,
but he nevertheless was anti-Royalist.
He joined the parliamentary
forces against Charles I, and was also a member of the
State Council during the republican times.
But he supported the
restoration of the monarchy in ’66, and held very high offices
between 1660 and ’73, including the position of Lord
Chancellor. Well he became the Earl of
Shaftesbury, out of the grace of the King, and usually he is
referred to as the Earl of Shaftesbury.
Well in ’66,
he went to Oxford to have a cure for his liver disease,
and this is when he met John Locke as a doctor.
And John Locke became his
physician and, let’s put it this way,
his friend. Probably a bit of a strong
statement because the social status difference was too big to
really call it as a friendship, but I will say a word about
their relationship. And here is the Earl of
Shaftesbury. Now in ’67, Locke moved to
Ashley’s house at Exeter House in the Strand in London.
And I’m sure those of you
who’ve visited London know exactly where the Strand is;
that’s still where sort of the legal establishment can be found
in London. So he lived there in his
household. Like, you know,
in feudal times clients lived with their master’s house and
ate on the master’s table, or with other servants’ table;
even high-ranking people occasionally were not allowed to
eat with the lord. Well he became Ashley’s
confidant, advisor and surgeon. He performed a surgery,
and I think medical scientists are still puzzled whether this
was some path-breaking surgery or whether he just had good
luck– that he’d helped Ashley.
Ashley had a surplus production
of his liver and he implanted a tube into his abdomen area to
let this surplus flow out, and certainly Ashley felt much
better after the surgery. Well we know that occasionally
the doctors say the surgery was successful and the patient died.
Now this was a case when the
patient was cured, but we don’t know whether the
surgery had anything to do with it.
But for those of you who are in
sciences, this is just a proof that in
the seventeenth century, you know, there was really no
distinction yet what sciences are: what philosophy is,
and what social sciences are. There was a difference what
theology was and the rest of knowledge was.
But the rest of the knowledge
was all the same, and sort of Locke was also a
scientist. In ’67, he wrote an essay,
the “Essay on Toleration.”
And this is a departure now
from Hobbes. This actually advocates the
right to dissent. As we have seen,
not that Hobbes at all cost would have resisted every
dissent. Right?
You remember we discussed
that–that Hobbes also considered if the king does not
deliver, you can transfer your loyalty
from the king to another sovereign.
But the “Essay on
Toleration” does not simply make it as such
an exceptional case, you know, but it makes a big
argument that the right of dissent is an important
individual right. He was also then elected in ’68
as a member of The Royal Society.
The Royal Society is like what
in the United States we’d call the American Academy of
Sciences–pretty hard to get into it;
was then and it is now. In ’79, he was already working
on the Second Treatise. Assumedly to some–I will talk
about this–there is some debate when the First Treatise
and the Second Treatise were written.
And that’s not irrelevant,
actually, the timing of the two essays.
Well there was,
on the other hand, a conflict between Charles II
and the parliament and the Earl of Shaftesbury and,
of course, by implication John Locke.
Charles II had only
illegitimate children; he had quite a few of them,
right? I don’t know whether he liked
children, but it looks like he liked the technology,
at least.>
Well therefore,
you know, since the children were all illegitimate,
the legitimate heir to the throne was his brother,
James, and the only problem with James was that he was Roman
Catholic. And we already know from Hobbes
that this was a big trouble at that time in Britain.
So the parliament,
and Shaftesbury himself, feared that Roman Catholics
will restore their influence, and therefore the parliament’s
role will be reduced. And then in ’73,
the parliament was considering a so-called Test Act.
And this is really an ugly act,
because the Test Act meant that you have to be tested whether
you are Roman Catholic or you belong to the Church of England,
and if you are Roman Catholic then you should not hold certain
offices. Right?
This is just straight
discrimination. But, you know,
at that time it was kind of a defense against the Vatican and
the role of the Pope. Well, because of Shaftesbury’s
support for this, he was dismissed as Lord
Chancellor. Nevertheless,
a few years later the parliament does pass the
Exclusion Bill, and they are supporting James,
one of the illegitimate children of Charles,
as a successor to the throne. Well, and this is James Stuart,
the brother of Charles II, and this is the other James,
the Protestant, Shaftesbury’s
protégée. Well, the Commons passed the
law. And what Charles II did?
He dismissed the parliament.
Well, Shaftesbury was
arrested–put into the Tower of London.
You probably,
if you were in London, you visited the Tower,
or at least had a look at it. And after he was released,
he was smarter than to stay in England;
he went to a right place–I actually like his taste–he went
to the Netherlands. If I had to be exiled,
I would prefer to be in Amsterdam, of all places.
Okay, in ’83 the Whigs–the
Whigs at that time were kind of the Democratic Party.
The Tories were the Republican
Party and the Whigs were the equivalent of the Democratic
Party. Well the Whigs were accused to
have been involved in a plot to overthrow the king,
and some of them were executed. That was the Rye House Plot.
Well Locke was smart enough.
He knew he may be next in line
so he also made the right choice;
he ran to Amsterdam. Right? Well again, I don’t swear that
this was exactly the house where the plot took place.
I’m even not sure that the plot
took place at all, or whether this was an
invention by the authorities. Well then there is a revolution
in ’88, and William of Orange becomes the king.
Well the problem was that James
II did not realize that even the Tories will not support his
religious agenda. So he was actually overthrown,
and then the Republicans and Democrats–
I’m sorry, the Tories and Whigs–came together and they
invited William to become King of England.
And here is,
William III, and the co-ruler,
Queen Mary, his wife–was very much involved in politics and
important. And Locke then now can return
to England, and he felt safe in 1690 to do so.
Well I will talk about this
later; the Second Treatise may
actually be a reflection of the change to the House of Orange,
which is a change from absolutism to constitutional
monarchy. And therefore the Second
Treatise can be read as an ideology for a constitutional
monarchy rather than absolutism. Whether this is the case,
it is being debated. Locke died in 1704.
you know, his major book, the Two Treatises on
Government, was published in 1690,
but it was published anonymously.
He was concerned enough,
even at that time, that he may run into trouble if
he publishes this book. Okay, now I will be talking
about the Two Treatises and the work now.
>So this is the Two Treatises
of Government, which actually was–appeared in
print in 1690, as you can see on the First
Edition. Now, as I said,
there is a debate about it, when the First and the
Second Treatise was written.
And there are two major Locke
scholars; both spent all of their life
studying Locke. Peter Laslett suggested that
the Second Treatise was written really first,
in 1679; it was all engaged in the
debates about the Exclusion Bill.
While Richard Ashcraft–he was
my colleague at UCLA at one point;
died unfortunately very young; a brilliant scholar–actually
he argued that the Second Treatise was written in
1683. And it is a revolutionary
work–that this is really the theory of constitutional
monarchy and kind of popular sovereignty is being formulated
for the first time. This is really in strong
clash–almost absolute negation–of Hobbes.
Well not quite absolutely;
we’ll discuss some overlaps between the two arguments.
But they both agree that that
the first treatise was written in 1680, that’s uncontroversial,
and was published anonymously. So the First Treatise.
Well I will not speak too much
about this. The Second Treatise is
really the big text everybody reads and cites.
But the First Treatise
takes on a book published by 1680 by Robert Filmer.
This looks to me a very archaic
book, but surprisingly it is still in print.
You go on Google and you can
buy Robert Filmer’s book, Patriarcha.
Well I don’t necessarily
recommend it because I think this is really archaic,
and I don’t think it’s got any major contribution beyond
challenging Locke to formulate a strong position against;
that’s, I think, the only reason why you may
want to read Patriarcha. Well he was very much for
absolutism and the absolute monarchy, and he advocated
actually inequality. He said, “God set some men
above others”; and he meant men. Right?
Men are set over women,
and older people, like me, are set over younger
people, like you. Right?
And the king over everybody
else, right? So this inequality of power is
coming from God. God decided that Adam inherits
the earth, and then descendents of Adam, the sons and grandsons,
receive their share of earth. Right?
So you have to show your family
tree, going back to Adam, who received the world as a
grant, and who was the first king.
So the kings should trace their
family trees back to the first person of grace of God.
So there was a scripture
argument. Right?
God vested paternal authority
in Adam, gave the earth as a grant to him.
And the monarchical absolute
power is inherited this way; there is a descent of the
monarchical power. As I said, I see very little
relevance of this argument. So I–but certainly it was
important for Locke to have a straw man he could face his
argument against–probably spends too much time debating
Filmer. And you may have been a bit
concerned about these theological controversies and
theological arguments in the book,
but otherwise he’s really formulating the first big ideas
for modern democratic theory. Okay, so now Locke engages
Filmer on a number of levels. It actually engages him on the
theological level, and he said,
“Well, it’s untrue that Adam received land as a grant.
It was mankind who received the
land as a grant from God.” And then he moves on and he
kind of makes a more technical argument.
He said, “Well even if we
assume that it was one single male who received land and all
authority, how on earth you can trace
yourself back to this?” This is not a real good way to
legitimate somebody. How can Charles II shows that
he has the answers through this way?
So that is not the right way to
do. And then he said,
“Well, even if it could be done, it would be silly to do
that. Right?
Just because somebody is the
proper ancestor, should not have–should not be
the sovereign. What if that person is a jerk?
Then you really want to have
the right people to exercise authority.”
It’s, in his time,
you know, a very daring argument.
Now let’s have a look at the
Second Treatise, and the major themes–what he’s
engaged in. Like Hobbes,
he begins with the statement: We are all born equal,
and he has free–free and equal.
But, as we will see,
he draws a very different conclusion than Hobbes did,
or by and large a different conclusion.
And then he does agree with
Locke that we need a common superior, a sovereign;
a superior is necessary to avoid the state of war.
Then he develops a fascinating
theory of property, what we have to deal with,
and then he makes this path-breaking argument that what
we need is rule by majority. He does not quite identify what
that majority is. Right?
This is not popular sovereignty
yet, but the idea of rule by majority for the first time is
formulated by John Locke. And acceptance of authority can
be done only by consent, and what is needed–and this is
the very big contribution of Locke–
a separation of power, checks and balances.
This is what is completely
missing in Hobbes, and he’s making this
path-breaking argument. So we are all born free and
equal. Let me speak to this a little.
Now what is political power?
And he defines the three
elements of political power. Right?
Well this is the right to make
law. There is also execution of law,
and there is also–politics means the defense of the
commonwealth against outside enemies.
There are the three functions
politics is serving. And this will be very important
in his sort of divisions of powers, as such.
Now, well if we want to
understand what political power is,
we have to see the origins of political power,
and to try to understand why on earth people from the state of
nature, where they were free and equal,
move into civil society where they surrender some of their
freedom and, we will see,
will surrender some of their equality.
So what is the origins of this
equality? Well the first argument is very
much counter-Hobbes. Right?
Men are all made by God,
the omnipotent, right?
And we are his property;
a kind of theological argument. And we are not–have not been
created for the pleasures of one another.
So there should not be any man
who is a superior, by principle.
Because we are free, right?
Locke is a liberal, right?
Hobbes is a conservative.
So what we are experiencing now
is the transition of philosophy from conservativism to
liberalism; and liberalism,
of course, will emphasize particularly freedom is the
primary value. And in the state of nature,
he said, we were all governed by reason.
And that actually sort
of–because we are all reasonable, we are born
reasonable; we are born to be able to be
rational. Right?
And we should be able to
understand that we are not supposed to harm each other.
You see, this is a very
different argument than what we have seen from Hobbes,
on Tuesday. Right?
Hobbes said that we are
actually learning morality out by interacting with others who
are desiring the same stuff what we do.
We are learning it from
struggle, right? It does not assume that this
comes out of our rationality, that we are reasonable and by
nature good. He does assume that we are
reasonable. Therefore why on earth we
should not know that we should respect others?
Well, but–and this then is
where Locke comes the closest to converge with Hobbes–
well there is on the other hand a danger that there will be a
war, and in order to avoid war this
is why we will subject ourselves to an authority and leave the
state of nature. But he also makes a claim just
to distance himself from Hobbes. He said it’s not that the state
of nature is necessarily war. We have to make a distinction
between the state of war and state of nature because in the
state of nature we are good and reasonable,
but nevertheless it can turn into a state of war.
And that’s why we will have to
join civil society and accept an authority.
Well, and now comes again a
very big difference. So he accepts the danger of
war–he lived in times of war–and he accepts that we need
an authority because of this. Now, but–and now here comes
the big differences. Well we subject ourselves to
authority of others, but this has to be done by
consent. Right?
Those who are accepting a
sovereign have to consent to their subjugation,
to authority. And the last citation is also
extremely important: “Freedom of man under
government is to have a standing rule of liberty,
common to everyone of that society,
and made by a legislative power erected in it.”
So the legislative power,
now this is the source of sovereign, is somehow in a
proper way constituted. Right?
This was not a problem really
for Hobbes, not much, right?
We could see that we’ll be
simply conferring sovereignty to a single king.
Now Locke is very interested
how the sovereign, the source of power to pass
legislation, is being constituted.
And again he’s
emphasizing–which was not in Hobbes–what is important is
standing rules to assure liberty.
Not simply survival, right?
Though we know Hobbes had it a
more complex way. But liberty is the major issue,
what we are seeking for. Well, and then he comes with an
interesting idea: Why do we submit ourselves to
authority and seek protections for our liberty?
Because we want to protect our
property. That’s the role of the public
authority: to protect property. It’s a very realistic and
important assumption–a question in which he and Karl Marx would
probably agree. What is the role of the
government? To guarantee the sacredness of
private property. And he has interesting ideas
about what property is, where that it is coming from.
Very important.
This foreshadows Adam Smith in
some ways. Also foreshadows Karl Marx in
another way. Well he starts with this idea
that man had given the world to man in common,
and therefore all the fruits belong to each member of the
society. It’s almost a socialist
ideology, right? And he continues along these
lines. He said every man has a
property in his own person, and the labor of what you
produce is yours. Right?
The product of your labor
belongs to you. And we will see it’s the first
formulation what we will learn from Adam Smith and Karl Marx as
the labor theory of value. Right?
Labor belongs to the laborer,
as such, because it was created by what is yours;
the only thing what certainly is yours, and this is your own
body, and your laboring capacity.
He said, and I quote:
“This labor being the unquestionable property of the
laborer.” And then this is a beautiful
citation, I just love it:
“Though the water running in the fountain be everyone’s,
yet who can doubt but that in the pitcher is his only who drew
it out?” Bingo, right?
How crisply,
in one sentence, he can capture this wonderful
idea that labor creates the value.
Wonderfully done.
And, of course,
a great influence on Adam Smith and Karl Marx.
Well, but there are also limits
on private property. Again, he almost reads like a
socialist. He said, “Anyone grows as
much as he will. To this I answer,
‘not so’.” Right?
“God has given us all
things richly.” Well, but how far has he given
it to us? To enjoy, right?
And whatever is beyond this is
more than your share. You have only in your–belongs
to you, what you can actually enjoy;
nothing what you accumulate. That’s a very radical idea.
He will back-pedal in a minute;
I will show you how he back-pedals out of this very
radical idea. The chief matter is,
of course, earth. He said it’s absolutely obvious
that the property belongs to those who can cultivate it.
“As much land as man
tills, plants, improves, cultivates and can
use the products of, so much is his property.”
So the land belongs–it’s not a
notion of private ownership of the land, it’s an ownership by
the cultivator. And also let me just point
out–I’m running out of time–there is a very important
difference here. Right?
What is central for Locke’s
argument is the abundance. He can make this argument
because the primary assumption is that what we desire is
available in great abundance to us.
We have seen that Hobbes had
the opposite idea. Right?
We are fighting each other
because what we actually desire is a scarce good,
too many people want, and then we kill each other to
get it. Right?
So there is a scarcity
assumption in Hobbes, and there is an abundance
hypothesis in Locke, and you have to make up your
mind who is appealing to you more.
Do you think that the scarcity
assumption is a better one, or the abundance argument is an
empirically more appealing one? Well, and then,
as I said, now he back-pedals. He knows he’s going too far.
He said, but God gave the world
to man in common. But since he gave them for the
benefit, well he basically did it to the industrious ones.
So those who work harder should
get more, rather than who do not work that hard.
And then he actually will go
further. Well labor creates value, right?
And the argument is that
everything, what has been created as a value,
has been created by–or almost everything;
that’s an interesting kind of equation at the end.
The products of the earth,
useful to life, of man, he said nine-tenths are
the effects of labor. Well I don’t know if we can
base it on–well what that really means and why on earth he
makes that claim. But–now and here comes a very
big qualification–with the invention of money,
accumulation of property becomes possible.
And therefore as accumulation
of money occurs, well then wealth can be hoarded
up without injury to anyone. And this becomes again very
important for liberal theory. You can’t do anything by which
you do not injure somebody else, right?
That should be prohibited and
the government should step in, when they sense injury against
somebody else. Right?
Well now in order to preserve
property, you will have to transfer power to the community,
to civil society. There are some very important
arguments here. It has to be by settled,
standing rules, right?
It has to be written down,
it has to be agreed upon, and it has to be permanency;
there must be a permanency closed rule.
You need a predictable
environment. And it has to be the same to
all parties. You cannot make a law which
applies to the serfs and a law which applies to the noblemen.
It has to be the same law for
everyone, as such. Well, and this is the origin of
legislative and executive power of civil societies.
Well there is a difference
between absolute monarchy and constitutional monarchies.
He said in an absolute monarchy
you can appeal to the law to restrain violence against you by
another subject of the crown. But he said in an absolute
monarchy you cannot really appeal against the king.
That’s what–you know,
in Communist societies you could not sue the government.
Even in Stalinist Russia you
could sue your neighbor if your neighbor did steal something
from you. But if the government did steal
anything from you, you could not sue the Soviet
government. Right?
But a democratic system
means–this is foreshadowed here–you can sue the
government. Right?
And, of course,
in the United States you can sue the government.
Well you can try.
It will not always work
but–good luck. Well and then he says–and this
is fun and very, very good–well “to think
that men are so foolish that they take care to avoid what
mischiefs can be done to them– “–like your neighbor–
“polecats or foxes, but are content not to think of
the safety of the work by lions” is crazy.
Lions are the kings,
the big authorities. So don’t just seek laws which
protect you against your neighbor, seek laws which
protects you against those in a position of authority and power.
And there will be no civil
society unless this happens. Well he advocates then the
principle of rule by the majority.
Well what we need–a consent of
every individual who made the community in order to create
legitimate rule. And once this is arrived at,
consent, that will bound everybody.
And one can be subjected to
authority only by consent. Well this consent can be tacit;
it is not necessarily always explicit.
You are born in the United
States. You did not approve the
Constitution of the United States.
you have to obey the Constitution of the United
States. You have one chance not to do
so. You can move to Afghanistan,
if that’s what you prefer. Right?
So you don’t have to go by
American law; you can live under Islamic law
when you move to a country ruled by Islamic law.
And then the final major
contribution, the separation of powers.
And he makes a distinction
between three types of powers: legislative,
executive and federative powers.
That’s very different from
Montesquieu, and different from the American
Constitution– that the three branches are
legislative, executive and juridical power.
He makes a claim that the third
branch is federative power. Federative power is a defense
against outside enemies. And he said,
“Look, what is important, that legislative power and
executive power has to be separated from each other.
It is absolutism if it is the
same person, or the same authority, which passes the law
and which also executes the law; we have to separate those.”
And well I don’t have time to
go into this; it’s clear enough.
And then there is the kind of
federative powers. As far as the federative powers
are concerned he said, “Well the federative
powers may not be necessarily separated from the executive
branch. It can be actually held by the
executive branch, as such.”
As in many ways it is the–it’s
very unclear in the United States who actually has these
federative powers. Right?
By law it is the Congress which
can declare only laws– wars. But, as we have seen,
the United States was engaged in a number of major military
actions, what commonly we call wars,
though the war was never declared.
And it was the executive branch
which de facto declared war and conducts war,
occasionally without the consent–occasionally against
the will of the House and the Senate.
So it’s a complex issue.
But I think he was quite right
that often the federative power and the executive power are the

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *