16 April, 2011

Locke on Secession

It is a truism that the American Founders were heavily influenced by John Locke, the English political philosopher of the past century. While the extent of his influence is constantly debated, here's what he has to say about secession:

"... whenever the Legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the Property of the People, or to reduce them to Slavery under Arbitrary Power, they put themselves into a state of War with the People, who are thereupon absolved from any farther Obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. ... [Power then] devolves to the People, who have a Right to resume their original Liberty, and, by the Establishment of a new Legislative (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own Safety and Security, which is the end for which they are in Society."

--Second Treatise of Civil Government [1690], #222 (Lasslet Edition, Cambridge University Press, 1960)

Referring back to a previous post: is is "Slavery under Arbitrary Power" for a government to, by all due legal means, proclaim that it is unconstitutional to treat human beings as animals?


The Edge Columns said...

Thanks for this bit on Locke. A good rationale for activism, which I knit into the following blog response...



Therese said...

I took a huge hiatus from comment moderation, so this is the first I've seen of your response. Thanks though!

I looked through your blog archive to find that response, and I found it quite interesting. Catching up on your blog will take a while, but I look forward to it!