John Locke on the purpose of government

Read the excerpts below and see that the purpose of government is not to increase tax revenues as if it were a business corporation. The taking of a person’s private property, his home, for increased tax benefits diminishes the value and importance of private property rights in the American system of government. Indeed, with the Kelo decision, a new order of governance is upon us all.

The Second Treatise of Civil Government
1690
John Locke

CHAP. IX. Of the Ends of Political Society and Government.

Sec. 123. IF man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and controul of any other power? To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: . . . the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure.

This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.

Sec. 124. The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. To which in the state of nature there are many things wanting.

CHAP. XI. Of the Extent of the Legislative Power.

Sec. 138. Thirdly, The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent: for the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society, . . . Men therefore in society having property, they have such a right to the goods, which by the law of the community are their’s, that no body hath a right to take their substance or any part of it from them, without their own consent: without this they have no property at all . . . . Hence it is a mistake to think, that the supreme or legislative power of any commonwealth, can do what it will, and dispose of the estates of the subject arbitrarily, or take any part of them at pleasure. . . . and so will be apt to increase their own riches and power, by taking what they think fit from the people . . . .

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Published in: on June 27, 2005 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  

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