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Second Treatise Of Goverment: Equality In Nature Versus Inequality Of Wealth

1222 words - 5 pages

In the beginning of the Second Treatise of Government, John Locke showed his protest against Filmer's theory about the omnipotent power of government over human beings. He assured that political power must derive from the divine state of human beings. That is the State of Nature which includes the state of perfect freedom and the state of perfect equality. In other words, he argued that all men are by nature created equal; however, John Locke didn't reject the reality that inequalities of wealth are natural and inevitable. How is he able to reconcile these two ideas?

According to John Locke, men were "promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature and the use of the same faculties; they should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection." (Second Treatise of Government, p8). The basic principle teaching is that God has given the earth to humankind in common, to the posterity of men so that they will have enough to subsist and flourish. Everything in its natural state is provided to commonwealth for "the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, p 18). So no one originally can have the right to posses that public property. However, history has proven that every man still has the right to own, to enrich and protect his property; how can that "private dominion" come into being?

Locke clarified the problem by pointing out his notions that mostly derived from the natural state of human beings. Each man was originally born and predestined to have his own body, hands, head and so forth which can help him to create his own labor. When he knew how to use his personal mind and labor to appropriate bountiful subjects around him, taking them "out of the hands of nature", they naturally and logically became his own possession. It is obviously right when John stated that "labor put a distinction between them and common." (Second Treatise of Government, p 20) and that was the beginning of the individual property. Taking advantage of one's force and labor to obtain and create one's appropriation is the first rule for men to state their private dominion.

However, this rule was bounded by another one called the law of subsistence as soon as it was recognized that each man could not have the right to overextend and abuse his labor to appropriate all the common property. This rule was set up to limit one's accumulation especially when natural law was dominating and having influence on human life at that time. A person could only possess as much property as he could make use of it. One must be sure that his personal property was not excess and abundant. "Nothing was made by God for man to spoil and destroy." It was so unfair and illogical for his neighbors to use and obtain his left-over especially when all his property went bad and was out of use. In the book, Locke stated: "there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself. ... Nobody could think...

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