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Quotes: What John Locke thought about ...


... Bad Government

"Whenever the power that is put in any hands for the government of the people, and the protection of our properties, is applied to other ends, and made use of to impoverish, harass or subdue them to the arbitrary and irregular commands of those that have it; there it presently becomes tyranny, whether those that thus use it are one or many". (Second Treatise, Chapter 18).

"The legislature acts against the trust reposed in them, when they endeavour to invade the property of the subject, and to make themselves, or any part of the community, masters, or arbitrary disposers of the lives, liberties or fortunes of the people". (Second Treatise, Chapter 19).

"He" (the supreme executive) "also acts contrary to his trust, when he either employs the force, treasure and offices of the society, to corrupt the representatives, and gain them to his purposes; or openly pre-engages the electors, and prescribes to their choice, such, whom he has by solicitations, threats, promises, or otherwise won them to his designs, and employs them to bring in such, who have promised beforehand, what to vote, and what to enact". (Second Treatise, Chapter 19).



... Charity

"Charity gives every man a title to so much out of another's plenty, as will keep him from extreme want, when he has no means to subsist otherwise". (First Treatise, Chapter 4).



... Children and Marriage

"Adam and Eve, and after them all parents were, by the law of nature, under an obligation to preserve, nourish and educate the children, they had begotten". (Second Treatise, Chapter 6).

"This conjunction betwixt male and female ought to last ... so long as is necessary to the nourishment and support of the young ones". (Second Treatise, Chapter 6).



... Crime

"Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injury done to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression. In which case he who hath received any damage, has besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation from him that has done it". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).



... Criticism

"If anyone, concerned really for truth, undertake the confutation of my hypothesis, I promise him either to recant my mistake, upon fair conviction; or to answer his difficulties. But he must remember two things: First, that cavilling here and there, at some expression, or little incident of my discourse, is not an answer to my book. Secondly, that I shall not take railing for arguments, nor think either of these worth my notice". (First Treatise, Preface).



... Equality

"A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another". (Second Treatise, chapter 2).

(Equality is ...) "That equal right which every man hath, to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man". (Second Treatise, chapter 6).



... Freedom

"To understand political power right, and derive it from its original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions, and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).

"He that in the state of nature, would take away that freedom, that belongs to anyone in that state, must necessarily be supposed to have a design to take away everything else, that freedom being the foundation of all the rest. As he that in the state of society, would take away the freedom belonging to those of that society or commonwealth, must be supposed to design to take away from them everything else". (Second Treatise, Chapter 3).



... Hard Work

"He, who appropriates land to himself by his labour, does not lessen but increase the common stock of mankind". (Second Treatise, Chapter 5). "Different degrees of industry were apt to give men possessions in different proportions". (Second Treatise, Chapter 5).



... The Human Race in General

"The main intention of nature, which willeth the increase of mankind, and the continuation of the species in the highest perfection". (First Treatise, Chapter 6).

"He and all the rest of mankind are one community, make up one society distinct from all other creatures. And were it not for the corruption, and viciousness of degenerate men, there would be no need of any other; no necessity that men should separate from this great and natural community, and by positive agreements combine into smaller and divided associations". (Second Treatise, Chapter 9).



... The Law

"The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom". (Second Treatise, Chapter 6).

"And that all men may be restrained from invading others' rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is in that state, put into every man's hands, whereby everyone has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).

"For in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, everyone must needs have a right to do". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).



... Laws

"These are the bounds ... to the legislative power of every commonwealth. First, they are to govern by promulgated established laws, not to be varied in particular cases, but to have one rule for rich and poor, for the favourite at court, and the countryman at plough. Secondly, these laws also ought to be designed for no other end ultimately than the good of the people". (Second Treatise, chapter 11).

(The positive laws of commonwealths often are ...) "The fancies and intricate contrivances of men, following contrary and hidden interests put into words; for so truly are a great part of the municipal laws of countries, which are only so far right, as they are founded on the law of nature". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).

"A man may owe honour and respect to an ancient or wise man; defence to his child or friend; relief and support to the distressed; and gratitude to a benefactor, to such a degree, that all he has, all he can do, cannot sufficiently pay it; but all these give no authority, no right to anyone of making laws over him from whom they are owing". (Second Treatise, chapter 6).



... Legislators

"Their power, in the utmost bounds of it, is limited to the public good of the society. It is a power, that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never have a right to destroy, enslave, or designedly to impoverish the subjects". (Second Treatise, Chapter 11).

"Constant frequent meetings of the legislative, and long continuations of their assemblies, without necessary occasion, could not but be burdensome to the people, and must necessarily in time produce more dangerous inconveniences". (Second Treatise, Chapter 13).

"There remains still in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them". (Second Treatise, Chapter 13).



... Money

"And as different degrees of industry were apt to give men possessions in different proportions, so this invention of money gave them the opportunity to continue and enlarge them". (Second Treatise, Chapter 5).



... Political Power

"Whenever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer justice, it is still violence and injury, however coloured with the name, pretences, or forms of law". (Second Treatise, Chapter 3).

"For then mankind will be in a far worse condition than in the state of nature, if they shall have armed one or a few men with the joint power of a multitude, to force them to obey at pleasure the exorbitant and unlimited decrees of their sudden thoughts, or unrestrained, and till that moment unknown wills without having any measures set down which may guide and justify their actions". (Second Treatise, Chapter 11).

"The rulers ... exercising a power the people never put into their hands (who can never be supposed to consent, that anybody should rule over them for their harm), do that, which they have not a right to do. And where the body of the people, or any single man, is deprived of their right, or is under the exercise of a power without right, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment". (Second Treatise, Chapter 14).



... Private Property

"Property, whose original is from the right a man has to use any of the inferior creatures, for the subsistence and comfort of his life, is for the benefit and sole advantage of the proprietor". (First Treatise, Chapter 9).

"Everyone has property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his". (Second Treatise, Chapter 5).



... The Public Good

"The public good, i.e. the good of every particular member of that society". (First Treatise, Chapter 9).



... Punishment

"Every offence that can be committed in the state of nature, may in the state of nature be also punished, equally, and as far forth as it may, in a commonwealth". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).

"Each transgression may be punished to that degree, and with so much severity as will suffice to make it an ill bargain to the offender, give him cause to repent, and terrify others from doing the like". (Second Treatise, Chapter 2).



... The Purpose of Government

"Government being for the preservation of every man's right and property, by preserving him from the violence or injury of others, is for the good of the governed". (First Treatise, Chapter 9).

"But though men when they enter into society, give up the equality, liberty and executive power they had in the state of nature, into the hands of the society, to be so far disposed of by the legislature, as the good of the society shall require; yet it being only with an intention to everyone the better to preserve himself his liberty and property"" (Second Treatise, Chapter 9).



... Re-distribution of Wealth

"For a man's property is not at all secure, though there be good and equitable laws to set the bounds of it, between him and his fellow subjects, if he who commands those subjects, have power to take from any private man, what part he pleases of his property, and use and dispose of it as he thinks good". (Second Treatise, Chapter 11).



... Revolution

"And thus the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of anybody, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject". (Second Treatise, Chapter 13).

"But if a long train of abuses, prevarications and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel, what they lie under, and whither they are going, 'tis not to be wondered, that they should then rouse themselves, and endeavour to put the rule into such hands, which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first enacted". (Second Treatise, Chapter 19).



... Taxation

"'Tis true, governments cannot be supported without great charge, and 'tis fit everyone who enjoys his share of the protection, should pay out of his estate his proportion of the maintenance of it". (Second Treatise, Chapter 11).

"The supreme power cannot take from any man any part of his property without his own consent". (Second Treatise, Chapter 11).



... Thieves

"This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any further than by the use of force, so to get him in his power, as to take away his money, or what he pleases from him". (Second Treatise, Chapter 3).



... Tyranny

"Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to". (Second Treatise, Chapter 18).

"(Tyranny is) ... when the governor, however entitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule; and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion". (Second Treatise, Chapter 18).



... Voting with your Feet

"For there are no examples so frequent in history, both sacred and profane, as those of men withdrawing themselves, and their obedience, from the jurisdiction they were born under, and the family or community they were bred up in, and setting up new governments in other places". (Second Treatise, Chapter 8).



... Waste

"Land that is left wholly to nature ... is called, as indeed it is, waste". (Second Treatise, Chapter 5).











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