Hobbes and Locke

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Published on August 30, 2007

Author: Clown

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Locke, Harrington, and Montesquieu in Early American Political Thought:  Locke, Harrington, and Montesquieu in Early American Political Thought John Locke:  John Locke State of nature All are created equal, with natural rights to life, liberty, and property All use reason to secure natural rights All are peaceable John Locke:  John Locke Labor basis of property The world is originally held in common Property acquired through labor Moral (natural law) limits on acquisition: 'spoilage' and 'as much and as good' left in common for others Invention of money and increasing productivity allow acquisition beyond moral limits John Locke:  John Locke Society versus government Society develops spontaneously to meet basic needs Money and productivity permit differences of wealth, which lead to conflict If everyone judges conflicts for himself, life in society is 'inconvenient' Government is established to resolve conflicts impartially and to secure natural rights If government abuses its power, people may rebel and institute new government James Harrington and the civic republican tradition:  James Harrington and the civic republican tradition Oceana: the nature of the political problem The basis of political power is in property, the quantity of which determines social status Moderate property fosters virtuous self-reliance Excessive property leads to moral decadence and political corruption James Harrington and the civic republican tradition:  James Harrington and the civic republican tradition Oceana: the structure of the solution Distinction between dividing and choosing dictates two parts of the legislative body: a senate for the wealthy and an assembly for the less well-off An Agrarian Law and the end of primogeniture limit the size of family fortunes Rotation in office prevents political dynasties Secret ballot prevents intimidation Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu:  Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu English constitutional monarchy as 'the mirror of political liberty' Defending individual liberty by separating the powers of government Principle elaborated in Federalist 47 and 51 Defending republican government by extending its sphere of operation Confederation overcomes the conflict between size and liberty in Federalist 9 and 10 Documentary Illustrations:  Documentary Illustrations Declaration of Independence Natural rights endowed by Creator (Locke) Right of rebellion (Locke) United States Constitution Indirect elections (Harrington) Bicameral legislature (Harrington) Separation of powers (Montesquieu) Federalist 10 Problem of faction (Harrington) Extending the sphere (Montesquieu) Federalist 51 Checks and balances (Montesquieu) Theory Resonating in Modern Constitutional Adjudication:  Theory Resonating in Modern Constitutional Adjudication Locke: the individual’s priority to government Harrington: property and the preservation of virtue Montesquieu: liberty and the separation of powers Kelo v. City of New London (2005):  Kelo v. City of New London (2005) Government may take private property for 'public use' In the 'economic development' context, the needs of the community may have priority over the needs of the individual http://laws.findlaw.com/us/000/04-108.html Wickard v. Filburn (1941):  Wickard v. Filburn (1941) The family farm in an era of big government and world-wide economic crisis Land may now be seen as just another source of commodities, rather than a bulwark of self-reliance http://laws.findlaw.com/us/317/111.html Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha (1983):  Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha (1983) The legislative veto violates the separation of powers Losses in legislative status may not be repaired by means that circumvent Framers’ structural safeguards http://laws.findlaw.com/us/462/919.html Concluding Observations:  Concluding Observations The troubling American propensity to convert political into judicial issues: The Tobacco law suits Problems for the maintenance of division between government and society (Locke) Problems for the defense of individual liberty via the separation of governmental powers (Montesquieu) Problems for the maintenance of a self-reliant citizenry (Harrington)

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