Natural Liberty in its Opposition to Slavery
In Chapter 4 of Second Treatise of Government, John Locke approaches the natural liberty, a concept that is very important for understanding the mechanism of distributing wealth. While approaching the natural liberty in its opposition to slavery, the present paper suggests that men have not agreed to a “disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth” through “tacit and voluntary consent” (Locke). The unequal distribution of wealth means that people are in the state of war (Locke, Chapter IV), and it creates preconditions to exploitation and slavery.In order to prove the validity of this assertion, one should approach Locke’s understanding of human nature.
The philosopher identifies two diametrically opposed human conditions – slavery and natural liberty, also defined as the state of perfect freedom (Locke, Chapter II). Locke suggests that the state of natural liberty is more desirable for an individual, as it implies that a man is “free from any superior power on earth” (Locke, Chapter 4). The free man should not be “under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule” (Locke, Chapter IV). At the same time, the philosopher introduces the concept of a political society where “every one of the members hath quitted …natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community” (Locke, Chapter VIII). At first glance, the ideas of the perfect freedom and the political society seem to be mutually exclusive. Upon a closer consideration, these ideas are perfectly aligned given Locke’s understanding of the human nature.
While approaching the human nature, the philosopher suggests that it is a necessity for every man to protect his own interests. From this point of view, showing aggression toward other men, for example stealing from them, is quite understandable and logical behavior. While trying to posses more land or other tangible assets, a man seeks to provide for his own interests and to ensure his own freedom. At the same time, Locke suggests that humans are rational beings, so they realize the idea of cooperation to provide for their best interests. When agreeing with the need to have the political society, men realize that they need some political tool that would protect their interests. Ideally, it should ensure equal distribution of tangible goods.In reality, the existence of this political tool ensures the interests of a particular group. This is a group of the strongest men, and realizing the nature of their strength is important to understand property relations in community. The men are strong because they have greater authority and power to establish the rules of commonwealth, one of central concepts in Locke’s Treatise.
While enjoying greater political authority, they use it to provide for their interests, mainly property ones. These men have for instance a bigger piece of land which makes them wealthier and eventually more influential.Here one may notice a dissonance with Locke’s definition of political society. Although the latter is expected to protect the inherent rights of every …