John Locke and the Declaration of Independence essay paper
Locke puts forward and defends the idea of the rule of law in the state. According to him, nobody in the state has a right to break the law, including the authority itself. The authorities should be controlled, not by improvised rules, but only on the basis of permanent laws established by people and familiar to them.
Here are two excerpts: One is a part of Locke’s ideas, written almost a hundred years before the proclamation of the American Declaration of Independence, and the second is taken from the Declaration of Independence. These texts sound almost the same.
“[...] The power of the society or legislature, created by people can never extend further than is necessary for the common good; this power is obliged to protect the property of everyone [...]. And whoever had the legislature or the supreme authority in any state, he must edit according to established permanent laws, proclaimed by the people and familiar to people; to rule with the help of an impartial and fair judges, who must settle their disputes by means of these laws, and use the power of society only while performing such laws in the country; and to use the power abroad just in order to prevent harm or to obtain redress for it and for the protection of communities from intrusion and seizure. And all these must be done for no other purpose, but only in the interest of peace, security and public welfare of the people”. As we see, a lot of ideas of John Locke are reflected in the Declaration of Independence (Dunn, 113).
Locke was one of the founders of liberalism, and his liberal ideas were further developed at a later time. Locke is often called one of the main theorists of the democratic polity. His ideal is the British constitutional monarchy, which embodies a balance of interests of personality, and the state.
Locke’s ideas found a vivid expression not only in the “U.S. Declaration of Independence”, but also in the “Declaration of the Rights of Man” inFrance.
In his doctrine, John Locke presented the most complete and conceptual justification of the need for representative government. His main thesis was as follows: “The absolute arbitrary power or control without permanent set of laws can not consistent with the objectives of society and government.” After that he made a conclusion, which is also reflected in the Declaration of Independence: we must divide the functions of government on making laws and their observance. By the way, Locke was a supporter of the ideas of constitutional monarchy and limited the jurisdiction of it by executive functions. The main for him was the legislative power, which directly reflected the willpower of the people.
Thus, John Locke contributed the political theory much more than just the thought of the need to “balance the power of government, putting some of its parts in different hands.” In essence, the normal structure of government, in the concept of John Locke, was a complex of regulatory checks and balances.
The socio-political views of Locke have found the reflection in the Declaration of Independence. Locke is considered to be the father of Western liberalism, the theorist of constitutional monarchy and the separation of powers into legislative, executive (including the judiciary) and federal (External Relations), which are in condition of dynamic equilibrium in the properly organized state. Locke believed the “natural conditions” of society are the freedom and the equality of people living with their labor. However, he believed that the main natural human right is the right to property and it should be established with reasonable laws to exclude the appearance of conflicts. For this purpose, according to Locke, with the help of social contract, the political society is created; the society that is forming the government, responsible for the nation. Locke was the strongest opponent of the theories of the divine origin of royal power. Elements of his political philosophy formed the basis of ideology and practices of the American Revolution and the basis for writing the Declaration of Independence (Tagart, 124).
Locke’s idea of the state is also reflected in the Declaration of Independence. According to Locke, the state has to be a set of people united in one community which establish a general law and a judicial authority, which has the power to settle conflicts between them and punish offenders. From all the other forms of collectivity (family, master’s possessions), the State is different in the way that it embodies a political power; the right to make laws for the public, in order to regulate and maintain the property, as well as the right to use force of the society to enforce these laws and protect the state from external attack.
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