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Willmoore Kendall's study, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule was intended to illuminate the general problem of the status of the principle of majority rule in societies. Kendall himself is obviously antagonistic to the doctrine insofar as it implies the ability of the majority to trample on the rights of minorities, so his characterization of Locke as "the captain of the team" 30 of majority rule democrats is not intended to be flattering.

Particularly irksome to Kendall is the more common view that Locke was the "prince of individualists," the champion of individual rights against the state, of limited government and the sanctity of property: in short, the interpretation which we are advancing.

Kendall makes his case for Locke's essential majority rule collectivism by examining "the most crucial of the 'natural' individual rights which he is thought to have defended," the natural right to property. Kendall argues that far from championing inalienable individual rights, Locke saw rights to be derived from social duties, that rights "inhere in the individual as related to other individuals in a community whose characteristicum is a complex of reciprocal rights and duties. The primary case in point to Kendall is the right to property.

Although he agrees that Locke seems to give individuals an unquestioned right to the property they create by the mixing of their own labor with land in the state of nature. Kendall claims that "when Locke has to choose between the individual's right of property in that with which he has mixed his labor and the common right of men to their preservation, he unhesitatingly sacrifices the former to the latter. The crux of Kendall's argument is his reading and interpretation of Locke's justification of private property. Kendall argues that a truly individualistic natural right to property should include the assumption that a person's right to property is inviolable and that it can never legitimately be set aside for "the convenience and welfare of others.

It is fairly easy to show that Locke believed each man had a duty to preserve the lives of others "as much as he can" and "when his own Preservation comes not in competition. This in itself does not mitigate the individualist nature of the right to property, however, since it is not clear that a moral duty should be enforced by an agency outside of the individual. More convincing evidence for Kendall's position are all the passages where Locke describes the benefits of property ownership for mankind as a whole. Kendall argues that the import of these passages is to make of property nothing more than an expedient for improving the lot of mankind; property ownership is justified not because it conforms with natural law per se, but because it is the best means to the end of preserving mankind.

Kendall further strengthens his claim by arguing:. Indeed, in his discussion of property in land, Locke's language appears to commit him to the view that the burden is always upon the exerciser of the right of property to prove that "others" will not suffer from the appropriation; and it is abundantly clear that he is thinking of the right of property simply as a function of one's duty to enrich mankind's common heritage. Here, Kendall has gone too far.

It is unquestionable that Locke believed property ownership would always benefit society as a whole, but the justification was not one of expediency. The burden of proof was not always upon the property owner to prove that others will not suffer from the appropriation as Kendall claims. Locke's discussion of the origin of private property includes two sorts of arguments in favor of property. The first is the natural rights argument where self-ownership implies ownership of those goods created by men through labor. This right is absolute in that it follows from natural law and reason, although it is bounded by the limitation that no one may permit resources to spoil in his possession, and, possibly, that there be alternative opportunities for others to create their own property.

The fact that there are limits to the right to property does not make it less individualistic, however. God may have given the world to men in common for their use, but God also gave to individuals the rights to create their own property and to make use of it "to any purpose. The second kind of argument in favor of private property is what Kendall calls the expedient. As we have seen, Locke calls attention to the productivity of labor by pointing out in various instances how labor contributes to the greatest part of the value of all things. Let anyone consider, what the difference is between an acre of land planted with tobacco or sugar, sown with wheat or barley; and an acre of the same land lying in common, without any husbandry upon it, and he will find that the improvement of labour makes the far greater part of the value.

These passages establish the relative importance of the contribution of labor to the production of things people value and help to explain why natural law would permit the "property of labour to over-ballance the community of land. He that incloses land and has a greater plenty of the conveniencys of life from ten acres, than he could have from an hundred left to nature, may truly be said to give ninety acres to mankind.

For his labour now supplies him with provisions out of ten acres which were but the product of an hundred lying in common. From passages such as these, Kendall concludes that Locke means to justify property ownership by the social benefits it confers, that the expediency arguments take precedence over the natural right arguments for property.

This is not the case. The social benefits Locke describes are dividends of property ownership which he points out to quiet any grumblings from the "quarrelsome and contentious" who might be apt to challenge the natural right to property. In fact, Locke's discussion of the right to property is characteristic of his thought on many issues.

There is both a natural right dictated by natural law and obvious to anyone who will take the time to think about it and a benefit that flows from observing natural law; everyone is better off with private property in the state of nature where "right and conveniency went together. There may still be an argument to be made for Locke as a majority rule democrat within government where governments regulate the right to property, 43 but the case cannot be supported with Locke's theory of property in the state of nature.

Whereas Kendall sees Locke as a majority rule democrat who does not deserve his reputation as an individualist champion, Leo Strauss offers the exact opposite interpretation in his influential Natural Right and History Here Strauss argues that Locke's theory of property is reflective of the individualism that leads to the "spirit of capitalism," 44 an individualism that was a more advanced expression of the political philosophy of Hobbes. According to Strauss, Locke really believed there is no genuine natural law, only conventional law, and there are "no natural principles of understanding: all knowledge is acquired; all knowledge depends on labor and is labor.

Locke's true message in his theory of property, according to Strauss, was that "covetousness and concupiscence, far from being essentially evil or foolish, are, if properly channeled, eminently beneficial and reasonable, much more so than 'exemplary charity'". Strauss's reading of Locke as a Hobbesian individualist is impressionistic at best. He communicates a feeling about the import of Locke's message with very little evidence produced from Lockean texts. Strauss's interpretation would not even be mentioned here did it not raise some interesting questions for Locke scholarship addressed by later writers.

The first question is methodological and asks to what degree can we read through an author's published words to the underlying real meaning. Strauss reasons that if Locke appears contradictory, perhaps he was deliberately contradictory to serve his greater purpose.

Strauss believes that Locke used the language of natural law and natural rights, charity, and restraint to make his message more pallatable to his audience. By reading Locke this way, of course, Strauss ignores or discounts all those passages which drove Kendall to see Locke as a collectivist in individualist clothing.

Strauss and Kendall cannot both be right. The second question raised by Strauss is substantive. Surely the elements Strauss chooses to emphasize are present in Locke's writings. To what degree, then is it correct to view Locke as embodying the "spirit of capitalism"? The methodological question raised by Strauss was addressed with unmatched exuberance by Richard Cox in his relatively little known work, Locke on War and Peace Cox argues that Locke wrote the Two Treatises on two levels. The first level uses the conventional language of natural law and biblical teaching to convey the impression that he had a perfectly orthodox view of man's nature and his relationship to his fellow man.

The second, deeper level of writing, however, actually was meant to convey exactly the opposite view, that man was a Hobbesian creature ruled by passions whose life would be at best "nasty, poor, brutish, ugly and short" without the institution of some kind of government to improve his lot, and that, to act effectively the government in power would have to take account of the natural base passions of man.

Cox bases his case for Locke's "secret writing" on two kinds of evidence. The circumstantial evidence that Locke hid his true meaning is marshalled from a reading of Locke's personality and the historical circumstances within which he wrote. All Locke scholars have remarked on Locke's extreme caution with regard to political matters. He rarely uttered a controversial word in the political arena, and when he did commit himself to writing, he refused to acknowledge his authorship.

The same can be said about his views on religion which were suspected of being heterodox in the extreme. He did not relish open debate, and neither would he have been willing to lose his political influence as a result of being embroiled in too much public controversy. Even more importantly, where political writings were concerned, controversial doctrines were frequently held to be seditious doctrines and could lead the author straight to the gallows.

This was the sad fate of Algernon Sidney, another writer of controversial political doctrine resembling Locke's. Locke's caution with regard to his political views reflects his rational response to the political uncertainties of his age, and provides acceptable evidence of his desire to write as much as possible in the language of the majority view. That the views Locke was trying to insinuate in his writings were Hobbesian, as Strauss and Cox maintain, does not necessarily follow.


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Recent research has established that Locke's immediate purpose in writing the Two Treatises happens to have been exactly the one he described, to refute Filmer's divine right of King's doctrine, 52 and "to establish the true, original and extent of civil government. Shaftesbury's plots were clearly treasonous and Locke had ample reason to exercise caution concerning the publication of his essays. Although originally written around , 53 he waited until — to publish the esseys after James was deposed and Prince William of Orange safely ensconced on the throne. By then, it was safer for writers to propose that governments rested on contracts, but to add an extra margin of safety, Locke wrote an introduction presenting the Treatises "to make good the throne of King William" to be certain William couldn't perceive the Treatises as a threat to his sovereignty.

Locke nevertheless continued vehemently to deny his authorship of the Treatises until he was on his death bed and had nothing further to lose by disclosure. His caution is adequately explained by the radical nature of his arguments for government by contract, the limited powers of even elected officials and the right of oppressed populations to change rulers. Given the historical background of the Treatises , it is unlikely that Locke would have gone to all that trouble of concealment solely because his views may have had some affinity to those of Hobbes.

Cox's substantive evidence for the Hobbesian nature of Locke's thought depends upon a careful attempt to sort out the inconsistencies in the Two Treatises in order to break Locke's code. His reading is ingenious and partially, if not wholly convincing, resting as it does on Cox's interpretation of Locke's state of nature and the conditions of men in that natural state.

Cox claims that far from describing an orderly and peaceful state of nature, Locke really intends to describe a natural state where conditions are so stark and dismal that individuals willingly escape to government. Cox, as does Strauss implicitly, raises an interesting question.

If the state of nature is so congenial as many readers of Locke believe, why do men give up their freedom willingly to government? Locke clearly states that there are inconveniences in the state of nature where men are all judges in their own disputes, and that "men are no great lovers of equity and justice. But why not? Cox argues, as we have seen, that Locke held a very Hobbesian view of the state of nature characterized by ongoing battles and extreme poverty. Cox carries his reading of Locke a bit too far to be completely persuasive.

In Locke's state of nature there is certainly relative poverty and some strife, but the level of each is inversely correlated to the level of the other. In the earliest stages of existence before the introduction of money, there was no property accumulation, little land ownership, and, one can infer, a great deal of poverty although this is not completely clear. Locke does talk as if men have as much as they "need" in this early time. Although by using money, men tacitly consent to the unequal distribution of wealth and hence should have no cause for complaint, in fact "men are no great respectors of equity and justice" and the enjoyment of property becomes less and less secure.

Contrary to Cox's argument, however, it isn't necessary that everyone act contrary to natural law: or to be in a constant state of war with everyone else in order for the state of nature to be intolerable. The level of disorder could conceivably become intolerable if only a small percentage of the population engages in criminal behavior. An even more interesting problem concerns the possibility of disputes among otherwise law abiding men in the state of nature.

If increasing populations and accumulations of wealth lead to a disappearance of the common property, as Locke supposes, there will no longer be "enough and as good" left for everyone, and there could easily be an increase in the number of property disputes in which the title to property is not immediately obvious to everyone. Remember, it is clear that labor grants a title to property only where there is enough and as good left in common for others.

Where this is no longer the case, perfectly honorable men could be unable to settle disputes about property ownership when each is judge in his own case. This reading would still result in rational humans desiring to leave an inconvenient state of nature, but it allows them to do so with more dignity. It also makes it seem more plausible that they could be rational enough to create property in the first place, and to enter into a contract as formal as necessary to begin civil society.

Furthermore, this reading gives more credibility to the emphasis Locke places on the limitations of government. If the state of nature is really as mean and miserable as Cox believes, any government is better than no government, even for a short period of time, and Locke clearly did not believe that to be the case.

That Locke believed civil society to be preferable to the state of nature is unquestionable. However, it is equally unquestionable that he believed there were limits to the powers of government, which limits derived from men's condition in the natural state.


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When government tramples on the rights of individuals, especially when it confiscates the property it was organized to protect, men might very well reason that they would be better off with another government. Locke argued that men would never again revert to a state of nature once they contracted into civil society, but they would replace one government with another. In an age accustomed to claims of absolute monarchs, this contractual theory of government was a revolutionary statement. Men do have rights and they do have power to control the government to insure that the government operates in their interest rather than in its own interest.

This is the radical political message of the Second Treatise , and a message that is not primarily Hobbesian. The question of how much of Locke to take seriously in assessing his theory of property arises again in the work of C. In , MacPherson published one of the most original and provocative studies of Locke's political philosophy. MacPherson's study of Locke was presented within the context of a treatise on The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism in which he argued that the distinctive feature of the individualism espoused by the classical liberal philosophers was its possessive nature: its focus on the importance of private property to individualist political philosophy.

MacPherson argued persuasively not only that Locke's political philosophy reflected the "spirit of capitalism" as had Strauss, but he claimed even more strongly that Locke consciously designed his theory of property to provide a rationale for the developing capitalist society of seventeenth century England. He saw Locke as one of the first apologists for capitalist appropriation and an advocate of the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Because MacPherson's interpretation of Locke is radical and undeniably Marxist both in the structure of his argument and in his moral attitudes, it has aroused a good deal of adverse criticisms. No one can write about Locke after MacPherson without carefully considering his position. It is necessary for serious Locke scholars to contend with MacPherson, moreover, not because he is necessarily correct, but because he has managed to ask many significant questions that arise in Locke's theory of property and civil government. Despite the many inconsistencies which have been the bane of generations of Locke scholars, MacPherson claims that Locke's political theory becomes completely intelligible and consistent once Locke's hidden assumptions are made explicit.

Locke's alleged hidden assumptions are all elaborations of what MacPherson calls "possessive individualism," the assumptions that people relate to each other primarily as owners, that individual freedom is a function of the possessions of individuals and that society is nothing but the sum of the "relations of exchange between proprietors. The question of whether or not it is legitimate to interpret a scholar by relying on "hidden" or implicit assumptions is one that need not detain us here. It seems perfectly reasonable to assume that a writer may innocently fail to state all of his assumptions, as MacPherson says, 66 either because he believes they will be taken for granted by his readers or because he, himself, doesn't fully realize they are his assumptions.

The pitfall of this kind of scholarship, however, is that one may inadvertently substitute one's own assumptions for those of the author and hence be severely mistaken about the author's true intent. This, I believe, is the case with MacPherson. His own judgments about the nature of the capitalist economy lead him to gross errors regarding Locke's view of the moral nature of society and man.

The unfortunate result is that while his reading of Locke's theory of property is sound in many important particulars, his overall interpretation of Locke's theory of political society is mistaken. According to MacPherson, Locke's major achievement in his theory of property was "to base the property right on natural rights and natural law, and then to remove all the natural law limits from the property right.

Further MacPherson sees Locke's justification of unequal ownership leading to the reprehensible conclusion that only property owners were full members of society, while the propertyless had fewer rights and an inherent incapacity to make the judgments and acquire the information necessary to function fully in political society. MacPherson buttresses his case by pointing out the flaws in the Locke-as-constitutionalist approach: this approach emphasizes the limits Locke places on government in the interests of property, yet it overlooks the very great power Locke gave to the political community his civil society over individuals, e.

To MacPherson, both features of Locke's work are consistent when it is realized that only property owners are full members of society and therefore have mutual interests which eliminate the need to specifically guarantee individual rights. All full members of society would thus agree on the content of individual rights, the foremost of which would be the right to property.

MacPherson's careful reading of the origin of property in the Second Treatise is especially interesting, because he was the first to emphasize the great importance which the introduction of money makes to Locke's account of property in the state of nature. Hence, he divides his analysis into two parts: the early stage of nature before the introduction of money, and the post-money stage. In the first stage before the introduction of money, he notes the potential limitations to the ownership of property remarked on earlier, 70 the spoilage limitation "as much as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils; so much he may by his labor fix a property in" , the sufficiency limitation "For labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.

If all men obeyed this limit in the early stage of the state of nature, sufficiency was assured. MacPherson also correctly discerns that the introduction of money transforms the character of the limits to property ownership. He sees money as "transcending" the limits of property by enabling men to accumulate as much as the want without fear of spoilage. Why do men want to store wealth when there is originally as much land as anyone could possibly want to work with? While anyone who considers the problems of poor harvests, the uncertain futures, and the pleasures of greater comfort, security, and convenience could readily supply an answer to this question, MacPherson claims Locke does not supply it.

He specifically denies that Locke assumed men wanted more pleasure from the wealth they accumulate and instead argues that they want the wealth for its own sake. He claims that Locke was a mercantilist who believed the sole purpose of investment is to "beget further investment," and that the primary function of money is to serve as capital. The goal of accumulation, according to MacPherson, is wealth and power, and hence Locke "justified the specifically capitalist appropriation of land and money" as a natural right in the state of nature.

Although there are grains of truth in MacPherson's description of Locke's mercantilism, his reading is far too simplistic to do justice to Locke.

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It is true that Locke did not offer an explanation for why men wish to accumulate property in the Second Treatise most likely because he took it for granted that his readers would be able to supply the reason from their own experience. MacPherson builds his case on Locke's hidden assumptions, yet this most obvious one he overlooks. The desire for wealth is not unusual among men. It is certainly not generally conceived to be irrational. In Locke's economic writings, to which MacPherson selectively turns to support his argument, Locke clearly states that it is the plenty of the necessaries and conveniencies of life that constitute riches.

To claim that Locke believed in accumulation for its own sake is bad enough, but to further make him guilty of believing that money alone constituted wealth is to attribute to him an absurdity unfound in the history of economic thought. Locke did favor capital accumulation as a means of increasing wealth, and he did have a definite preference for an increasing money supply because he though it would be an aid to capital accumulation and increased wealth, but he never confused one with another in any meaningful sense.

MacPherson goes on to discuss the sufficiency limit and again points out that it is overcome by the introduction of money into the state of nature. The consent to use money implies men's consent to the consequences of a money economy: an unequal distribution of wealth and an end to economic sufficiency, or in our terminology, an end to resource abundance. In fact, we have already seen that population growth is as much responsible for the end of sufficiency in land as money, but certainly the introduction of money is a contributing factor.

MacPherson correctly states that Locke does not find this situation troubling however, because of his belief that the other benefits of money economy more than compensate. Because of the increased economic activity made possible by the use of money, MacPherson agrees it will always be possible to find a way to make a living through commercial exchange even if all common land is appropriated, and hence Locke substitutes "sufficiency in making a living" for "sufficiency in land" as a requirement for legitimate property.

Once money becomes a proxy for accumulated real wealth, as Locke understood, the total value of the stock of wealth that can be owned by members of a community is no longer limited by the amount of land to which it has access and hence everyone can be better off. MacPherson complains, however, that even though Locke allows for the entire value of the wealth of the community to increase as a result of private ownership, there is no guarantee that this wealth will be equitably distributed.

He shows that Locke makes the assumption that the standard of living of everyone will increase regardless of who owns the property "a king of a large and fruitful territory there [in America] feeds, lodges and is clad worse than a day laborer in England" , 78 yet MacPherson still believes that Locke assumed landowners would gain at the expense of the landless masses who will be forced to alienate their labor in return for a subsistence income.

Evidence of the inferior status of the landless MacPherson finds in Locke's discussion of wage labor. MacPherson correctly points out that Locke took the existence of wage labor for granted even in the state of nature and hence never meant to describe strict labor limitation to property ownership. In the very beginning of the property chapter of the Second Treatise Chapter V when Locke is establishing the connection between labor and property rights he says, "Thus the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant has cut; and the ore I have digged in any place where I have a right to them in common with others, become my property.

If each man has a property in his own person, he has the right to sell the use of that property if he so wishes.

In fact, Locke specifically describes the nature of the wage relationship as contractual:. Obviously, a servant or wage-earner chooses to give up his right to the property he creates in return for a guaranteed wage. His labor subsequently is at his employer's direction and is a result of his employer's initiative, and the property which emerges from their productive efforts belong to the employer.

Locke does not give a specific reason why a freeman would want to sell his labor to someone else when he could work for himself and acquire his own property. Presumably he believed a man would sell his labor only if it were to his advantage. Locke believed that not all men are equally capable, so he might have believed also that a less capable man would prefer working for another rather than taking the risk of having to live on what he could make for himself.

MacPherson, as one might predict, sees the existence of wage labor in a much less benign light. He sees landless laborers forced to sell their labor to landed property owners, and concludes that "the continual alienation of labour for a bare subsistence wage, which he [Locke] asserts to be the necessary condition of wage-labourers throughout their lives, is in effect an alienation of life and liberty.

All the rhetoric in MacPherson's examination of Locke's theory of property aside, he shows a fine understanding of the mechanics of Locke's system. Although MacPherson is mistaken in his reading of Locke's view of the unlimited accumulation of property for its own sake, and the degree and source of inequity of property ownership in the state of nature, his basic analysis of the development of the property argument is correct.

However, when MacPherson tries to show the implications of differential property ownership within civil society, he seriously distorts Locke's intentions. He tries to argue that beyond justifying unlimited accumulation of property, wage labor, and the implicit capitalist economy in the state of nature, Locke also "justifies, as natural, a class differential in rights and in rationality, and by doing so provides a positive moral basis for capitalist society, implying thereby that capitalism requires differential rights.

MacPherson claims that Locke assumed first "that while the labouring class is a necessary part of the nation its members are not in fact full members of the body politic and have no claim to be so; and secondly, that the members of the labouring class do not and cannot live a fully rational life. He substantiates his claim by pointing to the several passages in Locke's economic writing where Locke describes laborers as living from hand to mouth or at subsistence. Like Adam Smith later on, Locke also alludes to the mind dulling effects of most routine labor.

MacPherson further argues that when rationality implies property accumulation. There are several grave errors in MacPherson's interpretation. First of all, Locke did not equate the laboring poor with the idle poor in his assessment of their moral status. He spared little sympathy for the idle poor who he believed were responsible for their own poverty. In fact, he recommended severe treatment of beggars by twentieth century standard, advocating forcing them into workhouses to teach them to earn their own living and to keep them from the public charge.

The context of his statement about workers living from hand to mouth suggests that they were unable to save anything from their income, not that they were in dire economic straights. But this rarely happens but in the male-administration of neglected, or mismanaged government. The import of Locke's statement here, however, isn't to argue that governments should see to it that workers remain poor; it is to argue that only mismanaged governments disrupt the economy to the extent that workers are so badly off that they take to the streets in armed insurrection.

It is true that Locke believed workers would generally live at subsistence, that they would be poorer than merchants, farmers and landowners. It may even be true that he thought the laboring poor to be on the whole less intelligent and less industrious than those who are well off, although there is no direct evidence for this. It is not true, however, that Locke believed they were inherently less rational and had fewer political rights than property owners.

For one thing, Locke realized that in a money using MacPherson's capitalist society, anyone could be a property owner. Everyone was a property owner by virtue of his self-ownership and this property in self could be extended to property in things and in money. Locke's real achievement was to extend the definition of property to include all forms of wealth, and hence to extend the possibility of property ownership beyond that of land. The capitalist economy that MacPherson is so bent on denigrating, enables men not only to make a living by "alienating" their labor, but also enables them to accumulate wealth if they are "industrious and rational" enough.

Fortunes can be made and lost, and wealth transferred from the less able and lucky to the more able and lucky regardless of "class" background. The assumption of rigid class boundaries is a major deficiency in MacPherson's reading of Locke. It is true that Locke never specifically described the upward mobile process, yet his economics is full of examples of changing fortunes. Merchants especially become wealthy because they are adventurous and able, and there is no presumption that they all come from some predetermined merchant class.

Simple day laborers may be poorer than other groups in society, but they are better off than they would be without a "capitalist" economy, and they have the possibility through diligence, to pull away from the pack and make their way in the world, an alternative they would not have under a more feudalistic social structure.

MacPherson, however, denies that this could ever happen. He argues that Locke was inconsistent in his view of human rationality. On the one hand Locke assumed that men are equally rational and capable of looking after themselves.

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Here, he claims, Locke conceived of man in the image of the "rational bourgeois. The difference was in fact a difference in their ability or willingness to order their own lives according to the bourgeois moral code. But to the bourgeois observer this appeared to be a difference in men's ability to order their lives by moral rules as such. Once the ownership of property divided men into two classes, the differential rationality became inherent in the class.

Thus within civil society, the less rational were to be tolerated, and well-treated, but were not to have full rights within a civil government aimed at protecting property. This analysis fails as a reading of Locke primarily because it takes a very narrow view of the meaning of property as every other Locke scholar has commented. To Locke, property was not simply land.

Although Locke specifically reiterates in several places within the Second Treatise that the cause for entry into civil society was the protection of property, by which he meant life, liberty, and estate, MacPherson consistently interprets him to mean solely estate, and landed estate at that. But even if Locke meant only estate by the term property, to him estate included the property one had in one's own person.

This was in jeopardy for everyone in the state of nature, rich or poor. Furthermore, property ownership was not conceived of as limited to a few wealthy individuals on great tracts of land, as MacPherson seems to envision. He seems to suffer from some feudalistic preoccupation with great manors.

In seventeenth century England, property, even landed property ownership was fairly widespread, 91 and when one considers the forms of property not tied to land e. Rather Locke was concerned with the protection of the many from the excesses of the few who happened to wield political power. In his zeal to portray Locke as the wicked defender of an even more wicked capitalism.

MacPherson misses the real thrust of Locke's argument which is to protect people, all whom are property owners in one sense or the other, from the wicked use of political power. The approach of Strauss, Cox, and MacPherson in interpreting Locke has been attacked from many quarters. Peter Laslett calls MacPherson's reading "thoroughly unrealistic and occasionally unhistoric. He points convincingly to the absolute, arbitrary power of monarchs as Locke's real target and observes that all men have property that is subject to government encroachment.

John Dunn argues that MacPherson's reading misses the traditional Christian elements in Locke's thought, specifically the importance of charity and duty, and presents as evidence Locke's notes on the just price to support his contention that Locke was concerned with economic justice in the Scholastic tradition.

However, by far the most complete and convincing refutation of the whole Strauss-Cox-MacPherson reading of Locke as Hobbesian and Marx-style capitalist is presented by Martin Seliger in the context of his investigation of The Liberal Politics of John Locke Seliger's detailed reading of Locke is probably the most comprehensive treatment of Locke's political theory in the literature today. His volume is both an exegesis of Locke's writings and an attempt to investigate the nature of modern liberal political thought.

Here, we will be most concerned with his reading of Locke's theory of property which he, too sees to be the linchpin of Locke's political thought. Seliger begins by observing that most of the "confusions" found in Locke's theory of property stem from misinterpreting Locke's attitude toward equality.

While it is clear that Locke posited political equality, in the state of nature, he never assumed there would be equality of possessions. Locke presumed that differing natural capacities would lead to different amounts of property, and the use of money would simply enable men to enlarge their possessions, not to create inequality per se. Seliger is unique among Locke scholars in that he sees no problem with Locke's assumption that men would want to enlarge their possessions. Refreshingly, he understands the desire to accumulate property evidences good sense.

He, too, points out the contractual nature of the wage relationship and makes the important observation that in order for a person to hire labor, the employer must be able to exchange the fruits of his own labor acquired at some time past. Seliger affirms that both the economic and political spheres depend upon consent and agreements among adults.

However, he further argues that of the two spheres of agreement, the political sets limits for the economic and so is above the economic in importance. While Locke seems to emphasize the right to property above all other rights, his emphasis was symbolic. Just as his use of the broad definition of property is symbolic of the rights to life, liberty, and estate.

Rather than having any special status, then, the enjoyment of property is subjected to political decisions just as any right is regulated by the political process. Seliger supports his contention by showing that Locke always describes freedom as bounded by law, either natural law in the state of nature, or conventional law within civil society. Law is necessary to "maximize" freedom, that is, to protect individuals from the arbitrariness of their fellow man. Law, according to Seliger's Locke, is a formalization of the public will, which itself is a resolution of the conflict among private wills.

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