WWJ(L)D: What Would John Locke Do?

Blog 4, Section 9

Recently, we have been comparing the theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in terms of the state of nature and social contracts. Locke seems to be the most moderate of the three. He believes that war does exist, like Hobbes, but it is infrequent. He believes that people are naturally self-interested but also rational thinkers, and that we need a liberal democracy with impartial judges.

John Locke

Locke is by far the most religious of the three and that greatly influences his beliefs on social contracts. John Locke believed that there was one central idea that people must believe in order to call themselves a Christians: the belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

Locke believed that a government in society should model the “religious government.” He advocated for appointed judges that would represent the interests of the people, just like in Christianity there is one God who has the best interest of his subjects in mind. Christians believe that Gods support the decisions that will do the best things for humanity as a whole. In the Bible, it is stated that God gives man free will even though he doesn’t have to, because this is one of the primary principles of living a fulfilling life. This parallels Locke’s idea that appointed judges should have full reign, but must have the consent of the governed. If the subjects believe that the judge is abusing his power or not looking out for the best interest of the people, they can and should overthrow him.

In Locke’s view of the state of nature, war happens, but it is infrequent when compared to Hobbe’s view. This can also be seen in God’s view of war written in the Bible. From Ecclesiastes 3:8, “A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.” According to the view of Christianity, war should be only pursued with just cause, under necessary circumstances, and as a last resort.

The Holy Bible

Locke also uses Christianity as a means to justify his views on public property. “Though the earth and the inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a ‘property’ in his own ‘person’” and he continues “God, when He gave the world in common to all mankind, commanded man also to labor, and the penury of his condition required it of him.”  Locke believes in the protection of private property, and that is one of government’s major purposes.

From these references, we can see where Locke finds references for many of his theories. Locke’s theories have been discussed and analyzed for years, and even provided inspiration for the Constitution of the United States. His ideas are still relevant and can be applied to modern systems of government.