John Locke on Liberty and Freedom

john-lockeThe “Second Treatise of Government,” written by John Locke, was composed between 1685 and 1688. His ideas had a great influence on the thinking of our founding fathers. While meditating on the following quote, ask yourself, where am I currently being affected by a violation of Locke’s idea of, “a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society.” In doing so, don’t miss his other important starting and ending ideas of liberty and freedom.

The NATURAL liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule.

The liberty of man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will or restraint of any law, but what that legislative power shall enact according to the trust put in it.

Freedom then is not what Sir R. R. Tells us, O. A. 55, “ a liberty for every on to do what he lists, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws.” But freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power where that rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man; as freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of nature.

How will the current “stimulus” bill change the playing field? Will we all be treated under the same economic rules moving forward. Or is the redistribution of wealth that is going to occur under this bill a shifting rule which will impose an uncertain, unknown and arbitrary will of another man on your freedoms?

John Locke, “Treatise of Civil Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration,” Edited by Charles L. Sherman. (New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1937), p. 16.

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9 Comments

  1. kathryn harvey
    Posted December 7, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I love this! woooooo!

  2. blah blah
    Posted December 7, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    John Locke was a wealthy man, born into a wealthy family during a time of growing socioeconomic strife in the United Kingdom. The Two Treatises are him writing in defense of his wealth, that he was born into. It essentially is propaganda to allow a very small social class to stay in power, under the guise of freeing mankind from the monarchy (a greater power which Locke could never become). Rousseau’s writings discuss freedom and the solution to social problems. Locke merely makes excuses to maintain the status quo.

  3. Jessica
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    You are so stupid you have no idea what you are talking about John Locke is one of the main reason’s that we are free and have the natural rights that we have today. We have to hold him in infamy because our declaration of independence was based off of his ideas of natural rights. He didn’t have to maintain a status quo.

  4. Da Der
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    You’re missing the point of Locke. For example, your first comment talks about the natural state. However, Locke talks about the natural liberty of man only to discuss the purpose of government. The purpose of government is to escape the natural state of man. Hence you’re quote would actually be opposing your argument. And yes, Locke talks about the formation of a government by the consensus of the commonwealth but that’s only the formation. According to the Second Treatise of Government which you are quoting, simply by using the means that the government provides; i.e. the roads, electricity, plumbing, etc; you are consenting to live under the rule of that government. You might want to read the hole book before you quote someone who most likely disagrees with you. Locke was a federalist who viewed James Madison Federalist 10 paper as beneficial. They were both anti-faction and you are part of a faction. You may or may not disagree with them but you might as well quote someone who agrees with you. The Anti-Federalist papers perhaps?

  5. rebecka
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Who is sir R.R ? been looking all over for that man, cant find his name

  6. admin
    Posted March 29, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    That is a good question. It might take a lot of work to discover that since John Locke is quoting him. Sir R.R. may have been a contemporary of Locke, but I don’t really know?

  7. hurrr
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    “Sir R. R” is referring to Sir Robert Filmer who also wrote on freedom.

  8. admin
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I believe this is correct. Thanks.

  9. Posted July 15, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Historian Thucydides, during Pericels funeral speech mentions ‘MAN”S UNIVERSAL FEELING OF WHAT IS RIGHT’ as the source of the origin of democratic ideas. Similarly, in the Declaration of rights of man during the American revolution also, the wording used were similar. The concepts of Freedom, Justice and Democracy can not be based on any universal PREMISE, but only on man’s universal sense, and feeling of what is right’. Thus these are products of human reason, emerging in human mind in the maturity of time, and his intellectual evolution.
    Human reason is the Key. It is not a bi-product of history, or culture. History and culture only triggers Reason to split the new experience or idea into its newest SPECTRUM of new idea, and possibilities !We have many blogs at our attached to the above website, at its sub-links,that describes these ideas.

30 Trackbacks

  1. […] him to decide the destiny of the Dutch government. The freedom he speaks about is not the one that John Locke advocated, but rather the freedom to discriminate and oppress. This is not a new freedom in Europe, as […]

  2. […] influenced by other people to believe what is right and wrong.  If you look at John Locke’s view of freedom and the Constitution of the United States you will find many similarities.  From this view, we see […]

  3. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  4. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  5. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  6. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  7. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  8. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  9. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  10. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  11. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  12. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  13. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  14. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  15. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  16. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  17. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  18. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  19. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  20. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  21. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  22. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  23. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  24. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  25. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  26. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  27. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,? wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  28. […] from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  29. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

  30. […] any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,” wrote Locke, in the familiar language of small government-lovers […]

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