Зображення сторінки

sider that nothing is "natural" but what is separate and singular, the act, feeling or thought of an individual by himself. We might even go further, and urge that by speaking of any estimate, joint or several, as "imaginary” we are assuming that there is a standard other than that of the several agents, by which we judge whether they are “following nature" or not. Locke, indeed, makes this assumption without hesitation. “My principles," he says, “have their foundation in nature”;l and yet in his Essay on the Human Understanding we are told that the individual is the supreme judge in matters relating to his own happiness, and therefore implicitly in matters relating to the distribution of wealth.

These last difficulties are common to the whole Sensationalist and Utilitarian philosophy; and they will reappear in later writers. On the other hand, Locke's Political Philosophy is in some ways peculiar to himself. His aim, in writing his treatises on Civil Government, was “to establish the throne of our great restorer, King William," and to make good his title against the attacks of Sir Robert Filmer. Filmer ? had advanced the Patriarchal theory of monarchy, in support of the dogma of the Divine Right of Kings and against the assertors of a “natural liberty of mankind,” including not only English Whigs but “ Papists” like Bellarmine and Suarez. All men (said Filmer) were born in subjection to their parents, and the King's authority is founded on the paternal. Adam was an absolute monarch, and so are all princes ever since; they are above the laws (p. 99).

Locke meets him with principles drawn from Aristotle, Sydney, and Hooker, and, so far as he is guided by any, it is by Hooker; but he professes himself “little acquainted with books, especially on those subjects relating to politics.” 3

By nature, he says, men are free and equal (ii. 135, $ 67); children are born for this, and mature manhood has it (ii. 188). Government exists by compact for the good not of the governor but of the governed. The “ law of nature" wills the peace and preservation of all mankind, and a liberty which is consistent with the liberty of others. If it be said that men were never in a state of nature, the answer is that States are so now towards each other, and individual men are so till they see the advantages of society. But the state of nature is by no means always as Hobbes fancied—a state of war; Society exists to make the war impossible, and, even before Society, though possible, the war was not necessary or universal. The freedom of nature is subjection to nothing but laws of nature, civil freedom being subjection to a common rule.

1 Further Consid., W ks., II. 69. Even the word “eternal” is used (II. 134, $ 64) of the “natural right” of parents over children.

? Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings (1680).
3 Letter to Rev. Rich. King in Wks., vol. i. 109, 111, cf. 74.

By the "original law of nature,” all things were common, and by the same law there was property, and it was a property founded on labour. To be used is to be appropriated. Every one has property in his own labour and his own person; and as regards things, it is my labour on them that makes them my property. Even now fish of the sea belong to him who catches them, and in principle labour is the foundation of all property. God gave the world “to the use of the industrious and the rational, and labour was to be his title to it, not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious.” 2 God by commanding man to subdue the earth gave him authority to appropriate that part of it that he could subdue ; and “the condition of human life which requires labour and materials to work upon necessarily introduces private possessions.” A man should have as much as he can use and no more ; the earth is still large enough for all. The chief end of civil society is the preservation of the property so constituted ;* its citizens have given up the power to be judges and executioners for themselves, and have accepted the empireship of the State ; they have passed out of the “state of nature " 5 into that of a Commonwealth by a mutual consent and compact, giving authority to the majority. The law of nature indeed is “plain to all rational creatures,” but men

1 Vol. ii. 179. Locke can hardly be said to have pushed his criticism of Innate Ideas very far in Political Philosophy. 2 ii. 182.

3 ii. 183. 4 Cf. Letter concerning Toleration, Wks., ii. 268. 6 ii. 198, top.

are biassed in the application of it to their own case. Political Society provides them with a common impartial tribunal, and with power to execute its decrees, with taxation only for common ends and by common consent. The purpose of its foundation is the common good, for no rational creature changes his state in order to be worse but to be better off. The result is the Commonwealth, which is a wider word than city and less wide than community. A community or society is not identical with a government, but where the government is dissolved the society becomes a confused multitude. This dissolution, the subversion of the commonwealth, is the only real rebellion ; it is truly rebellion, it is the return of bellum ; and resistance to it is certainly lawful."

We have thus in Locke as in Hobbes the individual men as the starting-point, and a deliberate compact as the beginning of Civil Society. We have further a

distinction between the State and the Society ; Locke sees that the very nature of men and women leads to a social life that is quite distinct from the political and might exist in separation from it. Moreover the law of nature is simply the pursuit of happiness in obedience to a natural impulse; it is not a moral law written on the heart. So, in civil society, “law in its true notion is not so much the limitation as the direction of a free and intelligent agent to his proper interest, and prescribes no further than is for the general good of those under that law ;-could they be happier without it, the law as a useless thing would of itself vanish." But the end of law is not to secure the freedom of doing as I please, but the freedom of “disposing and ordering" as I judge best, in accordance with the laws.? Viewed in connection with the passages previously quoted, this means that the law, and the State which makes the law, exist in order (in later phraseology) to secure to every man the fruits of his labour.

This purely economical view of the origin of Property and therewith of the State may be paralleled on the one hand by Plato's account of the growth of the State out of division of labour in the 2nd book of the Republic, and on the other hand by Adam Smith's description of the "original state of things” when the wages of labour were identical with the product of labour. But Adam Smith does not represent labour as historically giving rise to property ; it is appropriation that destroys the original state of things; and Locke does not, like Plato, see that the individual previous to society is imperfect, and only in society and the State realizes all that is in him.

1 i. 239. This passage shows that Stahl is wrong in representing Rousseau as the first writer to maintain that the uprising against a monarch is no rebellion (Philos. des Rechts, i. 297). Cf. the passage in the First Letter on Toleration, where it is said that the one cause of Sedition is Oppression (Wks., II. 272).

2 ii. 189.

Apart from parallels, however, we must ask how Locke meets the difficulties that present themselves as soon as we compare property as it exists in States as they are now with property as described in his theory of its nature and origin. The actual possessors do not always (or even very often) hold their possessions by their labour, and those that labour do not always have property. His solution is that the invention of money made accumulation possible, and by agreeing to the use of money men have tacitly “agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth.” (Civil Govt., ch. V. vol. ii

. p. 187.) This would be practically a condemnation of things as they are if we were not expressly told by Locke so often that the political compact is indissoluble, and the political compact ratifies the general order of things as it now is. “ The power that every individual gave the society when he entered into it can never revert to the individual again so long as the society lasts, but will always remain in the community (vol. ii. p. 245). Property therefore, if at first due to labour, is now due to law. Locke does not sufficiently consider, too, that historically possessions were due to the “right of occupation,” even if the first comer was one who wished to labour. Where there were several individuals, all willing and anxious to labour, say on a given piece of ground, nothing else but the right of the first comer could be claimed, unless indeed it were the right of the strongest ; the right to apply labour would be asserted before there could be any right to the produce of labour. But, taking the theory as expressing not the historical origin so much as the rationale or justification of property, we find it much harder to apply in a civilized European community than in a new and wide unpeopled territory. The labour in a civilized State can only go on when the right of property in tools and materials or the use of them has been first conceded ; and, apart from that concession, the labour, when it does go on, owes its efficiency to the social surroundings of the workman, and to the division of labour and inventions, without which he as an individual would realize a very inferior product indeed, What he produces therefore is what society has helped him to produce; and in apportionment of property according to labour, even if the latter could be taken as the only standard of desert, the society would have a claim as well as the individual. The individualism of Locke prevented him from keeping this truth in view ; and yet economically and philosophically it is a truth of first-rate importance.

1 For another discussion of this aspect of Locke's theory, see Mr. D. G. Ritchie's article on “ Locke's Theory of Property," in the Economic Review, January, 1891.

It may, finally, be noted that Locke distinguishes the sponte acta" and the prescriptions of custom in human society from political action.

Political action itself is of two kinds. The act by which political society is established is not the same as the act by which Government is established, and the dissolution of the Government does not involve the dissolution of the political society. Of the spontaneously formed societies (ranked as if co-ordinate with the civil society) religious bodies are the best instance. Economic institutions are another instance. The invention of money is not (according to Locke) even a consequence of the union of men in a State, but is independent of a State. “Since gold and silver, being little useful to the life of man, in proportion to food, raiment, and carriage, has its value only from the consent of men (whereof labour yet makes

i See the Letters on Toleration, and cf. Life, by King, p. 297. other societies see Third Letter on Toleration, W ks., II. 356, etc.


« НазадПродовжити »