Friday, April 23, 2010

247: John Locke (1632 - 1704)

I don't know how you feel about is, but after Hobbes and our analysis of the concept of Liberty, it almost looks as if liberalism is inevitable.

In the past decades we have seen systems collapse. Communism is no longer a viable way of organizing a society, it seems.

What is left are more or less democratically organized countries and a bunch of totalitarian regimes and on or two communist fossils.

And here we have John Locke(1632 -1704), called the "father of Liberalism". So again a liberal political philosopher.

I must admit that the theory is attractive in an intuitive way, as if it is so obvious indeed. And yet I have the feeling that I am missing something. I can not yet put my finger on it, but I miss something.

But don't worry, eventually we'll get to that point where we say….yes that is what we miss in the theory of liberalism.

John Locke is a man with a long career and he has written a lot,while in his writings there is a constant development. We'll focus on the mature ideas.

Like Hobbes he begins his theory with the natural state of man. In a natural state all people were equal and independent, and everyone had a natural right to defend his life, health, liberty, or possessions.

Though selfishness plays a part in this natural state, Locke believed it was guided and controlled by reason and tolerance, while Hobbes concluded that it leads to a war of all against all.

However, like Hobbes, Locke assumed that the sole right to defend in the state of nature was not enough, so people established a society based on consent to resolve conflicts in a civil way with help from government in a state of society.

Community begins with consent, Locke argues, and this consent can only be majority consent, as universal consent is impossible to gain. Consent of the governed is the only justifiable form of government,

He makes a clear distinction between the legislative and the executive power. This executive power is restricted by the laws. If it goes beyond that the people is justified to revolt.

A central issue in Locke's theory is property. In the state of nature, everything is commonly owned; but as God gave man senses and reason to use for his preservation

and reproduction, that which he removes out of the state of nature with his own hands becomes his property – and this is natural and just.

To quote Locke: “The labour that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were in, hath fixed my Property in them.”

And can we pick all apples from a tree, so that they become our property? No says Locke. Christian morality demands that a man take from nature that which is for his enjoyment,

“as much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils … whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for Man to spoil or destroy.”

And here Locke gets very interesting in developing maybe the first well formulated principles of capitalism. By making durable goods you can exchange them for to redundant apples you picked.

Next step is the use of money and the accumulation of money. While it is immoral to accumulate all apples, it is not immoral to accumulate a lot of money. We'll get back to that some other time.

The Discussion

[13:15] herman Bergson: So much on John Locke
[13:16] herman Bergson: maybe even the father of capitalism ^_^
[13:16] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmmm
[13:16] Abraxas Nagy: pffft
[13:16] herman Bergson: This development fascinates me more and more...
[13:17] herman Bergson: kind of how to escape from liberalism ^_^
[13:17] Gemma Cleanslate: having a hard time with the taking from nature etc
[13:17] herman Bergson: It brought us th e financial crisis, didnt it
[13:17] Gemma Cleanslate: if it belons to someone else
[13:17] Gemma Cleanslate: or does it
[13:18] Kiki Walpanheim: majority consent--wouldn't it mean that the minority are ruled without consent
[13:18] herman Bergson: no the natural state of man everything belongs to everyone...there is no private property
[13:18] Zinzi Serevi: je kunt je af vragen of het niet immoreel is zonder grens geld te vergaren
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: well now
[13:18] Repose Lionheart: they consent to participate in the system and abide by it's rules ㋡
[13:19] Kiki Walpanheim: but what about some who does not consent to is their country, they can't just have other choices
[13:19] herman Bergson: Yes Kiki....Locke talks about minorities as inconveniences
[13:20] herman Bergson: in Hobbes terms it is a war of all against all
[13:20] Repose Lionheart: can't have two forms of government in one place...they go elsewhere, maybe
[13:20] herman Bergson: In Locke's terms it is a majority against a minority in which reasonprevails..also for the minority
[13:20] Kiki Walpanheim: :/
[13:20] Kiki Walpanheim: nods at herman...
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: wow inconveniences .... well
[13:21] herman Bergson: on important issue for Locke was also Tolerance...
[13:21] herman Bergson: he assumed that the reasonable person also is a tolerant person
[13:22] Kiki Walpanheim: and when legal equality is emphasized, inequality of classes becomes inevitable, it seems
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: assumption should be correct but often is not
[13:22] herman Bergson: yes Gemma ㋡
[13:23] herman Bergson: I am anxious to learn how things will continue with men like Rousseau and Montesqieu
[13:24] herman Bergson: and then it might be interesting to focus on the concept of property...
[13:24] herman Bergson: And yes it immoral to accumulate unlimited amounts of money?
[13:24] herman Bergson: Locke accepts this
[13:25] herman Bergson: tho on the other hand it is the task of the government to watch over the distribution of wealth
[13:25] Abraxas Nagy: yea right
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: is it???
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: that is a big question is it the task of govt
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: Locke is British...perhaps class is his Achille's heel, as Kiki suggests ㋡
[13:26] herman Bergson: and when you project this on a global scale you may notice ow primitive we still are in this distribution of weath over the planet
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: oh, yes, very true
[13:26] Abraxas Nagy: yep.. but its deliberate
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Abraxas..that is the worst of all
[13:27] Zinzi Serevi: i agree
[13:27] Zinzi's translator: i agree
[13:27] Abraxas Nagy: exactly
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: "economic democracy" is still a very new concept, I think
[13:27] herman Bergson: Ah..Repose..yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: While selfishness is so old already
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: o
[13:28] Zinzi Serevi: lol
[13:28] Zinzi's translator: lol
[13:28] Kiki Walpanheim: tho laws and legislations are good , better than let the gov abuse power, in my opinion-----still, i think there are flaws with laws...because
[13:29] herman Bergson: In fact I get the feeling primitive we are in respect to economic democracy
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: yes, much room left for the growth of the human heart in the centuries ahead ㋡
[13:29] Kiki Walpanheim: because the laws just make the same rules for every individual... while each individual case is unique... sometimes... what is legal is not moral, what is illegal is indeed moral....because
[13:30] herman Bergson: Yes Repose I agree...we already achieved a little, didnt there is hope
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: Yes ㋡
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: Yes, too
[13:31] herman Bergson: I am not that pessimistic about mankind at all....
[13:31] Zinzi Serevi: its a long way to go
[13:31] Zinzi's translator: its a long way to go
[13:31] herman Bergson: Like 7of9 always says: You will adapt
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: lol!
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: the ever wise 7of9 ㋡
[13:31] herman Bergson: she is a beauty...but this aside...
[13:32] Abraxas Nagy: I'd say
[13:32] herman Bergson: Anyway….
[13:32] herman Bergson: I think we should keep a sharp eye on the development of liberalism...
[13:32] herman Bergson: and question it eventually
[13:33] Abraxas Nagy: i agree
[13:33] herman Bergson: I have a feeling there is something wrong with this theory....
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: Hmmm...last time you kept a close eye on something, you turned me into a virtue ethicist. lol!
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: hehehe
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: lololol
[13:33] herman Bergson smiles
[13:33] Kiki Walpanheim: and is this theory about the idea of americanism
[13:34] herman Bergson: Well..most interesting is that Locke was at the cradle of the Declaration of INdependence of the US
[13:35] herman Bergson: and thi scountry is all liberal in all kinds of shapes
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: wich has been degraded by the patriot act
[13:35] Kiki Walpanheim nods
[13:35] Kiki Walpanheim: patriot act?
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: after 9/11
[13:35] Kiki Walpanheim: i'll look it up...
[13:35] herman Bergson: I still find the Health Care Act debate and what I heard people say in the US as a perfect example of conflicts in liberalism
[13:36] Abraxas Nagy: yes u should
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:36] Kiki Walpanheim nods
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: a law that had the effect of limiting personal freedoms in the US
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: amazing stuff
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: both
[13:36] herman Bergson: Yes Repose.....a restricted government or a more active government?
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: no, i mean the patriot act
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: the*
[13:37] herman Bergson: With Locke we are at the cradle of liberalism...
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: the opposition to the Heath reforms was, in my opinion, insane
[13:37] herman Bergson: from here it will develop further
[13:38] herman Bergson: allow me to agree with you `repose
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: ㋡
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: any reasonable person would, and Locke would approve. Prof ㋡
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: heheheh
[13:38] herman Bergson: ok...steady we one will be Montesquieu!
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: elaborate some?
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:39] Zinzi Serevi: ok
[13:39] Zinzi's translator: ok
[13:39] herman Bergson: Let's take it easy for today...Locke wasnt that controversial.. wasnt he
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol well we are making him so
[13:39] herman Bergson: Unless there is still left an unanswered question.....
[13:40] herman Bergson: You think he was Gemma?
[13:40] Kiki Walpanheim: locke said property hoarding was legitimate till it was spoiled....where is the point of "spoiled"
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: well we all seem to be
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: pulling his short words apart
[13:41] herman Bergson: when you have more than you can consume Kiki
[13:41] Kiki Walpanheim: also it seems majority rule becomes inevitable, which was what Mill didnt like
[13:41] Kiki Walpanheim: nods
[13:41] herman Bergson: no.. I dont agree Kiki
[13:42] herman Bergson: Mill indeed spoke of the tyrany of the majority, but he meant something very specific...
[13:42] herman Bergson: He meant the dominating moral of the victorian age....which had more political influence than the chosen majority
[13:42] Kiki Walpanheim: there should be at least some ppl who do not consent to the system, and who do not agree to the taxation, yet the majority vote determines that
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: the "majority" is complex...we all hold hundreds of opinions and policy positions...on some we are in the majority...on others we are in the minority
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: there is fairness in this
[13:43] Kiki Walpanheim: nods....
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes...that too Repose
[13:44] Kiki Walpanheim: and i dont think it is easy , that if some ppl dont agree to the system they could easily find another land and live together in their way..
[13:44] Kiki Walpanheim: well, some compromise is necessary any way
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: well, that's fine, because i don't want to be governed by fascists, or theocrats, or....
[13:45] herman Bergson: the problem with a disagreeing minority is that it claims to posses the REAL THRUTH
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: i would love to take a look at that land after they all get there
[13:45] Kiki Walpanheim nods...
[13:45] Zinzi Serevi: yes like in many religions over here
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: take a look at North Korea ㋡
[13:45] herman Bergson: this implies a humiliation and disrespect of the majority which believes at least to have a truth too
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: or Iran ㋡
[13:46] Kiki Walpanheim: nods....
[13:46] herman Bergson: yes..this zealous selfrightiousness has always lead to disaster
[13:47] herman Bergson: sectarism
[13:47] herman Bergson: and what Aristotle already feared...factions and civil war
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: hmmm....yes
[13:48] Kiki Walpanheim: factions... i tend to link that with NGO's
[13:48] herman Bergson: what is that..NGO?
[13:48] Zinzi Serevi: whats NGO?
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: non-governmental organization ㋡
[13:48] Kiki Walpanheim: yes , Repose
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: typically charities
[13:48] herman Bergson: ok
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: not always though
[13:49] Kiki Walpanheim: is Guild NGO too?
[13:49] herman Bergson: the democratic party in the US you can have factions too I think...
[13:49] Kiki Walpanheim: oh...
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: oh, yes, Prof
[13:49] herman Bergson: just small groups with shared (self)interest
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: oh gosh well yes
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: and also in the republican party
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: sharp divisions on some issues
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: true
[13:50] herman Bergson: oh yes Gemma....they arent any better ^_^
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:50] Kiki Walpanheim: maybe one way to tackle that problem of majority/minority is to allow some laws made at , say, state level rather than national level...but
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: but however specific to a region, some ppl still need to compromise
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well sound like European politics....
[13:51] herman Bergson: And the magic words from Bruxelles
[13:51] Kiki Walpanheim: I don't know....
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: compromise is inevitable and not a bad thing, i think
[13:52] herman Bergson: Well...important is that the minority has to give in...
[13:52] herman Bergson: eventually...
[13:52] Zinzi Serevi: yep
[13:52] Zinzi's translator: yep
[13:52] herman Bergson: if not, you have a civil war at hand
[13:52] herman Bergson: Look at Birma...
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: well we did that too
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: yes, we did
[13:53] herman Bergson: And there the government isnt representing the is totalitarian
[13:53] Kiki Walpanheim nods....
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:53] herman Bergson: and Locke supports revolution agains and executive power that ignores the laws
[13:54] herman Bergson: in fact there is happening what almost logically follows form his ideas
[13:55] Kiki Walpanheim: yes,
[13:55] herman Bergson: Well...let me thank you for your participation again...
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: have to reread about locke
[13:55] Kiki Walpanheim: thank you professor
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: is more complicated than he seems
[13:55] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor ㋡
[13:55] herman Bergson: Oh yes gemma..
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: back to fishing lol
[13:56] Zinzi Serevi: thanks proff
[13:56] Zinzi's translator: thanks Proff
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: while the good ones are left
[13:56] herman Bergson: He was against slavery and secretary of a slaves owning company
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thanks for the lecture, herman! bye bye class, see to you Thursday
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: well that is good and bad
[13:56] Kiki Walpanheim is going to read him to understand americanism
[13:56] Abraxas Nagy: see you all Thursday
[13:56] Kiki Walpanheim: see you
[13:56] Zinzi Serevi: bye bye all
[13:56] Zinzi's translator: bye bye all
[13:57] herman Bergson: Ok Abraxas...
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: it was interesting again ty

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