- Locke states: “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Explain the “law of nature” that Locke cites. (p. 637).
When Locke states that nature has a law to govern it (Locke, 637), he is referring to natural law. This law comes from nature. Under Locke’s observation things in natural, left to be how they were meant to be tend to thrive. Just as Locke would see the natural state of a trout would be to be happy and free in some idyllic stream, he see humankind’s natural state of affairs in a state where people are able to have freedom to do with their lives, their livelihoods, and the products of both as they want to do. He calls this a ‘state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and person, as they think fit.” (Locke, 637).
- How does Locke define “property?” (p. 637-638).
Locke sees property as having two different types. The first is what he considered the self evident property of a man’s self. Obviously, this could become complicated, since at the time of his writing slavery was still legal in many parts of the world. But it is beyond the scope of this question to address that. The second form of property comes in the form of extensions of a man’s body, or the things that he creates by mixing things in the natural world. An example would be an axe that a man made from taking a rock and a branch and tying them together. This, in Locke’s view, intuitively belongs to the man and he is able to do with it as he sees fit.
- What is meant to “submit” to the “the determination of the majority?”
What this means is that there are certain societal restrictions on a man’s freedom that must go along with people living in a community. The “submit” that Lock is talking about, is to adhere to the results of democratic decisions made within a society, even if a person is personally opposed to the determination a majority mandates. As Locke words it, “For, when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with the power to act as one body (Locke, 639).
- Explain “tacit consent to the laws of government.”
For Locke there are two kinds of consent that a person gives government. The first is an express consent, which is an overt declaration of consent, and the second is a tacit consent, or consent by omission. A tacit consent is consent by anyone who benefits from the “enjoyment of any part of the dominions of any government.” (Locke, 640). The recognition of a currency as having value, would be considered a tacit consent, for it is not something that is overtly done, but an unspoken rule of a society.
- “the community perpetually retains a supreme power of saving themselves from the attempts and designs of any body, even of their legislators, whenever they shall be so foolish, or so wicked, as to lay and carry on designs against the liberties and properties of the subject” Explain the importance of this “supreme” community power.
The supreme community power Locke discusses as necessary for a free and fair society is in The United States served by the US constitution. This provides a check and balance that neither the president nor legislators and supersede. It is a protection against allowing a society to self-destruct by the same hands that govern.
- Reading Two: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto
- Marx declares that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”; how does this relate to the “bourgeoisie” and the “proletariat”? Be sure to define both classes. (pp. 2-3).
Marx sees society as consisting of two polarized classes on either side of the wealth spectrum. There are the proletariats; the sect of the society that create the wealth, and the bourgeois, the sect that obligates the proletariats to make the wealth that they enjoy. He sees the root of this state of affairs as having to do with the current society being founded on the ruins of a feudal system: “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society, has not done away with class antagonisms.” (Marx, 1).
- Marx claims that the bourgeoisie “compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image" How might the state implement, promote, and enforce the ideals of the bourgeoisie? Offer examples. (p. 4).
In our current state, the tax brackets and financial rules seem often to favor the “bourgeois.” They also have political power and influence that is unavailable to the “proletariat class” which is unable to afford such luxuries. It seems the 1% is able to remain in their place of inequable power and influence simply because they dangle the promise of the proletariat class being able to become part of the bourgeois if they work hard and obey the rules that they set in place. Instead of them promising a more equal state for everyone, they promise the opportunity to be like them.
- How does the bourgeoisie overcome the intrinsic “epidemic of over-production?” Why is there an inevitable overproduction of goods in capitalist economy? (pp. 4-5).
Marx says that when an inevitable overproduction occurs in a capitalist economy that “Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism.” (Marx, 4). The bourgeoisie overcome this through by destroying a “mass of productive forces” and also by the “conquest of new markets” or more “exploitation of the old ones.” (Marx, 4).
- “The proletariat alone is a revolutionary class.” What does Marx mean by this? (pp. 5-6).
Marx has divided society into two classes. One composed of the mass of the population and the other that is a small sect of the population that has all the wealth and power and means of production. The proletariat working class, because it is composed of most of the population, is as he sees it, the class that is capable of bringing about change through revolution.
- Marx says: “Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie (and that) Communist ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” Why so? Why is a violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat necessary? (p. 6).
Marx in many ways writes about and sees things in terms of extremes. His opening statement of the manifesto reflects that when he writes that “The history of all thitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Marx does not believe that the status quo of the Bourgeoisie could every be changed by them voluntarily and sees a violent overthrow as the only means at his disposal to bring it about.