Monday, 11 March 2013

Alter or Abolish?

For obvious reasons, I’m a fan of John Locke. Some people have asked me whether I’m descended from him, but unfortunately, all the so-called “authorities” agree that he had no children.
The times we live in today are much like the times he lived in. If you doubt me, read your 17th-century English history. Civil War, Plague, Fire, Popish Plot, Judge Jeffreys, ... It was worse than we thought!
I want today to draw your attention to four of his quotes. The first, from the First Treatise of Government, paragraph 92:
“…but government being for the preservation of every man’s right and property, by preserving him from the violence or injury of others, is for the good of the governed: for the magistrate’s sword being for a “terror to evil doers,” and by that terror to enforce men to observe the positive laws of the society, made conformable to the laws of nature, for the public good, i.e., the good of every particular member of that society, as far as by common rules it can be provided for…”
There has never been a better description of what government is supposed to be for. But he was guilty of an omission! Which he corrected in the Second and much more famous Treatise, paragraph 10:
“Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injury done, and some person or other, some other man, receives damage by his transgression; in which case, he who hath received any damage has (besides the right of punishment common to him, with other men) a particular right to seek reparation from him that hath done it. And any other person who finds it just may also join with him that is injured, and assist him in recovering from the offender so much as may make satisfaction for the harm he hath suffered.”
Yes! Criminals – real criminals – deserve not only to be punished in due measure for their crimes, but also to be made to pay reparations to those they wronged.
Locke, though, knew what law is for. Paragraph 57 of the Second Treatise
“…the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.”
Oh, how badly our current slavemasters treat us!
Governments today don’t punish the criminals, but the innocent. All the political parties are the same; they reward their cronies (whether rich or “poor”), and punish productive, honest people who don’t accept their agendas,
Which leads to my last Locke quote for today, from paragraph 149:
“…yet the legislative being only a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there remains still in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them. For all power given with trust for the attaining an end being limited by that end, whenever that end is manifestly neglected or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security.”
Yes, and the criminals that made the bad laws should be punished and made to pay reparations, too!
Locke’s last point was even more memorably put a century later, in the US Declaration of Independence:
…that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…
We’ve tried putting new faces in charge many times. It doesn’t do any good, does it? So, my friends, which is it? Alter or abolish?