Monday, September 28, 2009

Common Sense

This document is different than previous ones we have studied. Rather than the political criticisms and formal documents, this document is meant to play to people's emotions. It clearly takes advantage of bias against Jews and Biblical references to convince people that the very concept of a king is evil. Looking back I do NOT agree with some of the claims made by this document but I do recognize that it was crucial in inflaming people against the King and the creation of America.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Locke and Jefferson

The Declaration of Independence is without a doubt based on the principles of Locke. The first two paragraphs are a direct summary of his ideas. Furthermore upon doing some more research on him I discovered who told him to read Locke. A Professor at William and Mary named William Small. Yes he read it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

John Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government

John Locke's theory starts with the most basic purposes of government and how these purposes could be best fulfilled. This approach is interesting because it truly exposes the two competing concepts that are vying with each other: freedom and safety. For any government this is the trade off that occurs. Most of the old European governments focused on the freedom of select individuals and those that serve them are provided with security, examples of this are the goverments of Feudalism and Monarchy. But if we follow the line of thought of Locke this doesn't make much sense because this one sided trade does not give any power to the people that the government is supposed to serve. A government is a form of a social contract, a group of people that trade some of their freedom to protect what remains. The security provided by a system that removes all freedom is empty for what is left to keep safe? If freedom and safety are shared by all people then a balance is acheived that fulfills government's purpose.
While this idea of a people's government is good, it alone won't work because humans are corrupt. This brings us to the idea of checks and balances. If the people do not follow the laws of their government then a judicial system provides consequences that consist of loss of one liberty or another (Property, Freedom, or even Life). If the government stops fulfilling the purpose that it was created for, then the people may rebel and replace it. These safeguards hopefully will preserve the safety and freedom of the people.