The People's Right to Bear Arms

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Wed Apr 21 13:05:40 PDT 1999

James H noted

>Reading it, it's hard to imagine that it is anything other than
>revolutionary, and popular in character. It's major literary influence,
>I think, was John Locke, that theorist of the English revolution. A fine
>document it is too.

Locke is more a transitional figure than a simple bourgeois revolutionary.

Note that Locke's Fundamental Constitution for the Carolinas tried to create a feudalism in which a dominant seigeurial class could extract rent by tying direct producers to the land as a subject class or leet men, who though permanently tied to the land on a herditary basis, would be happy, like slaves, in the freedom of worship that Locke would allow. While Locke explicitly defended feudalism as the solution to the labor shortage, he did not exclude slavery. Article 110 of hte Constitution reads: "Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his Negro slaves, of what opinion or reigion soever." While Locke did not infer the illegitimacy of chattel slavery from his defense of property rights as derived from the mixing of one's labor with the common, he did justify the dispossession of Indians because they had not mixed their labor with the land 'sufficiently."

Due to such contradictions at the heart of liberal contract theory, philosophers such as Charles Mills (Visible Blackness) have begun its re-examination.

Yours, Rakesh

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