The People's Right to Bear Arms

Jim heartfield jim at
Thu Apr 22 17:24:29 PDT 1999

A lot of quibbling about Locke that borders on the formalistic.

The question is not whether we should fit him into this or that pigeon hole; still less whether he is in tune with our times; but whether he took society forwards or backwards. Clearly the former.

The essential point is that in his writings on the Original Contract, Locke conceives of a state that owes its legitimacy to the will of the people. Anyone who cannot see the spectacular advance that constitutes is just taking for granted what Locke and others fought to make a reality.

We today have the luxury of electing our governments, and, not having fought for it, hold that right in disdain. But who amongst us would have had the courage to say it should be so.

The phrase of the declaration says it all, 'We, the people...'

In message <v02130500630bedce7eda@[]>, Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU> writes
>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
>Yours, Rakesh

-- Jim heartfield

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