On what basis does Locke believe that political power should be limited?
Upon reading Lockeâ€™s Second Treatise Of Government it becomes apparent that he was
an advocate of the limitation of political power. Locke proposes a separation of power within
government as a means to satisfy this before the idea emerges in Montesquieuâ€™s writings (Gough
1973). Locke believed that governmental power should be vested in more than one institution in
order to safeguard against one institution having too great a degree of power. Lockeâ€™s writing is a work against absolutism, which he saw as a sure road to tyranny. This is an issue which forms a firm basis of Lockeâ€™s theory and will be discussed below.
Locke has taken the two principle rights man enjoys in the State of Nature, the right to interpret the Law of Nature for ourselves and the right to punish anyone who goes against it, and has given them two independent institutions (Ashcraft 1987). These institutions, while both designed to be working towards the common good, have come into being in Lockeâ€™s system in such a way that society is protected against abuse of this system. Lockeâ€™s assumption of mans â€œfrailtyâ€ leads him to include these insuranceâ€™s against any man securing too great a degree of power. With the separation of power in Lockeâ€™s system the Legislature overseeâ€™s the Executives job of policing the people while itself being dependant upon the confidence of the people. Although Lock states that this is a separation of convenience this really seems to be a side issue.
What is certain is that Locke makes it clear that the separate bodies do not share equal power. He showâ€™s the legislative power as being â€œnot only the supreme power of the commonwealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed itâ€ (Locke para 134). This highligh