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John Locke's Civil Government

            John Locke's essay on Civil Government states that, "The people shall be judge". This statement refers to what Locke believes should be the means of forming the proper government. Essentially what he is saying is that a government can be established and take over the people, if and only if, the people first consent to it. His theory is backed up by the fact that the people have to give up one of their natural rights. Therefore, it is only just if everyone is in accordance with the ideas the government wishes to represent. Locke believes that all men have certain undeniable rights in the state of nature in which there is no government. These rights are freedom, equality, the power to protect and preserve yourself and your health, and the ability to punish someone when he has wronged you. The transition between the state of nature and civil society involves giving up the power to punish people. The people surrender this right to government they choose and then, the majority rules. However, if at any time the government feels that they are above the law, or are making unjust laws, the society has the right to revolt. These ideas differ from those of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Bousset. .
             On one hand, there is Hobbes whose theory is based on the notion of individualism. Consequently, he claims that all humans are innately selfish and concerned only with their own self-preservation even if it comes at the cost of others. Even altruistic or selfless actions could be explained in this manner because, according to Hobbes" theory, our primary desire is self-preservation and in other's misfortune one's own plight is predictable, therefore providing motivation to act in this seemingly unselfish manner. Hobbes" theory is based upon the assumption that human nature is naturally competitive and violent. Locke states that all men have the right to preserve themselves and believes that society should be liberated from all absolutism; a political theory holding that all power should be vested in one ruler or other authority.

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