John Locke's political thoughts and socio-political implications

Essay, 2018

10 Pages, Grade: 10.0



This paper explores three published articles that report on results from research conducted on liberal ideas in Singapore. The articles, however, vary in their definitions and uses of liberalism and articles examine liberalism in different areas. James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, & Seth Norton (2008) analyse economic freedom rating, international trade freedom and taxes on it. Other articles define liberalism differently and, therefore, analyse it in different areas, for example Douglas Sikorski (1996) analyses an effective governance. This paper examines Sen, A.S. (1997), Gwartney J., Lawson R., & Norton S (2008), Sikorski D. (1996) and Zheng Y. & Swee-Liang T. (2009) researches to suggest that liberalism can be developed in different areas and these areas should be studied in order to fully understand how liberalism influences economy, governance and international trade.

Keywords: international trade, economy grow, government, liberalism

John Locke political thought and socio-political implications

There is noticed that liberalism spreads in Southeast Asia, especially in the Republic of Singapore. It is vital to mention that this state improves plenty of liberal ideas including a free market economy, fast economy grow and a low government apparatus ideas. However, discussing about liberalism in Singapore, there are some discrepancies which contradict liberal ideas in Singapore. Therefore, Singapore’s economy, governance and international trade should be fully studied in order to understand how these ideas work. According to James Gwartney, Robert Lawson, & Seth Norton report ,,Economic Freedom of the World 2008 Annual Report’’ (2008), Douglas Sikorski analysis ,,Effective Government in Singapore: Perspective of a Concerned American’’ (1996) and Amartya Sen ,,Human Rights and Asian Values’’ (1997) Singapore is one of the leaders in the world following a liberal free market economy idea, low government impact in society and free foreign trade.

John Locke political thoughts

About the state of the war

John Locke in his analysis “Two Treatises of Government” highlights the idea that war definitely causes destructions in a state and civils should defend a right to life. There are no doubts that war causes enmity in society and destructions. In the second treatise “Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government” third chapter “Of the state of War” author claims that people who declare intentions to deprive a life, starts a war between each other. In that way, they cause a danger to others who could take a part in a war or own lifes. As a fact, according to the law of nature, human should be preserved as much as possible and it is not possible to save all of them, the safety of innocents is to be preferred. It this case, we can assume that everyone in a society has a right to the law of nature to live and no one are able to encroach to it. Moreover, humans are able to defend a right to live if someone attempt to deprive. John Locke in third chapter “Of the state of War” observes that “This makes it lawful for a man to kill a thief who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life”. This means that humans have a right to call as a warring with me and person can kill a thief if he can. Therefore, it is fair, that a thief condemn himself to that danger (death), because he starts a war and he is an attacker. All in all, John Locke states that everyone human has the law of nature to live and they are able to defend themselves from attackers and has a right to kill a thief if they are able to do that.

About the state of a slavery

Natural human right - to be independent from any superior power on the earth. There is an importance to highlight two main ideas: human can pertain to that legislative power, which is established by public contract and no one can take themselves to slavery. First of all, the liberty of man in a society is to be not pertained to any legislative power. John Locke states that “The liberty of man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth and legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it”. This explains the most important aspect in society- humans is free only then government is established by the public contract and seeks for a commonwealth. Therefore, people with the power should live by standing rule, which is common for everyone member in a society and rule is enriched by legislative power. John Locke develops another idea which explains that no one should take themselves to slavery. The second treatise by John Locke supports the thought that independence from power is the most important thing to survive on the earth. There are no doubts that no one can give away more power than he has and man who give away independence, are not able to keep safety and life in the same time. In this case, we can state that if human cannot control own life, he cannot give himself to a slavery or succumb to arbitrary government with any contract, because that power can deprive a life. We can assume that situation as a perfect condition of slavery, which is a sequel of condition of a war. All things considered, humans have natural law to be independent from any coercive power and make social contract in order to establish a legislative power.

About the government

John Locke develops the importance of property- everyone person has a right to a property and has a right to undertake a part of common goods. First of all, humans have a natural right to their preservation and a right to a food and drink and such as other things. According to John Locke thought in the third chapter ,,Of property” God who given a world to society, also given them a reason to use common goods in order to use of it to the best advantage in a life and convenience. It his case, there is highlighted idea that earth and all that is given to the humans in order to support and comfort their being. Consequently, while all common goods were taken to all people to use, human are able to appropriate some of them before they can be of any use or beneficial for them. This common goods appropriation can lead to a natural law- sustaining-life. In addition, nonetheless earth depend on all people in common, still human has a property in his own person. John Locke claims that “The “labour” of his body and the “work” of his hands, we may say, are properly his”. Therefore, that “labour” is not questionable issue of labourer property and anyone has a right to that is once joined to, if there is enough as good left in common for others. In this situation we can make an assumption, that person should defend own property if he reached this by an own labour and he left enough good for others. Good, which was picked out a common nature and changed by human labour, deprives a right from other people to use it. All things considered, everyone member in a society has a right to own property if he gains it by own labour and left enough common goods for other member survival.

Of Political or Civil Society

There is noticed an important principle of separation of powers. First of all, there is important to discuss about executive law development in a society. John Locke in the seventh chapter ,,Of political and civil society” explains that when a certain number of people form a community and refuse executive power according to a natural law, when a political or civil society exist. Consequently, they form a common political body and establish an executive law, which is governed by higher power. This means that society reasonably refuses a right to take a part to an executive power and instead of it they form a new political body, common nation. Secondly, this puts human out of a state of Nature into that of a commonwealth and judge appears on the earth. John Locke expands that a judge is authorized to resolve disagreements and injustices. As a fact, this man became a legislative power or its officer and member of society has no such decisive power to appeal to, they are still in the state of nature. This idea leads the idea that a political body authorize legislative power to legislate laws for a society commonwealth and delegate them to execute. All in all, John Locke develops the idea of legislative and executive powers, which should originate from society.

Limitations of These Studies

These discrepancies result from a number of limitations and lack of information about negative sides, critical view. These limitations result from discrepancies in economical explanations, foreign trade and the cost of liberalism. Each of these limitations will be examined in further detail below.

Limitations in economy. First, Gwartney J., Lawson R., & Norton S. in the report ,,Area Economic Freedom Ratings (Ranks). Economic Freedom of the World 2008 Annual Report’’ (2008) stated statistics, which explains Singapore economic freedom rating in 2008 years. According to Gwartney J., Lawson R., & Norton S. the rating was calculated at 8, 57 points from 10 and Singapore stands in the second place in the world as the country which has a high level of economic freedom (p.10). In this case could make an assumption that Singapore can develop economy faster. On the other hand, ,,Economic Freedom of the World 2008 Annual Report’’(2008) analysis shows statistics which contradicts economic freedom idea in Singapore. According to Gwartney J., Lawson R., & Norton S. (2008) Singapore has plenty of labour market regulations, for example a minimum wage regulations stand at 10 points from 10 (p.156).It is the highest level of labour market regulations. In conclusion, economic freedom report includes a few discrepancies and we are not able to claim that Singapore has the highest economic freedom conditions in the world.


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John Locke's political thoughts and socio-political implications
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international trade, economic growth, politics, international relations
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Gabriele Pauliuk (Author), 2018, John Locke's political thoughts and socio-political implications, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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