- Series: Hackett Classics
- Paperback: 488 pages
- Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.; UK ed. edition (March 15, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0872206769
- ISBN-13: 978-0872206762
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 12.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Locke: Political Writings (Hackett Classics) UK ed. Edition
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About the Author
David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History, University of York. His translations of Machiavelli (The Prince and Selected Political Writings), Thomas More (Utopia), and Voltaire (Candide and Related Texts) are also published by Hackett Publishing Company.
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Locke's burial of the notion of the divine right of kings, and his acknowledgement that rulers can only rule legitimately with their people's consent may make him sound like a pioneer of liberalism, or even a visionary of our modern age. He is, however, very much a man of his time. Indeed that is the attraction of this book. The comments of a 17th century man from a 17th century perspective bring the period to life in a way that would tax the skills of a 21st century historian. Consciously or no, historians will have their own agenda.
'Liberal' is a relative term. Locke would outlaw atheists; he was convinced that morality was impossible without a belief on God. 'Mahomedans', whose loyalty would, with their essentially political faith, be to the Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, could not possibly be subjects of the English crown. Regarding the early development of human societies, polities and nations, Locke was writing prior to the development of anthropology and sociology, and 200 years befroe Darwin wrote 'The Descent of Man'. His conjectures, therefore, on primitive societies, appear, quite naturally 'primitive'.
In other ways Locke appears prescient. One hundred years before Adam Smith he attempts an explanation of the laws of supply and demand. 200 years before Marx he outlines his own 'labour theory of value'. He proposes what we would now call 'workhouses' as a a remedy for beggary and paupery. His grand scheme for eradicating poverty might read, at first sight, like an early version of Thomas Paine's 'Rights of Man'. Unlike Paine, however, who envisioned a state education system providing universal literacy, Locke would have the poor children set to work in the textile industry.
And finally; for South Carolina he proposed a constitution definitely aristocratic, if not feudal, and for England he recommends that the Act of Queen Elizabeth's day whereby unlicensed beggars would have their ears cut off, should be enforced with full rigour.
The seeds of modern England can be seen in this selection of Locke's writings, but whatever his influence, our country has changed in ways that Locke would find inconceivable.