“But conquest is as far from setting up any government, as demolishing an house is from building a new one in the place.”
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This passage can be found in chapter five page 707 of the text where Locke defines civil society as those people who are united with a common goal into one body; having common well stated laws and judicature to appeal to. According to his statement, these people have the power to decide disagreements between them; reward law abiders, and at the same time punish offenders (Morgan 35-837). On this basis, a relationship in a civil society is the basis of Locke’s theory of government where these relationships can not even be found in mutual family models. Based on this relationship, there must be seniors and juniors where juniors pay respect to their masters who possess authority over them. According to Locke’s theory of government, each member of civil society is entitled to specific laws and regulations which guide their behaviors. On this basis, these laws and authorities are for the well-being of the entire society members and not individuals (Morgan 35-837). In this relation, the differences in family model relationship with that of the entire civil society indicate that; domestic matters should not be given the same consideration as public ones. On the other hand, the two relationships can interconnect when the family’s welfare is jeopardized and political authority is needed to make the judgment. As a result of this, therefore, this study will be guided by a thesis that states that; a government is not usually building through conquest (Morgan 35-837).
It is of importance to note that, the meaning of this passage in this chapter and page is to indicate precisely how authority should be practiced in civil society or a government in terms of political power (Morgan 35-837). In this case, when authority is not correctly exercised in a government or a society; there will be challenges facing the government which would result in conquests. This is because there will be always disagreements between the source of power and the subjects. In this relation, a government should adhere to the established laws and regulations governing the citizens but not dictatorship since it will lead to its downfall (Morgan 35-837).
It should be noted that, this paragraph is significant in this text as it indicates the mismatch of relationships required by a government or civil society; with what is portrayed in a family model. As indicated by Locke, the relationships found in family models can not be comparable with that of the government. On this basis, the connection between this text and the entire passage is that; the government should provide laws and regulations to the citizens under a constitution (Morgan 35-837). It should be noted that, as stated by Locke in this passage; children should not choose their fathers in family relationships but the citizen are in a position to choose the kind of a government they want. In this relation, citizens elect the people they want to represent them in the parliament where they can remove them in case they do not work as expected. On this basis, if the citizens and the government representatives work in harmony; there will be building up of the government and not destroying it through conquests. According to Locke in this passage, the family’s private matters should not be discussed in the public (the government) but by the household members. On the other hand, the government should cater for all the needs of its citizens to avoid dissatisfactions (Morgan 35-837).
It is of importance to note that, the definition of civil society given by Locke suggest that each and every member of the society have a role to play in the civil society. On this basis, the work done by an individual in government building is considered private property and not for the entire members of the government. In this case, this statement can be used to mean that in case one representative of the government is not taking his/her duties seriously; the whole government will not be rendered inactive (Morgan 35-837). In order to help building the nation in a civil society, the society members should be aware that conquests can not help building a government and hence a representative government should be adopted. In this connection, government representatives should be rewarded according to the laws governing the society and at the same time they should be punished for the wrongs committed (Morgan 35-837). A point worth noting is that, if a certain member of the society or a government representative encourages conquests in the society; punishment actions should be taken upon him/her accordingly as directed by the governing laws and regulations. On the other hand, those people who work hard to see that unity is maintained among the society members; should be rewarded accordingly as directed by laws and regulations. In the effort of avoiding conquests in this government, each member of the government and society in general should work for the common welfare of the society (Morgan 35-837).
Unlike Rousseau who in the same chapter indicated that society members must exist in violence before they select a king; Locke indicated that a civil society must be united by a common goal and have established laws governing them. It is of importance to note that, the statements of Locke and Rousseau differed in this chapter in that; Rousseau advocated for a majority power that society members should submit to (Morgan 35-837). On the other hand, Locke stated that, it is not an individual or a majority power that rules the people; but their established laws and regulations under a constitution. A point worth noting is that, the two scholars had an intersection part when Rousseau indicated that; even though people in a society submit to an individual, he can not have interests different from the wishes and desires of the society members (citizens). On this basis, the citizens are given power to rule themselves through their representatives in the government as their representatives cannot go contrary to their interests. In this relation, there will be no conquests when people are correctly represented in the government and their interests are looked at accordingly. As a result of this, there will be building of a government by the people and for the people. On the other hand, Rousseau indicated that each citizen should obey the power supreme ruler that rules them (Morgan 35-837).
In winding up, the two statements of Locke and Rousseau describe how as government should be formed. In order to avoid conquests which do not help in building a government, both the rulers and the subjects should work in harmony. In this case, the ruler should not go contrary to the interests of the citizens; while on the other hand, the citizens should submit to the power of the sovereign.
Morgan, Michael. “Classics of Moral and Political Theory”, 4th edition. New York: Hackett Publication Company. (2006): 35-837.