In his Second Treatise on Government, 1690, John Locke writes, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Sound familiar? If not, you have just failed a fundamental citizenship test.
In context of his time, John Locke was arguing against the fallacy of Divine Right to Rule, the law that supported the oppression of the common by the nobility. Commoners were the chattel of the nobility, whose purpose was to serve, work and enrich those who by birth, and mythologically ordained eminence, were superior to those ruled. Commoners could not own or bear weapons, upon pain of death, and were required to worship at the state sanctioned church. Locke was demonized by the conservatives of his time, who called for him to be tried for high treason, half-hung, drawn and quartered. The root of conservatism has never been about conservation of resources, fiscal responsibility or morality; it has always been about conserving the divine rights of a ruling class to subjugate those they deem inferior. It is astounding to the modern, critical thinking mind that many commoners of the time supported their enslavement, befuddled by the charlatans’ liturgy, state propaganda and complacency in “that is the (insert nationality) way.”
The founding fathers of our country drew heavily upon Locke’s “liberal” philosophy in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. For Americans this was the touchstone of the American Revolution, a battle in a worldwide revolt against the abomination of divine rule, a revolution that continues to this day. A revolution that demands that no person or party is entitled to subjugate or persecute other persons based upon race, skin color, mythology, sexuality, wealth or gender.
We had grown complacent, taking our rights for granted, forgetting that we truly only have such rights as we can defend; the sleeping giant of Liberty now again woke, and enraged.