Explain the impact of Locke & Rousseau on Thomas Jefferson. Give examples from the text. The idea of inalienable rights. This is the idea that there are certain rights that are absolutely fundamental and that no government or political body has the right to alter them. This is idea is articulated in one of the most oft-quoted passages of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".
The one thing on which Locke lays great emphasis throughout the Treatise is that the chief end or purpose for which the state or commonwealth is formed is making secure to the citizens the natural right to life, liberty and property which they had in the state of nature. In this state of nature, according to Locke, men were born free and equal: free to do what they wished without being required to seek permission from any other man, and equal in the sense of there being no natural political authority of one man over another. He quickly points out, however, that "although it is a state of liberty, it is not a state of license," because it is ruled over by the law of nature which everyone is obliged to obey. While Locke is not very specific about the content of the law of nature, he is clear on a few specifics. First, that "reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it" and second, that it teaches primarily that "being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life liberty or possessions."
‘Demythologising the Eisenhower Era’. The Special Relationship. Ed. William Rogers Louis and Hedley Bull. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986.
This is how a Commonwealth is established through the consent of the people, and by having consent it becomes legitimate. Once born into a Commonwealth an individual cannot form a new one, you are bound by a covenant. The ideology that Hobbes obtains regarding Commonwealth is correct, the sovereign should have unconstrained power to rule indefinitely, possessing unlimited rights making the sovereign above the law. Locke is unable to understand the absolute control that the sovereign has, he states that a Commonwealth is established when property exists, meaning it is determined when the sovereign creates civil laws to distribute any property. He also explains that once state of nature is set then the possessions of individuals belongs to them if labor is added to them, he gives the example of the acorn that when you mix yourself with it then it seizes to be equal by adding labor to it, if labor is not added to it then it doesn’t belong to you.
Consequently, since all human beings have certain moral rights to health, liberty, and possessions; they also have the right to enforce the protection of those rights by way of punishing violators. And it is in this maintaining of ones own rights that it is necessary for man to initially come together and form a social contract. By forming a social contract they are agreeing to sustain from living purely in a state of nature. According to Locke, living in such a state of nature is ‘inconvienent’, for there is no common ground by which to appropriately judge an individual who infringes upon another person natural rights (Christman 43). Therefore, one can not ‘effectively enjoy’ their own rights until they join under a ‘common political authority’ (44).
Rousseau and Totalitarianism Rousseau clearly promotes totalitarianism in The Social Contract, and hints at it in a few passages from his Second Discourse. He desperately attempts to lay down a form of government that eliminates any chance for the people to be victims. Rousseau specifically shows us the faults in the other types of government and tries to prevent them in his ideas. He wants to create a political situation where people have as much sovereignty as possible. In order to reduce the chance of victimhood among the peoples there must be equality between them all.