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John Locke’s The Second Treatise of Government defines a legitimate government in relation to the protection of inalienable rights. He views a valid government as one which upholds his three main natural laws of life, liberty and property. In defining political power, Locke insists that it is proper to make laws “for the regulating and preserving of property,” and adds, that if necessary, “the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the common-wealth [sic] from foreign injury.” This is needed “for the public good.” (Locke, Sec. III) Defined, Locke’s political power is the ability to uphold a constitution.
Locke’s reasoning for the creation of a government arises in the need to protect life, liberty and justice. Locke concludes that “the reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they choose and authorize a legislative,” but adds that the citizens “have a right to resume their original liberty … by the establishment of a new legislative” (Locke, Sec. CCXXI) when those rights are threatened. The protection of life, liberty and justice then becomes the reason for a “new legislative.”
The value Locke places on property is only furthered in his discussion of the will of the populace. Locke discusses in his chapter Of the Beginning of Political Societies the effect which the majority has on the betterment of the community:
“For when any number of Men have, by the consent of every individual, made a Community, the have thereby made that Community one Body, with a Power to Act as one Body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority” (Locke, Sec.
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