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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Locke and the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie

Locke and the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie

(p.523) 27 Locke and the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines John Locke's doctrine that “the great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.” There has been a good deal of criticism leveled at Locke's account of property. Complaints of wild and absurd individualism contrast with assertions of Locke's collectivist leanings. The chapter considers the extent to which it is true that Locke's account of property, and his resultant account of natural rights, political obligation, and the proper functions of government, form an ideology for a rising capitalist class. More specifically, it explores the extent to which Locke's argument in the Second Treatise substantiates Macpherson's thesis that he was providing a moral basis for the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. It also discusses Locke's views on absolute monarchy, capitalism, and despotic authority.

Keywords:   property, John Locke, natural rights, political obligation, government, dictatorship, bourgeoisie, absolute monarchy, capitalism, despotic authority

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