On John Locke
Though a figure of indisputable historic importance, I feel in the approaching age of Social Liberalism it will serve as beneficial to discount Locke’s Conservatism, Classical Liberalism and Social Liberalism itself in its aims. Though I am not thoroughly read in his own writings, I have explored the concepts that he furthers and find almost all of them to be outdated in their usefulness or harmful – essentially the same with Social Liberalism and Classical Liberalism now known as Right-wing Libertarianism.
His conception of rights being derivative of reason is an overall functional but incorrect and naïve view of the subject. Clearly a being must possess some degree of strength and functionality in his faculties to possess the reason to discover that individuals have rights, but that is not equivocal to rights being derived from reason. Reason and cognitive prowess is necessary to deduce the interworking of the atom and the speed of light, but that does not mean of course that these things are derived from reason, only our knowledge and understanding of them is in-part. Now, one could make the argument that rights do not exist until us humans “discover” or invent them. But not only does this statement essentially damn millions on the planet who have lived in a Pre-Civil Rights Era – Also due-to a war or some epidemic of mass amnesia if everyone forgot that rights existed and were implemented on occasion would they still exist? – it is a subjectivist argument that says that we human beings become something the moment we think or do it, and there’s no other criteria rather than unscientific arbitrary decision of rights along the lines of Sartre in his “radical freedom” only in a political direction. An intellectual invalid possesses no reason, nor do the species on the endangered watch list and yet we give them not only average rights in the case of the invalid, but particular rights in the case of both. Therefore, I would like to make the Aristotelian – and later add Nietzsche and Marx to add depth to this perception of rights – argument that rights function in relation the functionative qualities of an organism or individual in relation to itself, its species and the planet.
Everything in existence has a causal reason why it is what it is and not something else – Leibnitz and perhaps the most elementary point of philosophy besides A=A which Objectivists use as a laughable card to trump all schools of philosophy when in actuality the only schools of thought that it serves any purpose mentioning is perhaps Buddhism – as well as a material reason; our conception of not only existence but rights should precede from this understanding. A right is not only a protective law and ethical concept protecting an agency from harm or unwanted involvement – Negative Liberty – but also that which allows us to do material nature and causality one better from what things are without human governing affairs – namely Positive Liberty. That is, we also understand that organisms are creatures that can prosper and flourish as well-as suffer and be malnourished depending on what fate grants them. Because good surpasses evil, and pleasure and prosperity always being superior to pain and poor conditions – unless we accept as we should to an extent the Nietzschean wisdom of mistreatment and malady of the body and mind in certain amounts and forms being beneficial to the soul of the artist or Human in fully existential sense, the carving out of the human soul through suffering being what makes humans interesting. A somewhat naïve view if taken as definitive but nonetheless useful and accurate on-large – it is beneficial to not only the entity or entities in question, but all those who are in-contact with said being in the present or future potentially. Man’s moral imperative not only to himself but to existence itself to colonize space and grow not only quantitatively – in relation to the resources that can be effectively managed at any given time given the circumstances of the moment – but qualitatively is a fine example of this. Rights are an expression of the realizations of values, speech is something of value, and is an essential trait of the human character and intellect, so we protect it. We even protect wrongful or absurd speech for it would be more hazardous to censor freedom of expression than the harm the hateful and unjust could perpetuate. However corporate media censoring speech through consciously ignoring certain voices and world events is certainly something to be deemed as the limitation of Rights in a Capitalist Society even if it were completely Liberal.
Nietzsche and Marx become crucial to this nuanced view of rights for they both implicitly understand that rights are not an abstract concept, but something that either is or is derived from the complexity and functioning of a thing. Marx with understanding what Locke did not, namely that the nature of a product, particularly in industrial society, is social by very nature. To the Capitalist, his workers are labor that he uses to extract revenue from his bought resources and to exact as high a profit as humanly possible. He himself puts very little labor into the product, especially in relation to his earnings compared to his worker, and yet he makes essentially all of the profit defying Locke’s own conception of property and value through allowing the rich to play the role of Master in this financial relation, let alone the ways in which he manipulates and exploits the poor in regards to political and economic policy. And of course there will always be the advantage of the rich receiving the best of everything in their development in Capitalist society; a modern development of this being the poor being fed food that stultifies and harms the mind, remolds the body and burns the spirit rather than starving.
Nietzsche’s addition to this is more nuanced and by the nature of his thought non-systematic or very difficult to apply to any system. Namely that he realizes that different kinds of people need different rights, benefits and restrictions placed upon them for both their and societies benefit – of course Nietzsche focuses on whatever allows the great man to achieve his greatest heights, or whatever hinders him the least, but most recognize I hope that that which emboldens the great man also aids society in emulating him and wishing and striving in a meaningful way to have in them traits worthy of emulation. A scene between Kirk and his superior in the second Star Trek film directed by JJ Abrams displays this quite well. There are rules that should very well exist, but they shouldn’t apply to all people at all times, they should be a guide to how society should function, and be in place as parameters to deter crime, dangerous, or unbecoming behavior when necessary. Another example of this is disallowing violent criminals who can’t handle their drink from drinking or imbibing drugs which should otherwise be his own free choice to consume or not. Just as some should not be allowed to spawn because they are not fit parents. The Conservative, Liberal and Libertarian response of course is, “Where does the Government get the right to say whether or not I can have kids?” but we must always remember that parents do not own their children, that they raise them out of a sense of love most-likely (this is being optimistic in-a-sense), but that if an individual isn’t capable in one of several main factors (financial, intellectual, psychological, ethical, etc.) to raise offspring, said offspring will inevitably suffer and become an individual that is damaged in some moderate to severe way and will bring down the overall potential and value of society; therefore to be compassionate to both him or her and society on-large, we spare these poor souls the burden of existence in being the people they would almost inevitably become. A society that gives everyone the right to produce offspring when they are unfit might as well be a culture that allows dogs to be beaten by owners or buildings to be made improperly because it is the wish of the parent due to their religious beliefs that God dislikes and sternly forbids ninety degree angles. Nietzsche’s understanding of rights is functional rather than purely Liberal, because he understands that different individuals have different natures that need varying but in some ways similar structure and freedom to flourish – something that anyone who has raised more than one child will acknowledge.
A quick note, though it overall isn’t worth mentioning, earlier I stated that we give rights to invalids and endangered species; particular rights based on their needs. The two have similar but also different attributes that perhaps should be illuminated. Mental and physical invalids are of course still members of the human family and therefore retain their basic human rights unless their actions betray them of such rights, while endangered species are simply any kind of mammal, bird, reptile and so on whose only identifying remark is approaching extinction at-least to some degree. We give invalids special rights, or benefits, because they require such not only to survive but to reduce the extent their handicap reduces their intelligence or brings about suffering. We give children who have problem speaking speech coaches because they need them, as well as extra or special kinds of attention to anyone, children in particular for obvious reasons, who are in need of this. In regards to education as well-as life in general, this should be applied to every individual whenever possible for true growth and flourish to foster. Unifying standards and rigid regulations are a trait of a lackluster society that is either overly religious or bureaucratic in their approach and wholly failing in their understanding of humanity. Education is in the poor state that it is in due-to lack of financing, external variables of societies major flaws and ills, lack of emphasis on critical thinking and analysis as well as teaching a unified curriculum to young minds who have the potential and stirrings of soulfulness and creativity but who are reduced to unified prints of bland waste and almost sheer worthlessness that is our American workforce.
The endangered species list however is a construct that should exist – asides from the pure knowledge and monitoring of affairs on our globe – purely as a environmentally and humanist functionative. That is, unless it is a being that seems to possess some essence of a consciousness, and should be deemed closer to humanity in its list of protections in this regard, a species should only be given environmental protections if its existence is essential to humanity in some facet or to the environment in which it inhabits. Extinction is not only an absolutely natural but necessary aspect of Natural Selection and the creation of new and cleverer species that can function better – at-least to the point of reproduction – in its given ecosystem. Therefore of course we must be overall more rigorous in our preservation of the environment, the Capitalist has been almost seemingly trying to destroy our planet and already ruining billions’ standards of living with their greed stupidity and apathy in proper and efficient management of resources, and yet we must not view all life as sacred and something to be cherished or valued.
Returning back to Locke, his understanding of Ecology is justifiably primitive at-best. Both inaccurate and dangerous, he understands that due-to agriculture and animal husbandry, many of life’s natural processes and systems flourish more-so-than-otherwise when under knowledgeable and attentive human care, and yet he is totally ignorant of the natural life processes that happen daily that is necessary to have natural wilderness and various kinds of plants and animals for specific life processes like cleaning the air, providing nutrients to the soil and various other services I know only scarcely of. If we took his advice, and deemed all land not cultivated by Man as waste – yes he uses the word – we humans would scarcely last a century most-likely. Being totally ignorant of Environmental affairs, he is an apropos representative of Liberalism and the view that the Free Market can act responsibly and properly in such affairs, or that the all Governments of nations with growing or already establishing massive centers of industry will force the Capitalists to think of the common interest over their own for once in their lives. America, China, as well-as growing nations like India who are eager to pump more Carbon Monoxide into the atmosphere are the most immediate examples of this to my knowledge, but of course with the growing population and standard of living in much of the world there are many more.
Staying on the political, his view of taxation is also something much to be desired – in-that it needs much improvement, or rather no rational entity would actually desire it. A use-based theory of taxation, it provides essentially no benefit to the poor or disabled and will very-likely effectively benefit the Rich. For if taxes were all use-based like consuming a commodity, than rich parents would be exempted from the taxes for education in deciding to send their children to private schools, and only the poor would fund the services they require due-to lack of financial funds! Thomas Paine, being an adequate Social Liberal at-least acknowledges and understands the unjust nature of Capitalism before his time. And while not being precisely a Socialist, he nonetheless believes that the Government should compensate all those who work on a field and do not own it, for the Capitalist will inevitably keep the profits himself and give the average worker a subsistence wage. Something that he actually now fails to do since the Government does compensate the worker, though not in the fashion Paine had in mind. If Capitalism is to persist – which it clearly should not – than what is required rather than the Government paying for the Capitalist’s greed is the Capitalist giving every man and woman their proper dues. The tax system that Locke proposes is the kind that we would see in a Right-wing Libertarian society of complete selfishness and horrid idealistic logic. Also his naiveté in believing that the common folk will now a just from unjust ruler is something that history on-large has shown his foolishness on. And this naïve and ridiculously simple-minded belief in Representation of the Common Will while effectively helping the rich and powerful – while forgetting that lands full of ignorant and poor people have common wills that are perturbed and self-destructive due-to religion among other forces – is something that also is characteristically Liberal that Rousseau and Marx spot centuries away.
Overall, his philosophical constructions is almost entirely idealist and supportive of the status-quo. It’s no surprise that he quarreled with notions of Dualism and Monism throughout his life, but to my sources the Dualist in him won out, most-likely due-to his spiritual psychology. This psychology is of course something he would be almost entirely ignorant of, being a Dualist and having no understanding of the subconscious mind, believing our identity, or rather “who we are” is simply our stream of consciousness, something Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud all would have seen the simplicity and inaccurateness of. Also being akin to Sartre in a way in his posit of Tabula Rasa, or rather that we are born blank slates who are made who we are by impressions, possessing no knowledge of genetics or basic human conceptions which is in-grained to our brains make-up. Perhaps Locke doesn’t possess the degree of unscientific and in some ways anti-scientific mentality present in Sartre’s views present in Being and Nothingness; positing that consciousness is “nothing” or that which doesn’t follow basic laws of Determinism or Scientific Law, allowing for some “radical freedom” that we are in Bad Faith for rejecting. Sartre is one of my least favorite Existentialists and should be ignored almost entirely and replaced by Nietzsche and Camus if one wants figures who speak with clarity and profundity. The Tabula Rasa is another aspect of Liberalism, saying that we human beings are simply rationalistic or idealistic constructs, implicitly stating that racism for example, is completely due to one’s environment and upbringing and not by economic, material, genetic, and psychological forces that can make one racist or perpetuate racism subconsciously or otherwise.
To say a brief word on the Social Contract Theorist as-a-whole, overall the notion of their thought experiment seems ludicrous. To give both a hypothetical beginning point of Man where he is without law or order – which most Anthropologists would argue against, having evidence that the earliest of hunter-gatherer collectives had some notion of Law and Order before they invented the writing to transcribe their laws even if they weren’t consistent and almost certainly weren’t universal the way they are in a Judicially Egalitarian society – and a circumstance where it is just for the individual to sacrifice his sovereignty to that of either the King, Magistrate, or County Senate (or whatever the actors in Rousseau’s Direct Democracy would be called) based on the notion that he or she has tacitly forfeited said sovereignty and submitted to their laws by simple act of proximity. The nature of the Social Contract is what does always with all the notions of Individualism in a Liberal Democratic society. We might believe that we are free to do as we please unless our actions are likely to harm another, but then laws against drug use or homosexuality are passed, and the opaque fog of Liberal Democratic ideals clears to the bleak and gray horizon of religiosity and legislation to support the rich and powerful seen in Locke, rather than the freedom loving wisdom, Utilitarian ethic and secular nature of Mill to prevail in a Socialist Democracy. And now onto his theory of Government as a whole, and its fundamental flaws.
I’ve already illustrated that and how – though there are at least several ways which I haven’t mentioned – a Government with a Libertarian tax system, economic system priding in individual riches and unlimited wealth accumulation – okay I haven’t mentioned that yet but I was planning on it – and property being derived from Labor in a manner that becomes a betrayal of its own logic when implemented in the Capitalist system becomes something that supports the Status Quo. However, what needs to be stated as well is that a Government claiming its only function is to protect the lives and property of its citizen is that which is allowing the greatest egregious approaches to the life, prosperity and personhood of the common and collective to take place. Environmental issues alone will validate me on this issue, but issues of education, housing, food, health care, the press and many more do so as well. The proper function of the Government is identical to the nature of rights, namely being functionative to support all individuals in their own unique natures, supplying on their numerous needs when necessary, and giving the resources and outlet for cooperation, individual flourishing and societal prosperity.
His only still meaningful advancement, the Labor Theory of Value, being surpassed by Marx, Locke like Liberalism passes into obsolescence centuries intellectually before such would – if it ever does – become the case historically; such being common as Schopenhauer stated, “History passes into three stages, first indifference, than hatred, than universal acceptance.” Though Social Liberals surpass Locke’s Conservative values and Libertarian conception of Government, they still possess his idealistic and naïve views about causality, effecting change, and on controlling corporate influence and harm among other things. With the Age of Liberalism replacing the Age of Religion and Conservatism in the zeitgeist of Americans, yet our electing body voting as Right-wing and pro-business as ever, as well-as our schools passing rigid “zero-tolerance” policies that are as laughable as they are cruel, you’d think the voting body would see the flaws in Liberalism and Representative Government. But society typically passes from one form of illness quickly into another, and it’s our task as Scientific Socialists and Marxists to use all means necessary and available to us to change the zeitgeist to one where the Will and functioning of all – or at-least most – is the freedom and flourishing of all based on their individual natures. Rather than all of us becoming more and more equal and uniform in our degree and forms of poverty and slavery whether material or of the soul.