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Anglo-American Natural Law - The Lockean Republicanism of America's Founding

Ringtone

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The Anglo-American Tradition of Natural Law: Its Philosophical and Governing Principles
By Micheal Rawlings, a.k.a., Ringtone
Unpublished © November 2021

Excerpt:

John Locke (1632 1704) was a devout Christian raised in the Puritan tradition who wrote, arguably, history’s most famous defense of the faith, The Reasonableness of Christianity. He was a British physician and history’s chief empiricist philosopher of the tabula-rosa episteme. The impact of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding on the development of scientific methodology eclipsed the work of Aristotle, the progenitor of the episteme, and that of Francis Bacon, the progenitor of the scientific method itself. . . . If that were all Locke had achieved in life, his historic notability would have been established, but he didn’t stop there.

His contribution to the social contract theory of republicanism eclipsed his contribution to scientific methodology. He’s not only regarded as the Father of Classical Liberalism, which is not to be confused with the pablum of postmodernity, but the preeminent authority on republicanism itself, so much so that republicanism is often referred to as simply Lockean natural law, meaning that his exposition of it is history’s most widely received. Like any other historically influential thinker, Locke has his detractorsnot so much within the ranks of republicanism as without, meaning that his critics are of the Marxist persuasion. Commies. More than any other’s thought on republicanism, his informed the Blackstonian reforms of British law in the 18th Century and the political philosophy of America’s Founders.

Locke even influenced Rousseau, insofar as the idea of social contract theory in and of itself goes, but, of course, Rousseau went his own way after that, into the land of Oz of singing and dancing Munchkins and other magical creatures, imagining that government could perfect humanity. . . .

. . . The Declaration of Independence is the sociopolitical expression of Lockean natural law 101. Except for the list of specific grievances and the Thomistic construct of inalienable rights itself, every single idea of political philosophy in that document drafted by Jefferson is Locke’s. Every single one of them! But, tragically, comparatively few American students know who Locke is today precisely because the Deweyan public education system doesn’t want them to study his ideas. His Christian philosophy of government is anathema to Dewey’s cultural naturalism of the Darwinian paradigm and his democratic collectivism.

Locke’s political theory consists of his social contract theory and theory of labor, the bulk of which is expounded in his Two Treatises of Civil Government (1689), arguably the most outstanding work of political theory in history. But then again, Locke regarded himself as nothing more than God’s attentive mouthpiece. As virtually all of the ontological and epistemological justifications for his arguments are predicated on biblical imperatives, the Treatises are steeped in scriptural citations. Locke acknowledges Aquinas’ epiphany regarding the standard of human rights befitting the dignity of the Imago Dei, but he argues his thesis from Christ’s summation of Mosaic law:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37–40, KJV).

Locke held that any other foundation for liberty than the above, commonly referred to as the Christian iteration of the Golden Rule, is either faulty or incomplete. He also averred from the above that government is not only the servant of God but that of the people. While the people are obliged to obey the law of the land (Romans 13:1–7), the government is equally obliged to observe the terms of the social contract established by the people. The people are to reverently serve only one master, and that Master is not the state. Thusly, the sociopolitical implications of Christ’s imperatives immediately follow and are parallelly twofold.

(1) God is the Source and Guarantor of human rights, and because He endows them, they’re inalienable. These rights cannot be granted, taken away, or transferred to another by the state. The state can only illegitimately suppress their outward expressions in violation of the social contract, thereby creating a state of war between it and the people. In the face of gross governmental criminality (tyranny), it’s the duty of the people to overthrow the government in the name of Godfor His sake and the sake of His creatures. Why? Because such a state evinces the audacity to establish a cult of injustice in defiance of God’s authority. (2) The citizens of the body politic are obliged to observe the inherent rights of their fellow citizens (neighbors) and may lawfully use force, up to and including deadly force, if necessary, against social renegades (criminals).

Allow for the following summary:
  • The principle of inalienable human rights, Aquinas’ insight reiterated by Locke
  • The principle that the state is the servant of God and the people
  • The principle of the consent of the governed (or as Abraham Lincoln put it in his Gettysburg Address: “the government of the people, by the people, for the people”)
  • The principle that the state solely exists at the behest of God to protect and promote the inherent rights of the people
  • The inherent right of the people to keep and bear arms for self-defense against criminals and criminal regimes
  • Specifically, the inherent right of revolt
  • The regulatory principle of civil justice per the limited range of governmental power
  • The regulatory principle of social justice per the legitimate range of human action
What are the fundamental rights within the legitimate range of free exercise? Locke’s triadic construct of natural rights answers that question: the rights of life, liberty, and private property.

A deeper analysis of the range of legitimacy divulges the latter two principles listed in the bullet summary above, which are latently inherent to the Christian Golden Rule. Locke draws an inverse correlation between Christs positive summation of natural law and Paul’s negative exegesis of natural law (Romans 1:18–25). Positive: as long as one exercises one’s natural rights within the range of legitimacy, one’s actions cannot be criminal, so the government shouldn’t infringe on them. That goes to the principle of limited government, i.e., the regulatory principle of civil justice between the state and the people. Negative: human beings know what the legitimate range of free exercise is. Everybody knows that it’s wrong to murder, oppress or rob, precisely because they would not wish that others murder, oppress or rob them. That goes to the regulatory principle of social justice in criminal law between the people of the social contract. The corollary in civil law holds that the range of the free exercise of one’s rights ends where those of others begin.

Does any of the above sound familiar?

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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776

As for the pursuit of Happiness, that was a phrase of art commonly voiced by the British and American proponents of Lockean natural law in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The expression doesn’t originate with Jefferson at all, as so many mistakenly believe:

The necessity of pursuing happiness is the foundation of liberty. As therefore the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness; so the care of ourselves, that we mistake not imaginary for real happiness, is the necessary foundation of our liberty. The stronger ties we have to an unalterable pursuit of happiness in general, which is our greatest good, and which, as such, our desires always follow, the more are we free from any necessary determination of our will to any particular action, and from a necessary compliance with our desire, set upon any particular, and then appearing preferable good, till we have duly examined whether it has a tendency to, or be inconsistent with, our real happiness: and therefore, till we are as much informed upon this inquiry as the weight of the matter, and the nature of the case demands, we are, by the necessity of preferring and pursuing true happiness as our greatest good, obliged to suspend the satisfaction of our desires in particular cases [emphasis added]. —John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

The phrase pertains to Locke’s construct of private property as premised on his theory of labor, which entails the sentiment in the above excerpt from his Essay and is clarified by him in his Treatises.

Locke held that the discovery of “true and solid happiness” is realized by the process of an intellectually careful examination of things in the pursuit of it. This process is “the foundation of liberty” because it frees one from enslavement to the base desires of false or “imaginary” happiness. Throwing off the fleshly inclinations of immediate gratification is the path of spiritual wisdom toward “our greatest good, and which, as such, our desires always follow.” Here Locke is echoing Christ: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32, KJV).

In the Treatises, Locke asserts the natural right of the ownership of one's labor and the natural right of human beings to acquire the ownership of nature’s common property by exerting their labor on it to create and build and produce. What the people create and build and produce are the fruits of their labor, which they may sell or trade. Unfettered by the state, the people are free to apply their skills to improve the resources of nature's bounty as their consciences lead them under God. In their daily pursuit of happiness, God provides for their material, intellectual and spiritual needs proportionally to their efforts and their fidelity to the truth.

Thus, we have the overarching theme of Locke’s theory of natural law: the inherent right of individuals to peacefully pursue their self-interests within the framework of the social contract of consent, free of undue governmental interference.
 

Donald H

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Thus, we have the overarching theme of Locke’s theory of natural law: the inherent right of individuals to peacefully pursue their self-interests within the framework of the social contract of consent, free of undue governmental interference.
In a nutshell, there's hardly any correct perception of what constitutes undue government interference in America.

And in fact from this Canadian's POV, there's more government interference in America than in Canada or any other modern democracy. Can you relate to that, or would you like an explanation?

I've judged your post to be true concern but I could be wrong, so please let me know.
 
OP
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In a nutshell, there's hardly any correct perception of what constitutes undue government interference in America.

And in fact from this Canadian's POV, there's more government interference in America than in Canada or any other modern democracy. Can you relate to that, or would you like an explanation?

I've judged your post to be true concern but I could be wrong, so please let me know.
Well, first of all, America is a republic, not a democracy. Second, it's a republic of expressly stated limitations on governmental power. I'm not at all sure of what you're getting at. Perhaps you could elaborate.
 

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America is a republic, not a democracy.
That is incorrect. America is a representative democracy. Conservatives decry this simple fact because they dislike the fact that the word "democracy" resembles "democratic" and "Democrats". Being the uncomplicated souls they are they cannot differentiate the definitions of each.
 
OP
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That is incorrect. America is a representative democracy. Conservatives decry this simple fact because they dislike the fact that the word "democracy" resembles "democratic" and "Democrats". Being the uncomplicated souls they are they cannot differentiate the definitions of each.
Democracy is mobocracy. Ours is a republic of expressly limited powers. Period. Lefty's wont is to abolish those limits and criminalize individual liberty.
 

norwegen

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America was founded as a federation of republican states and later constituted as a republic.
 
OP
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Well, first of all, America is a republic, not a democracy. Second, it's a republic of expressly stated limitations on governmental power. I'm not at all sure of what you're getting at. Perhaps you could elaborate.
That ignorant snow Meskin is still under the thumb of the Crown.
 

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Yes, Canada is still a commonwealth country whose citizens will never fully understand American independence.
I can't understand why Americans are brainwashed into thinking they're a free country when in fact the US has been dropped back th 58th. on world rankings.


It's worth noting that the US was ranked 58th.​

 

Donald H

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I can't understand why Americans are brainwashed into thinking they're a free country when in fact the US has been dropped back th 58th. on world rankings.


What has independence brought your country?

In my opinion a connection to the British commonwealth would have provided you with some immunity to the fascist takeover of your DEMOCRACY.
 

BackAgain

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That is incorrect. America is a representative democracy. Conservatives decry this simple fact because they dislike the fact that the word "democracy" resembles "democratic" and "Democrats". Being the uncomplicated souls they are they cannot differentiate the definitions of each.
Wrong as always. The United States of America was specifically created to be a Constitutional REPUBLIC. Part of the reason for that was a mistrust of government AND a mistrust of “democracy” as that latter term was properly understood in its day. This has nothing at all to do with the so-called “Democrat” Party.

The OP demonstrates scholarship. Your reply, Crappy, sadly just demonstrates your ongoing hostility to scholarship, facts, reason, logic and honesty. Crappy, you remain a worthless hack bitch.

Although you remain far too ignorant to appreciate it, there is an element of “democracy” in our national charter. The people do get a say in their own government. And that say, albeit filtered, is supposed to be set forth by the majority. The majority is also limited by being intentionally divided (such as by States, and congressional voting districts).

There are whole volumes on all of this. You should consider someday cracking a book, Crappy.
 
OP
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Popular conservative fiction. Real democracy takes many forms.
Wrong as always. The United States of America was specifically created to be a Constitutional REPUBLIC. Part of the reason for that was a mistrust of government AND a mistrust of “democracy” as that latter term was properly understood in its day. This has nothing at all to do with the so-called “Democrat” Party.

The OP demonstrates scholarship. Your reply, Crappy, sadly just demonstrates your ongoing hostility to scholarship, facts, reason, logic and honesty. Crappy, you remain a worthless hack bitch.

Although you remain far too ignorant to appreciate it, there is an element of “democracy” in our national charter. The people do get a say in their own government. And that say, albeit filtered, is supposed to be set forth by the majority. The majority is also limited by being intentionally divided (such as by States, and congressional voting districts).

There are whole volumes on all of this. You should consider someday cracking a book, Crappy.
Correct! Crepitus demonstrates a profound lack of understanding..
 
OP
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That is incorrect. America is a representative democracy. Conservatives decry this simple fact because they dislike the fact that the word "democracy" resembles "democratic" and "Democrats". Being the uncomplicated souls they are they cannot differentiate the definitions of each.
Uncomplicated souls, eh? LOL! Dude, you have no idea what you're talking about or who you're talking to.

Popular conservative fiction. Real democracy takes many forms.
Democracy proper involves direct majority rule. Sensible people know that it's unstable. Worse, it readily succumbs to mobocracy and, eventually, to abject tyranny. The Founders erected a republican form of government of explicitly limited and separated powers.

Democracy proper is a fantasy. Rather, history has sported different forms of republics: representative/democratic republics, such as ours, monarchical republics, parliamentary republics, fascist republics, and the collectivist republics of communism.

The historical republicanism of the Anglo-American tradition of natural law has nothing to do with contemporary political parties.
 
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Crepitus

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I’m starting to think it was a proxy war between the French and the British. Still going on to this day.

A love hate relationship.


A9DBD04F-A654-4953-8E93-0C6E981B4FB5.jpeg
 

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