Locke 23- Robert Sparks

Paragraph 23: This is the perfect condition of slavery, which is nothing else but 

the state of war continued between a lawful conqueror and a captive, for if once compact enter between them, and make an agreement for a lim- ited power on the one side, and obedience on the other, the state of war and slavery ceases as long as the compact endures; for, as has been said, no man can by agreement pass over to another that which he hath not in himself—a power over his own life

The reason I chose Locke’s passage on slavery is because it is addressing a type of slavery but not slavery seen in regions like hispaniola and in america. The lofty idea described refers to a P.O.W. situation in which the victorious side captures soldiers and holds them for the time being since they are the victor, and in that time the captives are expected to be obedient. I was able to come to understand the passage more in depth because I considered the idea of slavery through the lens of a war rather than as an economic practice.

The passage while seeming contradictory to the idea of consent of the governed and no one having a right to the life of another human being when considered by modern eyes looking back on the regular murder of slaves by their owners. However when considered through the idea that one party may then consent to the idea of giving up their power of labor by granting it and relinquishing authority it then removes the idea of slavery and becomes an employee situation in which the employer is only able to act withing certain bounds holding no claim to the life of those his is in agreement with. Next it is important not to forget that war is not an agreement but the fact that an entity is the aggressor has given the entity which is being threatened, the right to kill the aggressor. This part of Locke’s argument is an attempt to reconcile the idea that free will can and very well lead to evil deeds and the disruption of peace while still attempting to hold the idea that humans naturally want to work together in the interest of peace and security through communities.

Does john locke support slavery in the sense that the complete control over reasoning human beings is wrong so it must be limited in times of war but as an economic venture it can exist and not tread on the ideas of the consent of the governed because those under the power of the master are said to not be able to reason?

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