“Men being, as has been said, by nature all free, equal, and independent, no one can be put out of this estate and subjected to the political power of another without his own consent, which is done by agreeing with other men, to join and unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living, one amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties, and a greater security against any that are not of it. This any number of men may do, because it injures not the free- dom of the rest; they are left, as they were, in the liberty of the state of Nature. When any number of men have so consented to make one community or government, they are thereby presently incorporated, and make one body politic, wherein the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest.” John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Chapter VII “Of the Beginning of Political Societies”, paragraph 95)
I chose Locke’s passage on political societies because I was interested in Locke’s explanation of why humans would give up their natural liberty since he spent a substantial amount of time discussing it. My initial reading of the passage left me confused as I tried to unpack the thoughts and ideas Locke conveys in three sentences. I understood that Locke is stating that humans consensually give up their freedom to form political societies, yet I still could not understand Locke’s explanation for such. So, when trying to understand the passage further, and in general the text, my biggest struggle was with Locke’s language and sentence structure. Locke’s sentences are complex so I paraphrased clauses in Locke’s sentence as a way to comprehend Locke’s ideas in small increments. Thus, I think in this passage Locke is explaining how humans give up their freedom for the security and predictability that comes with the formation of political societies. I understood it as a quid pro quo exchange because even though they are giving up their freedom, people believe being in a united community will better their lives. This idea and Locke’s passage can be connected to our discussions about identity and how people feel the need to sacrifice aspects of their identity to fit in as well as the discussions about the power of the majority and how that power is given by the people.