Paragraph 7: “And that all men may be restrained from invading others’ rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of Nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is in that state put into every man’s hands, whereby everyone has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree as may hinder its violation.”
I chose paragraph 7 from Locke’s second treatise because it throws off the power balance that Locke stresses vehemently. Locke claims that everyone has an equal right to punish transgressors of the law of Nature. This perplexed me, as the punisher always has power over the punished, thus negating Locke’s premise of no one having power over another. Additionally, this would be detrimental to the common good, for nothing would stop people from punishing others unfairly. In my notes I found an idea that was discussed in class, about giving up freedoms to create a stable political society. I was then reminded of Chapter 9, in which Locke mentions protection from unfair use of power as a benefit of sacrificing freedoms for a stable community. I concluded that the purpose of paragraph 7 is to emphasize the importance of giving up freedoms for the common good. I connected this to the question “How do power structures form one’s identity?” The identity of a person permitted to punish another would be filled with self-assuredness, for they would believe they are punishing others for the sake of the common good. However, one being punished might have a feeling of powerlessness, for society turns against them in the time of punishment.