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The relation between liberty and


theory at variance with the theory adapted to our present state?" And his answer was that “an ideal . . . is always needful for right guidance." Evidently, freedom of contract might become, but was not yet, a part of one's natural liberty. That particular state of nature in which men might be as free as Spencer wished them to be proves to be, after all, a vision of perfection. In reviving the ancient doctrine of natural rights, Spencer did not escape the ancient confusion concerning the state of nature itself.

By reviving the idea of natural law, however, Spencer revived also the ancient notion that liberty consists in obedience to law and not in doing as one pleases. Bentham had tried to reconcile the two ideas of liberty by arguing that one is doing as he pleases when he obeys the law. His argument, however, was not convincing. Mill sought to escape the dilemma by steering a middle course between the view of liberty as the right to do absolutely as the individual pleases and that of doing absolutely as the authorities of the state please. But his course was too devious for other men to follow. Spencer chose the other horn of the dilemma, arguing that one is obeying the law, at least the natural law, when he does as he pleases. This argument, like Bentham's, is unconvincing. In a state of nature, since there is no organized body of people and no government, there is presumably a complete absence of restraints upon human conduct imposed by external human authority. The only human restraints upon individual conduct are those which men agree to willingly and abide by ungrudgingly, or which are imposed upon them by brute force. But even the strongest men are not free to do as they please. Their capacity for freedom is limited by their ability to do as they please. One cannot see in the dark, for instance, no matter how much one might be pleased to do so. One cannot treat one's neighbor as the mere instrument of one's own pleasure without provoking

resentment and incurring the risk of retaliation. Natural liberty may be enjoyed only within the limits fixed by the laws of nature. But what are those laws? Spencer thought he knew and upon that knowledge he built up his theory of justice. Other men have had different ideas of natural law, and consequently of justice. Spencer's idea of justice has already been examined and rejected. His idea of liberty must, therefore, be rejected also. Nevertheless, his argument has the great merit of emphasizing the inseparable connection between liberty and justice.


ation of

by means



The association of the ideas of liberty and justice was Reconcilithe great achievement of the social compact school of liberty and political philosophers. In the state of nature, according authority to their belief, the enjoyment of the blessings of liberty of the was associated with obedience to the laws of nature. The indispensable condition for the existence of liberty was the establishment of natural justice. In the political state, likewise, they believed there could be no liberty without justice. But different theories of justice were supported upon the same foundation—the original contract by which men were supposed to have transformed the state of nature into a political state. Along with those different theories of justice went corresponding theories of liberty. This was inevitable, partly because of the different purposes which political philosophers had in view, and partly because of the lack of definite knowledge about the state of nature. Hobbes, the first to make the social compact the foundation of an elaborate theory of justice and of liberty, was seeking to justify the authority of an absolute monarch such as Charles I tried to be in England. Locke sought to justify a limited monarchy such as was set up in England after the Revolution of 1688. Rousseau sought to justify a democracy such as the French Revolutionists

Natural liberty

The state of nature

and the

attempted to set up in 1793. None of them knew anything about the state of nature. Some of them, like Hobbes, did not pretend to know anything about it, but treated it as a convenient fiction for the purposes of their argument. Others fell back on their imaginations, when knowledge and logic failed them, and described the state of nature according to their fancy.

It is to the poets, therefore, rather than to the political philosophers that one must look for the best pictures of the kind of freedom that was supposed to prevail in the state of nature. Dryden was one of the first to depict the poetic idea of natural liberty. He immortalized it in the oft-quoted lines of his "Conquest of Granada":

I am free as Nature first made man,
Ere the base laws of servitude began,
When wild in woods the noble savage ran.

But Dryden's statement leaves much to be desired. It is
not at all clear how much freedom the noble savage really
enjoyed, though evidently Dryden believed his original
state was better than that which was subsequently ushered
in by the base laws of servitude. Pope in his "Essay on
Man" was more precise.

Nor think in Nature's state they blindly trod;
The state of Nature was the reign of God:
Self-love and Social at her birth began,

Union the bond of all things, and of Man.

Pride then was not, nor Arts, that Pride to aid;

Man walked with beast, joint tenant of the shade;

The same his table, and the same his bed;

No murder clothed him, and no murder fed.

Here we have the finished statement of the favorite

theory of the eighteenth century, the identification of the Golden Age state of nature with the Golden Age of the Greek and It must not be assumed that intelligent political thinkers like John Locke took these fantastic ideas

Latin poets.

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too seriously, but they did not hestitate to use them for their own purposes. In modern times, of course, the idea of a primitive Golden Age has been wholly abandoned. The current popular notion of the state of those who run "wild in woods" has been set forth most picturesquely by Rudyard Kipling, the poet of modern imperialism, in his "Law of the Jungle" in the Second Jungle Book.

Now this is the Law of the Jungle-as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk-the Law runneth for-
ward and back-

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the
Wolf is the Pack.

Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are


But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is Obey!

But Kipling's ideas are too advanced for the eighteenth century.

of natural

for political liberty

The important fact about the state of nature was that Hobbes's by all accounts the natural man sooner or later had good of the explanation and sufficient reason for extricating himself from it as best exchange he could. The reasons advanced by different writers differed more or less but the effect was the same: natural men gave up their natural liberty, or some part of it, in order to secure the advantages of civil law and order. According to Hobbes, they gave up all their natural liberty and received in exchange a political liberty which was nothing other than the right to obey the will of the sovereign. Locke deemed such an exchange unreasonable, since the natural man received no fair equivalent for what he surrendered. The sovereign was not a party to the social compact, as Hobbes represented its terms, and the subject, therefore, remained in a state of nature with respect to his sovereign. In other words, he secured no rights

Locke's version of the social compact

in exchange for what he gave up. He merely incurred obligations. He was bound to obey, but his sovereign was not bound to do anything. His fellow subjects, to be sure, bound themselves also to obey and that was the real consideration for his acceptance of the compact. But none of them received any guarantee that their sovereign would be mindful of their interests. They had merely the assurance that the sovereign would certainly look out for his own interests and they might venture to hope that their sovereign's interests and their own would coincide. If these hopes proved vain, the subject could not renounce his allegiance. He could only await the arrival of some new sovereign, more powerful than the old, to give him a change of masters. This was an idea of political liberty similar to that advanced by Bentham a century later, though encumbered with the magnificent fiction of an original compact. But Bentham had the grace to concede that the subject was at liberty to rebel, if he pleased, whereas Hobbes held him bound forever, in logic if not in fact, by the original compact. Such an idea of political liberty, Locke declared (as Spencer did later, after the same idea had been advanced by Bentham), was verily a confusion of liberty with servitude.

A more reasonable form of social compact, according to Locke, would lead to a very different result. By his version of the compact the individual did not surrender all his natural rights, but only that portion of them necessary to procure in exchange the exact amount of political authority required to correct the defects of the state of nature. What, then, were those defects? Locke answers carefully. In a state of nature man has liberty "to do whatsoever he thinks fit for the preservation of himself and others within the permission of the law of nature," and also "to punish the crimes committed against that law." Trouble arose through (1) the uncertainty of

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