Chapter Synopsis - Chapter XIX, John Locke

For my chapter synopsis, I read Chapter XIX. Of the Dissolution of Government for John Locke.

This chapter deals with dissolving the government; how governments are dissolved, and what do to when they are.

He says that governments are either overturned from without, or from within. When a foreign force conquests the commonwealth, the current government can not survive. Therefore, we return to the state of nature, and are free to survive alone, or find another way to survive, with another government.

Locke says that there are a couple of ways in which the government can be overturned from within. One case is when the legislative is altered. There are then four categories in which the legislative can be altered. The first is when those in power set up their will in place of the law. The second is when he hinders the legislative from assembling or acting freely, without their consent. The third is when the election process is changed. And the fourth is when the people come under the power of a foreign power.

He then says that another way that the government can be dissolved is when the supreme executive power abandons their duties. This ends his legislative is altered case, and brings him to his second case, which is when the legislative or prince act contrary to their trust. This is done by either invading the property of the people, which goes against the whole reason the people put their trust in the government, or if they take control of the lives, liberties, or fortunes of the people.

Locke then says that people are ignorant and always discontent, so no government will last long, because the people will set up a new government whenever they feel cheated. Locke says that people can only rebel if there is a lot of big mistakes, not when there is a little mismanagement and I believe he says that it is not true rebellion, if a new form of government is chosen right away. I also believe he is saying that only those who rebel against all laws are true rebels.

He ends by saying that the people are judge of whether or not the prince or legislative act contrary to their trust, because the people chose them in the first place. He also says that the power that the each person gave to the society can not revert to them because then there would be no community. Upon failing of the government, the people can create a new form, place it in new hands, continue the legislative themselves, or act as supreme themselves.