Second Treatise of Government

According to john Locke, what is a way by which government are dissolved?


Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

In Chapter 19, Locke discusses the ways in which government can be dissolved. The first is when the legislature is altered, for it is the will of society and the body in which all members are combined into one. The constitution’s creation of the legislature was the commonwealth’s first and most important act, and the people authorized it. Whenever a legislature makes laws without authority, the people do not need to obey and can take it upon themselves to form a new legislature.

A commonwealth’s legislative power is one of three styles: the first is a single hereditary person with absolute power; the second is an assembly of hereditary nobility; and the third is an assembly of elected representatives chosen by the people. In the first, the legislative is changed when the absolute monarch goes outside the bounds of the law and either makes new laws or subverts old laws. It is also changed when the prince prohibits the legislature from meeting and debating, alters the election rules without the consent and against the common interest of the people, or delivers the people to a foreign power. It is clearly the prince’s fault that the legislature is changed and the government dissolved, because only he has the power and pretense of authority to make these sorts of changes.

A government can also be dissolved when its executive power neglects its job and does not execute or enforce the law. The commonwealth devolves into anarchy. Clearly when there is no administration of justice and the laws cannot be carried out for the public good, government no longer exists. When the executive uses force or bribery to corrupt the representatives or uses threats and promises to get them to accede to his wishes, he is ruining the legislature and destroying the government. This is a breach of trust with the people