"Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant
obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are
all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of
our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or
primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it
is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature.
It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we
can preserve no other."
by:
John Locke
(1632-1704) English philosopher and political theorist
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Reader comments about this quote:
So how did Bill Clinton skate? Because people were influenced by his charm. The American people would rather run on emotion than use their common sense. One of the most immoral people in our country was elected President twice, and the people let it happen! Hillary becoming President will prove God has left our country.
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    I do not agree with Locke that we are all qualified. The rest is true. Perhaps Clinton was elected because we are not all qualified. God warned a long time ago about what would happen, and is happening, and Clinton is a perfect reflection of the details of the warning.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
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    The "God of Nature" isn't exactly the 'God of man' - Genesis 1:26 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. - Genesis 1:28 - And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. || And that's been our approach to nature which has lead us to ignore the fact that NATURE ... doesn't care WHAT we do or what we think or the fact that we may not like that it doesn't care. It doesn't even care about the god of man - and doesn't care that man doesn't like it. BTW, will somebody please give Bush some fellatio so we can get on with his impeachment already.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    We may not be perfect, but we all ARE qualified, entitled and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. If not us, then who? Or perhaps 'All pigs are equal, except some pigs are more equal than others,' eh? (Animal Farm, George Orwell)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    We ARE? Then why do we prohibit certain people from voting? Or from owning guns? Or from driving cars? Or from working in certain fields? Because they are not qualified due to poor judgment, reflected in certain acts/behavior.
     -- David L. Rosenthal , Hollywood     
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    Just because one class of people dictate to another what they may do does not make it right. I doubt a socialist will ever agree with Locke.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    That anyone could find that ALL are capable of evaluating anything is beyond comprehension. That Archer could believe it is doubtful.
     -- David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood     
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    Take out the word "qualified" and substitute the word "God" with "humankind" and you'll have a decent quotation.
     -- Dick, Fort Worth     
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    The God of Nature was a 17th & 18th Century term describing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the creator of the earth and all things in and on it. Qualification was to the being, as a child of God - all rights being inalienable, not to what an individual can do. The representative Republic was limited to best securing life, liberty, and property. Governmental compelled compliance is demonic and should be resisted.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Sorry, all people are qualified to make a choice -- otherwise there is no electorate. I suppose if we had people like Rosenthal to make our choices for us, all would be for the best -- why even vote for our representatives when there are more 'qualified' people to choose who should govern us? Thank, God, we still have a choice even though there are those that think we shouldn't. Face it, there are people who want to force others to behave as they think they should. Those crying for government funds, regulations and licenses do not value freedom for anyone else but themselves -- they don't want freedom, they want Power and Control. Well, give it your best shot -- for all of us must judge for ourselves whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance. 'Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.' (Thoreau)
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Now, you know I really HATE to agree with D. L. Rosenthal because he's likely to attribute my comments to 'divine intervention' or something of the sort (LOL) ... BUT ... to think that ALL people are qualified to "to evaluate the conduct of our rulers" just has to be delusional. Helo-oo ... remember the initial GWBush popularity? I mean, there are clearly those of defective intellect and cognitive powers for whom the task of evaluation poses an insurmountable obstacle which they're just not up to tackling. - - "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Sir Winston Churchill - - Seriously though, there actually is a, thankfuly very small, minority of people whose minds aren't even up to feeding themselves, let alone reading, writing, or making political evaluations. Just that fact makes the use of 'all' a bit hyperbolic.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    OK, shall we pick to death the semantics of Locke's statement. Without editing out parts of the quote, Locke says that "we all are qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to judge the conduct of our rulers." In that context, he is correct. He is speaking about the choice to follow or not the "commands of the civil magistrate" -- and we ALL (dumb or not) not only have the ability to choose, but the obligation to choose -- and take responsibility for that choice -- including people who have chosen GWB, Klinton, or whomever -- just because one is obliged to evaluate the conduct of one's rulers, it does not mean the evaluation is correct. We are indeed qualified even though the majority knows 'jack shit' about governing -- but even people who know little have a RIGHT and obligation to choose to follow the commands of the magistrate or not. I think we can agree, that those that are not 'qualified' (says who?) are not free.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    E. A. - By that criterion I'd be "qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our" plane's captain (who is designated to be the SOLE AUTHORITY between the time of our embarkment and the time of our disembarkation) so as to 'judge' for myself 'whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the' captain. (For the Flight 93 scenario we need to recall that the plane had LOST its captain.) There might be those who would object to the idea of my making such an evaluation despite my impeccable (LOL) flying and navigation skills or lack thereof. My 'freedom' (of expression maybe?) would have little to do with their objection. Granted, in the normal course of events, the sentiment expressed by the quote is valid. It would be misleading to take it quite so literally though. In the end, the quote is a call to 'follow one's conscience in one's actions' conflated with a moral obligation to do so, thereby vacating the agreement we have made to 'abide by the rule of law' (which may indeed be 'unjust' and which, in most cases ought to be addressed by the legislative branch of government, assuming it's functional, when that's the case). Locke is making the same argument that was made by the 911 hijackers in favor of a 'Faith Based Initiative'. - - Yes, yes, it's a miracle (oh, sorry, that would, of course, be 'Miracle') - or ... not so much maybe - lol.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
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    i was wondering if one of you can maybe help me out with something. i am writing a paper on john locke for my western civ class and you guys seem like you know alot about him and where he stood. was he a socialist? i cant find clear information anywhere. if someone could help that would be GREAT! thanks!
     -- Ashley, Medford NY     
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    John Locke was the father of capitalism, and stressed the justice of individual capital accumulation. The quote here is an argument continued, in defense of the common man having an influence on government (and thus the laws it imposes). We must all remember that Locke was debating the radical notion at the time that monarchy was unjust and unrepresentative. His claim to self-rule, captured in his "Any single man must judge for himself" quote was insistence that we judge the wisdom of our leaders, not the pilots flying our planes (wha...?). John Locke wrote a political thesis that argued for the dignity of the individual in relation to those he 'allowed' to rule over him.
     -- Evrviglnt, Orange County, California     
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    When he says "qualified" he means we all (excluding the registered mentally handicapped) have the capacity to think and make our own decisions on the issue, whether they be right or wrong. Some of you, I think, are taking the words "qualified" and "evaluate" used in the quote way too literally. Some words and phrases meant very different things 350 years ago (duh). As for the argument about Clinton and Bush, Clinton is a scum bag who never should have been in politics and Bush is a bit of a social liberal who didn't do that great with some of his policies anyway. BTW, I'm only 15 years old and I'm laughing at some of the breaks in logic some your arguments are supplying.
     -- Anonymous, California     
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    @Mike,"The God of Nature was a 17th & 18th Century term describing the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the creator of the earth and all things in and on it. Qualification was to the being, as a child of God - all rights being inalienable, not to what an individual can do. The representative Republic was limited to best securing life, liberty, and property. Governmental compelled compliance is demonic and should be resisted." This is Truth. Moreover, because one may be QUALIFIED to do something doesn't neccessarily mean that individual is COMPETANT to do so. It is easy to make rational, logical decisions when regarding matters of self-preservation: Do I jump off the bridge, or not? Do I eat the pellets marked "poision" or not? etc, etc, etc. As we are all gifted with the capacity for reason by God, we are therefore all qualified. Were we not we would be nothing more than another beast under the dominion of man.
     -- A. Farmer, Tennessee     
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    If the Media were reporting accurately what they must surely know to be the truth about the inner workings of our entirely corrupt system, there would be a revolution by morning. But they're part of it, aren't they? At least that's what I've Judged the situation to be....
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    In the Indian discourse the term 'praja' or the citizen primarily means progeny or gen-next. So the individual's 'political right' is in fact his fundamental 'survival right' as well. So Locke's statement is quite universally valid for all humanity - the 'prevalent or contested "ISM" of the times not withstanding.
     -- vedapushpa, Bengalore India     
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    This is not a quote from Locke.
     -- professor, Virginia     
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