Locke’s Liberalism and Ideological Domination--A Critical Analysis of Locke’s Concepts of Property, Rationality, Law, and Democracy Open Access

Paredes, Carlos (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/7s75dd44v?locale=en


This project seeks to analyze critically the notion that Locke’s civil society and state of nature are egalitarian and promote the greatest amount of freedom. The project seeks to critically analyze the associations, commitments, and contradictions of Locke’s theory of property and rationality. Furthermore, the project seeks to use contemporary interdisciplinary methods such sociological, economic, and psychological analysis to analyze, in a theoretical lens, the implications of Locke’s theories and the underlying intellectual framework constructed by the philosopher. It will be argued that Locke’s notion of property leads to inequality and that this development of inequality splits the peoples in the state of nature into two classes: laborers and landowners. From this, there follows a creation of certain actors as rational and industrious and an othering of the laborers as quarrelsome and contentious. It will be shown that this class schism leads to different rights and different rationalities that are constructed for the sake of creating civil society. Furthermore, through contemporary analysis it will be shown that Locke’s liberal democracy, when establishing civil society, does not protect the rights of the dominated classes, but instead uses law, rationality, and inequality as a means of furthering the system of domination. The tensions developed by this system pose a threat to liberal democracy and this leads to more democratization which ultimately presents itself in critical mass as a crisis of populism. Populism is a critical junction that will determine the fate of the liberal democracy and whether or not the dominant structure in place will protect the rights of those it dominates or double down on their domination. The project calls into question the notions that Enlightenment thinking has produced freedom and instead argues that reason becomes a tool of domination

Table of Contents

Table of Contents 

Introduction 1-3 

Chapter 1: Law of the Land 5-28 

Chapter 2: Rationally Irrational 30-49 

Chapter 3: The End of Democracy and the Birth of Populism 51-68 

Conclusion: What is to be done? 70-72

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