This article considers the extent to which Locke's defense of a right of resistance in Two Treatises was formulated in close engagement with contemporary concerns regarding the requirements of effective political authority. Though Locke deals with the issue of “sovereignty” discreetly, differentiating between the theory and problem of sovereignty, the article contends that his theory nonetheless assumes a significance that is often overlooked in modern commentaries. Using Filmer's attack on consent theory as a benchmark, Locke identifies weaknesses in the idea that political order requires a single and indefeasible locus of authority, and argues that his theory is neither morally nor practically sustainable. Similarly, Locke rests a large part of his defense of conditional government on an explanation of how this arrangement of authority can withstand the “sovereignty” criticisms leveled by Filmer. Locke's attention to the problem of sovereignty reflects how influential the critique of popular sovereignty theory, developed by Bodin and others, was at that time. Thusly, the notion of hierarchical authority promoted by these writers represented a formidable obstacle to limited government that Locke was obliged to address.
"Who shall be Judge?"
John Locke's Two Treatises of Government and the Problem of Sovreignty
Philosophy and Politics of Résistance in Early Modern France
Recognition of a right of resistance to oppression clearly helped modern Western polities accept constitutional forms of order. Drawing on Locke's canonical discussion in the Second Treatise, influential Anglo-American political theorists also suggest that the establishment of modern constitutional states required outlawing resistance practices. A francophone perspective, however, raises a problem for such generalizations about modern Western political philosophy and practice: the French “résistance” differs in meaning from the English “resistance” in important ways. Reconstructing the histories of the cognate concepts, I show that “résistance” emerged out of feminized discourses concerning moral conscience and that, as a result, excluding résistance from politics seems implausible, a conclusion that sheds light on the discussion of résistance in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. The article closes with the suggestion that, following the Second World War, French understandings of “résistance” may have influenced American politics and thought in unrecognized ways.
Resistance, Rebirth, and Redemption
The Rhetoric of White Supremacy in Post-Civil War Louisiana
Marek D. Steedman
Did white supremacists successfully appeal to a right of resistance in Louisiana in the 1870s? I argue that they did. White supremacists self-consciously defended their own actions within the framework of an Anglo-American discourse of resistance against tyrannical government, and they broadly succeeded in convincing fellow (white) citizens. Can we deny them the cover of legitimacy this tradition affords? We might suggest that a right to resist is rendered void by the fact that white supremacists were resisting constitutional democracy itself. I argue against this strategy (or, more precisely, for a right to resist constitutional democratic government), and suggest that the problem is not what white supremacists were fighting against. The right to resist is bound up with a defense of the just demands of the people, and this claim, as articulated by white supremacists, rests on decidedly shaky ground. Deciding the issue, however, is a matter of political contestation.
Private, Public and Common
Republican and Socialist Blueprints
Bru Laín and Edgar Manjarín
tradition were precisely able to offer intelligibility to social conflict: on extreme necessity, on the denunciation of the usurpation of power and property, on the rejection of the right of conquest, on the justification of regicide and the right of
Ideas, History and Social Sciences
An Interview with Quentin Skinner
Jérémie Barthas and Arnault Skornicki
against extirpation, they argued, it was the Protestants who first articulated the idea of a standing right of resistance against tyrannical government. I tried to show that what in fact happened was that, especially in France, the Protestant churches drew