Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 31, Issue 2, 2021

Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the Twenty-First Century?

Adriana Neacșu
Pages 49-65

John Locke—Theorist of Limiting and Supervising Political Power by Citizens

This paper aims to analyze John Locke’s ideas on the limited political mandate of the institutions of power, and the need for their supervision and sanctioning by citizens when they violate their duties. It emphasizes the topicality of these ideas, pointing out that they represent two fundamental principles in the functioning of the rule of law, defining the current democracies. Locke justified them starting from the hypothesis that society was founded by people through a deliberate pact, so that the common good could be promoted more effectively, and the legitimacy of political power is conditioned by the observance of this task. Therefore, if political power violates the social pact, it can be overthrown by citizens even by force. The author then raises the question if the use of force to change a political regime can still be justified today. Her answer is that this is an objective mechanism, which appears implacably in all unjust societies, and the only way to defuse it is for states to permanently respect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.