Notes on Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke, chapter 8

Thesis: political society began from the majorities’ consent. Hereditary monarchy began from the paternal right. People enter into political society from the state of nature by giving their consent to the commonwealths freely.


  1. How political society comes into being
    1. People are free, equal, and independent naturally. The establishment of community is based on people’s consent and agreement. The purpose of community is to secure people’s enjoyment of their properties and to prevent outsiders’ aggression. The community does no harm to the rest who are in the state of nature. The community has to be governed by the majority. In the community, everyone has to put himself under an obligation to everyone in that society to submit to the decisions of the majority.
    2. There was government before there were records. The society established since the inconveniences of the state of nature, people’s love of society and their lack of society bring men together. No one cares the origin of the society and how it comes into being. What people noticed is the existence of society itself.
    3. The political societies began from a voluntary union and the mutual agreement of men freely acting in the choice of their governors and forms of government (historical example of Rome, Venice). The governments cannot begin on the basis of paternal right since a child owes to a father still leaves him free to join in whatever political society he thinks fit.
    4. The beginning of political society depends on the individuals’ consenting to create and join into one society; and when they are incorporated they can set up whatever form of government they think fit. Monarchy began on paternal right since father could be the most proper and possible person, who satisfied people’s demands. People believe in their father much more than others. A hereditary monarchy came into being because its easiness and equality didn’t offend anyone. In the end, people confirmed that the right to governing authority was to be hereditary.
    5. Commonwealth is a product of the innocence and sincerity of that poor but virtuous age. All peaceful beginnings of government have been laid in the consent of the people.

How to actually enter into a political society

  1. A man gives his tacit consent to the laws of that government and is obliged to obey them while that enjoyment lasts, if he owns or enjoys some part of the land under a given government. When a man first incorporates himself into any commonwealth he automatically brings with him and submits to the community the possessions that he does or will have. Someone could enter into society with his possessions being regulated and secured by the laws of the society.
  2. The process of giving consent to go and incorporate himself into a commonwealth is irrevocable and irreversible. He can never be again in the liberty of the state of nature once he has given the tacit consent to government—unless the government comes to be dissolved.
  3. Complying with the laws, living quietly and enjoying privileges and protection under a commonwealth are not enough for a man entering into the society. One can belong to a member of a society only if he enters into the commonwealth by positive engagement, and explicit promise and compact.


Political society represents the majorities’ interests. Political society began from people’s consent to enter and incorporate himself and his properties into the certain commonwealth which they think fit. The process of entering into political society from the state of nature is irrevocable and irreversible. People have to give their consent to government through explicit promise and compact in order to enter into a society.

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