John Locke, a philosopher of the 17th century brought forth a theory on self-ownership and government. He said that when you own something, you have the authority to control it and establish a boundary that no one else can trespass. As individuals, we have the greatest moral claim that manifests that we alone can exercise control over our being and no one else can.

When we mix our labor with something that no one else has claimed to own, we automatically become owners of it. When we claim that something is ours, but have not mixed our work with it, it is basically not worth anything. Therefore, someone could randomly come and take it away from us by mixing his labor with it (making it be worth something). So in order to proclaim a right to property, we have to mix our labor with that specific thing to own it rightfully and not let anyone else come and take it from us.

However, Locke said that if there is no government, specifically civil government, we may have our rights but without protection. In other words, if someone comes and takes away what you rightfully own, no one can defend or protect you. So you would have to deal with your life if some random person comes and steals your property. In this way, it is necessary, according to Locke, to take some rights away from you in order to protect you. For example, it is okay for the government to take away money from you (plunder through taxation) in order to pay for something else that may be used for your protection. They take away your right to do whatever you want with your money (property), in order to protect your right to life.

Then, came a man named Murray Rothbard that opposed Locke’s idea of governmental protection. If we have a right, we indeed have it and no one can take it away from us. “No one” means that even the Civil Government can’t come in and say, “Give me these three rights to protect those other four. Give me this amount of money to make these things better because the law says that you have to give me the money, because if you don’t, you will go to jail, there is no other choice.” Murray Rothbard says, “No, if we have the right to property, we have it, and no one can take away some things in order to make others better.” It would be like letting someone else come and tell you, “I own you” and exercise control over you, even if they claim themselves to be the “Civil Government”.

Note: The things here written do not necessarily express the opinion, point of view, philosophical position, or beliefs of the author.




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