Comparing Locke's And Tocqueville

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2. Locke’s and Tocqueville’s respective definitions of liberty support a centralized vs. a decentralized government, but neither system adequately treats with liberty. a. As stated before, the purpose of government, according to Locke, is the preservation of property. In order to ensure this, Locke proposes a government in which the legislature is “the supreme power of the commonwealth… sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it” (Locke 158), which creates a concentrated government in which there are very few bounds put on the legislature. Locke does provide some limitations, listing that law must be applied to everyone equally, laws must be designed for the good of the people, there must be consent for taxation,…show more content…
The executive power, or the power to enforce law, and federative power, or the power to determine interactions of the commonwealth with those outside the commonwealth, are combined to prevent the state from moving in two different directions. However, they are separated from the legislative in order to prevent the members of the legislature exempting “themselves from obedience to the laws the make, and suit the law, both its making and execution, to their own private advantage” (Locke 164). This is, however, once again to primarily protect property, as despotism may cause the legislature to become greedy. The executive also exercises prerogative, which is “a latitude left to the executive power, to do many things of choice which the laws do not prescribe” (Locke 172). This power extends until the people judge it is no longer in their best interest, where than they “claim their right, and limit that power” (Locke 174). The amount of power given to the executive through this is enormous, and points once again to a government that does not concern itself overmuch with liberty, so long as the majority consents to have it taken…show more content…
This horizontal distribution of power is similar to Locke’s, but for a wholly different purpose. Where Locke wished to ensure that the legislature did not depart from the will of the majority, Tocqueville believes these restraints are necessary to prevent that same majority from overstepping its bounds. Tocqueville also advocates for a decentralized administration in order to mitigate the effect of the majority in law. Tocqueville commends America for the central government’s “great prerogatives hav[ing] been confined to a central sphere” (Tocqueville 110), while the day to day execution of the law has been left to the smaller government institutions, such as states and townships. Because Tocqueville’s idea of liberty requires that the minority is not targeted by laws, administrative decentralizations allows such a minority, if it is concentrated in a region, to enforce the law in a way that is most beneficial to the local population or slow down legislation that damages said

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