Inequality In John Locke's Second Treatise Of Government

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John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government is most known for his justification of private property, but there are many other theories, though not as popular, that are equally as important. One of these is his justification of inequality, which will be covered in this essay. Locke says that until the invention of money, there was no point to accumulate more property, or wealth, than one could use because it would spoil. That changed after the introduction of money because money does not spoil, which allows people to accumulate more than they need. Locke argues that since men agreed to use money as a way to fairly possess more than they could use, they also agreed to the consequence of inequality. Though Locke presents a compelling argument,…show more content…
“And thus came in the use of money, some lasting thing that men might keep without spoiling, and that by mutual consent men would take in exchange for the truly useful, but perishable supports of life” (S.V.47). Because money (which Locke sometimes substitutes with gold, diamonds, or silver), does not spoil, one can acquire an unlimited amount of wealth, therefore breaking the Law of Nature. Unlike the way that excess apples rot, no matter how much money one possesses, there is no way for it to go bad. It will generally have as much use today as it will tomorrow. This leads to the situation of wealth inequality, where some people possess a lot of money while others have very little. Locke justifies this inequality by arguing that since men agreed to the use of money, they also agreed to the consequences that come with it, one of them being inequality. He elaborates on this idea saying:
But since gold and silver…has its value only from the consent of men…it is plain, that men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth, they having, by a tacit and voluntary content, found a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of…
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