Friday, August 8, 2008

John Locke's Logic

On page 5 of the Darker Nations, V. Prashad quotes John Locke's 1689 justification for private property and colonial land grabs<:

"God gave the World to Men in Common; but since he gave it to them for their benefit, and the greatest Conveniences of Life they were capable to draw from it, it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the Industrious and Rational (and Labour was to be his Title to it;) not to the Fancy or Covetousness of the Quarrelsome and Contentious."

John Locke is one of the founding fathers of Classical Liberalism. He is also a character on Lost, (according to Pete Best, I've never seen it)

It's interesting to see this statement in the context of the history of colonialism. As Prashad points out, "since only Europeans could count as competent users of God's nature, only they could own it". So, if you were a white male Christian (the only people who could be Rational apparently) who worked hard, then you were entitled to steal land from Native Americans. Apply this logic to any of the "Darker Nations" from Vietnam and Algeria to Iraq and Iran and you see how it works.

Of course these days, some (most?) white women are considered Rational (though this is continually contested, see Hilary Clinton's recent election coverage); as are some people of color; maybe especially those who align themselves with the project of American Empire (see Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell)? Not sure. If so, this could shed some light on Barack Obama's troubling stance on Israel/Palestine, Afghanistan and possibly Iran. Meaning, as a person of color who wants to be President of the Empire, he may have to carefully chose his steps to prove he is Rational and Christian enough to be elected (Read: Neo-Colonialist enough.) My cynical opinion from the outset being, he's probably the best Neo-liberal for the job.


Heather Mars said...

I am so glad you started this blog! I remember the Bumpidee times from way back when (ahem...199?), I had a few cassette tapes from you, the Corrections being one of them, and you wrote me a handwritten letter, I was so smitten back then! Lost is a great show, I hate TV but it's a good one. I shall bookmark your blog. Cheers!

Tobi Vail said...

hi heather, thanks for reading the blog! It's cool there are still people around who remember what bumpidee was like back in the old days! xo tobi

Tobi Vail said...

p.s. what is the deal with the john locke character on Lost?

Amy Yow said...

ha. so well said.