Locke is an ardent defender of limited government; one that does not have the right or freedom to do whatever it wants. He believes that the legitimacy of a government is dependent on its respect to certain limits. Government is known for its practice to acquire private property from commons although questions are usually raised on how and why such an acquisition can be considered legitimate. Locke argues that to be considered legitimate, acquisition of private property must be authorized by representatives of commons in government and it must be in accordance with what is referred to as a principle of majority rule (Willinksy 352). Commons usually agree to the principle of majority rule when they consent to join a political society. It can also be seen that by joining a political society, commons agree to the legislature or government authorities taking measures aimed at promoting the public good. One of the ways government can legitimately acquire private property is taxation, which in most cases, is authorized by representatives of commons in government.
According to Locke, acquisition of private property legitimately does not in any way harm others. Locke argues that in any form of acquisition either by government or other commons, the focus must be on ensuring that no harm is caused to others. In the event no one is harmed during and by acquisition of property from commons, there is no possibility of one having a valid complaint about having a right to the property (Tuckness). Legitimate acquisition of property by government is usually done through acts such as taxation. After acquisition, government will be more concerned with increasing the property’s value by laboring on it thus making it more valuable than untouched property. The fact that the value of legitimately acquired property is increased by laboring on it implies that commons will stand to benefit from it at some point hence the argument that they are not harmed. Moreover, legitimate acquisition of private property means that the resulting appropriation on the property leaves enough and as good for others and appropriation occurring as a result of one’s labor usually doesn’t spoil or go to waste (Tuckness). This way, no harm is caused to others. In event the party acquiring private property does not consider these conditions, commons can argue that they are harmed and could have a valid complaint against such acquisition. They could argue that they have not had enough left for them after the acquisition of that the party responsible for the acquisition has appropriated things that they could have used but has gone ahead to let the acquired property go to waste.
Locke’s argument is undoubtedly plausible. In essence, the fact that the world was initially owned by all humans in common means that one has the right to own property for which he labors. However, what one owns can be legitimately acquired from him or her particularly by government that is usually committed to ensuring that all commons benefit from the acquisition of such property. In most cases, government acquires property to put up structures that stand to benefit commons. Such appropriation efforts by governments or other persons believed to have legitimately acquired property benefit commons a great deal. Moreover, legitimate acquisition of property is usually done in accordance with the principles of natural freedom and equality of persons, and thus, no one can complain of being harmed by such actions.
Tuckness, Alex. “Locke’s political philosophy.” (2005)., https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/entries/locke-political/#Pro
Willinksy, John. “The Properties of Locke’s Common-wealth of Learning.” Policy Futures in Education 4.4 (2006): 348-365., https://pkp.sfu.ca/files/Locke.pdf