What is John Locke's definition of Civil Government?

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John Locke (1632-1704) in his Two Treatises of Government has had an enormous impact upon the world of politics, which continues to this day. Influenced by thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau, many of his liberal and democratic theories of government have worked their way into the founding documents of the United States of America. In his Second Treatise on Civil Government, he focuses on three concepts: property, government, and revolution.

Locke’s conception of civil government begins with the proposition that people have a natural right to ownership of the property they have earned through their labor. He postulates that if there is no property (and obviously there is), there is no need for government to protect it. He concludes, therefore, the protection of property is the government’s purpose. This was a radical idea in his era because governments most often claimed the fundamental right to ownership of land and interests pertaining to land. Locke’s postulates suggested that...

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