Lockes version of the social contract is essentially a justification for the wealthy to assert political control over everyone else.
Lockes arguments justifying government were liberal, even radical for their time. The popular view was that kings ruled by mandate from God, and were not subject to the consent of the people. Lockes Two Treatises of Government were written during the exclusion crisis, and supported the Whig position that the king did not have an absolute right to rule. (Rj) During the exclusion crisis, king Charles had no hier, making his brother James the next in line for the throne. James was a Catholic, which made him very unpopular in protestant England. Parliament repeatedly tried to pass bills excluding James from succession to the throne. Each time, Charles dissolved parliament before the bill could be passed. (Ellywa) Lockes version of social contract theory provides a justification for citizens rejecting Charless authority.
Two Treatises of Government was not published until after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, though the work was completed several years earlier. Locke was reluctant to admit being the author for a long time, as anything questioning the authority of the king was dangerous to publish with the tense political climate of the time. Lockes phillosophy provided a basis for future revolutions as well. The American revolution is a notable example. Much of Lockes phillosophy of government went in to the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Lockes materialism found its way in to the representitive republics that were created based in part on his ideas about government. Many such republics required property ownership as a condition of eligibility to vote. Though such explicit requirements are rare in modern society, citizens with a large amount of property usually have much more political influence than anyone else.
John Locke popularized the theories of government that allow the wealthy to control modern societies. Under his political theory, the reason and justification for the existance of government is to protect private ownership of property.
Locke recognizes property as one of the highest pursuits of man. In a society intended to maintain and protect property, only the owners of property have any reason for needing political influence, so Locke only recognizes property-owning citizens as having political power. The result is a society in which those who have property have all the political power. Having political power makes it far easier to gain property, and to keep others from gaining property, so Lockes vision of society is essentially a protection plan for the rich. European society did take on almost exactly that form in the years following the publication of Two Treatises of Government. Lockes property-based society formed the basis for the United States of America, and eventually for most world governments. The social contract Locke proposes is somewhat flawed, however; there is rarely a way out. Locke offers rebellion as a phillosophically justified option, however, rebellion is not a practical option for most people. Rebellion usually results in death or imprisonment. Locke was writing in a time of political strife, during which the king of England and most of the population were opposed to each other. His writings on government and civil society justified the Glorious Revolution, which had not yet occurred. Use of property as a justification for government may seem conservative in modern society, but it was radical when it was published. Despite some problems with his phillosophical justifications, John Locke revolutionized political thought forever.
Ellywa “Exclusion Bill” Wikipedia. 8, Jan 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exclusion_crisis
Gregmcpherson “Social Contract” Wikipedia. 26, Mar 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Contract
Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/trgov10.txt
Marx, Karl. Manifesto of the Communist Party. Feb 1848 http://wikisource.org/wiki/Manifesto_of_the_Communist_Party
Rj. “John Locke” Wikipedia. 22, Mar 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke
Viriditas. “Martin Luther King, Jr.” Wikipedia. 26, Mar. 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr..