Justices Blackmun and Stevens; pro-sodomite Lockeans

From the introduction by Jonathon Rowe;

"In my last post on understanding John Locke, I noted Harvey Mansfield who described the tension between the more traditional notion that individuals belong to God and Locke’s radically innovative insight that individuals own themselves. As Mansfield wrote, “The difference between belonging to God and belonging to yourself is not a small one.”

Mansfield and other East Coast Straussians charge Locke, or at least his ideas, with ushering in a radically modern age (the Enlightenment) which broke with the traditional view of nature and public policy.

Whether Locke intended or foresaw that things would go down as they did, is impossible to know. However, there certainly is a kernel of Truth in the Straussians’ notion that Locke launched the modern idea of liberty which gave men the freedom to live in radically different ways which previously they did not have. Robert Bork pejoratively terms such a notion, “radical individualism.” Locke’s ideas logically lead us to such “radical individualism.” And Bork would probably agree given that he holds the Declaration of Independence responsible for radical individualism, and John Locke, of course, is the key philosopher behind the Declaration.

Take the dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick, the case Lawrence v. Texas overruled. Justice Blackmun, citing an earlier Justice Stevens opinion (who also dissented with Blackmun in Bowers), held “the concept of privacy embodies the `moral fact that a person belongs to himself and not others nor to society as a whole.’” Bork of course, in Slouching towards Gomorrah, disagreed with this “moral fact.” Now, proving that any “moral facts” exist as a matter of 2+2=4 is not an easy task. Often, we have to start with certain asserted premises. And in determining America’s governing public principles, the Declaration of Independence is a good place to begin. Well, John Locke, whose ideas are behind the Declaration of Independence, is also the author of the “‘moral fact’ that a person belongs to himself.” No wonder why Judge Bork hates the Declaration of Independence and the Enlightenment!"


Let me cast my own ballot with Locke (as well as for the pro-sodomites), since the notion that man 'belongs to himself' is something I take to be intrinsic to the basic understandings of liberty, freedom, and autonomy. If we belong to 'God' as Bork et al, would insist, then the state would be merely a device for delivering us to that God, and enforcing our service to him.

And that is certainly no state I would like to belong to.

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