chapter  XII
23 Pages

Authoritarian Representation and Constitutionalism

WithM. Seliger

John Locke supplies not only the very general criteria. He also specifies the situations and purposes calling for it, by giving the reasons why discretionary action is unavoidable where legislation is vested in collective bodies of men. It is not self-contradictory to address both the ruling prince and whoever replaces him as ‘the establisher of the government’. Only the excesses of royal prerogative give just cause for revolt; properly utilized for the public good, discretionary action realizes the will of the people. Discretionary interference even with one and the same established practice may well on one occasion be just and on another unjust, once for the public good and acceptable to the people, and another time not. Evidently, if the people are seldom, or never, ‘scrupulous, or nice in the point’, the point, though easily settled, will in fact rarely be raised. Locke had no quarrel with this fact. It favoured his preference for established authority and stability.