chapter  IX
27 Pages

Individual Consent

WithM. Seliger

In contrast to a genuinely liberal theory, consent is not claimed by T. Hobbes as the mode of political action through which the individuals defend their rights. It is conceivable and not without historical foundation that absolutist rule will guarantee individual rights and interests. Yet if, as in Hobbes’ theory, this is explicitly upheld as the prime purpose and justification of authoritarian government, it is assumed to derive ultimately from consent. ‘Nobody doubts,’ wrote John Locke, that only ‘an express consent entering into any society, makes him a perfect member of that society, a subject of that government’. He postulated that individuals renewed their consent to obey the government in each generation, but also maintained that man who inherited his father’s property thereby consented to obey the government as his father had done. Although a man’s consent to obey the government is evidenced first and foremost in relation to property, it is consent from which duty of obedience arises.