John Locke: Usurpation and Tyranny Defined

Daily Dabble in the Classics, John Locke

As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage. When the governor, however entitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule; and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion.


Source: John Locke, “Concerning Civil Government,” Second Essay, Chap. XVIII, 199. Learn more about John Locke at The Moral Liberals and the late Jon Dolhenty’s, “Radical Academy.”


Daily Dabble in the Classics is a project of Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal. Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell