John Locke was a British born philosopher. Locke was important because he was original. He was a revolutionary thinker who opposed the tyranny of prejudice, dogma, opinion, and ignorance. Though his philosophy has been subject to criticism over the years it is no doubt that it has had a great impact in shaping democracy. Locke who was brought up under an aristocratic society dedicated himself to change the system of governance as he opposed the idea of kingship supremacy.
Under this system people held very little power over the ruling regime, they were reduced to mere bystanders who would not contribute anything towards their own destiny. Their only active role was participation in the army which exclusively guarded the king. Locke argued that people are born with certain rights which should not be denied calling them “unalienable rights”. He specified these as life liberty and property. The government at the time did not grant the people these rights. He argued that only a limited government that recognizes that all individuals (other than slaves) have a broad range of rights can be legitimate.
This was not his only problem, but he argued that absolute governments cannot be legitimate because they provide for no impartial arbitrator in disputes and this only strengthened their grip to power which was unacceptable. The validity of his contributions and theories to democracy were so important that Janda, Berry and Goldman write that these principles were the primary references in the writing of America’s supreme law and enshrined in the Declaration of Independence which was declared by Thomas Jefferson, in their words “The principles underlying the Declaration were rooted in the writings of the English philosopher John Locke”.