The use of physical violence towards other people is usually taken by the general
public as an act of aggression with negative connotations. However, there are times when
the use of violence is a necessary action when there are no other alternatives available to
being unjustly treated. Three philosophers, John Locke, Karl Marx, and Thomas Paine,
believed that only through physical violence could a better social order be created. This
paper will seek to defend and justify the application of physical violence against other
people through the works of these three thinkers and conclude by revealing the context of
violence through economic, political and social patterns.
In John Locke's civil society, the people submit natural freedoms to the common
laws of the society; in return, they receive the protection of the government. By coming
together, the people create an executive power to enforce the laws and punish offenders.
The people entrust these laws and the executive power with authority. When, either
through an abuse of power or an impermissible change, these governing bodies cease to
represent the people and instead represent either themselves or some foreign power, the
people may, and indeed should, rebel against their government and replace it with one
Locke then defines war as a state of “enmity and destruction” brought about by
one person’s pre-meditated attempts upon another’s life. The law of self-preservation,
integral to the law of nature, dictates that a person may kill another person in self-
defense. This definition rests upon the presumption that any aggression by one person
against another constitutes a challenge to that person’s freedom. By this reasoning, one
can justifiably kill a thief since an attack on one’s property represents a threat to one’s
liberty. It should be noted that Locke’s use of the term “war” really means “conflict,”
since he addres…