James Ceaser: Between Us and the State of Nature

Police, Seattle, WA, 1918

Law & Liberty: “Between Us and the State of Nature”

By James Ceaser

“‘Government in America today does many things. It builds roads, educates and feeds our children, supplies housing to millions, and gives living assistance to older citizens. And this is just the start of its vast array of responsibilities. Important as these activities are, however, none of them provides the primary reason why people instituted a government in the first place.

This reason was perhaps best described by the English political philosopher John Locke, author of the Second Treatise on Civil Government. Published in 1689, some 80 years before the events that led to the American Revolution, Locke’s Treatise was the most widely read book in America in the 1770s, the Bible excepted. It still deserves our attention today. The work speaks directly to the inchoate movement currently roiling the nation, which calls for defunding (or disbanding) police forces and demands using the money recovered to ‘invest in people’ and adopt ‘a holistic model of public safety…'”

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James Ceaser headshotJames Ceaser is the Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1976. In addition, he is the Director for Constitutionalism and Democracy and was a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has written several books on American politics and political thought, including Presidential Selection (Princeton University PRess, 1979), Liberal Democracy and Political Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), and Reconstructing America (Yale University Press, 2000). Professor Ceaser has held visiting professorships at the University of Florence, the University of Basel, Oxford University, the University of Bordeaux, and the University of Rennes. He is a frequent contributor to the popular press, and he often comments on American Politics for the Voice of America.

Professor Ceaser is a JMC board member and faculty partner.

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