Ever since I was born in the United States of America I have had to abide by the laws the nation has set forth in front of me. However, since I was born within the country and am a natural citizen, I never directly made a contract with the nation expressing that I wanted to be a part of it, and its rules. Therefore, the question of whether or not I am truly subject to the nation’s laws arises. The short answer to this question is yes, but on a deeper level it is merely expressive consent that makes me a U.S. citizen. I express my desire to live under the commonwealth of the United States by accepting any benefits it offers. Due to this one condition, I am subject to its laws and rules.
To reinforce this condition of receiving benefits, let us examine the works of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. What can be gathered from these philosophers is that all people in a commonwealth form an unspoken social contract to benefit from something the commonwealth provides. One major benefit, in both men’s interpretations, brings humans out of the state of nature through a form of protection. Human’s join under commonwealths to gain the security the state of nature lacks. Naturally, the cost of this benefit is merely the agreement to live by the social contract or law of the commonwealth.
In Hobbes work The Leviathan, the major benefit a commonwealth provides is protection “from an untimely death.” In Hobbes’ state of nature there is utter chaos. To relieve this chaos, people join commonwealths because, “if there be no power erected, or not great enough for security; every man will, and may lawfully rely on his own strength for caution against other men” (Hobbes, 173). Therefore in Hobbes’s commonwealth, if people receive protection, they are expressively agreeing rules of the power erected mentioned in the quote. In summarization, security is benefited when one abides by the commonwealth’s laws.
Similarly, the major benefit Locke’s commonwealth provides is protection of one’s property. Locke states in his work The Second Treatise of Government, “The great and chief end of men uniting into commonwealth, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property” (Locke, 320). Based on this quote, the commonwealth protects one’s property, and if the protection is accepted, one is expressively agreeing to unite under the commonwealth. Overall, both Hobbes and Locke believe that, accepting any benefits from a commonwealth, expressively binds you to the rules of that commonwealth.
In conclusion, the major condition that makes any person part of a commonwealth is through receiving benefits. As a result, one becomes subject to the rules that the commonwealth creates. Furthermore, there is a clear connection between receiving benefits and expressively agreeing to live under a commonwealth in my situation. I expressively agree to live under the law of the United States by receiving the provisions of law enforcement, paved roads, and other things of this nature.
Hobbes, Thomas. “The Leviathan.” Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. 2nd Edition. David Wootton. Indianapolis, IN. 2008.
Locke, John. “The Second Treatise of Government.” Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. 2nd Edition. David Wootton. Indianapolis, IN. 2008.