Freedom is … a liberty to dispose, and order, as he likes, his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property … not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.

—John Locke. Two Treatises of Government, 1689.

Governments should respect the rights of the person and the rights of property with equal fervor. This is because these rights are indistinguishable in morality. Property rights are not some ancillary or optional aspect of freedom—they are central to it. Those European countries that proclaim their respect for human rights, yet appropriate more than half their people’s earnings, are the moral equivalent of slave owners in the Confederate States of America who claimed their slaves were better off under their paternalistic care.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove