The Patriarchal Kingdom of Sir Robert Filmer

wcr29102016… Anyone who has studied political theory at school or university will be familiar with the work of John Locke. Study of (parts of) his Two Treatises of Government often form the first engagement with political philosophy for the young student of politics. What however is rarely imparted to students is that this work was written as a reply to the treatise by Sir Robert Filmer entitled Patriarcha: or the Natural Power of Kings. Even rarer is actual study of this work, which as the title suggests is an exposition on the essential rightness of monarchy. Continue reading

Filmer’s Patriarcha

fa5724Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings. By Sir Robert Filmer. London. Printed for Walter Davis, 1680.

The central question addressed in Patriarcha is this: From where does the authority to govern come? It is truly amazing how beliefs shape our lives. Most men do not reason through their beliefs, largely remaining blind to the full consequence of the ideas they hold. Most aren’t even fully aware of all the beliefs that inhabit their consciences. But when a belief takes up broad residence in a society’s mind it inexorably marches that society, over time, towards every last implication of that belief. Continue reading

The Divine Right of Kings versus the Tyranny of the People

patriarchaHuman authority can be divided into two basic types, the natural and the usurped. While natural authority, being vested in fallen and imperfect men, can be abused, usurped authority is the gateway to tyranny. Indeed, the Greek term tyrannos originally referred to one who had seized power by force. It came to refer to rulers who abused their people because an abusive rule is what is usually to be expected from a usurper. Natural authority is never derived from the “consent of the governed”. The most basic natural authority in society, is the authority of parents in the family. Parents are not elected by their children. Parents do not hold authority over their children because their children have voluntarily contracted, or otherwise consented, to being under their authority. Continue reading