Reading through John Locke’s “Second Treatise”, The Declaration of Independence, Martin Luther King “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Karl Marx “The Communist Manifesto”, E Fromm’s “Escape from Freedom”, Thomas More’s “Utopia”, Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” there comes an almost universal viewpoint that the nature has its state and then there is the law of nature.
The state of nature is in discord with the law of nature. The law of nature comes out as the closest approximation of the ideal world that we should all live in and which all these writers seem to push for in their struggles whether as pastor, as in Martin Luther or as a writer as in Thoreau. The state of nature is different. It is what it is as we see it. There is social injustice about and men of convictions can only but rise up and fight to restore the world to its law of nature. According to Fromm, although man is born a freak of nature, he has to find principles to replace instincts, and control it as per his wishes. He has to try and overcome all conditions that are negative like death, starvation, disease etc through his action and decision. Like the rest, he sees that humanity’s true nature is freedom.
Martin Luther King sees lots of double standards and superficiality when he looks at issues from the state of nature perspective. The state of nature in his time is that there is a sweltering injustice against the people of colour but this is happening in society where Christianity is the main religion. Rather than Christianity, the clergy railing about this injustice, they look the other way. They do not want to confront the real issue probably for fear of being associated with violence. But Martin Luther opposes this kind of religious bastardisation when he seeks through non violence movement to demonstrate that religion must be concrete, at the service of man according to the law of nature. It should press for equality and justice for God’s children because that is what the law of nature is. The current state where people are segregated, and wallow in injustice does not represent the law of nature but the state of nature. To him, there is a yawning gap between the state of nature and the law of nature as per the conditions. When he tries through non-violent struggles; he is trying to bring the law of nature into concretization. The true nature is when freedom is had.
Similarly, Thoreau, through his staying in the pond experiences nature in its true self, the law of nature. He escapes the state of nature where there is rigid and an economic system so exploitative. The state of nature is enslaving instead of freeing us. Its civilization does not make us better people but instead it enslaves and degrades us. His escape to the pond is a desire to live as per the law of nature. Karl Marx also espouses the same view that human existence is haunted by a spectre of exploitation, internecine class struggles but each time there is the majority suffering and a few enjoying. The majority ‘proletariat’ and the minority, who own the property and the means of society’s production ‘the bourgeois’ class subjects the rest of humanity to sub human conditions. Even the family is like that, so materialistic and intended for exploitation and not succor. That is the state of nature-quite convoluted. The proposal of the Communism manifesto is thus a sentimental wish to return to life as per the law of nature-where resources are to be used for the common good. No private property, no exploitation, no classes and no struggles. That will be the nature according to law of God.
In all the writings, the issue of God comes out as one who stands where justice is. In Martin Luther’s case, God is not the religion but where there is justice and fairness, God is the supreme good. We see that God can be fought for, if need be. Thomas More through his writings and activities appears so harsh to those who have a dim view of God, that even he is accused of have taken part in the persecution of the heretics. The idea of God as conceptualized by Erich Fromm is no different. He sees God as the ultimate being, that all temporal lifestyles should reflect respect for God. In More’s utopia, that there is no place for Atheists suggests that absence of God is unacceptable. He must be there, everywhere.