John Locke and Commercial Capitalism

1697 Words May 7th, 2006 7 Pages
Political philosopher John Locke ideas and theories serve as a foundation in our democratic world. In the Second Treatise of Government sovereignty is placed in the hands of the people. Locke argues that everyone is born equal and has natural rights in the state of nature. He also argues that men have inalienable rights to life, liberty and property. The central argument around the creation of a civil society was with the protection of property. In this essay I will explain Locke's theory of property and how it is not anything other than a "thinly disguised defense of bourgeois commercial capitalism." This statement is defended through Locke's personal background and his justifications for the inequalities of wealth.

Locke did not
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Also, if one person sells his labour to another he becomes property of that person, "…the turfs my servant has cut… become my property" (Locke §20).

Locke also discusses the limitations on private property. One must leave enough for others and take only as much as one can use (Locke, §33). He then applies this to acquiring land. Locke writes,

As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labour does, as it were, inclose it from the common. Nor will it invalidate his right, to say every body else has an equal title to it; and therefore he cannot appropriate, he cannot inclose, without the consent of all his fellow-commoners, all mankind….God and his reason commanded him to subdue the earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of life, and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour" (Locke, §32).

Even though there are limitations, this paragraph shows how one can acquire a significant amount of private property. If one is extremely efficient and productive there will be a surplus of products that can be used. Since it is a sin to let products go to waste, Locke creates a system of barter. However a system of barter is not an efficient system. The value of items would be hard to determine. Therefore, Locke suggests a monetary system with "a little piece of yellow metal, which would keep without wasting or decay, should be worth a

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