Essay on Locke vs Marx

1181 Words5 Pages
Karl Marx and John Locke both formulated philosophical theories that worked to convince people of their rights to freedom and power; however, they had conflicting viewpoints on the idea of private property. Locke felt that property belonged to whoever put their labor into it, and one could accumulate as much property as he or she wants (692). Marx, however, considered the private property of the select few who possessed it to be the product of the exploitation of the working class (1118). Personally, I believe that Locke’s conception of private property is more convincing than Marx’s point of view.
In Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, he defines his view of private property. He states that the earth belongs to all men in common,
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Locke argues that since money has little value besides for the value that men give it, men, by accepting the use of money, have “agreed to a disproportionate and unequal passion of the earth, they have, by a tacit and voluntary consent, found a way how a man may fairly possess more land than he himself can use the product of” (698). Locke places high value on property. He says that human beings are born with a natural right to preserve their own property, that is, their life, liberty, and estate. He also says that the preservation of property is the number one reason people enter into a civil society. A civil society is there to protect the natural rights of humans, which is the preservation of their private property (707).
According to Marx, “bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the few by the many” ("Manifesto of the Communist Party" 1118). He says that the validity of private property is presupposed in a capitalist economy. However, a capitalist economy actually splits human beings into two classes: the bourgeoisie, or the proprietors, and the proletariat, or the wage-laborers. Marx also says bourgeois private property is created because of the alienation of the wage-laborers. He says that one way that the wage-laborers are alienated is from their product of their labor, since the
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