The action of trade is so heavily integrated into today’s modern society that it is hard to believe a time where trade did not exist. In can be found in the preliminary stages of North American culture where natives would trade with one another before the creation of currency, to a more modern level where society trades their labour to create a product or service in exchange for a wage. The discussion on private property is one covered by many different scholars throughout the years; this essay will focus primarily on the workings of John Locke and Karl Marx.
Both being raised in a different time thus different upbringings as resulted in a difference in their train of thought and philosophical approaches on life. Karl Marx has been forced to endure the after math of the Industrial Revolution, where fewer people were needed to work on lands and factories/machines took over what was once human labor. John Locke; otherwise known as the father of classical liberalism, on the other hand came in a much different area although not far off from Marx, a time before the industry evolution.
By delving deeper into the philosophical understandings surrounding private property for both Karl Marx, who holds a communist approach, and John Locke, holding a more capitalist approach; an analysis of the similarities they share along with the differences will be conducted by analyzing common property, private property in regards to the government/state, and societal structure surrounding property.
Although Locke and Marx differ in many aspects regarding private property they do share the similarity when speaking behalf on how property should be for the common production, it’s because of the fair trade consensus within a society that Locke establishes that he finds the capitalist approach to property justified. Locke has said “The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being. And tho’ all the fruits it naturally produces, and beasts it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are produced by the spontaneous hand of nature. (18 stog). That the world and all that has been given to mankind stems from the creator, thus each individual in society has an equal share on the goods the earth provides. Under the law of subsistence; supporting oneself at a minimum level, humankind has the licence to take what is needed for survival, removing the eed for general consent and protection of one’s goods.
For Locke each individual is perfectly equal with one another, and as long as greed does not come into play society holds no need government for governmental control. The same law of nature, that does by this means give us property, does also bound that property. As much as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in: whatever is beyond this is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy” (31 stog).
For Karl Marx private property must be abolished entirely and the only property that should be available must be for common good and not for capitalist production. We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence. “(170 sw) Marx is a strong believer of social equality economically, that those in power should not be able to capitalize on the working class which can be seen throughout he Communist Manifesto, and the Select Writings of Karl Marx. Both thinkers do not fully support the obtainment of property for personal gain for everyone equally should benefit from the earth resources.
It is not until further delving into the political and philosophical views of each thinker do we discover the differences between the two. Where one thinker believes that private property should be protected by the government, the other believes it’s should be abolished. John Locke; born August 29th 1632 and died October 28th 1704, was known as the father f classical liberalism and holds a heavy influence regarding various capitalist thinkers including the four fathers of the United States of America.
In section 6 of his writings of The Second Treatise of Government, Locke had stated; “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one oug harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker. ” (6 stog).
Under this quote it is easy to see that Locke found much important to property, thus the need for governmental law to protect it. In Locke’s eyes no matter members of society are forced to be born under a form of government, that the main purpose of the government should be too protect the basic human functions in ones natural state, one being the ability to obtain private property. Through private property an introduction to a hierarchical power is formed, and thus forming a contract amongst themselves resulting in a craft a government.
An example of the protection of private property n the government can be seen in the Fourth Amendment of the American Bill of Rights which states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. ” Under this amendment it guarantees that one’s private property will be protected from the government from those wishing to harm or steal ones property.
Locke believed that protection of property was a mandatory purpose of the government seeing there is no way for each individual to ensure that their property remains safe from the outside world; i. e. ; other civilians or those of power, which can be found in section 3 of The Second Treatise of Government. The thinker that will contrast Locke’s view in this essay is Karl Marx otherwise known as one of the founders of Marxism; born May 5th 1818 and died March 14th 1883. Locke’s differs from the communist approach Marx holds where in his writings of the Communist Manifesto he states “Communist
Manifesto he states “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. ” (170 sw). Where Locke believed the government should protect private property, Marx believed that the bourgeoisie; those in power, controlled all of the profit from property and thus using it to enslave the proletariat; the working class. In his eyes the labour a worker gives does not grant them any prosperity where as the capitalist class has all the prosperity and does no labour. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for the managing of the ommon affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (82 sw). Abiding to Locke’s views on private property would have no benefit to the working class while only benefiting the elite thus the importance of ridding society of the bourgeoisie and deeming them unfit to rule, “[The bourgeoisie] is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him.
Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society” (93sw). Labour has been used throughout history to repress and exploit the working class and that the only things that change are the structures of the exploitation. Workers should own the means of production, which is the definition of socialism. No longer should the working class be exploited and treated like slaves to those above them, instead everything should be equal.
With private property comes a social construct deciphering the working/ middle class from those above them be it a manger, land owner, etc. Where Locke and Marx differ regarding this aspect of private property can be found in the social agreement and onstruct they both write about. For Locke the obtainment if private property can be found in the state of nature and everything on the earth belongs to all of society in common. It is not until an individual applies labour to said belonging that ownership is established. He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. ” (5 stog) When the individual picks an apple he has added his labour to it and thus making it their own property. People being paid for their labour in exchange for the good they are manufacturing do not violate any natural agreements seeing everyone benefits from it.
For Locke Labour is the ultimate source of all economic value but must require an agreement between one another on the value of their created currency. From here a social order arises, and the birth of the consumer society. This is why Locke is viewed as a capitalist for some; he advocates trade where Marx does not. For Marx the establishment of private property dooms the working class into a life of slavery and division between two ocial classes, the bourgeoisie; people who owned business with the goal of earning a profit; capitalists, and proletariat; the people who are laboured for wage.
Society as a whole is more and more splitting into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat” (80 sw). Given the industrial revolution Marx lived during his view on trade were different than those of Locke who came before the revolution. No longer were individuals working on the fields and being traded for their goods, instead they were orking in factories making products for the larger corporations.
Individuals were unable to sell the products they created, and thus given a wage per employee where the true value of a workers labour wage was under the value of the products being created. Marx believed that alienation occurs for the proletariat because workers would become more distanced or isolated from their work, resulting in feelings of being powerlessness. Socialism was needed in this case to take over capitalism so everyone’s needs are met, not just those in power. “Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE! ” (120 sw). This can be seen in 1917 a group of revolutionaries called the Bolsheviks overthrew the Russian Czar so they could put in a Communist government in place. Marx believes in the power of the people over the power of the elite, that everyone deserves to be treated equal regardless of class. “Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that is does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation” (99 sw).
In conclusion although both John Locke and Carl Marx believe in the necessity of private property, the two share very different approaches on the extent they should obtain property; one being John Locke’s more capitalist approach which was reflected in the bill of rights for the United States of America, and the other being Carl Marx’s communist approach found in Soviet Russia. While analyzing the philosophical and political understandings behind Karl Marx and John Locke, the similarities they both share along with the differences revolving governmental influence, and societal constructs were discovered.