Property According to Karl Marx and John Locke

Topics: Property, Human, Capitalism Pages: 4 (1271 words) Published: April 28, 2011
The Role of Private Property According to Karl Marx and John Locke

“Property, any object or right that can be owned. Ownership involves, first and foremost, possession; in simple societies to possess something is to own it” ( Funk & Wagnall's.1994). English philosopher, John Locke (1632-1704) believed that the only reason society degenerates to armed conflict and strife is because of a depletion of the essential ingredients of an individual or a community’s self-preservation. Those ingredients, according to the Second Treatise include: the right to private property which is grounded in the exercise of the virtues of rationality and industry; the powers of government must be separated because virtue is always in short supply, but prerogative, which depends on virtue in judgment, must be retained by the executive because of the necessary imperfections of the rule of law; and, the right of resistance to illegitimate government presupposes the exercise of restraint and rational judgment by the people (Locke, 29-34). For Locke, labor’s most valuable function is that it does more than simply define a division between what is private and what is public. He believes that it is labor that creates value and turns something that was fundamentally worthless into something of worth. For example, Locke presents the opinion that land without labor put into it is “scarcely worth anything.” He also notes that, “nature and the earth furnished only the almost worthless materials as in themselves.” It is labor, and thus the laborer “that puts the difference of value on everything.” Locke answers the question of whether or not a person has a right to acquire as much as he wants. The answer is a simple “no;” “As much as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labor 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...
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