Locke Vs. Marx: Views On Property Rights

1832 words - 7 pages

John Locke and Karl Marx, two of the most renowned political philosophers, had many contrasting views when it came the field of political philosophy. Most notably, private property rights ranked high among the plethora of disparities between these two individuals. The main issue at hand was whether or not private property was a natural right. Locke firmly believed that private property was an inherent right, whereas Marx argued otherwise. This essay will examine the views of both Locke and Marx on the subject of private property and will render insight on whose principles appear more credible.
Locke is best known for his philosophical ideals regarding the rights of humankind- all individuals have the right to life, liberty, and property.
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 ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions (Locke, Ch. 2, Section 6).
The definition of natural rights, according to Locke, is that, “Everyone is born with an equality of certain rights, regardless of their nationality. Since they come from nature or from God, natural rights cannot be justly taken away without consent (Bill of Rights Institute).” Tying this into the idea on property rights, it is evident that Locke presumed God had given the earth to man to share collectively as a whole. Since God has given the world to humankind under commonality, he in turn has given them a right to utilize the world’s offerings to aid in the betterment of the peoples’ lives (Locke, Ch.5, Section 26). The following notion by Locke appears to but this idea into perspective:
Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a properly in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property (Locke, Ch. 5, Section 27).
For example, a man who cultivates new land is therefore said to be in possession of that land, as well as all the goods (i.e. vegetables, fruits, grains, etc.) that the land provides.
Knowing that Locke views property as a basic right, he attempts to set forth a limit as to the share of property an individual can consume.
As much as any one 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 (Locke, Ch. 5, Section 31).
Under this constraint, Locke states that individuals are entitled to consume within reasonable means, insomuch that as long as property and land in the world are common amongst all, there...

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