John Locke And Karl Marx Essays

It could easily be argued that without some of the theories proposed by John Locke, the later ideas of Marx might not have existed, especially in terms of the function and rights and government. One of John Locke’s primary assertions was that a government was only functional if it had the will of the people behind it and a social contract between people and state was formed. In addition, this government was obliged to offer its citizens a number of natural rights including those of life, liberty, and the right to own property.

In other words, Locke was asserting that government had to be fair and equitable in order to be sustainable. In addition to this is the crucial fact that Locke believed citizens had the right to revolt if government was not meeting their needs. Marx and Locke were aligned along these terms although the ideas of Karl Marxdid not have the same implicit trust in the inherent “good" of government, especially if a ruling class were supporting a government. According to Marx, government was not an entity through which change could be brought about. Rather, for change to happen and for the class struggles to be resolved it was necessary for the people to rise up and bring about the necessary adjustments to society.

In the words of John Locke, Karl Marx is also suggesting and affirming the idea that, “As usurpation is the exercise of power which another has a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to" (Locke 95). While Marx was not advocating anarchy or calling for an abolition of government itself, he was wary of the problems associated with government, particularly when it was based on uneven notions of class. He saw that there were inherent problems in a government where there was an upper class or ruling elite and advocated a government that was part of the people—a government that was not based on the principles and revolution-inspiring problems class inequity.

Despite the problems Marx had with government he was willing to look toward it as a chance for hope if his party could be in power. At one point he states, in one of the important quotes from “The Communist Manifesto”, “The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeoisie society, conquest of political power" (Marx 288). Locke and Marx are similar in that they wish for fairness to be at the heart of government but differ on how they believe in their government—Locke is far more optimistic about the powers of government. Still, without Locke Marx might not have had groundwork for his ideas on government, especially in terms of natural rights and the right to revolt.

Where Locke and Marx seem at first to differ most significantly is on the issue of private property. Locke saw ownership of property as fundamental to a good government and society and believed that all citizens had a right, if they had the means, to acquire and own property. For Marx on the other hand, the abolition of ownership of private property is one of the central aspects to the theories of Marx as expressed in “The Communist Manifesto”.This is not simply meant in terms of owning a home or a piece of land, but more importantly it refers to the means of production. This is true in the case of a factory owner just as it is true for a large landholder who owns several acres that need worked. To Marx, this was a timeless imbalance that harkens back to the feudal days and doing away with the whole notion could happen through revolution. Without an uprising the issue of private property and the associated inequities would only continue unchecked. In many ways it can be suggested that to Marx, private property was at the center of almost all problems he saw in human society since it contributed to and signaled unequal distribution of wealth. Interestingly though, Marx and Locke had more in common in terms of property than it may seem. Since Marx believed that everyone had natural rights, he felt that there should be property owned, but only in common rather than in the more capitalist sense.

Related to the issue of property is that of labor. Locke felt that ownership of property was the fruit of labor and wished to see more equity in terms of the amount of labor expended and how it was rewarded. While he was before the Industrial Revolution

John Locke Versus Karl Marx Essay

Two of the most influential and celebrated modern political thinkers, Karl Marx and John Locke, have made countless insightful and compelling arguments, expressing their ideas on various conditions of the individual, state, and the interactions between the two. Marx was a German political thinker who was best known for his works with idea of communism and social class divisions. Locke was an English philosopher famous for his social contract and is known as the Father of Liberalism (CITE). Despite the paramount success these men achieved, they had radically different views on the idea of property and the description of freedom, finding only minimal similarity on their views on the right to revolt.
The concept of property has developed many different perspectives over the years as political philosophers continually searched to find its rightful role in society. Of these perspectives, John Locke and Karl Marx had perhaps developed the most combative and different views. In Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, he discusses how it is a natural right for all men to have private property, and the protection of this right should be a top priority of the government. In fact, one of Locke’s most influential quotes states that all men have the right to “life, liberty, and property.” (CITE) This later became the groundwork for some concepts used by the Founding Fathers of the United States. In the eyes of Locke, “labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to,” (Locke in Cahn 457). This means that when a man plows a garden, the garden is annexed into his possession based off of his labor, and any and all fruits or flowers that come from this garden belong to him.
In Locke’s Second Treatise of Government he discusses the state of nature, or “… a state of perfect freedom to order their [mens’] actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature” (Locke in Cahn 451). In this state, it impossible for a man to be promised his private property is safe from others. Therefore, Locke believes the protection of private property is one of the most vital responsibilities of the government.
Karl Marx on the other hand, has a wildly different opinion on property. In his most famous piece, The Communist Manisfesto, Marx’s opinion is set up in one line; "… the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” (Marx in Cahn 885). Marx firmly believed that ownership of private property was a way in which the social classes became more divided, and in turn, a way to oppress the poor. His opinion largely stems from the time period in which he lived (1818-1883), where factory owners infamously underpaid employees for dangerous work in treacherous conditions. However, Marx idea of private property was a bit different from Locke and did not mean things like land ownership or personal items, but...

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