Marx's and John Locke's Views Towards Property

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Karl Marx and John Locke maintain very different viewpoints when it comes to this concept of property. At the same time, though, there are also a number of similarities that can be observed between these two individuals in this regard. Marx is famous for being against the concept of property in the conventional sense, believing it to lead to things like poverty and exploitation from a system that favors those in power. Furthermore, Marx believes strongly in the correlation between property and power, meaning that he believes in this sort of snowball effect that can, over time, be extremely detrimental. On the other hand, John Locke believes more in a universal concept of property, with the earth belonging to everyone, and, by extension, he believes that for personal property to exist, individuals need to be able to glean it in some way. Therefore, the key question that emerges here is simple: what is the role of the individual when it comes to both of these people's views on property? 

Presentation of Ideas: Karl Marx

Karl Marx believes that personal property, on a conceptual level, is an evil concept because it leads to capitalist methods of control. As such, Marx is a strong proponent of centralized property-ownership, meaning that property is not owned by the individual, per se, but rather the state. This would ensure a large degree of equality which Marx believes is key for the long-term survival for any civilized society. Marx also referred to private property as value-producing assets, and this meant that having means of production owned by a smaller number of people is paramount for the functioning of society. 

Presentation of Ideas: John Locke

On the other hand, John Locke was a strong proponent of the concept of practicality when it comes to the concepts of property, believing that people should only acquire things that they can use to their advantage. In this regard, Locke proposes a more equal spread of goods when it comes to property, as hoarding property and having it too centralized will lead to an imbalance of power and wealth, which is detrimental for society as a whole. Like Moll Flanders, Locke also believes strongly in the natural rights of acquisition, which involves individuals only taking what they need in a logical manner. 


Marx and Locke have vastly differing views when it comes to the role of the individual. Marx does not seem to believe that individuals are properly capable of managing their own property because they will almost certainly be appropriated, in some way, by what he believes to be a corrupt and capitalist system. On the other hand, Locke takes a somewhat more optimistic approach, believing that people have the potential to be benevolent, at least partially, with regards to ownership of property but that this must be tempered by laws and regulations to prevent disaster. Furthermore, both of these individuals both acknowledge the flaws and inherent risk in having an overarching entity governing things like property ownership but also state that it is an inevitability, of sorts, in a civilized society. Marx and Locke both differ when it comes to the property itself, with Marx believing more in the practicality of the property, as evidenced by his discourses on property as a means of production, while Locke seems to emphasize property more for its recreation and personal enjoyment, with people gleaning whatever practicality or pleasure they wish from their own personal property. 

Position Statement

Personally, I prefer the viewpoint of Locke primarily because he seems to have a more innate trust of the individual than Marx does. Marx believes more in property ownership as some sort of political concept while Locke examines it as something of a sociological one. Furthermore, Locke also believes that people can appropriate goods, in a sense, by working toward that good, which implies its own intrinsic sense of ownership. This brings up the law of subsistence, which stresses equal, practical amounts of property, and this is a viewpoint I find particularly practical and agreeable. One of the most important points that Locke makes with regards to property is that money is a concept that can only lead to corruption. This is an interesting, bold, and generally, agreeable claim, as money is the source of many, perhaps even all, of the problems inherent in society today. Of course, one can attribute this to the fallibility of man itself, too, but even so, Locke's viewpoint is one that minimizes the risk of this to the best of his ability.


 I disagree more with Marx simply because his viewpoints are not ones that are conducive to a society where people are free to do as they choose, as Locke is. Marx stresses regulation which is not necessarily a good thing, especially on the large scale that he is proposing. Therefore, Marx, although he has a number of interesting and good ideas, is simply not relevant in a society of individuals today.