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Locke’s and Marx’s Ideas on Labor and Property Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jun 1st, 2021

Both John Locke and Karl Marx expressed their ideas and beliefs regarding the concept of labor and property. Locke emphasized the importance of freedom, which might lead to inequality of outcomes. Marx noted that the notion of equality is critical for society, and he believed that the government should be the center of the economy. The given statement is correct because Locke emphasized the importance of freedom, individual property, and paid labor, whereas Marx focused on equality, labor coordination, and a centralized system.

Considering the relationship between producers of various goods, Marx introduced the concept of labor and property and believed that in any social structure, the process of creating products, which is required to meet the multiple needs of people, is made up of a specific set of labor functions. Consequently, coordination of these power functions is needed in any society. First of all, a uniform distribution of the total working time between laborers can lead to workplace equality.

For example, on a desert island in the Robinson farm, coordination would be reduced to the placement of free time, and the decision on this matter would consist solely of his own will (Marx 1844). In the case of commodity producers, the situation is different; here, the labor of each of them is a link in the social division of labor.

The concept property can only be designed to sell and exchange the goods, which will inevitably lead to profit-oriented values instead of quality. The given case illustrates that the labor market is not plausible without coordination. Therefore, it is important to note that tasks and jobs need to divide into categories, and labor should be separated from each other. This will lead to centralized market control and monitoring of productivity, which will allow creating a fair labor system without the concept of property.

Exploring the process of formation of the value of goods, Marx introduces the concept of “necessary” and “surplus” labor. He argued that working hours are always supplemented by the exploitative and unproductive time of the bourgeoise, where the working class operates on the surplus (Marx and Engels 1845). The desired result is achieved by lengthening the working day, going beyond the required working time; thus, an increase in surplus labor is needed.

In the labor market between the employer and hired workers, equivalent relations are assumed, and a reduction in the work is required. The cost of work itself leads to a reduction in the total labor costs for the production of funds that meet the needs of the hired workers (Marx and Engels 1848). In turn, such measures lead to an increase in the productive forces of labor in industries that have end products, vital items for life.

Locke fully shares the ideas of natural law, paid labor, national sovereignty, individual property, the balance of power, and the legitimacy of an uprising against a tyrant. The state is a collection of people united into one whole under the auspices of the same general law established by them and created a judicial authority competent to settle conflicts between them and punish the criminals. Locke considered the only legal source of political power – the social contract, which was an agreement between people. As a result of its conclusion, people partially renounced property and transferred it to labor (Locke 1690).

The state is obligated to protect the natural rights to property, life, and freedom. At the same time, it should not have absolute power. The social contract, according to Locke, ensures the effectiveness of the state to the citizens. If it diminishes labor and property freedoms, the people have the power for change.

Political power in a social contract was understood as a power endowed with the authority to legislate and enforce laws. Locke considers breaking the treaty between the people and the state to be the ultimate measure of control. Proceeding from this, when the legislative power is transferred to the body, the people are partially deprived of sovereignty. Therefore, the people have the supreme ability to remove or change the composition of the legislative body in the event of non-fulfillment of their powers. Therefore, he focused on liberating the concepts of labor, property, and regulation from the government’s control.

In conclusion, Locke became on the theoretical position of sensationalism, that is, on the perception of the sensual-emotional sphere through sensations, seeing in them the leading source and the main form of any objective and reliable knowledge. In addition to the external experience obtained through observation, there is also internal experience, which is an integral part of the activity of rational mechanisms and receptors.

However, Marx proceeded with emphasizing the importance of equality above everything. Moreover, he claimed that the concepts of property, power, and labor must be regulated by the central government. Thus, both political thinkers possessed revolutionary ideas for social and economic structures, but the practical implications showed that it is challenging to consider the human factor. Therefore, the statement is correct due to the fact that Marx aims to eliminate exploitation and Locke strives for freedom.

Bibliography

Locke, John. 1690. “Property.” In Second Treatise of Government, 12-20. London: Jonathan Bennett.

Marx, Karl. 1844. “Bruno Bauer, the Jewish Question, Braunschweig.” In On the Jewish Question, 1-26. Berlin: Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1845. “Two-Fold Character of Labour Embodied in Commodities.” In The German Ideology, 118-127. Berlin: Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. 1848. “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” In The Communist Manifesto, 157-176. Moscow: Progress Publishers.

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