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Published by Denise Mangold
Comparison of Marx and Locke
Comparison of Marx and Locke

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Published by: Denise Mangold on Apr 13, 2013
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Why John Locke’s Philosophy lives on, and why Marxism failed.


Denise Mangold John Locke and Karl Marx both had strong influences on today’s Governments around the world. John Locke inspired Thomas Jefferson; his inspiration can be seen in the declaration of Independence of the United States of America. Karl Marx also had strong influences on communist governments most notable the former Soviet Union. It is the root of each of their philosophies is where they are worlds apart. John Locke was influential on the United States, land of the free one nation under God; Karl Marx is the father of communism the former structure of government of Romania, Soviet Union and currently China. Both Karl Marx and John Locke believe that without property, civilizations can’t form. At the root of each of their philosophy was the issue of private property. Locke believed the role of the government was to protect private property, Marx believed that private property ownership should be abolished. The state had the right to everything. In comparison if John Locke and Karl Marx were in Star Trek, John Locke would represent the federation who stress the value of liberty, equality, and justice; Karl Marx would represent the Borg where everyone is assimilated into the collective hive with the ultimate goal of achieving perfection. It is clear to me John Locke’s ideas are far more superior to Karl Marx. Locke was pro-free market, pro-private property, and pro-God. Locke argued that man by nature, is free and equal we are individuals with inalienable rights, this is not a gift from society, but given to us from God. Locke states in the Second Treatise, “if man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no

body, why will he part with his freedom? (Locke 57).” Locke argued that it is the people that have ultimate power over government, not the other way around. Freedom is established by following the laws that the people themselves established. In the United States we the people vote on issues that concern us as a society, and also as individuals. In the United States it is our elected officials that draw up bills that are voted on by the people to become laws in which we will follow. In recent times a very controversial bill that would declare fertilized eggs legal persons. The very conservative God loving people in Mississippi that this bill was proposed voted this bill down. This is a law if passed it could create a legal precedent in which the liberty and dignity of women would be violated in the guise of protecting the life of another legal person. This law would be based on the suspicion that a woman may or may not have a fertilized egg, which is now a legal person, since fertilized eggs need to implant before pregnancy can be confirmed. This law would mean every woman in her child bearing years would need to be monitored since there may or may not be a legal person within her body. Also, the behavior of women in childbearing years would need to be controlled. Once again since a fertilized egg can’t be detected till after implantation, women in childbearing years would have to refrain from any alcohol, any medications that could cause harm to the undetected legal person. The United States upholds the right to own personal property every person’s body is their personal property. I am a woman still in childbearing years. I would consider it trespassing on my personal property to be subjected to mandatory tests to see if there might be a legal person hanging out in my body. It is oppressive to any human being that the government could

dictate what happens to a person’s body. John Locke believed God created all human beings equally this gift is given to human beings because we are capable of reason. I can certainly reason that God created me and as an individual I have the freedom to make moral decisions regarding my personal property. Karl Marx philosophy is one of collective group, and in my opinion devalues the individual human being to the detriment of the whole and takes away human freedom and ultimately their dignity. The personhood law is effectively a Marxist idea. Under the law every woman in childbearing years would be considered productive property. This would make them state property that the government would have primary property rights over as a kind of Commons, which it could trespass at any time for the “common good” the childbearing aged woman would be licensing her body from the Government, on terms and conditions. A woman in childbearing age could not consume alcohol, take medications, or engage in sports that might affect a possible person living in her body. Every miscarriage would need to be investigated as a possible homicide, by forced inspection. Since a woman in childbearing years is a productive property the government would own said property with the claim that it is a Community concern, which would then override self-ownership. In a Marxist society the State owned all property as a managing body on behalf of the people. The issue of the personhood law isn’t an argument on whether a fertilized egg is a person or not morally and it isn’t about arguing for or against abortion, I’m quite capable of making that moral decision on my own. It is about legal status and legal precedent that would have serious consequences as it could extend to the entire female body and also to the male body, and anything a

person does with their body. Our bodies are our first and most sacred personal property. Locke applied his philosophy of natural state of human freedom and equality to women and family. Locke believed in equality even during his time when the family was run in a patriarchal manner. Locke believed that men and women were equal therefore the Mother and Father were equal in raising their children, surprisingly he believed in co-parenting. This doesn’t seem so shocking to us today, but it was revolutionary during the times Locke lived in. Locke believed in children’s rights, Locke argued that children were not the property of their parents they were just as free as their parents, because all human beings by nature are created equal and free this is given from God. Locke argued that the parents had authority over children as the children’s representative and to protect the child’s freedom and best interest. This philosophy is very much a part of US laws today that protect the welfare of children. In the United States we have the United States department of Health and Human Services, they respond to reports of child abuse or neglect because in our society children are not property. Not providing the basic needs for children such as education, clothes, food and shelter is considered neglect. Beating, hitting, or emotionally traumatizing children is considered child abuse. Parents or legal caretakers are to provide children in their care with basic needs, treat them with dignity and respect, and not to physically harm them, if caretakers do not represent the children in their care they are punished for neglect and abuse of children as Locke clearly states no human being can harm another.

Karl Marx also believed in the rights of children and women, however, Marx believed that children were exploited for their labor by the dominant and evil bourgeoisie. Marx also believed that women were exploited but in the family unit, Marx argued women were oppressed by capitalism because they lost out economically by staying home and raising children, so remained dependent on men, he believed communism would solve these problems. We see that communism did not solve problems for the former Romania where children lived in some of the most horrific conditions chained to their beds, in orphanages abandoned by their parents who could not care for them or just didn’t want them, never being touched or shown love and attention. It does not seem that communism solved the issue for children’s rights and their dignity in communist Romania. Also, in communist China women are denied the basic rights to their bodies. Women are denied the right to bring about new life. China has a one-child policy. If a woman finds herself pregnant and already has a child she is forced to have an abortion because the government has ultimate control of her body. It is my opinion from the conditions and laws in communist countries communism is oppressive to human beings not only to their freedom but also to their dignity. It is also apparent to me that God or religion had no place in Marx’s philosophy. Karl Marx believed religion was just another means in which the upper class exerted control and dominance over the lower class. John Locke was against authoritarianism he is famous for calling for the separation of church and state, however, Locke did believe in the cosmological argument for the proof of God. Locke believed we as human beings and as

individuals should use reason to search after the truth, rather than accept the opinion of authorities. Locke believed men should use reason to distinguish legitimate from the illegitimate functions of government and this reasoning leads to human flourishing for individuals and for society in both material and spiritual welfare. Karl Marx believed that everything was a struggle between the classes and that communism would solve the problems of society, Karl Marx was for communal ownership everyone should be assimilated into a commune for common good. Based on the countries outcomes these men had political influence it is very clear John Lock’s philosophy is far more superior.

References: 1. COMMUNIST Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich (2005-01-25). The Communist Manifesto . Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition. 2. The Second Treatise of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration Kindle Edition. 3. "Mississippi's "Personhood Amendment" Fails at Polls." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.

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