For Marx, as conveyed in “The Communist Manifesto” the abolishment of possession of private property is a crucial element to the theories propounded by him. Ownership of property here does not simply mean acquiring a piece of land for private use or taking possession of a home, but more significantly it pertains to the means of overall production in an economy. For Marx, this was an imbalance that prevailed in all times even back in feudal days, and this inequality or imbalance could be done away with nothing but a revolution. Marx suggested that the issue of private property was concentrated in most of the ills of the human society indicating at the inadequate wealth distribution. Marx sees humans as purely social beings, and he rejects the idea where people are subject to the power of law defined by the written Constitution which is considered superior to the will of people.
However, one cannot really draw a comparison in the views propounded by Marx and Locke by extracting the theories given by them from their time. John Locke was a philosopher in the 17th century who proposed his work before the beginning of industrial revolution. While Marx, on the other hand, started writing when there was a drastic change in the society brought about by industrial revolution. Regardless of the time though, popularity of Locke among the 19th century socialists and liberals laid the theoretical means for defining the social character of property rights as Locke considered it a significant aspect of individual freedom. Contrary to Locke, for Marx the private property abolition acts as a major obstruction in attaining freedom for individuals. Also, writings by Engels’ make a significant contribution while making a comparison between ideals of Locke and Marx, as his theory cannot be separated from that of Marx’s. According to Marx, one must possess property in order to retain its ownership right. He affirms that all other rights must be understood as submissive to the right to own property. This notion of equality is a right to legalise the practice of inequality.
Locke formulated the labour theory of value while initiating a moral ground for the state of nature and ownership of private property. The labour theory of value helped Locke to prove that each person has a right to ownership of the product and not on the means of the production. According to Locke, by cultivating a crop on a piece of land or just by picking fruit from a tree does not offer ownership of the land or the tree. It justifies the ownership of a person only on the product of his labour. This became a main component of the theory developed by Marx in demonstrating the exploitation of labour in a capitalist system.
Another idea that Marx was trying to convey was that he was not preaching lawlessness or disorder in the state itself, but he was unwilling to confide in the government and was wary of problem of class inequity that was associated with the government. He advocated that the government was not a part of ordinary people but was inspired by the upper class or ruling elite, thus hinting at the practice of inequity based on class. Locke preaches the idea that state of perfect freedom can be directly related to state of nature, wherein agents who possess property are bound by the law of nature without depending on the general will of any other entity.
The law of reason or the law of nature states that all the individuals in a society are treated equally and are not dependent on others. Locke believed that the people or citizens possessed the right to acquire and own a property if they had the means to do so. According to him, key to a good society and government is defined by the ownership of property (Marx, 1999).