ID: 76072 Paper Type: Pages: Term Paper

Length: 6 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Term Paper Paper: #95948611 Related Topics: Thomas Hobbes, Marxist Criticism, Karl Marx, Capitalism
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Although within capitalism Marx understands that an individual seeks a
better situation for himself, his choices and the reasons for making his
choices are based upon the capitalist system that society has instituted.
Furthermore, Marx's view of history and the motivations of history
are much different than Hobbes and Locke. To Marx, all of history is a
class struggle. In the capitalist system laborers give their labor to the
capitalists. Locke writes about the body and labor that, "nobody has any
right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we
may say, are properly his" (Chap 5). This means, to Locke, that a laborer
is working with his own property, his own body, as an individual. Marx
differs in this assumption as not only does the laborer have very little
choice in the system, but also that while laboring "a crowd of people who
are unknown to each other," and while working together "this common
interest which they have against their employer, brings them together"
(186). This means that classes are formed as a result of labor and the
individual, who is already caught in a system, loses even more of his or
her individuality because of the forming of socio-economic classes. This
class system lends itself for workers to then come together under common
interests, a theme which is very un-individualistic. The bonds are
therefore strongest and most effective when the individual gives way to the
common economic interests of the class.
This highlights the greatest difference between Marx and those who
favor individualism in which Marx believes the origin of social conflict to
be because of class struggle. Locke understands the state of nature to be,
"wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more
than another, there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the
same species," which highlights the notion of an individual who has freedom
in nature (Chap 2). Furthermore Locke adds that "it is that he who
attempts to get another man into his absolute power does thereby put
himself into a state of war with him" (Chap 2). This notion, according to
a Marxist view in which capitalists exploit the workers would mean that
society is constantly in a state of war because in the capitalist system
the capitalists are imposing their will and exploiting the workers. This,
by Locke's definition, would mean that individuals are constantly in a
state of war. Marx, on the other hand,...


This is also tied into the political sphere to
Marx. Marx writes of the ruling political entity as "the form in which the
individuals of a ruling class assert their common interests" (221). This
means the political formations are a result of the class formations which
result from the formations of society and community and not based upon the
individual or the desires of individual.
Marx's idea about what the government is and what its future will be
is thus different than Hobbes' and Locke's notions. Hobbes and Locke both
believe in a form of a contract between the individuals and a ruling class
of some sort that will help to protect the individual from intrusions. For
example, according to Hobbes the ruling class is an absolute sovereign to
reign on the individualistic anarchy present in nature. This sovereign
representative of the people "consisteth in the end for which he was
trusted with the sovereign power, namely the procuration of the safety of
the people, to which he is obliged by the law of nature," (Ch XXX). This
illustrates that to Hobbes the government is therefore created to protect
the individuals. Likewise, Locke believes in a social contract in which
people unite for protection. But to Marx, the classes formed in society
create a ruling class that either try to consolidate their power or are in
danger of losing it. There exists no social contract. The ruling class is
not for the benefit of the masses. This is largely because of the fact
that Marx does not have an individualistic view of the factors that effect
the world, but believes in the exploitation of people and creation of
classes which come to conflict.
Most of Marx writings suggest an understanding of the world that is
not in terms of individualism as Hobbes and Locke, despite their
differences, have championed. This ties into Marx's ideas that eventually
the classes that are dominated by the capitalists will come to rise and
overthrow the system and create a much more communal society- communism.
However, before this can become a reality Marx has to define the world in
different terms than Hobbes and Locke. People have common interests and
unite behind those interests to Marx; those interests are being exploited
as workers or being the capitalist doing the exploiting trying to protect
and further one's interests. Therefore people are united by a common
interest one way or the other. There is no individual freedom as the
system, whether feudal or capitalist, tells people what they should do and
how they should further themselves. The natural state of freedom is not
existence to Marx. Furthermore, Marx does not believe that people are
necessarily at a state of war, but rather are acting rationally in a system
dominated by classes and the need to accumulate resources. Ultimately,
Marx's entire way of thinking is a critique of the individualistic ideas of
Hobbes and Locke.

Works Cited
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathon. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government.…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited
Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathon. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge University Press:
Cambridge, 1988.

Marx, Karl. Selected Writings. Ed. Lawrence H. Simon. Indianapolis, IN:
Hackett Company, Inc, 1994.

Cite this Document:

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