Term Paper: Marxist Critique of Property Rights

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[. . .] " Thus, in Marx's Communist view, the proletariat was the only class to remain. [10: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 19. ]

The second chapter addresses the difference between proletarians and communists, but differentiating between committed and conscious communists and the rest of the working class. The third and fourth chapters will also advocate differences though between socialism and communism, and between communists in different countries. In this second chapter, however, Marx, having expressed his view that the proletariat will form the single, surviving class in the previous chapter, now defends the view that the proletariat will then stop performing labor due to lack of competition and incentive. He states that "communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labor of others by means of such appropriation." It is in this second chapter that Marx also addressed his demands of the bourgeoisie, which include the total and complete abolition of private property. Though this chapter includes a list of other demands, property rights are regarded by Marx as a big hurdle to attaining Freedom in a liberal society, and he strongly advocates for the abolishment of private property. [11: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 25. ]

According to George G. Brenkert, who writes about "Freedom and Private Property in Marx," Marx's opposition to private property was well-known due to the theory he had on Communism which included the following quote: the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property found in the second chapter of the Manifesto. Brenkert believes that Marx held such a negative view of private property due to the fact that in those times it contributed to declining profits, changing the composition of capital and its concentration, and increasing the misery Marx saw within the proletariat. Marx did, indeed, believe that property rights were a primary barrier to freedom in liberal societies because he describes it within his Manifesto in detail. Though the list of requests, including abolition of private property, is included in Chapter Two, Marx begins analyzing private property in Chapter One. [12: George G. Brenkert, "Freedom and Private Property in Marx," Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Winter, 1979), pp. 122-147, accessed April 14, 2011, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2264931.] [13: Brenkert, "Freedom and Private Property in Marx," Philosophy & Public Affairs, 122.]

The bourgeoisie, with all its past and present evils, some of which it can transcend and some which it cannot, will not recover from its mistake of taking away property from the masses, which angers them. By his view, the bourgeoisie, does not care about the state of the population, means of production, or property, for it is living comfortably. Marx thus critiques the bourgeoisie and blames the agglomeration of the masses, the centralized means of production and the concentration of property in lands owned by only a few of this class in society. [14: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 13. ]

Marx continues by contending that private property does not allow for freedom for all, for not all can benefit from this property. He claims that the reason why the bourgeoisie is so alarmed by Communism is because these "productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property." Marx thus explains that the bourgeoisie is afraid of Communists, for their movement can take away all that it had amassed in its 100-year "reign." [15: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 14.]

However, the Marxian discussion on property is with good cause. The proletariat has no property at this time in history, and is producing only capital for the bourgeoisie. Marx therefore contends that just as feudal property was abolished in favor of bourgeois property in the French Revolution, as this did not attain its scope, now bourgeois property should be abolished in favor of proletarian property, so that men may live, work and profit from their property, for they see no profits from the capital which they produce. Again, Marx has seen the deplorable conditions in which the proletariat live throughout his life, and he is trying to attain rights for these oppressed peoples, for he sees the bourgeoisie as "the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms [and] on the exploitation of the many by the few," a reality which Marx abhors. Thus, Marx continues to make an impassionate case for the abolishment of private property throughout the chapters and ends by stating that "When, therefore, capital is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character." [16: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 23. ] [17: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 24. ]

This paper has discussed the Marxist critique of property rights as a primary barrier to freedom in liberal societies, and the Marxist case for abolishing private property by offering a complete historical and personal context for the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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