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Karl Marx, a German author, and John Locke, a British educator, are both very well known philosophers. Both have written essays on the ideal government: Marx created Marxism and Locke defined democracy. Both forms of government have been tried throughout the course of time. Both, however, came from two different types of men, from two different time periods in history, and in reaction to two different types of government. Though Marx and Locke would have agreed that power would be given to the people in the ideal government, when put into practice, their theories fall apart.
Marxism was a classless form of government. Actually, there was no government in Marxism, the people ruled themselves. In theory, people were all at a common level; the only person that was to be higher than others was an administrator, whose only role was to make sure that the will of the people was carried out. It became the job of the people to regulate the country, to maintain equality and make sure that all of the capital that was produced was dispersed evenly among all of the people:
"The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few. In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property" ( Kuhn ).
What Marx was saying was that people should not be able to own their own land: land would be owned equally by everybody.
Democracy, Locke's theoretical government, is a system of placing power with the government, but, at the same time, making sure that power is not abused. The democratic government is split into three parts, the Legislative branch, for making laws, the Executive branch, for enforcing the laws, and the Judicial branch, for judging those who have broken the law. The government is divided in this way to ensure a system of checks and balances and also to ensure that there not be one single supreme power making all decisions. Locke also had specialized roles for both the government and the people. He thought that the government should exist only to keep the country organized, to protect the natural rights of the people, including life and liberty, and to safeguard the property of the people. The role of the people according to Locke was simply that they labor and produce capital.
When looking at some less fundamental concepts about Marxism and Democracy, it can be seen that they are very much alike. The first thing that they share is that they both arose from a common need for government. Like Marx, Locke wrote about democracy in order to eliminate oppression, which was seen everywhere. Thus, both forms of government were tailored to eliminate governmental oppression. Locke, when writing about this government, lived in an absolute monarchy, where all decisions are made by one man. In fact, Locke's first treatise on the ideal government was mainly a criticism of an essay, Patriarchia, which was in defense of divine monarchy. He no longer wanted to live with this oppression and thus wrote his theories of democracy. ( Landry )
Marx came to a conclusion based on the premise that, since the bourgeoisie had more money and thus more power, this power would only oppress the working class. "In Marx's view, one class had always exploited the other." ( McKay, p785 ) Thus, a form of government was needed to eliminate this oppression. By giving the proletariat more power, he would have created an equal, balanced and perfect government.
Both philosophies, Marxism and Democracy, have evolved through time. While it is true that Marx and Locke wanted the people to have the power in the ideal government, it is also true that, based on their theories, that this is not possible. In Marxism, because capital is dispersed evenly among everybody even if they do not contribute, there is no incentive
Terminology mentioned in this term paper
Democracy, absolute monarchy,
Names mentioned in this term paper
Locke., a simple government,
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