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Perspectives On Property: Karl Marx

Karl Marx was a revolutionary thinker with a revolutionary outlook on private property. However to examine Karl Marx’s ideas about property it is important to delineate his perspectives about capitalism, as much of his work served as a radical critique of this modern economic order.

In Capital, Marx provides two essential features of the capitalist system (Arnold, p. 33, 1990). In Marx’s reality of capitalism the worker’s labor power is sold as a commodity. Marx also denotes that the worker is free as (a) he is the owner of his labor power and (b) he is also free from control or ownership of the means of production. This translates into two conditions: (i) the workers do not control the means of production, and (ii) Labor power is a commodity owned by the workers.

With these two important conditions being said, it is now possible to outline Marx’s postulate on the alienation of workers in the capitalist system. Marx claims that workers are alienated from the products of labor because although a worker puts his labor into it, thus creating it, it belongs to another—the capitalist. Moreover, it passes control to others when sold in the market. Furthermore, Marx argues that workers are alienated in the capitalist system as labor has the prevailing function that is external to the true labor process: wage earning, as opposed to true human labor that is supposed to be “intrinsically good” (Arnold, 1990, pg. 43).

Basically under the capitalist regime, the exchange value between the capitalist and the worker will always be in favor of the former. Since the worker does not control the means of production he can only seize nothing more than a nominal wage from the capitalist. The average value of the worker’s wage provides for a minimum level of subsistence. Therefore, the wage labor of a worker will never produce any surplus property f

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