Effect of Property on the Society

Posted: December 2nd, 2013





Effect of Property on the Society

Both Karl Marx and Thomas More reflected on the notion of an ideal political and communal society. Both intellectuals advocated for the absence or abolition of private ownership. In his book, Utopia, Thomas More, in the book’s fictional setting, asserted no private ownership of private property in the land of the fictional land, Utopia. He further implied that such goods should be stored in warehouses and be availed to people at their request. Karl Marx routed for the abolition of private property in the society to hinder the higher class from exploiting the low class. However, the two theorists disagreed on the creation of an ideal society and thus provided differing reasons for their belief in the advantage of a communal society in servicing people.

The goal of the society, according to Thomas More and Karl Marx were not deviated form each other. According to More, society’s goal is centered around each member of the society focusing on the public good rather than each individual’s personal interests. With respect to Marx, society is supposed to be classless: a goal that mainly comprises the provision of equal opportunities for every member. More also identified the existence of a classless society by creating the fictional communal land, Utopia which according to its communist policies, enhanced equality among people and encouraged abolition of private property in the land. Despite the goals of society, Marx noted that society was merely a combination of individual conflicts with each person striving to respond to personal needs. Struggle and social conflict were the main attributes of social growth in society. In Thomas More’s book, Utopia, the fictitious character, Hythloday asserts that the intended and original goal for society was disregarded. In fact, society was characterized by greed cemented by individuality exuded from each person striving to achieve personal goals (More, 60).

Both Marx and More have different reasons pertaining to the communal society. Both theorists identified the role and importance of property in the society. Both agree that property is responsible for the stratification of the society in classes that comprised the oppressed and the oppressors. With respect to the fictitious character Hythloday, More believed that the communal property would lead to a fair and balanced society (communal society). Through his example of Utopia, More alluded that the communal property would be beneficial to the members of the society, however in terms of a real society, abolition of private property could never work. More surmised that the perfect common wealth could not be achieved with abolition of private property. Furthermore, the communal society is a positive but unreachable goal since More takes up a more social approach, which he defines as pragmatic explaining the inconsistencies of Utopia compared to those of the real society (More, 86). Through the fictional character of Hythloday in the book, More represents similar views with Marx on the abolition of private property. In the book, More asserts that private property should be abolished and communal property established. This is because private property leads to the oppression of the many poor people in the society and satisfies only the few in the society who are rich. Additionally, More, through Hythloday, states that the rich are in unsatisfactory contentment for fear of the large masses of the poor are discontent. In contrast, More asserts that communal property reduces the prosperity achieved by the productivity of the members of the society. This is because people will have no incentive to work because their needs will be provided by other people’s labors (More, 156). The lack of private property will eliminate total respect for the authority and lead to civil strife and an increase in bloodshed and conflict.

Karl Marx has different reasons on the role of property in the community. According to Marx, the ownership of property is essential in understanding the society. This is because the class struggles between the poor and the rich of society were determined by the ability to acquire and possess property. Therefore, with relation to Marxist ideas regarding class conflict, ownership of property played a divisive role among the members of the society indicated by the warring classes. He agrees with More’s foremost views that communal property should be reinstated and private property be abolished. This is because, according to Marx (15), the Bourgeoisie class in the society, which represents the owners of factors of production in the society, is able to exploit the Proletariat who represent the working class in the society. Additionally, the bourgeoisie is able to exploit them because they are able to obtain the private property and utilize it for personal gain. Hence, in doing so, the owners will require the working class to provide labor for them at a wage that does not fit their workload. However, the proletariats have no choice but to work under oppression since they depend on the wages to cater for their basic needs and wants. Consequently, Marx’s disagreements with More are based on the inconsistency of communal property. Marx (26) asserts that abolition of private property is achievable and since it would equalize the two classes and later avert the position of power in terms of social revolution from the bourgeois to the proletariats thereby creating a classless society.

In conclusion, both More and Marx focused on a society that would provide equal opportunities for all despite their conditions of the prevailing social order. Both agreed that society was divided into classes that saw a particular group of people undergoing oppression at the hands of another group. However, to effect change in the society, each person’s wants and needs have to be addressed, which seems unrealistic since the factors of distribution can never be equal among people because of the varying degree of needs. Indeed, before social order is defined, there will always be struggle among classes in the society.




















Works Cited

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. London: Verso, 1998. Print.

More, Thomas. Utopia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.

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