“On the Political Character of Property in Locke”

Harvey Mansfield, “On the Political Character of Property in Locke,” in Powers, Possessions and Freedom: Essays in Honour of C.B. MacPherson. Ed. A. Kontos (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979), 23-38.


It is a curious fact that Marx, who elaborated the labor theory of value, had little to say of Locke, who originated it. Only in the manuscript called Theories of Surplus Value does he comment on Locke’s theory…”Locke’s view is all the more important because it was the classical expression of bourgeois society’s ideas of right as against feudal society, and moreover his ideas served as the basis for all the ideas of the whole of subsequent English political economy.” But Marx never made the study implied by this note to himself, as it might seem. Nor did he acknowledge Locke’s theory as the origin of his own.