Exploring Property Ownership: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives with Emphasis on Karl Marx's Vision

Published: 2023-12-29
Exploring Property Ownership: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives with Emphasis on Karl Marx's Vision
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Law Philosophy Agriculture Karl Marx Civil rights
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 918 words
8 min read

Article 17 of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens of 1789 indicates that "since the property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, certified by law, obviously requires it, and on the condition of just compensation in advance" (Yale Law School, 2019). In this statement, the document's writers gave the property status of an inviolable right, which can only be taken away by the state if an indemnity were provided. On the other end, key figures and individuals have contributed significantly to understanding the concept of ownership of property by relating private property and freedom. For instance, Karl Marx developed a theory in which he argues that human societies progress through the continuous struggle between two different social classes; the proletariat or capitalists and bourgeoisie or workers. In a capitalist society, the bourgeoisie tends to limit the workers’ ability to produce and obtain what they need for survival. As a result, there is a need for the government to formulate and implement legislation to control the proletariat’s actions towards the workers and ensure freedom and equality within the economy.

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Property is an overall terminology representing the rules that govern the access to and control of material sources, including land (Waldron, 2004). However, there are several issues regarding these legislations, including their general shape and specific application. The majority of past and present philosophers focus on discussing the individual's respective rights concerning the ownership of private property. In this case, the private property covers any system that grants certain objects, such as pieces of land, to particular persons to use and control as they please (Waldron, 2004). The definition also covers that the government and society are excluded from interfering in one's usage and private property management. For instance, German philosopher Karl Marx started exploring the connection between the economy and the individual workers within the capitalist social system.

Karl Marx studied property relations in the legal field corresponding to production relations in the economy and the legal rights of property (Yifeng, 2008). According to him, capitalist society consists of two social classes: the bourgeoisie who own the social means of production and employs others as wage laborers. The other class consists of the proletariat, who are the majority compared to the bourgeoisie and work for the latter to survive (Hidalgo, 2013). The workers use their labor and efforts to transform raw materials into valuable and finished products to benefit the business owners (bourgeoisie). In that statement, the bourgeoisie obtains massive power over the production process and the proletariat. For instance, since the laborers do not own any means of the production process, they become vulnerable to replacements during periods of unemployment. On the other end, the business owners have enough power and privilege, ensuring that they earn maximum profits, especially by paying their counterparts the lowest wages possible. In general, capitalist societies are exploitative and unequal since the workers focus on basic survival, while the capitalists aim to acquire and amass more wealth. Therefore, the struggle between the two classes defines the economic relations in a capitalist economy, resulting in revolutionary communism.

According to Marx, capitalist society is unfair and creates an imbalance between laborers and capitalists who exploit the former for their gain. Therefore, for various reasons, governments in capitalist societies must prioritize the security of property rights. The first reason relates to establishing a free society free from oppression, alienation, and dominance by a particular class. The means of production under capitalism is centralized, and property ownership lies within a few specific individuals (Hidalgo, 2013). Furthermore, laborers have often been used as critical commodities to generate revenues and capital for business owners, which is similar to enslaving them. Therefore, reforms to the rights of private property are useful in ensuring and achieving freedom objectives.

Elsewhere, Marx argues that various governments and private property rights in capitalist societies are established to defend the rich and not for the sake of the common good. Therefore, the abolition of these private property relations could transform human existence towards the greater good. For instance, individuals would share the means of production and consumption of commodities if it were not for the bourgeois property laws. The system will reduce or eliminate poverty and other forms of political and social inequalities. Furthermore, there would not be any form of inherited wealth, which would prevent the dominant caste's continuation.

Marxist theory understands the development of property through society’s level of materialism. According to Marx, capitalist societies consist of two classes with the bourgeois owns and controls production means for personal gains, while the workers provide labor for basic survival. The capitalists use the property to generate profits and exert influence and control over the laborers and ensure inequalities. However, capital societies' laws focus on securing the right to property to eliminate these inequalities and oppression of workers' class. The legislation also aims to ensure the restoration of humanity and facilitate sharing culture to eliminate or reduce poverty levels in capitalist society.


Avalon Project - Declaration of the Rights of Man - 1789. (, 2019). Yale.Edu. https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rightsof.asp

Hidalgo, D. (2013). Ownership and private property from the perspectives of Hegel and Marx. The Agora: Political Science Undergraduate Journal, 3(2), 139. https://doi.org/10.29173/agora19895

Waldron, J. (2004). Property and Ownership. Stanford.Edu https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/property/

Wu, Y. (2008). Theory of property rights: comparing Marx with Coase. Social Sciences in China, 29(2), 5–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/02529200802091201‌

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Exploring Property Ownership: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives with Emphasis on Karl Marx's Vision. (2023, Dec 29). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/exploring-property-ownership-legal-economic-and-philosophical-perspectives-with-emphasis-on-karl-marxs-vision

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