Marx Against State Ownership

Essays on technology, psycho­analysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek


January 31, 2011

Marx Against State Ownership

David Harvey in “The Future of the Commons,” Radical History Review

Marx does not advocate state ownership but some form of ownership vested in the collective laborer producing for the common good. How that form of ownership might come into being is established by turning Locke’s argument on the production of value against itself. Suppose, says Marx, a capitalist begins production with $1,000 in capital and in the first year manages to gain $200 surplus value from laborers mixing their labor with the land, and the capitalist then uses that surplus in personal consumption. Then, after five years, the $1,000 should belong to the collective laborers, since they are the ones who have mixed their labor with the land. The capitalist has consumed away all of his or her original capital. …the capitalists deserve to lose their rights, since they themselves have produced no value.