I am trying to research connections between Locke, Smith, and Marx regarding labor. If I recall, Rothbard and others have written about Smith’s views on labor influencing Marx. I’d appreciate any suggestions or discussion as to good references on this issue.
In addition to the Smith-Marx connection, It is also my view that Locke’s idea that homesteading rests on “ownership” of labor is mistaken–it’s an unnecessary step; you can show Lockean homesteading is justified without making the crankish assumption that you own your labor. But the assumption that you can own your labor, I believe, has led to (or supports) modern mistakes like reputation rights, intellectual property, and the like–it’s led to an overemphasis on the right to “own” whatever you “create” by your labor, without first asking whether the thing created/labored upon is ownable in the first place (see, e.g,. my posts Objectivists: “All Property is Intellectual Property”, Rand on IP, Owning “Values”, and “Rearrangement Rights”, and Thoughts on Intellectual Property, Scarcity, Labor-ownership, Metaphors, and Lockean Homesteading).
I’d like to investigate the extent to which Locke’s (and related) views about labor (and its role in homesteading) influenced Smith and the labor theory of value. Tim Virkkala tells me
I think it’s widely believed that the Lockean Theory of Land Acquisition gave weight to the Labor Theory of Value, though the two have almost nothing in common. … One is a theory of the justice of taking land out of “the commons” and respecting property rights; the other is a theory of how labor somehow effects prices and exchange ratios. Weird that it ever bled from one domain to the other. Rothbard charged that Adam Smith was unduly influenced by (to Rothbard) unspeakably vile Protestant views in Scotland. This seemed a tad strained to me. After all, I’ve read THE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS, and it’s not very Presbyterian.
Basically, I wonder if it can be shown that Locke’s misplaced and overly metaphorical emphasis on owning labor led not only to IP and related bizarre notions but also to communism. If anyone has any suggested references discussing this connection, please note or discuss in the comments.
Note: On an email list, David Gordon did mention this: “On the relation between Locke’s theory of property and the labor theory of value, R.L. Meek, Studies in the Labour Theory of Value, argues against a connection. G.A. Cohen, “Marx and Locke on Land and Labour” is a very good paper.” I’ve just ordered the former book as well as Cohen’s book in which his paper appears, but have not yet read them.
Update: See The Superiority of the Roman Law: Scarcity, Property, Locke and Libertarianism (Mises, Aug. 17, 2010) (archived version with comments)