Locke & ROKC

John Locke
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One of the ROKC Method’s strengths is identifying the asset/property that underpins the business. Often, we find that business leaders have forgotten all about this oh so very important asset in favor of more the technical aspects of business. We don’t want to make the same mistake. On the contrary, we want to set the example by clearly identifying the philosophical underpinnings of the ROKC Method.

Whenever we look at a business, read the newspaper, watch a news program, or even analyze domestic and international policies, we see a very clear set of mechanisms at work around property. The only thing that changes is the degree to which property can be factored into the analysis, which varies from market to market and country to country. Nevertheless, it always reveals fascinating stories.

By why is this?

Property and the rights of ownership go back hundred, if not thousands, of years to antiquity. We can even trace property issues through Europe’s Dark Ages to the Renaissance. But our focus is on the period of Enlightenment with the influential writing of John Locke.

As a Wikipedia post on states, “John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704), was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and known as the “Father of Classical Liberalism”. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.”

With regard to the ‘Theory of value and property’, the Wikipedia entry goes on to state:

“Locke uses the word property in both broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it covers a wide range of human interests and aspirations; more narrowly, it refers to material goods. He argues that property is a natural right and it is derived from labour.

In Chapter V of his Second Treatise, Locke argues that the individual ownership of goods and property is justified by the labour exerted to produce those goods or utilise property to produce goods beneficial to human society.

Locke stated his belief, in his Second Treatise, that nature on its own provides little of value to society; he provides the implication that the labour expended in the creation of goods gives them their value. This is used as supporting evidence for the interpretation of Locke’s labour theory of property as a labour theory of value, in his implication that goods produced by nature are of little value, unless combined with labour in their production and that labour is what gives goods their value.

Locke believed that ownership of property is created by the application of labour. In addition, he believed property precedes government and government cannot “dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily.” Karl Marx later critiqued Locke’s theory of property in his own social theory.”

Undoubtedly, Wikipedia is not the most authoritative source on Locke but we don’t pretend to be academics. All we want to point out is the influence John Locke’s thoughts about property had on the “Founding Fathers” and the U.S. Constitution which is the basis for all the laws that govern the country today. In fact, right from the beginning, only white men of property could vote in the United States. It would take around 100 years before women acquired the right to vote. Consequently, it was these land owners who shaped the laws of the land and exercised their influence to shape the way business is conducted.

According to a number of studies, the level of concentration of wealth and power in the hands of so few resulted in the Great Depression of 1929. A concentration not seen again until more recently because of the counter-weight of Communism during a the greater part of the 20th Century. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, property and property rights have been integrated into the laws of most countries. At the start of the 21st Century by all former Communist countries: China and Cuba, in 2009.

Without expressing a judgement for or against property it is fundamental to our understanding of how business, economics, law, politics and international relations work in today’s world. To ignore this reality is to play the ostrich and bury your head in the sand.

The ROKC Method explicitly recognizes that businesses exist to generate a return on a property. This can only be achieved if that property is of value to the customer.

 


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