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Week Three Blog Revision – Theresa

Stephen Duck: What an exhausting day at work! I felt like Odysseus today, that’s how long I was toiling in the fields. When I’m out there, “briny Streams [of] Sweat descends” and “no intermission in [my] Works [I] know.” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 45)

John Locke: Why, congratulations! All your labor was certainly for good reason, for your labor is your own, and nobody else can claim it.

Duck: That’s not a very funny joke. I toil away all day long for my terrible landlord. He is always complaining that I don’t work hard enough, and that the neighboring lord’s workers are far more hard-working than I am. He always complains that us field workers have “idled half our Time away.” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 75)

Locke: But what you do through your own effort belongs to you. After all, if you didn’t cut the wheat and stack the hay, it would lie in the fields to rot, or for wild animals to consume. It is through your labor that the wheat becomes useful. As I like to say, “the labour of [your] body, and the work of [your] hands, we may say, are properly [yours].” (Locke, Treatise of Civil Government, 2.5.27)

Duck: That all sounds very nice, but if I didn’t thresh the fields and mill wheat into flour and till the soil, I wouldn’t have a place to live. If I didn’t work for the landlord, I wouldn’t have a house to live in!

Locke: But once a person “hath mixed his labour with” something in labor by removing it from its natural state, he will have made “it his property…for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to.” (Locke, Treatise of Civil Government, 2.5.27)

Duck: That’s not even a little bit true! I don’t own what I work on. The landlord takes everything.

Locke: Labor doesn’t need to be physically difficult. I earn money by thinking. Or writing down what I think, anyways.

Duck: You sound like you have never worked a day of hard labor in your life. And you earn money for those ridiculous ideas you have?

Locke: Wait a moment there, you do earn something for your work. Doesn’t your work earn you food for your meals and a home for your family?

Duck: I suppose, at the end of the day, “from the Pot the Dumpling’s catch’d in haste,/And homely by its side the Bacon’s plac’d/Supper and Sleep by Morn new Strength supply” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 157-160).

Locke: So maybe your labor isn’t literally your property, but you are not working for nothing.

Duck: I suppose you are right, that I am not working for nothing. …but my labor is still a lot of hard work.



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