What are patents and how does this relate to the enclosure movement ?

The revolution of the ‘rich’ against the ‘poor’?

Patents are your right to receive money for something that you have created, and the way that you attain it is to get it copyrighted. At first glance this practice may seem as something belonging to the modern era, but in fact it has existed throughout civilisations in history.

But in the frame of the west’s scientific revolution John Locke states that the labourer who has made something out of the commons into an unnatural state may claim their rightful ownership of that resource. The enclosure movement aligns with this ownership or enclosing on the commons, or enclosing on the wealth of the labourers, through simply owning the commons.

The Commons: resources that are shared amongst peoples

Labourer: a worker

Enclosure movement : enclosing on the commons, to generate more production or wealth

The tragedy of the commons arising from enclosure. AKA. The resources that you have ownership of in terms of land, impedes on the commons that this gorilla may need to sustain their diet..


Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: 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, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others.

He that is nourished by the acorns he picked up under an oak, or the apples he gathered from the trees in the wood, has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. . . . Was it a robbery thus to assume to himself what belonged to all in common? If such a consent as that was necessary, man had starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had given him. We see in commons, which remain so by compact, that it is the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state nature leaves it in, which begins the property; without which the common is of no use. And the taking of this or that part, does not depend on the express consent of all the commoners. Thus the grass my horse has bit; the turfs my servant has cut; and the ore I have digged in any place, where I have a right to them in common with others, become my property, without the assignation or consent of any body. The labour that was mine, removing them out of that common state they were in, hath fixed my property in them.”

John Locke, On Property, 1689. PRIMARY SOURCE

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