Marx and Rousseau's Views on Human Nature and History of Society

Topics: Karl Marx, Marxism, Communism Pages: 3 (785 words) Published: December 11, 2006
Karl Marx is a German philosopher best known for his economic-based theories on how class conflict and historical materialism have shaped history. He outlines and elaborates on these theories in The Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Friedrich Engels in London in the 1800s. This guidebook to Communism suggested a course of action for a proletariat revolution to overthrow Communism and create a classless society. Marx's ideas on historical materialism are based on the idea that all of history has been about how things are produced, which is central to the idea of the oppressed and the oppressor, which explains the causes of class conflict.

In this paper I will be explaining how Karl Marx's ideas of historical materialism and class conflict differ from the earlier philosophical writings about the nature of reason, equality, and property, specifically from the 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. My thesis is that Karl Marx and Jean-Jacques Rousseau share many of the same philosophies in some areas of thought, and differ in others.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1712, and was a philosopher of the Enlightenment Age. His ideas and writings influenced the French Revolution and the Socialist theory.
Marx and Rousseau share the communistic view that private property for citizens and the division of labor has had a negative effect on society, for these traits serve to enhance capitalism and create class conflict. This conflict, Rousseau believed, is part of a social contract of sorts created by the bourgeoisie in which the rich and powerful deceived the proletariat, or working class, by making them believe that their views and priorities were the same. This is very similar to Marx's theory of false consciousness, which is the false sense that the middle and lower classes have the same goals and ideals, and is used by the bourgeoisie to subtly control the proletariat.

In a departure from the common ideas of most of his...
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