Marx and Rousseau on Bourgeois Society Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1042 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy

Rousseau and Marx

French educator and philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), one of the Enlightenment theorists, wrote on the fundamental concept of natural law, political freedom, free enterprise and the social contract between ruler and ruled, creating his critique on the origin of man and in the process creating a theory that civilization had been the great unequalizer of the noble savage. His ideas were the foundation for a convincing argument for political equality. Unfortunately for his fellow men and women, Rousseau's ideas did not immediately affect those who so desperately needed them, but his writings became well read and were influential later on, and have affected people throughout the world as they have struggled for equality (Fiero, 1998, 95). Karl Marx's theories, which he expounded in his Communist Manifesto in 1848, on the unjust differences between the proletariats and working people were written at a time when many countries were experiencing vast economic changes due to industrialization. In contrast to Rousseau's ideas, his were timely and were used immediately as a rallying cry to the working man, fomenting revolution throughout the industrial world, including the United States.

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In Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Among Men, written in 1755, he expressed his belief that progress in the form of advanced society, laws, institutions and property ownership, corrupted the true nature of man and forced men to become competitive, which was "unnatural." He told of the noble savage who was free, innocent and uncorrupted and how reason had turned men's hearts away from instinct and nature. This was similar to Marx's ideal man who had become corrupted by the economic inequality of capitalism, where the bourgeoisie took advantage of the masses that made up the working class (proletarians).

Term Paper on Marx and Rousseau on Bourgeois Society Assignment

In his writings, Rousseau bemoaned the fact that "man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." He did not like authority and believed that the citizenry ruled the nation and the state was nothing more than "the general will" of its citizens. Marx, too, abhorred authority, but found, like Rousseau, that "Bourgeois Capitalism" corrupted the citizen and "established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones" (Marx 15) and all of them are based on money.

Karl Marx's economical theories of the freedom of the individual echoed Hegel in that Hegel is associated with "communitarian" politics. Hegel wrote that humans possess free will, which is limited by duty to the universal will in order to reach the harmonious stage of universal will and duty working together for the good of all (Fiero, 2002, 26). Though Hegel criticized Rousseau for regarding the universal will only as a "general will," it was this basic idea of the universal will that fueled both Rousseau and Marx in their writings, with ideas that overturned nations. Marx applied these ideals to economic theories, calling for action in the form of violent proletarian revolution that would end private ownership of the means of economic production. Rousseau simply bemoaned the fact that mankind no longer ruled his own fate, and that the "noble savage" had been turned into a productive… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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