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Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill - Book Report/Review Example

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In Part II of The Communist Manifesto (II - Proletarians and Communists), Marx gets down to the brass tacks, as it were, of Communism's intentions and, in doing so, blows the lid off of much that societies and individuals have traditionally admired, even revered. If the liberation of the individual is a part of Marx's world view, one is hard pressed to locate it.
In demonizing capitalists - the bourgeois - Marx is clearly willing to deny an individual their rights or at least their preferences by giving those entitlements to a group, i.e. robbing Peter to pay the Proletariat. His concept of liberation is critically narrow to avoid philosophical messiness, for the only freedoms he stresses are those antithetical to Communism's a priori assumption that Property is the root of societal evil. On page [pt II, paragraph 27] he specifies that the freedom he refers to is "free trade, free selling and buying," as if those evils of capitalism constitute the extent that freedom needs to be discussed or valued.
1) Abolition of property; 2) Progressive or graduated income tax; 3) Abolition of inheritance rights; 4) Confiscation of emigrant and rebel property [which would certainly leave German-born Karl with even less than he had!]; 5) State monopoly of banking; 6) State monopoly of communication and transportat...
ransportation; 7) State monopoly of factories and agriculture; 8) Obligation of all to work; 9) Abolition of the distinction between town and country by redistributing population [no doubt the Cambodian Khmer Rouge loved that one]; 10) Combining education with industrial production.
One does not have to have the politics of a George Orwell to perceive in Marx's list a profound mistrust of individual initiative and responsibility. And, though it is not in this paper's scope, to ask why a respect for individuality is absent is not invalid.
Finally (a point I will return to in a later section), Marx's question asked on page [PT II, paragraph 59] gives us some understanding, though vague, of his mistrust. "Does it require deep intuition," he writes, "that man's ideas, views, and conception, in one word, man's consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life"
The question reveals a sad misunderstanding of what we often refer to as the Human
Condition. It suggests - indeed, asserts - that the sole basis of human thought, of poetry
and music, of science or of religion, is merely material, and that, for example, Beethoven's deafness or Galileo's persecution diminished their accomplishments, though we have evidence that the opposite, in fact, was true.
Mill and Society
Mill's forthright Introductory makes his subject clear: "The nature and limits of power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. [Ch. I Paragraph 1] However, in Chapter V, Mill makes a startling assertion: ". . . the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself." [Ch. V Para. 2] Though he ...Show more


In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx seeks to liberate the proletariat from economic and cultural constraints placed upon it by bourgeoisie capitalism while John Stuart Mill in On Liberty seeks to define a justification for individual liberties which is distinct from government and societal constraints…
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Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill essay example
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