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Explain Marx’s conception of communist society and assess critically in comparison and contrast with the social ideals of Rousseau

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Marx's vision of a communist society.
    1. The necessity of a revolution.
    2. The internationalism of communism.
    3. The abolition of private property.
    4. The abolition of division of labour.
  3. The diverging opinions of Marx and Rousseau.
    1. The formation of society.
    2. Marx: The General is an illusion.
    3. Marx: State is an illusion.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

"A spectre is haunting Europe ? the spectre of Communism." This is the prophetic opening line of The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, one of the major and most well-known work of Marx and Engels, dealing with their ideal of a communist society. However, The Communist Manifesto is not a manual for communism, and the account of communist society can be found, scattered throughout several works by Marx. His description of communism is defined according to what is set to be its opposite ? capitalist society. He imagines a future society that is modelled on his conceptual analysis of capitalism, in a dialectical manner. Thus, his description contains repeated references to the capitalist society he lived in. Marx used an original approach in defining his ideal society that differs from the other works of political philosophy. The dialectic approach allowed him to be more descriptive and fewer idealists, by taking constant roots in the observation of the society he lived in. His economic and historical approach is also new in the field of political philosophy.

[...] In certain places and certain times, those societies could have been very complex, but when Marx writes about the society of his time, he acknowledges a simplified organisation, with two classes: the Bourgeois and the Proletarians, great classes facing each other?[1] The Bourgeoisie can be defined as the dominant class, those who own the means of production (the factories, the companies and the land), and who use the workforce in order to accumulate capital. The Proletarians are the workforce, those who possess nothing but their own ability to work, that they sell to the Bourgeois in order to get subsistence. [...]


[...] Rousseau would totally oppose this point of view, and would argue that the ideal society has to be set up by a Social Contract, that supposes an agreement of all the individuals that form the society in the same terms. Where Marx sees a continuous struggle for domination, Rousseau advocates total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community?[10] For him, there would be no reason to make the rules burdensome, since they apply to all, and nobody has reasons to seek domination upon the others. [...]


[...] Conclusion Marx's account of communist society can be classified and compared with he works of other philosophers who tried to imagine the ideal form of government and social organisation. Like Plato in The republic, Hobbes in the Leviathan, Rousseau and the Social Contract, his attempt is both valuable and suffers criticism. But Marx's ideas are new and unprecedented because of the historical and economic approach, but also because these ideas have actually been tested in real life, with governments overthrowing former orders with the will to set up the Marxist ideal, even if the accuracy of these attempts with what Marx did advocate is very disputable. [...]

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