Comparison of Karl Marx ideas with other Philosophers

Karl Marx held the view that the social setting of people determined how they think and act. To him, a set of people would embrace certain ideologies or values based on prevailing economic conditions. The basis of all relationships according to Karl Marx stem from the relations of production. It is worth noting that existence cannot come before consciousness because we need to be conscious first so that we know that we are existing. This paper aims to look at the views of other philosophers regarding the idea held by Karl Marx that, “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Most of the philosophers seem to differ with Marx idea though some of them agree with him to an extent.

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The industrial and political changes happening before and during his time helped to shape the ideas of Marx. For example, there was the Polish insurrection, French revolution and industrial revolution, all happening in Europe. To some extent, it would be justified to say that Marx’s thoughts were a product of his time. On the other hand, Marx chose to study economic inequalities prevalent in the society at the expense of religious injustices met on the Jewish people. Therefore, his ideas were not entirely a product of his time but were also guided by an innate desire to conceptualize certain concepts of society.

Marx observed that the society had undergone a lot of dynamism which caused a great deal of social changes among them, social consciousness. The behavior that human beings possess is largely determined by material forces similarly to other material objects.

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Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill

Marx and John Stuart Mill believe that man has the capacity to drive progress. Both share the notion that liberty is an end by itself which all men must strive to achieve. The greatest differing concept from their ideas is the relationship between man and his society and the way they advocate for change. As Marx explains this, the industrial revolution brought changes in systems of the society causing feudalism to be replaced by capitalism. Consequently, there arose the bourgeoisies and the proletariats. Although the material condition of the society shapes people, mankind can shape the society. Through realizing the potential that they have, man has the capability to transform the economic conditions leading to his emancipation.

Instead of looking at the changes from the economic system, John Stuart Mill sees change as resulting to liberalism. Societies could be transformed through the decentralization of power. Representative democracy would lead to progress. Human beings have freely endowed rationality to live harmoniously in the society. Changes in the society is inevitable since there will always be rational individuals who will constantly push for liberalization of thoughts thereby holding mankind at the centre of societal change and progress.

From my opinion, the majority can also enhance conformity by coming up with customs leading to collective consciousness. Because all people reason differently with regards to specific issues in the society, they must agree on some issues to bring about unity.


Adam Smith and Karl Marx

Adam smiths idea of how nations acquire wealth is based on the concept of free trade or laizzez-faire. Marx sees that the people who sell their labor are exploited because they are normally paid less than the work they do. For instance, workers can work for 12 hours but they end up being paid for 8 hours. As compared to Marx, Adam Smith believed that developing self-interest in hard economic times was not a choice but a necessity. He advocates for a free trading society through the incorporation of rightful ethics. Adam Smith differs from Marx and his ideas makes one understand that consciousness of a man comes from his own intellectual and economic efforts not from his social being.

Workers usually provide labor. However, the whole produce of labor does not belong to the laborer only. The worker does not deserve to be given the whole results of his efforts in an attempt to minimize unfairness. This is because; the prices of commodities include the cost of production which must account for the profit, wages and rent. Labor does not account for the whole value of all commodities.

From my view, people should work hard to own means of production if they have to get full profits. The proletariats give the bourgeoisie consent to exploit them. What Marx does not realize is that his society might have given all people equal opportunities, only that the stronger in intellect take the opportunities on time and utilize them. History has proved that capitalism can work better than communism. This is because as people work more hard to compete, they end up producing more which improves their economy.


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Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx

Both Rousseau and Marx believe that money is the main feature of the social organization prevalent in the society. Money has facilitated the development of division of labor leading to economic interdependence. Rousseau based his argument on the economic organization of the society. According to him, if the market forces were to be left without being checked, there would be social inequality that would pose consistent threat to the unity and cohesion of the society. The market economy only works to mask rather than eliminate social confrontations.

Marx says that the invention of money market was intended to hide the economic interdependence that used to exist historically. The society is not aware of the social relationships. Besides monetary relationships brought about by capitalism, there is a historically determined social organization. Rousseau contends with the idea that social relationships are historically determined. He believed in progress of mankinds morals through the use of reason and advancements in the learning of science. In his works on the social contract, Rousseau holds the idea that for people to live together in a society, they have to give some of their freedom to the state to be ruled.

From my point of view, citizens are aware that each of them has different feelings and perceptions regarding the society and therefore require general rules for the common good. Due to the diversity of thoughts, people can only live together through initiating universal rules.


John Locke and Karl Marx

Locke downplayed the consciousness that may arise from the social human beings in his attempt to explain how he philosophically observed the society. Locke believed that consciousness is an inherent feature that every person ought to have. It is not a social characteristic. For example, he says that a male for example should have enough reason to inform him that he ought to take care of his family and act responsibly while in the marriage institution. According to him, being committed to a monogamous marriage institution rather than a polygamous one is a rational choice that males ought to make.

Locke holds the thought that people ought to be naturally conscious of their responsibilities in the society. For example, he says that men ought to be innately committed to their fatherhood roles; something that enables them to rise beyond their self-imagination. It is the individuals consciousness that makes the society to be organized.

An individual is capable of carrying out rational activities without the intervention of the society. Every rational deed that proceeds from the human beings is normally guided by their own rationality outside the intervention of the societal norms.


In my opinion, human beings have special abilities to engage in conscious activities and they do not need to be in a social setting to do that. Even in a social setting, the universal consciousness will still depend on individual consciousness. Although domination through the use of power has been a very controversial concept, and most people assume that individuals in the society are dominated through coercion or through the use of sanctions, I would argue that people normally consent to their own domination. What happens in a capitalistic society, the powerful individuals achieve their status because the less fortunate have to attain their needs or wants. The societal systems work against the interests of the less powerful, obscures the truth and make the less fortunate vulnerable to exploitation. However, most of the people are aware of the exploitative nature of the rich in the society and some of them are even able to maneuver and own means of production.