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...