Hey! I got an A- on this paper, so I guess it’s pretty good! I put my ownpersonal spin to it in that not only did I compare Freud and Marx’s viewpoints,I stated that perhaps what they saw in society was just a reflection of theirown biases and personal inner feelings.
Freud and Marx it can be argued were both, as individuals, dissatisfiedwith their societies. Marx more plainly than Freud, but Freud can also be seenas discontent in certain aspects such as his cynical view of human nature. Eachwere great thinkers and philosophers, but both seemed unhappy. Perhaps thesocial ills and trouble each perceived in the world about them were only thereflections of what each of the thinkers held within themselves. Each personobserves the same world, but each of us interprets that information in adifferent way. They both saw the world as being injust or base. Each understoodthe disfunctions in society as being caused by some aspect of human greed orother similar instinct. They did however, disagree on what the vehicle for theseinstincts’ corrupting influences are. Freud claimed that tension caused by thestuggle to repress anti-social instincts eventually was released and caused thesocial evils he observed. Marx also saw instincts at work but not the tensionsand Id that Freud saw, Marx simply credited man’s greed and the subsequentoppression of other men as the root to all that was wrong with civilization. Itis interesting to note that both Freud and Marx saw conflict but each traced itback to sources each was respectively educated in.Freud was a Psychoanalyst and his understanding of the mind was veryconflict oriented. He saw man as a kind of glorified animal who had the samedesires and needs as any other animal. The only true difference between thehuman-animal and other animals was that the human-animal possessed an intellect.
Freud divided man’s psyche into three parts, the Id, Ego, and SuperEgo. Whatdiffered the human-animal from any other animal was the SuperEgo, which arosefrom man’s intellect. The Super-Ego as Freud theorised it is the values of one’sparents internalised. He went further to then explain that unhappiness in lifeis caused by the conflict between the Id and the SuperEgo. As stated, all ofFrued’s philosophy was very conflict oriented so it is not difficult tounderstand then how Freud applied this view macrocosmically to society as awhole.
Freud addressed this in his essay, “Civilization and It’s Discontents”.
In it, Freud claimed that civilizations are developed through the channeling ofanti-social erotic and aggressive urges into constructive outlets. He wentfurther and explained that social ills are caused by those members of societywho are not satisfied with the substitutes supplied by the channelling of anti-social instincts into social creative energies. Such repression causes a certaintension which after awhile cannot be repressed and is released in sociallyunacceptable behaviour. As Freud explained it, “Civilized society is perpetuallymenaced with disintegration through this primary hostility of men towards oneanother”. Freud saw humanity as being destined to stuggle as long as humanityexists. In his own words, “This struggle is what all life essentially consistsof and the evolution of civilizations may therefore be simply describes as thestruggle for the life of the human species”.
Although like Freud, he saw conflict within society, Karl Marx hadradically different ideas and perceptions about humanity and civilization. Marxsaw the same things as Freud, but chalked it up to inter-economic class conflictinstead of conflict within one’s psyche. This class conflict was caused by oneclass, the Bourgeois, which he characterized as having the great majority ofwealth and power and having rule over the lower class, or Proletariots, whichworked for the Bourgeois. This view of economic class strife was just one stageof Marx’s idea that all of history was leading up to some finality and that atsuch a time all of man would be able to live in a Utopia. Marx also applied thisidea in reverse and attempted to explain that the Proletariot class andBourgeois class have existed in varying forms for all of mankind’s history. Hetried to illustrate using the example of slavery and feudalism that each time aform of oppression by a class of another class was destroyed a new form tookit’s place. Marx felt that it was a Communist’s responsibility to awaken themostly ignorant Proletariot to this and help to abolish the concept of privateproperty, which he also believed was the primary means of the Bourgeois tooppress the Proletariot workers. Marx predicted that Capitalism and it’sBourgeois patrons would eventually become thin out due to competition andtherefore the wealth would become increasingly more centralised in fewerpeople’s pockets. The spread of wealth would eventually become so uneven andlop-sided that a revolution would occur and the Bourgeois would be overthrown.
Marx believed that Capitalism was probably the last form of oppression and onceoverthrown, everyone would live as a single society where all men could live inpeace without rule over one another, Utopia.
Freud and Marx although similar in some ways, held very different viewsabout the world around them. Aside from the obvious difference that Freudbelieved the cause of social evils was within man himself and Marx saw theproblem as being an economic one as long as history itself, there are other morespecific differences. Freud saw the conflict as being internal and thereforeexpressed within the society in which a man is part of, but Marx saw theconflict in a more black-and-white sense. To Marx, it was between two groups ofpeople, the oppressed and the oppressors. Marx however was also generally moreoptimistic, especially when it came to predictions of the future. He saw theunderdogs, the Proletariots eventually overcoming adversity and establishingUtopia. Freud is much less exciting for all he could divine was that humanitywould continue to struggle. Freud seemed perhaps to believe that the meaning oflife was struggling. Freud saw nothing of the occasional revolutions Marx did,it was all one long struggle to him.
Freud and Marx theorised about and observed the world around them andinterpreted it in the terms and ways they were most accomplished at and familiarwith. The question remains unanswered though, did Freud and Marx simply observethe true reality of the world and state what they saw, or was the world aboutthem in actually reflecting themselves.