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Karl Marx And Sigmund Freud Essay

Decent Essays
Among the most controversial figures of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. The rhetoric of the first of these men, Karl Marx, both inspired revolutions in China, Russia, and Cuba, as well as led to his expulsion from Germany, France and Belgium. As for Freud, Yale history professor Peter Gay notes in his biography of the psychologist: “[He] has been called a genius, founder, master, a giant among the makers of the modern mind, and, no less emphatically, autocrat, plagiarist, fabulist, the most consummate of charlatans.” (xvi). Though Marx is perhaps best described as a political theorist and Freud a psychologist, there is a great deal of overlap in the work of the two intellectuals. Most importantly, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx shared a fervent dissatisfaction with society and its oppressive mechanisms. Yet the source of this oppression was not a point of agreement among the two thinkers. Where Marx advocated class struggle and bourgeois domination as the main obstacles to a harmonious, peaceful society, Freud contended that the fundamental barrier to such a society is human nature itself, which, in his opinion, consists of a constant struggle between a desire for pleasure and the constraints of reality; while Marx believed that Communism could bring about societal contentment, Freud held that the pleasure which man derives from aggressiveness precludes the possibility of collective peace and, concurrently, the restraint with
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