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The theory of existentialism has been reproached on the basis that it invites people to live quietly in desperation. The reproach has largely been made by communists by stating that existentialism regards any action in this world as ineffective because every solution presented has some/thing blocking its effectiveness (Sartre, Para 1). Existentialism has also been blamed for dwelling on the negative side of life than focusing on what is beautiful and charming in human nature. Existentialism is blamed for considering man as an island by discounting the spirit of solidarity. Communists think that existentialists are unable to relate with anyone who exist outside oneself. On the other hand the theory of communists is that man destroys all relations in order to build new connections. In the system of bourgeois, nothing is holy or untouchable. Even family relationships are changed or destroyed to accustom to the bourgeois way of life. Contrary to the view of existentialism, the communists believe that one has no choice but to live by the choices that has been pre-meditated for him. Change is inevitable however, and in the words of existentialists, everyone must make choices which define his society. The theory of bourgeois is that every activity of man should point towards gaining money or political power. In “existentialism as humanism”, Sartre defends the doctrine of existentialism by defining anguish, abandonment and despair as used by existentialists. In “Manifesto of Communists”, Karl and Engels declare that it is not the choices that destroy the system but its core value. The value of making more money and staying in power by enacting changes as time goes by and destroying values which are formed in the past. This essay will focus on the arguments that are presented in defence of the two Marxist theories of existentialism and capitalism.
According to Jean (1946), existentialism is humanism, a connection that many people do not find logical (Sartre, Para 3). The doctrine of existentialism makes life possible by affirming that every truth and action has an effect to the environment subject of human nature (Sartre, Para 3). Existentialism is mostly accused of promoting the ugly side of side. Most people believe that existentialism is naturalism which according to Jean is not equivalent to scandalous or horrific nature that people associate it with. Jean argues that many find the doctrine sad or disappointing yet it can not be as disappointing as the doctrine of not opposing the power the powerful or fight against the superior. Jean retaliates that those who quote sayings to the effect that one should not interfere in matters above his station rebuke human nature as unrealistic and existentialism as a gloomy doctrine. Jean argues that what annoys those against existentialism “is not so much our pessimism, but, much more likely, our optimism” (Sartre, Para 4). This is because they are afraid that existentialism offers man a possibility of choice. This brings us to the question what is existentialism and what does it have to offer to the human life? In “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, Marx-Engels asserts that “modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange” (Karl Marx, Ch 1, Para 10). This is a summary of the view of communists on the evolution of classes in the society. According to them, nothing much changes in how the society groups people in their material possessions. The only thing that changes is the class of people that are turned into bourgeois members. The bourgeois continues to establish his political power on time from medieval times to the modern times to the government of the modern state. This implies that, the only change is the advancement of the class difference in the society with time. The vicious display of power in the middle ages was meant to illustrate what man activity brings about. The bourgeois system has reduced family relations into fiscal relations and converted the lawyers and scientists into salaried manual workers. This it has accomplished overtime. The choices that are the reality of existentialism are the basis of the capitalism theory. In the bourgeois system status change because of the choices that the system makes to destroy and form new status as time goes by. Just like in existentialism, the essence of man changes with an individual because of the changes they make.
In “Manifesto For Communists”, Marx and Engels insists that, “Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones” (Karl Marx, Ch 1, Para 17). The bourgeois system is founded on the need to keep things much the same while enacting changes. Sartre defends existentialism by asserting that mankind has no preconceived values to live by which leaves it with no means of justifying their actions. "We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free” (Sartre, Para 12). Jean implies that it is a condemnation to be free because man did not create himself yet is responsible for every thing he does from the moment he starts to exist. According to an existentialist, fate has nothing to do with the choices that one makes. A man is abandoned in the world because even help sent to him inform of a sign is effected only by how one chooses to interpret it. By revolutionizing production, the capitalist system is concerned with creating classes of people thus destroying the essence of relationship. The existentialist on the other hand, focuses on creating of bonds by the choices a man makes.
According to Sartre, a man cannot escape from a sense of responsibility in knowing that the choices that he makes for his being affects the whole of mankind (Sartre, Para 10). Existentialism believes that a man is what he is because he chose it. It also believes that the existence of man precedes his essence in the universe. What he chooses affects the whole human race and one must therefore ask what would happen if everyone made choices similar to his? The sense of responsibility that comes from making choices makes every man to live in anguish. Lying to oneself that everyone does not do as he is shows that one is burdened by the choices they make and how the affect human nature (Sartre, para 10). According to the doctrine of existentialism, no one can prove that a certain person should impose on others his will and conception of mankind. Unless one is able to say that what he has chosen is the right thing to do, then they will always live in anguish because of the fear of the choices they have made. Everyone must act in choosing from a lot of possibilities and gains value only because it is chosen. This shows that contrary to being accused of not minding their fellow men, existentialists mind the whole of mankind by the choices they make. They are aware that their choices do not affect them alone. The bourgeoisie use their principles to destroy relations in the society which they think are fast-frozen and the intolerances of the past are done away with. Connections are forged everyday with everyone and in every place of the world. This is because the bourgeois is product oriented and needs to expand his markets from time to time. The changes advocated for by the bourgeoisie community prepare the stage for future destruction of the system. Karl and Engels asserts that, “the weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself” (Karl Marx, Ch 1, Para 27).They pave the way for more destructive disasters by destroying the current crises in pursuit of their interests. The system continues to advance itself in production and concentrating resources in the hands of a few thereby making more waged laborers everyday. The labour force that it creates forms the base of the threat that is imminent for the system. While the man in the bourgeois system seeks to destroy in order to build a new, the man in existentialism has nothing to start with except his existence. Although he develops man as he deems by his choices, he does not have to destroy anything.
In conclusion, existentialism and communism provide two different views that explain the development of man. The communists explain how man must use his past experience to develop new strategies while the existentialism argues that man starts with existence and does not require approval or experience to make choices that define him. The man in communism is defined by the size of his wealth and influence while the one in existentialism is defined by the choices he makes.
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