Sguardi francesi sulla dialettica marxista: Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Raymond Aron

This entry is part 14 of 38 in the series Vol 4-2019

Abstract: This paper analyses the interpretation of the Marxist dialectic proposed by three important French philosophers of the twentieth century: Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Raymond Aron (1905-1983). Starting from different theoretical and political points of view, they criticize the historical determinism of the Marxist dialectic and propose three different “philosophies of freedom.” In the Adventures of the Dialectic (1955), Merleau-Ponty criticizes a theory of human history based only on economic structure, and denounces the violence of the Soviet communism. He also accuses his friend Sartre – who had a more favourable attitude towards Soviet communism – of “ultrabolshevism.” Merleau-Ponty was subsequently active in the French non-communist Left. The existentialist philosopher Sartre always sympathized with the Left, and supported the French Communist Party (PCF) until the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary. In his Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960), Sartre also underlined the failure of the Soviet revolution, and criticized the violence of Marxist revolutionary thought. The last part of this paper deals with the philosopher and political sociologist Raymond Aron, who had a lifelong, sometimes fractious, friendship with Sartre. He always defended a “skeptical and anti-ideological” liberal position. In his best known book The Opium of the Intellectuals (1955), Aron argues that in post-war France, Marxism was the opium of the intellectuals. In this book, Aron chastised French intellectuals for what he described as their harsh criticism of capitalism and democracy and their simultaneous defense of Marxist oppression, atrocities, and intolerance. In opposition to the dialectical ideology of Marxism, Aron proposes an antitotalitarian philosophical and political theory based on the development of individual liberties.

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