Marx & Comte

The wikipedia page on Comte I just linked to in my last post saw similarities between Marx and Comte.

Not so as revealed in a more careful reading:

He [Comte] was convinced from an early stage that theory had to precede practice and really believed that the social scientists, the generalists trained by his Cours, would provide a blueprint for a perfect society. It is this that led Karl Marx to be so disparaging of Comte’s ideas, who denied ever trying to write “Comtist recipes for the cookshops of the future.” Marx, in contrast, extended the notion of agency to the common people – for him the proletariat – the new class that emerged from the industrial revolution and the establishment of capitalism – were the people with the history making potential for the future. Comte, as we have seen, had a deep distrust of the masses, and thus, while he started out as a proponent of freedom of speech, he ended up proposing a system in which people were told what to think by an intellectual elite. The very idea of Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat would have been truly terrifying for Comte.

Comte if he were an American today might well have said he could make America great.

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