How Does Cloud Atlas Offer An Interpretation Of Marxism In A Highly Technological Society?

1490 words - 6 pages

‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ is a slogan popularised by Karl Marx to illustrate a communist society which will produce an abundance of goods and services to satisfy everyone’s needs. It is important to note the significance of differing time periods – Marx wrote in the 19th century, whilst Cloud Atlas was written in 2004. Whilst Mitchell utilises aspects of Marxist theory in his novel; unlike Marx, he explores how pertinent Marxism is to a modern and technological society.

Marxism says society has to develop through several epochs: Primitive Communism, Slavery, Feudalism, Socialism and Communism, in order to fully ameliorate the living standards of the masses and to stop bourgeoisie from turning the proletariat into their subordinates, by creating a classless society. Cloud Atlas, spanning diverse narratives from 1850 to post apocalyptic society, illustrates the progressions of these epochs. Every preceding stage, despite improving the way of life, possesses internal contradictions which ultimately lead to cataclysm, which is not necessarily negative as it allows humanity to evolve. Therefore, even the substantial failure gives a gift to the future – destruction can be positive. Taking an objective view, in order to pick out flaws, is impossible as personal bias and circumstances will always hinder the attainment of truth. Mitchell views Marxism from a modern perspective, taking into account how much technology has developed since the 19th century. Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After embodies the aspects of two different epochs. The Valleymen belong to a classless, stateless and propertyless society, only caring about basic necessities which fulfil them. According to Marx’s German Ideology, Zachary embodies his ideal worker who would ‘hunt in the morning and fish in the afternoon’ through his proficiency at goat herding. However, the Kona practise slavery, ‘[carting people] back to Kona jus’ like [Zachary’s] lost bro Adam’. Mitchell, who ‘[dislikes] the current trend in British culture to trash religion’ could have been referring to the bible, which goes against Marx who views religion as unnecessary in a classless society as it gives the proletariat something to aspire to. Even though their societies are usually kept separate, the Kona could be considered the bourgeoisie because of their subjugation of the Valleymen. Despite evidence of primitive communism, this narrative shows that slavery is also prevalent. Communism is inherently doomed before it ever begins, due to a classless society being rendered unattainable by humans. The film adaptation of the novel contains the paraphrasing of a Japanese proverb , ‘the weak are meat and the strong do eat’ which exemplifies how life is about the survival of the fittest. This is how each oppressive class starts out being physically strong allows them to overpower the weak. ‘The only law [is] whatever is willed by the most powerful’ explains how every...

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