John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx are undoubtedly two of the greatest thinkers throughout history. They both aspired for equality; however, that is where the similarities end. Mill and Marx had two very different ideas on what equality actually was. Their ideas as outlined in Mill's On Liberty and Marx's Manifesto of the Communist Party give us insight into what the degree of the differences, and if they had known each other, how the conversation might have gone. .
For Mill, liberty is divided into three separate categories. First, there is the sphere of the conscience, and liberty of individual thought and opinion. Second, there is your own personal preferences and planning your own life. Lastly, there is the liberty to form groups with other individuals for reasons that do not harm others. Much of Mill's ideas on liberty seem to embody the capitalistic society of today, which was the very idea that Marx was against. Marx saw the capitalists that have dominated society as responsible for creating a "history of class struggles," (996). Also, Mill's ideas on liberty undercut not only the theories of communism, but also any instruments that would be necessary to implement a communistic government. His views on what exactly liberty is, directly contradict society's increasing tendency to demand conformity, by saying that:.
"there is also an increasing inclination to stretch unduly the powers of society over the individual and as the tendency of all the changes taking place in the world is to strengthen society, and diminish the power of the individual, this encroachment is not one of the evils which tend spontaneously to disappear, but to grow more and more formidable," (883). .
For Mill diversity is a social good, different people with different opinions, different skills, doing different work for their own private achievements are some of the elements that make a society great.