Marx Alienated Labor Essay Research Paper Marx

Marx Alienated Labor Essay, Research Paper

Marx on page 327 of his essay “estranged labor” is describing what to him were

the fundamental conditions of labor under capitalism and why he found them

detrimental to man. It is an essay about how people experience work. Marx

criticizes capitalism by analyzing his theory of alienation.The theme for this essay

was how workers in capitalism are alienated from their work .It covers 4 forms of

alienation in capitalist society.

Alienation is the transfer of property from one to another; foreign strange,

unknown or to separate. Marx explains how labor negatively produces itself and

the workers as a commodity. The object that labor produces confronts the laborer

as something alien and a power independent of the producer. The product of

labor is labor, which has been frozen in an object.

In capitalism the loss of the object is loss of reality for the worker.

These facts are all tied to his concept of alienation. Alienation preceded

private property. It is not the separation between those who own the

material forces of production and those who don’t that causes alienation,

but rather it is the other way around. There are four forms of alienation:

The first form of alienation is alienation of the worker from the production

process. In order for the worker to produce the worker needs nature in which to

achieve the objectification of their subjectivity (to create an object) and also to

reproduce themselves. However in the capitalist system the worker receives

work (being productive is part of the species being) and receives

sustenance for work. Therefore in order to exists as a species being, the worker

has to

obtain substance of their species being from someone else. Therefor by

selling the ability to work for a period of time (labor), the worker

is estranged from themselves and the production process. The workers are

not producing to improve themselves, but rather is producing and doing

their most basic life activity to survive. The labor process is purely a

means to satisfy an end, as opposed to being an end in itself. Which according to

Marx is what labor should be for the species being that is humanity.

Due to the fact that the production process is alien to the worker, the

product of this process is also alien to the worker. The object that they

create, that they put their labor and time into, does not belong to them, but

rather belongs to another human being.

Thirdly, humans are also estranged from themselves in this process. They are

not developing themselves and instead are using their most basic functions a

means to an end, as opposed to an end in itself. Humans are naturally

creative beings and this creative process becomes something that controls

them. People must work to eat, instead of working because producing is

what is the species being of nature. This alienation goes further because

the physical sustenance of humans becomes an end in itself, as opposed to a

means to an end. People are limited to their most base animal functions.

Also because people are in competition with each other, they see each other

solely as objects that are in the way of them earning a livelihood. The

social nature of people is then limited because interactions aren’t for the

sake of interacting, but rather are a means.

This leads to the last form of alienation. The alienation of people

from each other. If the object of production doesn’t belong to the worker,

then it can only belong to another human being. Furthermore the worker

sells their labor power to another human being. The act of production

therefore is not an act of free will, but rather a means to obtain survival

from another human being. Workers are also alienated from each other

because they compete against each other to get a job.

This is the general idea of the four types of alienation. For Marx the constant

struggle between the capitalist (bourgeoisie ) and the worker (proletariat) is the

history of alienation. Out of this alienation is the reason why laborers (proletariat )

work for a mere sub existence, for basic necessities. Wages are a consequence of

estranged labor. The low selling of labor power arises from this alienation.


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