Revealing Marx Essay

1719 words - 7 pages

Revealing MarxIn Karl Marx's early writing on 'estranged labour' there is a clear and prevailing focus on the plight of thelabourer. Marx's writing on estranged labour is and attempt to draw a stark distinction between propertyowners and workers. In the writing Marx argues that the worker becomes estranged from his labourbecause he is not the recipient of the product he creates. As a result labour is objectified, that is labourbecomes the object of mans existence. As labour is objectified man becomes disillusioned and enslaved.Marx argues that man becomes to be viewed as a commodity worth only the labour he creates and man isfurther reduced to a subsisting animal void of any capacity of freedom except the will to labour. For Marxthis all leads to the emergence of private property, the enemy of the proletariat. In fact Marx's writing onestranged labour is a repudiation of private property- a warning of how private property enslaves theworker. This writing on estranged labour is an obvious point of basis for Marx's Communist Manifesto.The purpose of this paper is to view Marx's concept of alienation (estranged labour) and how it limitsfreedom. For Marx man's freedom is relinquished or in fact wrested from his true nature once hebecomes a labourer. This process is thoroughly explained throughout Estranged Labour. This study willreveal this process and argue it's validity. Appendant to this study on alienation there will be a micro-studywhich will attempt to ascertain Marx's view of freedom (i.e. positive or negative). The study on alienationin conjunction with the micro-study on Marx's view of freedom will help not only reveal why Marx feelslabour limits mans freedom, but it will also identify exactly what kind of freedom is being limited.Estranged LabourKarl Marx identifies estranged labour as labour alien to man. Marx explains the condition of estrangedlabour as the result of man participating in an institution alien to his nature. It is my interpretation that manis alienated from his labour because he is not the reaper of what he sows. Because he is never therecipient of his efforts the labourer lacks identity with what he creates. For Marx then labour is 'alien tothe worker...[and]...does not belong to his essential being.' Marx identifies two explanations of why manslack of identity with labour leads him to be estranged from labour. (1) '[The labourer] does not developfreely his physical and mental energy, but instead mortifies his mind.' In other words labour fails tonurture mans physical and mental capacities and instead drains them. Because the worker is denied anynurturing in his work no intimacy between the worker and his work develops. Lacking an intimate relationwith what he creates man is summarily estranged from his labour. (2) Labour estranges man fromhimself. Marx argues that the labour the worker produces does not belong to him, but to someone else.Given this condition the labourer belongs to someone else and is therefore enslaved....

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