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When an Individual Is Alienated, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 997

Essay

In the development of human civilization, one of the most characteristic features of societal evolution was a desire to eradicate inequality and division between various layers of society. In this regard, it can be argued that existence of inequality and structuring of the society according to a certain criterion is a classic feature of human society. Although the contemporary age has brought us human rights and supremacy of equality over segregation and intolerance, we still see economically structured globalised world, which corresponds to our structure of society. In this regard, some layers of society become alienated while other more prosperous. One of the ways to explain the situation might be the theory of alienation by Marx, which was developed in “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844”.

According to Marx, the capitalist society is characterized by a constant alienation of the labor class from the wealthy class and subsequently society in general. In this regard, by alienation is not meant the ignorance of one class by another, but rather the inner self-perception as alienated individual or class due to the existing relations between laborer, his labor and money value. In this context, due to the invention of money which turn to be appreciated for the own sake rather than as means of efficient barter, laborer begins to realize that he is not valued for himself but for the object of labor. Thus, the process of objectification takes place. In this context, Marx argues:

Under these economic conditions this realization of labor appears as loss of realization for workers; objectification as loss of the object and bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation” (Marx, 29).

In this regard, by alienation is meant existence of a worker in an artificially-created environment, where he is not valued for himself and his abilities by for the object of work he performs. In this regard, it can be argued that he loses his human features in the society driven by money and profits. Through objectification of labor and alienation of the worker, the process of his dehumanization takes place. Thus, from the social perspective, the working class becomes as means to an end rather than a functional part of the society. In this regard, Marx argues that for the society to function harmoniously and being inclusive, human relations should be based on common social interactions. In this regard, he argues that, under the conditions of alienation, it becomes impossible, because human relations are substituted for relations between goods and property owners (Marx 31).

According to Marx, the alienation is an inborn feature of capitalism; although inequality existed through ages of human development, it reached its peak in a capitalist society. The main connection between alienation and capitalist is private ownership over means of production. In this context, Marx returned to his favorite sources of all evils – private property and money. In other words, the wealthy class of the capitalist society gains all the benefits of the private ownership and money values of goods and services, because they impose the most suitable and beneficial money value for goods and services circulated in the capitalist society. According to Marx, the existence of the whole capitalist social structure and private property are possible only if alienated labor exists:

Through estranged, alienated labor, then, the worker produces the relationship to this labor of a man alien to labor and standing outside it. The relationship of the worker to labor creates the relationship to it of the capitalist. Private property is thus the product, the result, the necessary consequence, of alienated labor, of the external relation of the worker to nature and to himself” (Marx, 33).

Thus, Marx argued that alienation is the foundation of the capitalist and profits making and that one could not exist without another. Thus, it is quite unlikely to expect a capitalist society wanting to eliminate alienation. Wealthy classes become richer, due to the difference between real value of labor and the imposed by money system of exchange (Marx 43).

Overall, alienation can exist in four forms. The first one is alienation of a worker from the produced product, which was discussed above. The second is when the labor becomes impersonal, which was also mentioned above. On the other hand, the third form is the exclusion of worker from the human race. This is achieved by substitution of worker’s position as a seller of his surplus by the actual position of slave, whose dignity is of no value for society or surrounding community (Marx 54). Thus, the worker becomes a dehumanized machine of producing certain goods and services. The final form of alienation is exclusion of a worker from other human beings. In this regard, is meant that the natural environment of human existence is substituted by an artificial one. And, while in the natural environment, human interactions are based on mutual benefits and existential interests, which are often common; in the artificial environment of capitalist society money becomes the means for survival and not the labor itself. Thus, each human being is viewed as a competitor and rival. So, the survival proves to be more likely in individuality rather than common approach.

Finally, although Marx was convinced that alienation can be overcame through by restructuring society, particularly through a return to the naturalism in the form of communism; in reality proved to be impossible. In the communist society, alienation was even more severe than in the capitalist one. The Communist Party elite was gaining all of the benefits and the whole population of the country was working for them. The alienation theory shows one of the perspectives of antihuman inequality and suppression which existed always. Even in the naturalist society, stronger ruled the weak and feudal epoch is the best example. Thus, although Marx theory might express certain features of human development and problems we face nowadays; it does not provide a relevant resolution of the posed problems, which makes it particularly debatable nowadays.

Work Cited

Marx, Karl. Economic & Philosophic Manuscript of 1844. London: Wider Publications Limited. 2011. Print.

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