Chapter 34- images of society.docx

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2 Apr 2012
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Chapter 34: Alienated Labour
Allison Rozman
January 31st, 2012
Written by Karl Marx
There's no call here for revolution, no telling workers to rise up and seize the factories and so on
Marx’s goal here as in most of his writing in fact, is to analyze
He wants to understand how the logic of work under capitalism has impoverished the human experience
The worker becomes poorer the more wealth he produces and the more his production increases in power
and extent
The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more goods he creates
The “Devaluation” of the human world increases in direct relation with the increase “in value” of the world of
things
Labour produces itself and the worker as a “commodity”
The object produced by labour, now stand opposed to it as an alien being, as a power independent of the
producer
The product of labour is labour which has been embodied in an object and turned into a physical thing; this
product is an “objectification” of labour
The performance of work appears in the sphere of political economy as a vitiation of the worker,
objectification as a loss and as servitude to the object and appropriation as alienation
Labour itself becomes an object which he can acquire only by the greatest effort and with unpredictable
interruptions
So much does the appropriation of the object appear as alienation that the more objects the worker produces
the fewer he can possess and the more he falls under the domination of his product, of capital
The worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object
The worker puts his life into the object and his life than belongs no longer to himself but to the object
The greater his activity, the less he possesses
The “alienation” of the worker in this product means no only that his labour becomes an object, assumes as
external existence, but that it exists independently , outside himself, and alien to him, and that is stands
opposed to him as an autonomous power
“objectification” the workers production and the alienation and loss of the object it produces, which is
involved in it
the worker can create nothing without nature, without the sensuous external world
means of physical existence for the worker himself
the more the worker appropriates the external world of sensuous nature by his labour, the more he deprives
himself of means of existence, in two respects…
1) that the sensuous external world become progressively less an object belonging to his labour or a means
of existence of his labour
2) that it becomes progressively less a means of existence in the direct sense, a means for the physical
subsistence of the worker
the worker becomes a slave of the object…
1) he receives a object of work (receives work)
2) he receives means of subsistence
culmination of this enslavement is that he can only maintain himself as a physical subject so far as he is a
worker, and that it is only as a physical subject that he is a worker
the more the worker produces the less he has to consume
“political economy conceals the alienation in the nature of labour in so far as it does not examine the direct
relationship between the worker (work) and production”
“the direct relationship of labour to its product is the relationship of the worker to the objects of his
production”
alienation appears not merely in the result but also in the process of production, within productive activity
itself
if the product of labour is alienation, production itself must be active alienation
the alienation of activity and the activity of alienation
what constitutes the alienation of labour?
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