Karl Marx is one of the most influential socialists, economists, and philosophers to emerge in the 19th century. His work was largely ignored by the scholars of his lifetime, yet has gained rapid acceptance since his death in 1883. One of his greatest works includes the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 which introduces his central concepts of alienation labor. In this essay I will provide an interpretation of what I understand Marx’s account of alienated labor to be well as a critical evaluation of the material he provides.
Karl Marx wrote his theory of alienated labor during the industrial revolution. He witnessed the unjust system exploit workers in a way that took away the pride and independence they once put into their work. Workers faced terrible working conditions. Business owners were aware that the general population would work under any conditions to provide for themselves and or their families. In turn, most unskilled laborers received about $10 a week, working at approximately 10 cents an hour. They were forced to work with no safety regulation and equipment. In this arrangement, workers are not only forced to work under impoverishment but also put through estrangement or alienation from the world.
Alienated labor occurs under the economic system of private ownership or capitalism, in which society divides itself into two classes: the bourgeoisie (the property owners) and the proletariat (the property-less workers). Under capitalism, the proletariat relates to their labor as a strange object and lack any sort of identification with it. They invest their lives into objects and no longer own their own l...
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...n suffered collapse when they relied on communistic form of government.
It is true that most advanced capitalist societies today suffer from massive distribution of wealth and divide between social classes. There are places where working conditions are undeniably poor. But there are also cases in which industries create healthy workers’ unions and trade unions. Rather than completely abolishing a society’s culture, maybe the answer is to simply improve the conditions. However, Marx’s theory has in fact paved the way for the improvement of the conditions in the work place in today’s society and could possibly be used as a warning to a different type of commodification and exploitation occurring today. Despite it’s weaknesses, the concept of alienation has proved to be useful. It is widely used in politics, social psychology, studies of labor and so on.
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