What Is the Definition of Alienation According to Marx

The general idea of alienation is simple: something is alienating when what is (or should be) familiar and connected seems alien or separate. Because our species-being is our essence as human beings, it should be something familiar to us. To the extent that we are unable to act in accordance with our species-being, we are separated from our own nature. So, if labor in a capitalist society inhibits the realization of our species-being, then labor is alienating in this regard.6 And since we are alienated from our own nature, alienation is not just a subjective feeling, but an objective reality. The second aspect of alienation, the alienation of work activity, means that at work I lose control of my life activity. Not only do I lose control of what I produce, but I also lose control of the activity to produce it. My activity is not self-expression. My activity has nothing to do with my desires about what I want to do, no relationship with how I want to express myself, no relationship with the person I am or might try to become. The only relationship the activity has with me is that it`s a way to fill my belly and keep a roof over my head.

My life activity is not a life activity. It is simply the way to preserve and survive. In alienated labor, Marx argues, humans are reduced to the level of an animal that works only for the purpose of filling a physical void and produces under duress direct physical needs. Alienation refers to the social alienation of people from their human nature due to life in a multi-tiered society. This was presented in Marx`s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (1927). Its philosophical roots lie in Ludwig Feuerbach`s “The Essence of Christianity” (1841), which holds that the term “God” separated man from his natural qualities. In “Das Ego und sein Eigenes” (1845), Max Stirner expanded Feuerbach`s theory to include “humanity” as an alienating concept, while Marx and Engels debated these philosophies in the book “Die deutsche Ideologie” (1845). The theoretical basis of alienation in the capitalist mode of production is that the worker inevitably loses the ability to determine life and destiny if he is deprived of the right to think (understand) himself as the director of his own actions; determine the nature of such acts; define relationships with other people; and to possess these valuables from goods and services produced by their own labor. Although the worker is an autonomous and self-realized person, this worker as an economic unit is oriented towards objectives and redirected to activities dictated by the bourgeoisie – which owns the means of production – in order to deprive the worker of the maximum amount of surplus value in the course of commercial competition between industrialists.

The first aspect of alienation is the alienation of the product of labor. In capitalist society, what is produced, the objectification of labor, the producer, is lost. In Marx`s words, “objectification becomes the loss of the object.” The object is a loss in the very sense of the world and of man, that the act of creation is the same act in which it becomes the property of another. Alienation here takes the very specific historical form of the separation of the worker and the owner. What I have produced or what we have produced immediately becomes the property of someone else and is therefore beyond our control. As it is out of my control, it can become an external and autonomous power. In the industrial factories of the 19th century. In the twentieth century, however, workers effectively had no control over what they did, their work was unskilled, and they were effectively a “cog in a machine,” creating high levels of alienation — or feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and non-control. Thus, in many ways, the alienation of the product and activity of labor leads to alienation in its third aspect, the alienation of the self or the human being.

It is not only the product that becomes a foreign power. It`s not just that personal development becomes self-denial. Internally connected to these others is a loss of self. To alienate my labor power, to be forced to sell it as a commodity in the market, means to lose my activity of life, which is myself. It`s about becoming different from myself. Sometimes we talk quite innocently about being next to ourselves or feeling distant from ourselves; Or sometimes we use the language of seeking identity and authenticity, not knowing who we are or not recognizing who we have become. From a Marxist point of view, we are talking about something social and historical, not something metaphysical or existential. On a deeper level, the feeling of loss of identity or loss of meaning is an expression, but we have still alienated ourselves from our real loss of humanity, from alienation from the human “essence of the species,” as Marx sometimes calls it. This is something marxists mean when they talk about dehumanization. Capitalism reduces the worker`s labor to a commodity that can be exchanged in the competitive labor market, rather than as a constructive socio-economic activity that is part of the collective effort made for personal survival and the betterment of society. In a capitalist economy, the enterprises that own the means of production establish a competitive labor market that is supposed to extract as much labor (value) from the worker as possible in the form of capital.

The arrangement of the relations of production by the capitalist economy provokes social conflicts by pitting workers against competition for “higher wages”, thus alienating them from their mutual economic interests; The effect is a false consciousness, which is a form of ideological control exercised by the capitalist bourgeoisie through its cultural hegemony. Moreover, in the capitalist mode of production, the philosophical collusion of religion to justify the relations of production facilitates the realization and then aggravates the alienation of the worker from his humanity; It is a socio-economic role, regardless of the fact that religion is the “opiate of the masses.” [5] Again, alienation is a nebulous term, and it seems that it cannot even be measured objectively; I can`t imagine anyone taking the word seriously if we could only measure it the same way we measure the abduction of strangers. Keep in mind that boredom and the brain`s response to novelty may better explain what Robert Blauner would have found. In The Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), Hegel describes the stages of human mind development through which men and women pass from ignorance to knowledge, to the self, and to the world. In developing Hegel`s proposal of the human mind, Marx said that these poles of idealism—”spiritual ignorance” and “self-understanding”—are replaced by material categories, with “spiritual ignorance” becoming “alienation” and “self-understanding” becoming man`s realization of his generic being. Sociologist Melvin Seeman provided a robust definition of social alienation in a 1959 article titled “On the Meaning of Alienation.” The five characteristics he attributed to social alienation still apply today in the way sociologists study this phenomenon. Marx`s well-known (but very misunderstood) solution to the evils of alienation was communism – a way of organizing society in which workers would have much more control over their working conditions and thus experience much less alienation. Marx developed his theory of alienation from Feuerbach`s philosophical critique of Christianity – Feuerbach argued that the concept of an almighty God as a spiritual being to which people must submit in order to attain salvation is a human construct, the projection of human power relations onto the spiritual being. Christianity has effectively obscured the fact that it is truly human power relations that have maintained social order, rather than a higher spiritual reality, so that the alienation of the “truth” from power has really been maintained. .

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