Reflections on Karl Marx's Concept of Alienation

(Karl Marx)
In the theory of alienation, Karl Marx believed that the working class was losing their sense of self because they had to become robots for capitalists; they are forced to manufacture products for a wage... a wage which is used to buy the very products that they produce at their job. He believed that the jobs were not for self-gratification or need, but rather for money and for employers, and thus creates an environment which is unnatural.

"In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists." (Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
 This is something that I've noticed is going on a lot these days, where many college kids only go to school to be able to find a job, and many new graduates will accept the highest paying job that is offered to them, rather than going to school and finding a career that is connected to their passion.

But there seems to be a progressively growing fight against alienation with the rise of entrepreneurs who develop items -- their artwork -- that they feel is needed in the world and items that are directly connected to their passion. Examples would be bloggers who write about politics or YouTubers who write, film, and edit comedic sketches or podcasters who broadcast shows about their favorite sports.

And even though the work may be for money (which Marx believes is still connected to alienation), they are not machines that are being forced to manufacture these products. Their work is a true form of self that also generates an income.

In addition, many entrepreneurs start off their "business" as passion projects, where they make absolutely no money at all. They get into it because they enjoy doing that specific type of work and feel that what they are doing is positive for society.

So, my question to you is do you see a connection or similarity between Marx's theory of alienation and today's entrepreneurship? Share your thoughts below.

1 comment: