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Marxs ida of alination, its forms and its causs in a capitalist systm
In a nutshll Marx's Thory of Alination is th contntion that in modrn
industrial production undr capitalist conditions workrs will invitably los
control of thir livs by losing control ovr thir work. Workrs thus cas to b
autonomous bings in any significant sns. Undr th conditions of modrn
factory production as dscribd in th class nots, by contrast, th avrag workr
is not much mor than a rplacabl cog in a gigantic and imprsonal production
apparatus. Whr armis of hird oprativs prform monotonous and closly
suprvisd tasks, workrs hav ssntially lost control ovr th procss of
production, ovr th products which thy produc, and ovr th rlationships thy
hav with ach othr.
As a consqunc thy hav bcom strangd from thir vry human
natur, which Marx undrstood to b fr and productiv activity. Human bings
cannot b human undr ths conditions, and for this rason th implication was
obvious for Marx: Capitalism has to b abolishd as much as any political

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opprssion if a socitys mancipation is to b complt. Capitalism is just as


incompatibl with slf-dtrmination as absolut monarchy or any othr autocratic
systm. But whil an absolut monarchy limits popls autonomy by controlling
thm in th sphr of politics, Capitalism dos so by controlling thir workplacs
and thir conomic lif. A socity of truly fr citizns, according to Marx, must
thrfor not only b a political, but also an conomic and social dmocracy.
Marx's concpt of alination is th form of dhumanization that's cratd by
th 'pur' class systm of capitalism, in th mid-19th cntury. Both thos
who buy and profit from labour and thos who only hav thir labour to sll
ar bing strangd from thir tru humanity by th conditions of this
rlationship. Spcifically this dhumanization has fiv aspcts for thos who
sll thir labour. Thy ar alinatd from: Th conditions of thir work.
Having no say, for xampl, in th spd of th machins nor in th ways
thir bodis hav to b contortd to do that work.
What is bing producd: th product is no longr a cration of th workr,
but stands in opposition to th workr, a sparat objct out of th workrs
control. In ffct th workr bcoms th srvant of what is bing producd.
Th factory workrs thn, unlik th craftsmn, ar alinatd from
thmslvs. As thy cannot raliz thir tru humanity in crating th objct
thy produc, thir work dos not add to thir humanity but dtracts from it.
(Charli Chaplin's assmbly lin workr in 'Modrn Tims 'famously

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rprsntd this sns that th assmbly lin had takn control of th


workr )
Th conditions of work also alinat th workr from othr mn as coworkrs ar no longr a tam of crativ workrs but ar rducd to th
commodity 'labour' producing objcts in th routinisd controlld practics
of factoris. Morovr th conditions of thir work put thm in comptition
with ach othr, to work hardr, fastr, mor 'productivly'. So rathr than
bing partnrs in th fild of production thy ar st against ach othr.
Thy ar strangd from natur. Thy, and thir product, ar alinatd from
th origins from which thy both driv.
Th capitalists thmslvs. This is in crating ths dhumanizing
conditions; and pushd by th profit motiv to dvlop vn mor
dhumanizing conditions and to rgard thir workrs only in trms of 'th
bottom lin' of profit and loss; thy ar also strangd, alinatd from thir
tru potntial to b fully human.
Capitalism dmands that popl b orintd to th world in a way that
simply scurs thir own survival. In such a systm, th workr quickly
bcoms conscious of his dprivd and misrabl status in rlation to th
capitalist. Th solution to this situation of alination is Communism, which
dos away with alination by doing away with th systm of privat proprty
that crats it. By abolishing capitalism and rplacing it with a socity in which

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workrs collctivly and dmocratically control production, thn work itslf


could b transformd into an activity that w would find rwarding for its own
sak. It would bcom a way of xrcising our individual crativity and talnts,
and of contributing to th common good. It is howvr vry difficult to achiv
lasting individual solutions to th problm of alination. Human happinss,
wllbing, and individuality can only b fully ralizd in a socity fr of
xploitation and opprssion, and achiving that kind of socity rquirs a
collctiv struggl to chang th world. Simply bing participants in that kind
of struggl can start to lssn th dgr of alination in our livs, but alination
can only b compltly abolishd in a socity in which th fr dvlopmnt of
ach has bcom th condition for th fr dvlopmnt of all.
In summary Capitalism, according to Marx, alinats popl from thir
potntial to ralis thir full humanity in trms of - thir companionship with
ach othr, thir crativ rlationships with what thy produc, with natur, and
thus from thmslvs as human bings.

Work Citd

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Class nots
conomic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1832), Marx