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ALIENATION Alienation is one of those terms that started off as a philosophical concept and yet has now become

almost a part of everyday speech. In this process new meanings have been ascribed to it and old meanings have been reinterpreted and broadened. so that, at times, it is hard to tell exactly what it does mean - other than denoting a general feeling of being dissatisfied in some way. Although at times it appears to be part of the common currency of everyday speech, it is also apparent that it has a close connection with various schools of thought that identify themselves with Marx where it has consequently taken on a distinctly political tone. Marx put forward his theory of alienation at a time when he was still strongly influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach's book The Essence of Christianity, 1841, in which Feuerbach, an exstudent of Hegel, had gone beyond Hegel in his critical analysis of religion. Feuerbach argued that the notion of god is a product of the way people see themselves. He argued that people ascribe to god just those qualities that they see as being essentially human qualities. According to Feuerbach, " ... in religion man necessarily places his nature out of himself ... God is his alter ego, his other lost half'. For Feuerbach, people alienate their essential being by attributing their human qualities to a god who is then worshipped on account of these qualities. In worshipping god, therefore, people are unconsciously worshipping themselves. Thus Feuerbach argues that religion is a form of alienation which prevents people from attaining realisation of their own species-being. Feuerbach's thinking has been described as humanist in that his theory of alienation is based on a theory of human nature as species-being, as innate to the human species. Marx gave his fullest treatment of alienation in The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts, 1844. The concept of 'Alienation' is one of the central concepts of Marxism and is widely used by both Marxists and non-Marxists. The concept of 'alienation' conveys the sense of a life determined by external 'alien' forces, and a consequent lack of control or authenticity and oneness with oneself. Karl Marx, who saw labour itself as alienating, developed the concept of 'alienation'. Alienation is a term Marx uses to describe and evaluate the modem economy in which goods are produced for the market. He employs three German words generally rendered into English as alienation (Entfremdung), 'estrangement' (Entausserung) and the adjectives alienor foreign (fremd) to explain his conceptions. There does not seem to be any consistent distinction between alienation and estrangement. The concept of alienation is most thoroughly rehearsed in Marx's early Economic and Philosophical Manuscript (EPM) of 1844. In the EPM, Marx describes a condition of man's alienation from nature, from others, and from the products of his labour. Marx uses alienation to characterize an economic system presupposing greed, exchange, competition and private ownership of productive resources. In that system, he argues, money is used to value goods and to devalue people, because workers themselves become commodities bought and sold as Labour. The devaluation of the human world, Marx writes, 'grows in direct proportion to the increase in value of the world of things. Hence, in Marx's sense, an action through which or a state in which a person, a group, an institution or a society becomes or remains 'alien' to the results or products of its own activity and to the activity itself, and! or to the nature in which it leaves and to other human beings, and finally to itself, that is, to its own historically created human possibilities is called alienation. However, Marx lays a focus on man's alienation from himself because of the products of his own labour. Under capitalism, according to Marx, a man is alienated by the exploitation of the worker, enforcing an identification of the worker with the commodity value of the products of

his labour. Ultimately, this is seen to produce a profound alienation of man from himself. Hence, according to Marx, "The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labour becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently, as something alien to him, and that it becomes a power of its own confronting him". Karl Marx has detailed four distinct aspects of alienation. They are: i. The objects produced by labourers come to oppose them as something alien, things independent of and opposed to their producers. Because workers have no control over products, which belong to employers or capitalists, and because workers have no control over productive resources, which also belong to these property owners, an alien world of objects confronts modem labourers as the autonomous power of capital. ii. Workers are alienated from the very activity of work, because labour has become a commodity sold to owners of productive resources and carried out under their control. It is done only under compulsion and has no intrinsic worth for the workers themselves. With the introduction of machine- labour, Marx argues, work more and more mortifies the flesh of labourers and ruins their minds. It becomes an activity of selfestrangement. iii. Work in the modem economy also estranges people from productive labour itself, the vital activity of the human species. Human beings, unlike animals, do not merge directly with their activities. Their activities are objects of will and consciousness and for that reason the character of labour changes with each mode of production as economic progress takes place. In principle human beings are 'capable of producing according to the standards of every species and of applying to each object its inherent standard ... the laws of beauty'. In practice, estranged labour turns this conscious life activity into a mere means for existence. It alienates people from their own bodies, from nature and from the essential human capacity for free production beyond mere physical need. iv. As a consequence of being estranged from products, from work and from the vital activity of the species, people are also estranged from other people, in particular workers from capitalists. The relation of workers to their own labour as a mere commodity that must be sold creates 'the relation of the capitalist- to that labour .' Towards the end of Capital, Volume 1, of 1867, Marx employs the concept of alienation explicitly. At an advanced, summary stage of the analysis in Capital, volume 1, he describes and evaluates the capitalist system as an embodiment of alienation in all four aspects. The four aspects of alienation also appear in earlier sections of Capital, Volume 1, but they are implicit in the more specific vocabulary by which Marx characterises capitalism. 1. The alienation of the worker from the products of labour, which confront me labourer as a powerful, alien, objective world, appears transformed as the theory of the fetishism of commodities. 2. Estrangement of the labourer from the labour process 3. The alienation of people from labour, their vital activity as a species

4. The estrangement of people from each other in society is reflected in the inevitably opposed class interests. The concept of alienation also describes, in Marx's view, the most basic feature of a system of private property. Marx's analysis of alienation is firmly embedded in recognition of the material conditions of the wage-worker under early capitalism. This separates Marx most emphatically from all those writers on alienation from Hegel to the existentialists who see alienation as a necessary characteristic that haunts people through all time, irrespective of their material conditions. Instead of seeing alienation as part of the human condition, Marx argues that it is the result of a specific set of social relations where human productive activity is reduced to wagelabour and where the worker has no control over the means of production or productive activity. In short, for Marx, the worker's alienation is the direct result of capitalist relations of production. Hence, for Marx, there is a solution. If alienation is caused by capitalist relations, then the removal of those relations will remove the alienation itself. Marx's solution, then, was not one of metaphysics, but the revolutionary transformation of social relations. Only an alternative economic system, namely the communism, Marx recommends, would abolish alienation. Indeed communism for Marx is non-alienated industrial society.

CAPITALIST STATE Karl Marx understood capitalism as a historically specific mode of production (the way in which the productive property is owned and controlled, combined with the corresponding social relations between individuals based on their connection with the process of production) in which capital has become the dominant means of production (Burnham). The capitalist stage of development or "bourgeois society," for Marx, represented the most advanced form of social organization to date. According to Marx, human civilization has manifested itself in a series of organizational structures, each determined by its primary mode of production, particularly the division of labor that dominates in each stage. Marxism is essentially an economic interpretation of history based primarily on the works of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. Marx was a revolutionary who focused his efforts on understanding capitalism to overthrow it. In Marxist interpretation, Capitalist state is just another stage of socio-economic development. It is the last class society. The essence of capitalism is exploitation of workers (proletariat) by capitalists (bourgeoisie) with resulting class struggle. The 'relations of production' are characterized by private ownership and the prevalence of 'commodity production' (market). The forces of production' are characterized by the fast growth of productivity due to the 'division of labor' (specialization) and mechanization. The industrial revolution resulted in mass production with intricate inter-industry relations. In the capitalist market economy goods are not produced by an individual producer for a small number of local consumers as in the past, but by the huge collectives of workers sometimes spread over the whole country or even over many countries - for thousands or millions of consumers. The 'forces of production' acquired the 'social character' but the 'relations of production' are still based on private ownership and 'anarchy' of the market. This is the main contradiction of capitalism which - according to Marxist analysis - must lead to revolution, abolition of private property and capitalist relations of production.

Tom Bottomore (1973) in His Dictionary of Marxist Thought sets down some of the main features of capitalism. As a mode of production, capitalist state is characterised by the following features. 1) Production for sale rather than for self-use By this we mean a shift from a subsistence economy. In most precapitalist economies, production is undertaken for direct consumption. For instance, in agricultural economies, farmers grow crops for their own use, only a small surplus is available for sale. This is because technology is not so advanced and domestic or family labour is used for farming. Such is not the case in a capitalist economy. Here, a large number of workers gather together in a factory. With the help of machines and through division of labour, goods are produced on a mass scale. They are produced for sale in the market. For instance in a factory producing soap, the output is not for the self-use of the producers. It is for sale in the market. 2) The existence of a market where labour-power is bought and sold According to Marx, workers are regarded only in terms of their labour power. The capitalist or owner hires their labour-power by paying them wages. Workers can sell their labour power or withhold it because they are legally free. Unlike in the earlier stages of human history, workers are not forced to work like slaves or serfs. Sheer economic need forces them to work. They must either work or starve. So, although they are legally free to enter or not enter into contracts with the capitalist, they are not free from hunger, which forces them to sell their labour. 3) Exchange takes place through money As we have seen in point (1) production is undertaken for sale, and sale is transacted through the use of money. Money is the social bond that ties together the various elements in the capitalist system. Hence the role of banks and financial institutions becomes important in the system. 4) The capitalist controls the production process Not only does the capitalist control the hiring and firing of workers, but also decides how production is to be carried out. He decides what is to be produced, the composition of raw materials and machines, and the manner in which the output is to be marketed. 5) The capitalist controls financial decisions This is related to the earlier point. Decisions regarding pricing of the product, wages of the workers, the amount of financial investment and so on are taken by the capitalist. 6) Competition Since the whole idea of capitalism is production for sale, there is bound to be competition between capitalists. Whose products will sell the most in the market? Whose profits will be the maximum? This leads to a situation in which each tries to outdo the other. The consequences could be innovation or the use of the latest technology. Competition could also result in the formation of monopolies or cartels, where a single producer or group of producers try to dominate the market by pushing or forcing out competitors. This leads to further concentration and centralisation of capital in a few hands. Capitalist state thus is a system, which according to Marx symbolises the most acute form of exploitation, inequality and polarisation of classes. By this is meant that the social distance

between the owners of the means of production (i.e., the bourgeoisie) and the working class (the proletariat) becomes greater and greater. The concept of class conflict is very important in Marxs understanding of capitalism