Revealing Marx

In Karl Marx\'s early writing on "estranged labour" there is a clear and
prevailing focus on the plight of the labourer. Marx\'s writing on estranged
labour is and attempt to draw a stark distinction between property owners and
workers. In the writing Marx argues that the worker becomes estranged from his
labour because he is not the recipient of the product he creates. As a result
labour is objectified, that is labour becomes the object of mans existence. As
labour is objectified man becomes disillusioned and enslaved. Marx argues that
man becomes to be viewed as a commodity worth only the labour he creates and man
is further reduced to a subsisting animal void of any capacity of freedom except
the will to labour. For Marx this all leads to the emergence of private property,
the enemy of the proletariat. In fact Marx\'s writing on estranged labour is a
repudiation of private property- a warning of how private property enslaves the
worker. This writing on estranged labour is an obvious point of basis for Marx\'s
Communist Manifesto.

The purpose of this paper is to view Marx\'s concept of alienation (estranged
labour) and how it limits freedom. For Marx man\'s freedom is relinquished or in
fact wrested from his true nature once he becomes a labourer. This process is
thoroughly explained throughout Estranged Labour. This study will reveal this
process and argue it\'s validity. Appendant to this study on alienation there
will be a micro-study which will attempt to ascertain Marx\'s view of freedom
(i.e. positive or negative). The study on alienation in conjunction with the
micro-study on Marx\'s view of freedom will help not only reveal why Marx feels
labour limits mans freedom, but it will also identify exactly what kind of
freedom is being limited. Estranged Labour

Karl Marx identifies estranged labour as labour alien to man. Marx explains the
condition of estranged labour as the result of man participating in an
institution alien to his nature. It is my interpretation that man is alienated
from his labour because he is not the reaper of what he sows. Because he is
never the recipient of his efforts the labourer lacks identity with what he
creates. For Marx then labour is "alien to the worker...[and]...does not belong
to his essential being." Marx identifies two explanations of why mans lack of
identity with labour leads him to be estranged from labour. (1) "[The labourer]
does not develop freely his physical and mental energy, but instead mortifies
his mind." In other words labour fails to nurture mans physical and mental
capacities and instead drains them. Because the worker is denied any nurturing
in his work no intimacy between the worker and his work develops. Lacking an
intimate relation with what he creates man is summarily estranged from his
labour. (2) Labour estranges man from himself. Marx argues that the labour the
worker produces does not belong to him, but to someone else. Given this
condition the labourer belongs to someone else and is therefore enslaved. As a
result of being enslaved the worker is reduced to a "subsisting animal", a
condition alien to him. As an end result man is estranged from himself and is
entirely mortified. Marx points to these to situations as the reason man is
essentially estranged from his labour. The incongruency between the world of
things the worker creates and the world the worker lives in is the estrangement.

Marx argues that the worker first realizes he is estranged from his labour when
it is apparent he cannot attain what he appropriates. As a result of this
realization the objectification of labour occurs. For the worker the labour
becomes an object, something shapeless and unidentifiable. Because labour is
objectified, the labourer begins to identify the product of labour as labour. In
other words all the worker can identify as a product of his labour, given the
condition of what he produces as a shapeless, unidentifiable object, is labour.
The worker is then left with only labour as the end product of his efforts. The
emerging condition is that he works to create more work. For Marx the monotonous
redundancy of this condition is highly detrimental because the worker loses
himself in his efforts. He argues that this situation is analogous to a man and
his religion. Marx writes, "The more man puts into God the less he retains in
himself....The worker puts his life into the object, but now his life no longer
belongs to him but to the object." The result of the worker belonging to the
object is that he is enslaved.