Essay on Karl Marx's Estranged Labor

1830 Words Oct 23rd, 1999 8 Pages
Karl Marx's Estranged Labor

In Karl Marx's early writing on "estranged labor" there is a clear and prevailing focus on the plight of the laborer. Marx's writing on estranged labor is an attempt to draw a stark distinction between property owners and workers.
In the writing Marx argues that the worker becomes estranged from his labor because he is not the recipient of the product he creates. As a result labor is objectified, that is labor becomes the object of mans existence. As labor is objectified man becomes disillusioned and enslaved. Marx argues that man becomes to be viewed as a commodity worth only the labor he creates and man is further reduced to a subsisting animal void of any capacity of freedom except the will to labor. For
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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. The worker belongs to something else and his actions are dictated by that thing. For Marx, labor turns man into a means.
Workers become nothing more than the capital necessary to produce a product.
Labor for Marx reduces man to a means of production. As a means of production man is diminished to a subsisting enslaved creature void of his true nature. In this condition he is reduced to the most detrimental state of man: one in which he is estranged from himself. To help expand on this theme it is useful to look at Marx's allegory of man's life-activity. Of the variety of reasons Marx argues man is estranged from his labor, probably the most significant is his belief that labor estranges man from himself. Marx argues that the labor the worker produces does not belong to the worker so in essence the worker does not belong to the worker. By virtue of this condition Marx argues the worker is enslaved. Enslavement for Marx is a condition alien to man and he becomes estranged from himself. For Marx, man estranged from himself is stripped of his very nature. Not only because
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