The next thing I’d like to do is to switch gears slightly and look at the concept of alienation
. Pictures to the contrary, alienation is not
about wispy post-adolescent hipster girls draping themselves over things limply like hothouse flowers, sighing, and feeling sorry for themselves.
It’s much more important than that, and it effects everyone. Including you.
The analysis I provided in the first two posts of this thread tells us why, in a purely economic sense, capitalism’s run is doomed. But capitalism
is doomed for other reasons…not the least of which is its negative effect on the human spirit, mind, psychology, and way of being in the world.
Marx and other writers influenced by him use the word “alienation” (entfremdung
in German) to mean more than one thing, which makes
analysis difficult. The most detailed Marxist primary source on alienation is the Economic and Political Manuscripts of 1844.
Essentially, for our purposes, we can understand Marxist alienation as having a fractured, broken, or improper relationship to something
Capitalism fractures and perverts the relationships between people and things, between people and other people, and people and their inner selves.
Understanding this process is another key to understanding the destructive, harmful nature of capitalism and its coming downfall.
Alienation is most relevant to our discussion in the forms it takes that are related to human productive activity. Marxism posits productive activity
as something innate and joyful for people: People naturally produce, and do not naturally need to be whipped, coerced, or lashed to produce things.
The joy of making, building, and achieving is in all of us. You can see it in the smiles on children’s faces as they run their lemonade stands, or
in efforts such as the piece you are now reading, which I am producing free of charge of my own free choice, in a state of pleasure reflecting the
satisfaction of my natural creative drive and instinct to share with my fellow brothers and sisters.
What has happened, though, is that our relationships with our productive activity have become perverted because we are disconnected from the products
of our labor. What we produce, we may not even see or touch: A web marketer can sell products over the net that she has never used to customers she
has never met. The products belong to the capitalist that hired her, not to her, or to the factory workers that made them. This is not a bad thing per
se, but it creates a sense of separation from the natural process of making something with your own hands and taking joy in the process after
creating, seeing, and putting into use an original, hand-created object. We are alienated from the products of our work.
Capitalism also alienates workers from each other, because it creates an unnatural “superstructure
” or set of human relationships that take
us away from the natural, more pleasant ways we would otherwise relate to each other. As an example, capitalism quashes the cooperative instinct and
instills a constant sense of competition, taking us away from our natural sense of comradeship with our fellow workers.
edit on 20-3-2012 by Leftist because: (no reason given)