Marx labor and alienation

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 1 December 2016

Marx labor and alienation

The current research looks at how Karl Marx, a famous ideologue and political thinker, thought about such subjects as alienation and labor, in connection with the central concerns of The Communist Manifesto. Generally in terms of alienation, Marx saw the modern workers as being inherently alienated by the capitalist system and its division of labor. He saw the capitalist system as something that encourages alienation and isolation, because through this system the worker is disconnected from the fruits of their labor, and essentially they become an alienated slave without freedom.

And in terms of labor, Marx focuses primarily on the labor of the worker, the proletariat, and how this labor is essentially exploited for profit, along with the proletariat, by the bourgeoisie. Overall, this is a perspective that takes its cues on alienation and labor from class struggle and conflict theory. The Communist Manifesto describes how Marx saw society as being split up between two forces: on one side, the bourgeois (representing ownership), and on the other side, the proletarians (representing labor). Marx supported the proletarians and thought that the bourgeois were the enemy.

Basically the bourgeois are the people in society who control the means of production, and the proletarians are the labor pool which they exploit. Marx saw history as being a continuing struggle for power between the bourgeois, the owners, and the proletarians, the workers. In the abovementioned manifesto it is written that the bourgeois are able to control society because they have replaced the system of feudalism (Marx, 2008). They are able to control society and hold power over the proletarian (and oppress the proletarian in the view of the manifesto) because they are able to rule through capital and private property.

Capital means money, and private property means land ownership. In the “Communist Manifesto,” these are the two main tools used by the bourgeois to oppress and trample on the proletarian or worker, who becomes a slave to labor because they have to earn the capital that the bourgeois controls. Overall, in terms of its recommendations for labor, the manifesto suggests the position that there should be class warfare where the proletarian rises up and takes the place of the bourgeois to establish a government of the people or a socialist state. Marx calls this the dictatorship of the proletariat.

According to the manifesto, history is nothing but class warfare between ownership and labor. This struggle is seen as very difficult by the authors because the laborer, although they inherently suspect that the bourgeois system is their enemy, is unable to effectively fight it, since the system controls the worker so totally, isolating and alienating them so that they cannot collectively take over. Therefore, the laborer, when s/he lashes out, does so more against material objects that represent the system than the conditions that are perpetuated by it.

Marx states that the bourgeois system is able to control and position the anger of the proletariat to a great extent, so that what seems like a victory for the laborer is actually a victory for the system (Marx, 2008). This is not to say that there is no hope for labor perceived by Marx, however: although they seem to see the proletariat as being stuck in a competition against itself, also see hope in the formation of trade unions and the utilization by the proletariat of bourgeois systems such as rail and communications systems to further their ends.

They also further their point that the proletariat is the point of greatest physical mass in the struggle, and propose communism as a majority movement of the proletariat. Thus, we can see what communism meant to Marx and Engels in terms of history, class, and struggle: the authors further state a more explicit definition of communism politically and globally as the manifesto continues. We see that what communists do is to work extra-nationally to support the perceived proletarians in any given country, and work to publicize the needs and interests of labor.

They are described as unified on the principles of the historical class struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie, representing communism wherever they go. They are not as much an independent political party as they are a political synthesizer or supporter of all parties that are perceived by them to be friends of labor movements. They describe themselves as proletariats like any other who have, through communism, a unique understanding of the class struggle in which they are engaged. The stated goal of communism in The Communist Manifesto is the “Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the

bourgeois supremacy, (and) conquest of political power by the proletariat” (Marx, 2008). They are concerned with abolishing the bourgeois system of private property, but not all property standards necessarily, stating that the bourgeois system creates capital, not true property. Seeking to elevate the status of the laborer, they state that “In bourgeois society, living labor is but a means to increase accumulated labor. In communist society, accumulated labor is but a means to widen, to enrich, to promote the existence of the laborer” (Marx, 2008).

Those who oppose their theories in proposed counter-arguments are dismissed as unenlightened mouthpieces of the bourgeois. Marx further states that the emancipation of the proletariat has (a largely European) historical initiative. When talking specifically about labor and capital, especially the industrialized, mechanistic labor inherent to capitalism, differentiations of application are often made along the lines of human beings and machines, or human beings and the mechanistic work that they are taking part in.

Potential problems faced by the individual worker who is unable to complete a project from start to finish due to a lack of materials at any certain point in the process. Potential problems are faced by the individual worker who is unable to complete a project from start to finish due to a lack of materials at any certain point in the process, and therefore begins to feel alienated from the fruits of his/her labor. In this case, other issues act primarily as a scapegoat for the tensions and sense of general anger caused by industrialization.

The Communist Manifesto wants equality and justice for labor movements at the expense of the bourgeois. In the best case scenario of Marxism the worker gets his/her just due from the ruling class of capitalists or bourgeois elements and overthrows the capitalist system to set up socialism and eventually communism. The manifesto itself argues that modern industry is set up and the division of labor is encouraged, so that the proletarian, who once was able to complete a product, becomes increasingly separated from his/her labor as industry grows more complicated and is controlled by the

bourgeois. The manifesto says how the means of production controlled by the bourgeoisie must be constantly changed, as the system is not remaining the same and is through history uncertain. The system results in a more global type of economy, as national boundaries become less important than capitalism and the bourgeois capitalist economy. Communist theory is really more about showing inequality than approaching equality, although equality is often portrayed as the result of the victory of the proletarian in class warfare against the bourgeois. In the Marxian system of social justice, the

proletariat worker becomes a sort of willing slave to the system that keeps up insecurity, and is insecure him/herself, as the laws, morality, and religion created by the system seem to all lead back to the bourgeois motivations set by capital and private property. The process is repeated for as long as the wage laborer is unable to see their place in what the authors perceive as a never-ending class war between the proletariat and the capitalist bourgeoisie. From Marx’s perspective, the political advance of the bourgeoisie is seen to exploit the proletariat in order to continue the capitalist system of production.

Marx states that this exploitation manifests itself most clearly in the oppression of the proletariat, and also mentions that the proletariat creates more wealth than they get paid for. Within this pattern, which is the framework of communism in terms of its antagonists, the bourgeoisie, which has replaced the feudal system of multiple classes with two basic classes, rules through two basic means: capital and private property. The means of production by the bourgeoisie must be constantly revitalized and changed, as the system is not static and is seen to be naturally uncertain.

The system manifests itself in a more global type of economy, as national boundaries perhaps become less important than trans-national capitalism. In the communist society that is the eventual result of the liberation of the proletariat, communists set forth several general parameters for the society to follow. First, they posit that the abolition of land property will lead to the ownership of all property by the public. They also support the instigation of a graduated income tax and the abolition of inheritance, as inheritance implies the continuation of class identity.

Property that is considered to be renegade will be seized by the state and used communally. From Marx’s perspective, systems of credit, transportation, and communication is to be centralized, and production is to be extended into vacant and unused industrial zones. Everyone will have a job to do, so that there will be a general equality of work in the proletariat society, and the heretofore strict defining lines between city, suburb, and country will be blurred and unitized to stop the pattern of the city’s primacy set by bourgeois capitalism.

Education will be free. Thus it can be seen that the author’s ideas about communism and what it means to them can be traced through a history of class and struggle and is based on the liberation of the proletariat from the system of oppression by the bourgeoisie. This system replaced the feudal system, and the authors seem to see history as a series of similar struggles. Marx puts forth their theories of history and class struggle before detailing the goals and methodology of the communists, and their definitional structure is such that the

reader is easily able to understand what communism means to them. Marx states their goals and perspectives on the process of history and class struggle directly and urgently, and also dismisses many of the perceived accusations of their competitors through the use of counter-argument and dismissal. Therefore, the work is at times almost argumentative in tone, but this does not detract from its essential clarity and intensity of messages about labor and alienation, and class struggle, which make up the work.

The reader is left to make a few implicit conclusions regarding Marx’s relationship to feudal natural law and political isolationism, but most of the parameters of communism are explicitly set in The Communist Manifesto, including the concepts of alienation of labor and the idea of class struggle continuance.


Marx and Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party, 2008. http://csf. colorado. edu/psn/marx/Archive/1848-CM/cm. html.


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 1 December 2016

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