Karl Marx's Estranged Labor

1836 words 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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Mans life-activity is then the object of his life. So by nature, mans own life is the object of his existence. This is mans condition before labor. After labor mans life-activity, that is, his free conscious, activity, or his very nature, is displaced. In a pre-labor condition mans life was the object of his condition; in a labor condition man exists to labor and his life-activity is reduced to a means of his existence so he can labor. In effect labor necessitates itself in man by supplanting mans true nature with an artificial one that re-prioritizes mans goals. Man's goal then is not to pursue his life but to labor. He becomes linked to his labor and is viewed in no other way. Man is reduced to chattel, a commodity, the private property of another individual. For Marx labor limits the freedom of man. Labor becomes the object of man's existence and he therefore becomes enslaved by it. In considering the validity of Marx's argument I feel Marx is correct that man's freedom is limited by the fact that he is a laborer. But in opposition to Marx I believe that man's freedom is no more limited as a laborer than as a farmer. Agrarian worker or laborer man's freedom is limited. Whether he is identified by the product he creates in a factory or in a wheat field in either case he is tied to his work and is not viewed beyond it. In either instance the product is objectified because in either instance the worker