Estranged Labour by Karl Marx
Estranged Labour by Karl Marx intricately describes how the human becomes disconnected from his or her own labor. He describes the overall labor market, and consequences before and after production, as the political economy. This political economy “does not disclose the source of the division between labor and capital, and between capital and land.” Marx describes a climate where those apart of this political economy must search deep to find the answers to questions about the relationship between the worker and his or her labor.
Marx concludes that the worker in this political economy is forced into labor, instead of volunteering. When the worker is forced to work and perform a job he/she dislikes or despises, the worker begins to feel out of their element. Marx states that the only time the worker feels human or free is when he/she is performing routine animal functions. Due to this lack of freedom and autonomy, Marx states, “what is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal.”
This statement is fully loaded; is Marx saying that we are loosing our humanity? What is animal-like can be described as a human’s basic functions like eating, drinking, procreating, etc., while human functions can be defined as emotional, critical and creative actions. So, if the workers in the political economy humanize their animal traits and de-humanize their human traits, what will be the immediate and long-term effects? In this political economy workers and employers alike transform into a sort-of different species. They no longer use reasoning and emotional capabilities to make decisions (i.e., Maydoff, Enron, Bush, etc.). The majority in this reverse society glorifies the animal actions in life; much pleasure can be found in dining, drinking, bathing, etc. The true creativity and purpose of each human being is methodically suppressed. Marx sees the consequence of this transformation clearly: the human becomes estranged from his/her own humanity, which brings a dark cloud and depression over humanity. “Man’s species being, both nature and his spiritual species property into a being alien to him,” stated Marx. When the majority becomes alien-like, humans become disconnected from one another.