In fact, a Marxist term that used to mark the alienation derives from the German word Entfremdung which carries both social and philosophical connotations in its meaning. In the “Theory of Alienation,” Karl Marx refers to the outcomes of living in the socially stratified society. In that regard, alienation occurs as a consequence of “entfremdung” of the self, which conveyed a mechanical part of a given social class, meaning that an individual was estranged from the humanity and the surrounding. The basis for theory chosen by Karl Marx closely correlated with the capitalist mode of production, where the author referred to the fact that workers tended to lose their ability to focus on their real life and destiny due to the immense workloads they to was. That way, the labor became an obstacle to the balancing life as well as it led to the estrangement from the rest of society.
According to Karl Marx, there were four types of alienation that were prevalent at that time. The first was the alienation of the worker from the work (from the product of the labor), driven by the capitalist system that did not leave any space for the self-development to those who were obeying to the system in the course of production. The second type of alienation was conveyed by the act of production, where a worker would lose a psychological satisfaction for all the work he was doing. The third type of alienation was marked by alienation as a producer, conveyed by a German word Gattunsweseen (the essence of species), meaning that a human potential is under threat of being lost in the course of production. Generally speaking, all of the terms referred by Karl Marx carry a direct reference to the mode of production.
While comparing Marxist comprehension of the initiation, a clear comparison could be done to the “Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century” written by Thomas Piketty who is often said to be a contemporary “Karl Marx.” The economist manages to analyze production factors in the overall process of workload that leads to inequality not only between individuals but also within the societies. Another clear comparison could be made to the libertarian comprehension of Milton Friedman, who did not focus on the means of production and rather stressed on the necessity to provide freedom to the market. Ultimately, the mode of state intervention which was much valued by John Keynes is the most prevalent in the overall comparative process of controlling the means of production. Therefore, the primary threat of alienation would occur in cases when the market would be left without power.
While transposing Marxist theory of alienation onto the work experience, I undertook, the following aspects appear to be relevant in the context of the 21st century. Alienation from the product of the work has often been the case for me as the constant dedication of time and effort sometimes might result in the complete frustration due to misbalance which was undertaken in the overall process of preparing particular activities. In fact, alienation also results in the dissatisfaction and continuous criticism of the product I have been working on for a long time. Then, a dissatisfaction leads to the conflicting case between my employer and me who is not satisfied with the result of my work, or who overestimated my capabilities of fulfilling the given tasks within such a short time frame. Therefore, the concept is particularly relevant these days, even though one could claim that the mode of production has changed substantially, so that Marxist theory could be left behind.
- Piketty, T., & Goldhammer, A. Capital in the twenty-first century.
- Mészáros, I. (1970). Marx’s theory of alienation. London: Merlin P.
- Friedman, M., & Friedman, R. (1980). Free to choose. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.