Karl Marx

Marx believed that the economic insufficiencies and social injustices would ultimately lead to the breakdown of capitalist societies and that human societies were developing towards a society encouraged by class conflict.  Marx was mostly concerned with Western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, however, his ideas are as relevant today as they were over a century ago.  Alienation, which is caused by capitalism, is the process of production and the results of our labour as a dominating power; it arose from the material conditions in which we apply our essential productive capacities.  Alienation serves to provide the means, and therefore, the worker is a dispensable object who performs repeatable tasks.  A paraphrase that comes to my mind is “Torn away from the object of his labour, unable to realize the essence of his creativity nature or species being, the worker becomes alienated from the rest of humanity. He is more like an animal or a machine than a human.”  This paraphrase explains how work takes everything from a human being; it shows how a human being is used for a product to be made, there is no concern in how they are being treated because the final product is what matters the most. 

 The Worker And Alienation

The worker then becomes alienated from himself when he is alienated from the process of production as well as the product of his labour; he plummets to the level of commodity and as a result becomes the desolated commodity.  The increasing value of the world precedes in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men.  The worker becomes robbed of the objects most necessary not only for his life, but his work; the worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object, he puts his life into the object, but then his life no longer belongs to him, but to the object.  Various jobs make people feel as if they are just a number, depending on the workplace, and the type of work that is being done.  The fetishism of commodities is an ideology perpetuated by the social conditions of capitalism in which the value of commodities is perceived to be inherent within them, rather than being the result of human labour.  Commodity fetishism refers to the distorted relationship existing between individuals and the production and consumption of goods.  Capitalism is primarily a profitable game and is much more than an economic system, its operation affects all aspects of our existence. 

 The Value Of Commodities

Marx strongly believes in the value of commodities such as the use value, and the exchange value; though human labour is the one commodity that is exchanged for its value while at the same time is capable of producing more than its value.  He argues that we treat the goods we buy as if they have some sort of magical powers, and that we couldn’t live without them.  We lose sight of the fact that we create commodities and in doing so give them a power over us, which in reality they do not hold.  When people look at a product, the first thought is not that it is a product of human labour, or what it took to make that product.