Karl Marx "Estranged Labour" (1844)


Written from spring to summer of 1844 in Paris. First published in 1932. In effect, this is Marx's "first draft" of his thinking about political economy and philosophy.



Where are we in the text?

"Estranged Labour" is the fourth section of the first of three manuscripts that make up the work (many parts of which have never been found). It follows sections titled

  1. "Wages of Labour"
  2. "Profit of Capital"
  3. "Rent of Land"

Argument, Logic, Outline, Takeaway

The excerpt has the following structure:

  1. 1-5 Introduction: this analysis follows from political economy
  2. 6-13 Alienation I - workers, products, objectification, commodification
  3. 14-21 Alienation II - human vs. nature (nature as life to nature as raw material)
  4. 22-35 Alienation III - human from self/species/essence (individual from human — human animal interchange)
  5. 36-40 Alienation IV - social human from human (compete against fellows)
  6. 41-51 Political/practical implications - alienation is about real social relations (who?!)
  7. 52 Theoretical import - private property not an axiom but a consequence

Along the way we are introduced to a number of concepts important as a part of our take-away from Marx. These include political economy, commodity, objectification, externalization, species-being, means/ends, competition, monopoly, land rents, craft-liberty, guilds, labor theory of value.

By way of background, a few words about political economy are helpful at the start. Forerunner to modern (marginal, neo-classical) economics. Focus is "wealth of nations." Factors of production: land, labor, capital. For Marx, the assumptions are unexamined and effects on individuals ignored.

A second item worth pausing over is "commodity." What is commodification and how is it related to alienation? What's the difference between baking a cake and buying a cake? Copper vs. stereos? Is the Ipad a commodity?

Introduction: Using Tools of Political Economy to Show What Is Wrong with It


We have started out from the premises of political economy. We have accepted its language and its laws. We presupposed private property; the separation of labor, capital, and land, and likewise of wages, profit, and capital; the division of labor; competition; the conception of exchange value, etc. From political economy itself, using its own words, we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity, and moreover the most wretched commodity of all; that the misery of the worker is in inverse proportion to the power and volume of his production; that the necessary consequence of competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands and hence the restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form; and that, finally, the distinction between capitalist and landlord, between agricultural worker and industrial worker, disappears and the whole of society must split into the two classes of property owners and propertyless workers.

So, what IS political economy?

Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with a distribution of national wealth including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy. It developed in the 18th century as the study of the economies of states, polities, hence political economy. (Wikipedia, Political Economy)

Previously in the manuscript, using the economic and political theories of the day, we showed:

  • worker becomes a commodity as his (sic) labour is bought and sold, the more so, the more productive;
  • competition leads to accumulation and concentration of capital and monopoly power;
  • we end up with a two class society : capitalist/owners and propertyless workers

Vocabulary. Do we get "rent of land," "commodity," "monopoly"

Commodity. Consider this definition: "In the original and simplified sense, commodities were things of value, of uniform quality, that were produced in large quantities by many different producers; the items from each different producer were considered equivalent." (Wikipedia)

What is something if it is not a commodity? A good for which there is qualitative differentiation (who made it, what it looks like, levels of fanciness or style, brand identity, etc.)

So, what sorts of labor ARE commodified around us? What would it mean to commodify professorial labor? Journalistic labor? Babysitting or child care?


Political economy proceeds from the fact of private property. It does not explain it.

Problem with PE is that it does not question its assumptions.

It grasps the material process of private property, the process through which it actually passes, in general and abstract formulae which it then takes as laws. It does not Comprehend these laws — i.e., it does not show how they arise from the nature of private property. Political economy fails to explain the reason for the division between labor and capital.

It shows how private property is processed by the system but it takes these things as natural laws (in the sense that this is the only way it could be).

For example, when it defines the relation of wages to profit, it takes the interests of the capitalists as the basis of its analysis — i.e., it assumes what it is supposed to explain.

PE looks at the system from the perspective of the owners of capital without even realizing that perspective matters.

Similarly, competition is frequently brought into the argument and explained in terms of external circumstances. Political economy teaches us nothing about the extent to which these external and apparently accidental circumstances are only the expression of a necessary development. We have seen how exchange itself appears to political economy as an accidental fact. The only wheels which political economy sets in motion are greed, and the war of the avaricious — Competition.

The downsides of capitalism are treated as incidental rather than being analyzed as necessary results of the system.  PE sees the mechanics of the system only in terms


Precisely because political economy fails to grasp the interconnections within the movement, it was possible to oppose, for example, the doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly, the doctrine of craft freedom to the doctrine of the guild, and the doctrine of the division of landed property to the doctrine of the great estate; for competition, craft freedom, and division of landed property were developed and conceived only as accidental, deliberate, violent consequences of monopoly, of the guilds, and of feudal property, and not as their necessary, inevitable, and natural consequences.

PE doesn't see connections and so is comfortable with false oppositions (competition - monopoly, craft-liberty vs. corporation (read "factory"?), division of land vs. landed estate (read "lots of small landowners vs. large assembled parcels"?)). PE comfortably sets these apart as "old ways vs. new ways" without seeing their historical connections.


We now have to grasp the essential connection between private property, greed, the separation of labor, capital and landed property, exchange and competition, value and the devaluation of man, monopoly, and competition, etc. -- the connection between this entire system of estrangement [//Entfremdung// and the money system.

We need to see connections between private property and avarice, etc.:

  • private property
  • avarice
  • separation of labour, capital, and landed property
  • exchange and competition
  • value and the devaluation of humans


We must avoid repeating the mistake of the political economist, who bases his explanations on some imaginary primordial condition. Such a primordial condition explains nothing. It simply pushes the question into the grey and nebulous distance. It assumes as facts and events what it is supposed to deduce — namely, the necessary relationships between two things, between, for example, the division of labor and exchange. Similarly, theology explains the origin of evil by the fall of Man — i.e., it assumes as a fact in the form of history what it should explain.

Ultimately its about connections between estrangement and money system! PE assumes as fact what it is supposed to explain, that is, the connections between things like division of labour and exchange.

Workers and Their Products


We shall start out from a present-day economic fact.

We are positivists! We start from a fact.


The worker becomes poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and extent. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he produces. The devaluation of the human world grows in direct proportion to the increase in value of the world of things. Labor not only produces commodities; it also produces itself and the workers as a commodity and it does so in the same proportion in which it produces commodities in general.

"The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range" (71.7). Labour produces commodities, itself as a commodity, and the worker as a commodity.


This fact simply means that the object that labor produces, it product, stands opposed to it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer.

The product of labor is labor embodied and made material in an object, it is the objectification of labor.

The realization of labor is its objectification.

In the sphere of political economy, this realization of labor appears as a loss of reality for the worker, objectification as loss of and bondage to the object, and appropriation as estrangement, as alienation [Entausserung].

Labour is human creativity. When labour produces an object it is externalized. What is in our hearts/heads becomes an object out there in the world ("congealed in an object"). It becomes separated from us. Alien. The product of my subjectivity becomes an object.

  • Imagine that I give you an assignment to write a paper. In return for it, I give you a grade. You pour your heart and soul into it and it turns out well and I pay you well with an A+. And then I take the papers of several of you and turn them into a book or article. I don't give you any further reward because you have already been paid. How do you feel? You see me getting famous (or rich) on the basis of what you created. That's alienation.
  • "Labour's realization is its objectification." Realization here means "becoming real" — when abstract labour as subjectivity is "realized" into the world it becomes objectified in the objects it produces. Under regular economic arrangements — the object passes over to the factory owner — this is experienced as a loss of reality for the worker (he creates something real only to have it taken away), as alienation or estrangement.


So much does the realization of labor appear as loss of reality that the worker loses his reality to the point of dying of starvation. So much does objectification appear as loss of the object that the worker is robbed of the objects he needs most not only for life but also for work. Work itself becomes an object which he can only obtain through an enormous effort and with spasmodic interruptions. So much does the appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that the more objects the worker produces the fewer can he possess and the more he falls under the domination of his product, of capital.

Verbal pyrotechnics. Point is that this estrangement amounts to an appropriation from (i.e., a ripping off) of the worker. Ultimately, s/he produces capital but is under its power rather than being in charge of it.


All these consequences are contained in this characteristic, that the workers is related to the product of labor as to an alien object. For it is clear that, according to this premise, the more the worker exerts himself in his work, the more powerful the alien, objective world becomes which he brings into being over against himself, the poorer he and his inner world become, and the less they belong to him. It is the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains within himself. The worker places his life in the object; but now it no longer belongs to him, but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the fewer objects the worker possesses. What the product of his labor is, he is not. Therefore, the greater this product, the less is he himself. The externalization [Entausserung] of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently of him and alien to him, and beings to confront him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien.

Worker's product is not "his" but an alien object. The more s/he puts him/herself into the object, the more s/he is robbed of self. "The worker puts his life into the object; but now his life no longer belongs to him but to the object" (72.45). You externalize your creative force and it turns into an object which stares back at you.

Objectification and Estrangement


Let us not take a closer look at objectification, at the production of the worker, and the estrangement, the loss of the object, of his product, that this entails.

Let's examine relationship between "objectification" and "estrangement"


The workers can create nothing without nature, without the sensuous external world. It is the material in which his labor realizes itself, in which it is active and from which, and by means of which, it produces.

Labour works in/on nature as the "outside world" — raw material and milieu


But just as nature provides labor with the means of life, in the sense of labor cannot live without objects on which to exercise itself, so also it provides the means of life in the narrower sense, namely the means of physical subsistence of the worker.

Nature provides objects and raw materials AND subsistence for the work


The more the worker appropriates the external world, sensuous nature, through his labor, the more he deprives himself of the means of life in two respects: firstly, the sensuous external world becomes less and less an object belonging to his labor, a means of life of his labor; and, secondly, it becomes less and less a means of life in the immediate sense, a means for the physical subsistence of the worker.

The more the worker uses external world deprives self of means of life. How so? Two ways:

  • world around you is no longer "your world" but just raw materials
  • world around you ceases to be source of life (you don't live off it, you have to go buy what you used to grow)


In these two respects, then, the worker becomes a slave of his object; firstly, in that he receives an object of labor, i.e., he receives work, and, secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence. Firstly, then, so that he can exists as a worker, and secondly as a physical subject. The culmination of this slavery is that it is only as a worker that he can maintain himself as a physical subject and only as a physical subject that he is a worker.

Labour turns into WORK and a MEANS of substistence. Worker is slave to the objectified version of what he is.


(The estrangement of the worker in his object is expressed according to the laws of political economy in the following way: the more the worker produces, the less he has to consume; the more value he creates, the more worthless he becomes; the more his product is shaped, the more misshapen the worker; the more civilized his object, the more barbarous the worker; the more powerful the work, the more powerless the worker; the more intelligent the work, the duller the worker and the more he becomes a slave of nature.)

PE says the more worker produces the less (%) of it he has to consume. Marx then says you can read it this way:

  • more value you create »> the more valueless you become
  • better formed the product »> more deformed the worker
  • more civilized the product »> the more barbarous the worker
  • the mightier the labour »> the more powerless the worker
  • the more ingenious labour becomes »> the duller the worker and the more subject to nature


Political economy conceals the estrangement in the nature of labor by ignoring the direct relationship between the worker (labor) and production. It is true that labor produces marvels for the rich, but it produces privation for the worker. It produces palaces, but hovels for the worker. It produces beauty, but deformity for the worker. It replaces labor by machines, but it casts some of the workers back into barbarous forms of labor and turns others into machines. It produces intelligence, but it produces idiocy and cretinism for the worker.

PE hides the estrangement inherent in labour by not looking at connection between worker and production. We focus on the great things the system produces. “Walmart has such awesome prices and fast checkout lines!”


The direct relationship of labor to its products is the relationship of the worker to the objects of his production. The relationship of the rich man to the objects of production and to production itself is only a consequence of this first relationship, and confirms it. Later, we shall consider this second aspect.

Labour ↔ its product

worker ↔ objects of his production

By contrast,

man-of-means ↔ (worker) ↔ production/objects of production



Therefore, when we ask what is the essential relationship of labor, we are asking about the relationship of the worker to production.

Focus will be essential relationship of labour : relationship of worker to production.

Effect on the Process of Work/Production


Up to now, we have considered the estrangement, the alienation of the worker, only from one aspect — i.e., his relationship to the products of his labor. But estrangement manifests itself not only in the result, but also in the act of production, within the activity of production itself. How could the product of the worker's activity confront him as something alien if it were not for the fact that in the act of production he was estranging himself from himself? After all, the product is simply the resume of the activity, of the production. So if the product of labor is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation. The estrangement of the object of labor merely summarizes the estrangement, the alienation in the activity of labor itself.

Alienation is not just in relationship to product but also in the process of production itself, in the activity.


What constitutes the alienation of labor?


Firstly, the fact that labor is external to the worker — i.e., does not belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. Hence, the worker feels himself only when he is not working; when he is working, he does not feel himself. He is at home when he is not working, and not at home when he is working. His labor is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is forced labor. It is, therefore, not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, it is shunned like the plague. External labor, labor in which man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Finally, the external character of labor for the worker is demonstrated by the fact that it belongs not to him but to another, and that in it he belongs not to himself but to another. Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, the human brain, and the human heart, detaches itself from the individual and reappears as the alien activity of a god or of a devil, so the activity of the worker is not his own spontaneous activity. It belongs to another, it is a loss of his self.

Labour (under capitalism) is “outside” the worker. It is a “turnoff.” Engaging in it does not affirm but denies self. Since creative labour is what makes us human, we should feel most human at work but we do not. Labour is forced and coerced and is merely a means, it is not voluntary.

Consider, for example, the life of a student who is working mainly for a grade. Here is the list of implications Marx identifies:

  • does not feel "at home"
  • not voluntary
  • means not end
  • self sacrifice. mortification
  • belongs to someone else
  • not a spontaneous activity, loss of self.


The result is that man (the worker) feels that he is acting freely only in his animal functions — eating, drinking, and procreating, or at most in his dwelling and adornment — while in his human functions, he is nothing more than animal.

As result we only feel "human" when we engage in our animal functions (eating, etc.) and we feel only animal-like when we are engaged in our most human endeavor (i.e., work).


It is true that eating, drinking, and procreating, etc., are also genuine human functions. However, when abstracted from other aspects of human activity, and turned into final and exclusive ends, they are animal.

Eating IS human but it is not part of human essence.


We have considered the act of estrangement of practical human activity, of labor, from two aspects: (1) the relationship of the worker to the product of labor as an alien object that has power over him. The relationship is, at the same time, the relationship to the sensuous external world, to natural objects, as an alien world confronting him, in hostile opposition. (2) The relationship of labor to the act of production within labor. This relationship is the relationship of the worker to his own activity as something which is alien and does not belong to him, activity as passivity [Leiden], power as impotence, procreation as emasculation, the worker's own physical and mental energy, his personal life — for what is life but activity? — as an activity directed against himself, which is independent of him and does not belong to him. Self-estrangement, as compared with the estrangement of the object [Sache] mentioned above.

Review. Two points so far:

  • worker relates to product as alien object that has power over him (how this second part?)
  • worker relationship to his own activity is alienating


We now have to derive a third feature of estranged labor from the two we have already examined.

Thus, there is a strong self-estrangement here, not just estrangement of a thing. There is a third point to make


Man is a species-being, not only because he practically and theoretically makes the species — both his own and those of other things — his object, but also — and this is simply another way of saying the same thing — because he looks upon himself as the present, living species, because he looks upon himself as a universal and therefore free being.

The essence of being human is related to the fact that we are self conscious about being free, individual beings.


Species-life, both for man and for animals, consists physically in the fact that man, like animals, lives from inorganic nature; and because man is more universal than animals, so too is the area of inorganic nature from which he lives more universal. Just as plants, animals, stones, air, light, etc., theoretically form a part of human consciousness, partly as objects of science and partly as objects of art — his spiritual inorganic nature, his spiritual means of life, which he must first prepare before he can enjoy and digest them — so, too, in practice they form a part of human life and human activity. In a physical sense, man lives only from these natural products, whether in the form of nourishment, heating, clothing, shelter, etc. The universality of man manifests itself in practice in that universality which makes the whole of nature his inorganic body, (1) as a direct means of life and (2) as the matter, the object, and the tool of his life activity. Nature is man's inorganic body — that is to say, nature insofar as it is not the human body. Man lives from nature — i.e., nature is his body — and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it is he is not to die. To say that man's physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.

Alienation from both nature and self estranges humans from their essential essence, from what makes them human in the first place. I relate this also to the fact that it gives rise to an individualism that is antithetical to our species-being but I'm not sure about this.


Estranged labor not only (1) estranges nature from man and (2) estranges man from himself, from his own function, from his vital activity; because of this, it also estranges man from his species. It turns his species-life into a means for his individual life. Firstly, it estranges species-life and individual life, and, secondly, it turns the latter, in its abstract form, into the purpose of the former,also in its abstract and estranged form.

What happens is the activity of life ends up seeming to be just a means of survival. Compare the old "live to work vs. work to live." Ironically, given who mouths this maxim, Marx would prefer that we live to work in the sense that it would be a source of meaning and self expression.


For in the first place labor, life activity, productive life itself, appears to man only as a means for the satisfaction of a need, the need to preserve physical existence. But productive life is species-life. It is life-producing life. The whole character of a species, its species-character, resides in the nature of its life activity, and free conscious activity constitutes the species-character of man. Life appears only as a means of life.

Animals are what they do. Humans have consciousness which can be self reflective. We can have our life as a project. EL turns this power into a mere means for survival. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" really just means "how do you want to earn a living?"


The animal is immediately one with its life activity. It is not distinct from that activity; it is that activity. Man makes his life activity itself an object of his will and consciousness. He has conscious life activity. It is not a determination with which he directly merges. Conscious life activity directly distinguishes man from animal life activity. Only because of that is he a species-being. Or, rather, he is a conscious being — i.e., his own life is an object for him, only because he is a species-being. Only because of that is his activity free activity. Estranged labor reverses the relationship so that man, just because he is a conscious being, makes his life activity, his being [Wesen], a mere means for his existence.

Animals produce, but humans can produce even when they don't need. In fact, it's only truly human when we so produce. We can produce according to "laws of beauty." Another way to see this is to note that humans can produce as an expression of consciousness.


The practical creation of an objective world, the fashioning of inorganic nature, is proof that man is a conscious species-being — i.e., a being which treats the species as its own essential being or itself as a species-being. It is true that animals also produce. They build nests and dwelling, like the bee, the beaver, the ant, etc. But they produce only their own immediate needs or those of their young; they produce only when immediate physical need compels them to do so, while man produces even when he is free from physical need and truly produces only in freedom from such need; they produce only themselves, while man reproduces the whole of nature; their products belong immediately to their physical bodies, while man freely confronts his own product. Animals produce only according to the standards and needs of the species to which they belong, while man is capable of producing according to the standards of every species and of applying to each object its inherent standard; hence, man also produces in accordance with the laws of beauty.

Humans create their world. We manipulate nature. Nature appears as "our reality." We surround ourselves by what we create. This is how the world comes to be an expression of our human nature. [NOTE: all of this refers to the unalienated version.] EL tears us away from the world thus conceptualized. What was an advantage over animals becomes a disadvantage.


It is, therefore, in his fashioning of the objective that man really proves himself to be a species-being. Such production is his active species-life. Through it, nature appears as his work and his reality. The object of labor is, therefore, the objectification of the species-life of man: for man produces himself not only intellectually, in his consciousness, but actively and actually, and he can therefore contemplate himself in a world he himself has created. In tearing away the object of his production from man, estranged labor therefore tears away from him his species-life, his true species-objectivity, and transforms his advantage over animals into the disadvantage that his inorganic body, nature, is taken from him.

EL turns species-life into a mere means.


In the same way as estranged labor reduces spontaneous and free activity to a means, it makes man's species-life a means of his physical existence.



Consciousness, which man has from his species, is transformed through estrangement so that species-life becomes a means for him.

EL turns species being into alien being, a mere means to individual existence. [compare, in this regard, prostitution]

Alienation as a SOCIAL Phenomenon


(3) Estranged labor, therefore, turns man's species-being — both nature and his intellectual species-power — into a being alien to him and a means of his individual existence. It estranges man from his own body, from nature as it exists outside him, from his spiritual essence [Wesen], his human existence. (4) An immediate consequence of man's estrangement from the product of his labor, his life activity, his species-being, is the estrangement of man from man. When man confront himself, he also confronts other men. What is true of man's relationship to his labor, to the product of his labor, and to himself, is also true of his relationship to other men, and to the labor and the object of the labor of other men.

EL also estranges "man from man" — the "other" is alien and separate from us [DJR: again, individualism as ideology — you are working on your survival and I am working on my survival]


In general, the proposition that man is estranged from his species-being means that each man is estranged from the others and that all are estranged from man's essence.

Man from man just as man from his essential nature.


Man's estrangement, like all relationships of man to himself, is realized and expressed only in man's relationship to other men.

Man's estrangement, like all relationships of man to himself, is realized and expressed only in man's relationship to other men.


In the relationship of estranged labor, each man therefore regards the other in accordance with the standard and the situation in which he as a worker finds himself.

We see others from our perspective as a worker (rather than as a "fellow human being")


We started out from an economic fact, the estrangement of the worker and of his production. We gave this fact conceptual form: estranged, alienated labor. We have analyzed this concept, and in so doing merely analyzed an economic fact.

This all derives analytically from PE

Let's Get Political!


Let us now go on to see how the concept of estranged, alienated labor must express and present itself in reality.

Onward to real life ("let's get empirical"? or just practical?)


If the product of labor is alien to me, and confronts me as an alien power, to whom does it then belong?

To whom does the alien object I produce belong?


If my own activity does not belong to me, if it is an alien, coerced activity, to whom, then does it belong?

To whom does my alien activity belong?


To a being other than me.

To another being.


Who is this being?


The gods? It is true that in early times most production — e.g., temple building, etc., in Egypt, India, and Mexico — was in the service of the gods, just as the product belonged to the gods. But the gods alone were never the masters of labor. The same is true of nature. And what a paradox it would be if the more man subjugates nature through his labor and the more divine miracles are made superfluous by the miracles of industry, the more he is forced to forgo the joy or production and the enjoyment of the product out of deference to these powers.

The gods? No. Nature? No.


The alien being to whom labor and the product of labor belong, in whose service labor is performed, and for whose enjoyment the product of labor is created, can be none other than man himself.

The other must be another person.


If the product of labor does not belong to the worker, and if it confronts him as an alien power, this is only possible because it belongs to a man other than the worker. If his activity is a torment for him, it must provide pleasure and enjoyment for someone else. Not the gods, not nature, but only man himself can be this alien power over men.

Someone other than the worker. That's why the product seems alien. It belongs to someone else. It is my torment, but his joy. [cf. the consultant and her work]


Consider the above proposition that the relationship of man to himself becomes objective and real for him only through his relationship to other men. If, therefore, he regards the product of his labor, his objectified labor, as an alien, hostile, and powerful object which is independent of him, then his relationship to that object is such that another man — alien, hostile, powerful, and independent of him — is its master. If he relates to his own activity as unfree activity, then he relates to it as activity in the service, under the rule, coercion, and yoke of another man.

The alienation lies in the fact that the product of my labor becomes "real" or "objective" for me through relation to other person. It becomes alien because other person is master of the object.


Every self-estrangement of man from himself and nature is manifested in the relationship he sets up between other men and himself and nature. Thus, religious self-estrangement is necessarily manifested in the relationship between layman and priest, or, since we are dealing here with the spiritual world, between layman and mediator, etc. In the practical, real world, self-estrangement can manifest itself only in the practical, real relationship to other men. The medium through which estrangement progresses is itself a practical one. So through estranged labor man not only produces his relationship to the object and to the act of production as to alien and hostile powers; he also produces the relationship in which other men stand to his production and product, and the relationship in which he stands to these other men. Just as he creates his own production as a loss of reality, a punishment, and his own product as a loss, a product which does not belong to him, so he creates the domination of the non-producer over production and its product. Just as he estranges from himself his own activity, so he confers upon the stranger and activity which does not belong to him.

Marx as materialist. Alienation is not a psychological phenomenon but a real property of real relationships.


Up to now, we have considered the relationship only from the side of the worker. Later on, we shall consider it from the side of the non-worker.

Sign-post for later section…


Thus, through estranged, alienated labor, the worker creates the relationship to this labor of another man, who is alien to it and stands outside it, to that labor. The relation of the worker to labor creates the relation to it of the capitalist — or whatever other word one chooses for the master of labor. Private property is therefore the product, result, and necessary consequence of alienated labor, of the external relation of the worker to nature and to himself.

Marx wants to undermine the PE assumption of private property as an axiom. His theory is "interesting" in that he says "PE takes private property as a starting point, I show that it is a consequence of particular social relations."

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