Marx’s Four Forms of Alienation
The alienation of the worker in his product. With this Marx is attempting to show that through constant production the worker becomes, in effect, the slave of his own product. As the object increases in value, he essentially decreases. By saying this, he implies that by working to satisfy the desire for objects by others, he himself becomes an object to said people. As the value of the inanimate increases, his value as a human being decreases; rendering the object he creates the authoritive figure. It is no longer his own, but instead he belongs to it. The more efficient he is, the less he is worth for the object becomes of greater value and his humanity ceases.
I suppose that Marx would feel that by working to create a product for oneself, instead of working to create for the demand of others, alienation would cease to be. In order to effectively do so, the worker would have to be capable of choosing what he would do in order to maintain his life and existence, without another’s demands playing into that decision. He would also have to be able to utilize that product to attain other products that he himself did not, or could not create, and it would have to be a product desired by others, that they could not create. The labor he pursued would have to be one that left him full filled. The first form of alienation leads into such a problem.
The alienation of man to the act of producing. Marx sees a problem with the actual act of production, that is to say, he thinks the relationship between man and his actual activity of labor, if forced, is unnatural. By working as a means to finding satisfaction instead of the work being satisfying in and of itself, man separates himself from the process and is miserable as a result. By doing this, he is then subject to Marx’s third form of separation.
The alienation of man from the self. Because man has separated himself from both the object and the act of producing such object, he also separates himself from himself.
He has, by living a life of self-sacrifice sub ordinance, reduced himself to property. He no longer belongs to himself, instead, by becoming an object, by separating himself from his labor, by giving himself to his work, he belongs to another, or it would truly seem, to capitalism. Marx refers to this as being alienated from ones “species-life” and his consciousness. This leads directly to Marx’s fourth form of alienation
The alienation of man from other men. By separating oneself from species life, they also separate themselves from other men. Man’s relationship to himself is realized and expressed most prominently through interaction with others. If he has separated himself from himself, he is incapable of living within his species life and interacting with others at all. Man begins to treat and view others just as he has come to treat and view himself as a result of alienation.
Though I stated earlier that it would seem that, in order to avoid alienation of labour, one would have to work to satisfy ones own needs or desires, Marx’s solution would be one of communism. To him, that is the only way to work for one’s own satisfaction, without then becoming the owner of another man. Through shared resources, and designated tasks that allow no one to surpass the other in stature, no one need fear the rule of others, or rather that he become the object of another. It allows that no man need to live simply for another man, but to support himself through work that has not the hold of capitalistic, and unnatural authority. Economically, man is not the slave to production.