1. What is Alienation?
According to Marx, alienation is a material process by which man creates things out of nature and comes to be dominated by those creations. The creative potential is fundamental to human beings. They continually create the world.
But, they lose control of their own creations and become subject to them. It is externalization of human creativity into forms which not only obscured but denied their human, creative origin.
2. Causes of Alienation:
The chief cause of alienation is the institution of private property. Marx would ask “If I wish to play tennis or golf do I need to own to court and so exclude others before I can pursue that objective”, he identifies four told alienation.
1. Alienation from product
2. Alienation from labour
3. Alienation from other men
4. Alienation from himself
3. Alienation from product:
This happens in two ways:
Firstly, a product does not belong to a person who creates it. Secondly, the profit from his product goes on to increase the capital investment and increase the control of capital over labour.
4. Alienation from labour:
It is the major form of alienation whereby the worker is alienated from his own nature. It can be illustrated by the saying “the worker works in order to live, he does not see his work as fulfilling his life, but simply as something to be got through in order to live”.
5. Alienation from other men:
The competitive character of economic system is subject to the laws of supply and demand without considering the human consequences. Some are thrown out; some are made to work for long hours.
6. Alienation from himself:
The three forms of alienation reduce him to the level of an animal existence where he has no interest for art, literature, music, etc.
7. How can it be overcome?
Marx holds that the condition of man’s alienation can be overcome only under communist system. There will not be commodity production and private property.
The work will be allocated by a principle through which an individual can engaged him in creative activities.
Marx’s concept of alienation reflects his moral criticism of contemporary capitalist society. It shows the dehumanizing effects of capitalist system of production.
The unabashed, unrestrained and ruthless form of market based capitalism needs to take cognizance of this aspect. For, its neglect may force Marx to rise from the ashes and vindicate the claims of liberal egalitarianisms.