Monday, January 05, 2009
In the intricate web of political economy, there are four aspects of alienated labor that the laborer endures and these are (1) his alienation from his “species essence” as a human being rather than a machine, (2) his alienation with his co-worker because capitalism brings labor down to the level of a commodity that is traded on the market instead of a social relationship, (3) his alienation from the product because this is appropriated by the capitalist and, thus, goes beyond the worker’s control , and (4) his alienation from the very act of production, in such a way that work becomes a meaningless activity, lacking internal satisfactions.
The alienation of people from one another is a prevalent motif in the contemporary times. Since the object of the production, the product, does not belong to the laborer, then it belongs to another human being, namely the capitalist class. In such a case, the enriching commodity alienates the capitalist from the laborer by making the capitalist richer while denying the product maker himself the profit and giving him mere wages for his rendered labor. In other words, the capitalist outstrips the laborer in terms of enrichment, alienating the latter from the former by virtue of the latter’s profit ownership. As such, the laborer’s act of production is an instrument to secure survival from another human being, the capitalist in this case. The laborer’s alienated relationship with the capitalist cannot be called an act of free will, therefore, because he has no choice but to undergo the experience if he needs to survive. Also, workers are alienated from one another because they treat one another as rivals in getting a job. Instead of being drawn toward one another by friendship, laborers compete against one another because their survival rests on their capacity to outshine others in securing labor.