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Allie's avatar

What in the world was Karl Marx talking about?

Asked by Allie (17526points) October 3rd, 2008

Can someone explain to me in simple terms what Karl Marx was saying when he talked about private property and its relationship with labor (as talked about in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844). As I understand it it has something to do with how people are turned into a commodity and devalued and how with the exchange of private property people are separated into the have and the have-not groups. Is this at all right, or completely off? Am I missing something?

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5 Answers

bodyhead's avatar

No it sounds like you’re pretty right on. When no one owns anything, it doesn’t create economic divisions in society.

As for the other part of your question, the wiki says it better then I can:

In the first manuscript, Marx exposes his theory of alienation, which he adapted from Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity (1841). He explains how, under capitalism, more and more people rely on “labour” to live. That is, before people could rely in part on Nature itself for its “natural needs”; in modern society, if one wants to eat, one must work: it is only through money that one may survive. Thus, if the alienation of the worker consists in being a “slave toward its object”, the worker is doubly alienated: “first, he receives an object of labour, that is he finds work [as one says: ‘I finally found work!’], and second, he receives means of subsistence. He thereby owes it [to labour] the possibility to exist first as a worker, second as a physical subject. The last straw of this servitude [or serfdom] is that it is only his quality as a worker that permits him to continue to conserve himself as a physical subject, and it is only as a physical subject that he can be a worker”. In other words, the worker relies on labour to find money to be able to live; but he doesn’t simply live, he actually only survives, as a worker. Labour is only used to create more wealth, instead of achieving the fulfillment of “human nature”. This intervention of the concept of “human nature” has also been one of the long-standing factors in this text’s being largely ignored, as it seemed too “humanist” and therefore akin to liberalism and bourgeois philosophy (in a literal sense: a philosophy founded on the bourgeois rights of Man proclaimed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen).

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Nice post bodyhead. That is very interesting.

Allie's avatar

Thank you, bodyhead. P.S. – I guess I’ll be using wikipedia to understand this class more often. =)

bodyhead's avatar

It’s a valid question. Sometimes even the wikipedia entries aren’t clear. That just happens to be a particularly good one.

I say keep asking your questions here. Anything that inspires discussion is welcome.

asmonet's avatar

You’re a silly sociologist in the making. <3

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