Concept of Justice
September 20, 2001
The early Marx
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Early Marx often contrasted to later Marx
What does alienation mean? What are some things it can mean?
What Marx means by it:
layers of meaning:
product taken away from worker
worker feels exploited
worker does not work for its own sake, but to live
extreme alienation: what you do serves your enemy
loss of self, human qualities
Will discuss economic and psychological aspects of alienation
Economic aspect of theory
1. p. 1 Starts from political economy
What is political economy? Economic theory as understood politically; eg. Adam Smith
What problems does Marx see with political economy?
- treats private property as a given, as a starting point, need to explain private property
Note he rejects the Lockean approach, state of nature, p. 1 next to last para. "imaginary primordial condition"
s of n assumes relations rather than deducing them
last line p. 1, Marx will begin from fact - what fact does he begin from?
-workers becoming poorer (19th cent.) with increased industrialization
Marx says worker himself produced as a commodity
Commodity - meaning? (Something bought & sold)
In what sense is the worker a commodity?
Compare to earlier pre-industrial society
Increasing commodification, including treating of persons as commodities
Objectification, p. 2 para. 2
product of labor is something alien to the worker
product is objectification of labor -- solidified labor
Estrangement = loss of object, para. 3 p. 2
how does worker lose the product? What does he mean?
AThe more the worker spends himself, the more powerful the alien objective world becomes@
what does he mean by the statement, Awork itself becomes an object which he can get hold of only with the greatest effort@?
the more he produces, the less he can possess
commentary on development of industrialization; workers poorer than ever
overall - the class of workers
workers producing more, yet poorer; thus must be enrichment of someone else, p. 6
who else? Capitalist
workers labor for the enrichment of capitalists, and themselves become impoverished
but is impoverishment of workers his main concern? End of p. 7
raising wages ---> better paid slave
NB even equality of wages does not resolve estrangement of labor, p. 35
so what is the essential aspect in economic terms?
Product of labor belongs to other men
someone else master of the object
labor under yoke of another man p. 6 end
labor as alienating:
creates object for others
engenders his own loss
and the relation of the nonworker to the object
worse: the more he works, the more powerful the capitalist becomes (as result of the wealth produced by the worker) - see p. 33
private property is the consequence of alienated labor, p. 34
can you have private property without alienated labor? Everyone keeps own product, or trades it
can you have alienated labor without private property? -- clearly not
Marx seems to say that if people did not engage in alienated labor, there would not be private property; alienated labor produces private property and the property relations that make it possible
perhaps private property in the sense of capital; clearly capital would not be possible without alienated labor
Political economy doesn=t consider direct relationship between worker and production:
look not at objects created for wealthy but those created for worker
appears to be the source, but is really the consequence; just as gods appear to be the cause, but are actually the consequence, of intellectual confusion
[note dialectical relation] p. 34
where there is private property, there are wages - and vice versa
where there are wages, labor is not an end in itself (psych. aspect)
emancipation of workers ---> human emancipation
labor theory of value and surplus value
how is profit possible? If I buy raw materials at their value, and buy labor at its value, then sell product at its value, where does the profit come in? does capitalist sell for more than its value?
worker sells his labor power, adding value to raw materials
but to "produce labor" only requires subsistence of worker
Capitalist seeks to pay worker subsistence, worker to get full value of his labor
Psychological aspect of argument
Alienation - what kinds of things does Marx say about psychological alienation?
increase in objects impoverishes inner life, p.
creation of object as power against him; as alien and hostile, p. 6 end
loss of self, top of page 4
labor is external to the worker; not part of his essential being
quote p. 3 end
Ain work he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind@
work is therefore forced labor, p. 31
sense of coercion as marx uses it here?
Labor of self sacrifice
not his own, but someone else=s
it belongs to another; therefore it is the loss of his self. (Combined psych/econ. arg)
Describe work you would find as least alienating, most alienating
What are the essential attributes of non-alienating labor?
Ends of another that you don=t share
most alienating: work done for ends you oppose, for enemy
(work that engages Aprivate@ aspects of self; Asale of personality@; more on this later)
Marx: Aloss of self,@ p. 31
Marx=s conception of self, human, in relation to labor
Work done as end in itself
Truly human activity -- work done freely, in absence of need
Man and nature
What is relation between man and nature according to Marx?
nature necessary for life and labor, pp. 30
appropriation of nature through labor reduces availability of natural resources (?) -- hence less is left for subsistence and for labor
slave of object -- now not nature, but manufactured goods, are the basis of life
physically lives on nature
man linked to nature; nature is his Ainorganic@ body, p. 4
man universal in this (?) sense
estranged labor separates man from nature -- how?
1. Productive life appears as merely a means of satisfying a need (rather than as an end in itself)
a. man distinguished from animals by conscious life-activity
b. Man produces even when free from physical need, and truly produces only when free from physical need, p.
c. Can produce things according to external standard such as beauty
d. labor produces the world as man=s (own) world, his own reality
e. Removing product from person removes from him his species-life, that which separates him from animals
AEstranged labor makes man=s species-life a means to his physical existence@
estranges man=s own body from him as a human person
everything is owned - by someone else
cannot even work (no access to raw materials)
Man as a species-being: what does this mean? P. 4
Sense of self as part of a larger whole
cf. Sartre, each of our actions helps to define what it is to be human
He adopts the species as his object, p. 4
He treats himself as universal
meaning of this
Marx sees estranged labor as depriving man of the essential qualities that make him human
Is the capitalist then Atruly human@?
General nature of private property in relation to truly human, social property
private property embraces the relation of the non worker to the worker and his labor
On part of nonworker, alienation appears in an attenuated form, p. 36
What is needed to resolve alienation? Are we stuck with it?
What would show Marx wrong about alienation? Psychological? Economic?
Economic alienation true by defn.; can only argue it isn=t important
have to quarrel with Marx=s conception of what it means to be human, importance of self-actuated work
Psychological alienation: could show that people don=t feel this way (but clearly they do)
Possibly resolve by identity of ends between worker and capitalist; we will see Marx argue that their ends are necessarily opposed, a zero-sum game
Power of Money
do you agree with Marx about the power of money?
Is this a bad thing?
Why does he think it would be better if money did not have such power?
what things do we regard as not for sale?
Sex (possibly) - note recent arguments that it=s just another way of making a living
political principles -- what is the contemporary tendency?
People/Children (Posner, ASelling Babies@)
Reduction in the sphere of the non-saleable; stewardess example
spilling over of business functions into social; social relations used to promote business
tendency to believe that everything can be reduced to its cash value
wedding presents; Atrade@ of expensive reception for gifts
Marx points out that the logic of political economy is that everything should be for sale; ethics in contradiction with this
stresses between economic system and values it promotes vs. ethical system and its values
two ways of looking at every transaction: Agood guy@/Asucker@
e.g., suppose you are about to buy from me a painting that you like the look of, but that we both regard as unremarkable; then you accidentally discover it has great monetary value
what should you do? Tell me or not?
Note Marx as looking at overall social relations rather than at individual relations/transactions; contrast with Locke and Lockean tradition