Karl Marx: Alienation In The 19th Century

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Karl Marx (1818-1883), the significant revolutionary thinker, historian and philosopher of the 19th century is best known for his critique of capitalism. As a philosopher, his ideas became very relevant at that time due to the rise of industrialization in Europe. Marx began to become politically and socially active as he was influenced by the thoughts of Hagel, which started to shape his political philosophy. His activities as a thinker produced many significant works, which historians categorize into three different parts, his writings in the early years, mid years, and later years. Historians distinguish between the different time periods of his writings because it shows the philosophical progression in his work. In his early times of writing,…show more content…
Additionally, for Marx, alienation is one of the main reasons why capitalism leads to communism. In the capitalist context of the 19th century, work was alienated. Labour was treated as a commodity, in the sense that workers were exploited to produce as much as possible for as little as possible so that the bourgeoisie could continue to make profit while the proletariats lived and worked in poor conditions. This lead to the alienation of the working class as they felt a disconnection from what they did all day and who they really are. To Marx, alienation is dangerous in a society because it denies workers “their human, creative origins” (Hampsher-Monk 1992: 499). A flaw that Marx sees in capitalism is that for the working class, work is very specialized, meaning that a worker only needs one set of skills to produce in a factory. The ruling class view specialization as a positive, since for them it translates to high efficiency and productivity which yields a higher margin of profit. Due to specialization, Marx argues that the worker does not reach their fullest potential in life, and therefore perceives capitalism to be an unfair economic system (Hancock 1971: 65). Moreover, Marx viewed “human beings as essentially social” and because humans are social, work should be “within a context of social relations” (Sayers 2011: 81). Although due to the reality of how capitalism functions, it constraints the labourer with one skill set to increase the level of productivity so that the rich keep getting richer while the poor remain poor. This is the main issue that arises for the working class, is that due to their alienation, it leads to the rise of the proletariats against those who own and control the means of production. The labourers rise to revolt against the system because of how alienated they have become. Examples to showcase the rise of the proletariats include the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia of

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