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Different groups of citizens exist in both the past and present societies. These classifications are mostly focused on the social status and control of society or family members. The majority of people agree that such stratifications improve social balance and efficiency. Karl Marx, on the other hand, had a different view of the order or existence of society, as shown by the philosophy of capitalism. Capitalism, according to Marx, defines the nature of relations between those who own production means (bourgeoisie or capitalists) and the proletariat (workers) (Musto, M., 2010, pp.82). He indicated that social norms and nature of relationships revolve around this setup and mode of production.
Marx also alluded that capitalism represented an advanced historical phase that had not potential to progress into the future, He predicted that socialism would eventually replace these form of collaboration that was characterized by economic and social relationships between persons other than the connection between factors of production. The viewpoint fronted by Marx significantly hinted that capitalism results to the alienation of individuals in society (Lyons, 2007, pp. 105). The position is highly controversial because depending on the stance of the arguers. However, Marx’s message explicitly illustrates that commodity nature of the capitalist society enhances alienation by categorizing individuals into the working class and capitalists.
Concept of Alienation
Marx justifies the presence of isolation in a capitalist society by suggesting that labor is a conscious act because it enables people to obtain their livelihoods. In view of this, labor is an integral part of the human beings activities. Besides, energy performs other functions such as determining the nature of social relationships and connection to nature. Labor, in this case, is the focal point of alienation because workers do not directly benefit from the role of production. Instead, labor is only a fraction of the production system and the market. Therefore, the labor by produced by the working class benefits other people who own the units of productions (Benedict, 2009, pp. 234). This explanation indicates that alienation exists in different forms namely separation from the final product, means of production and position in the society. Marx summed up this forms of alienation as follows. First, distancing from species being in which humans have the capability to make rational decisions compared to other animals. Second, from of alienation entails separation from the productive activity. The third involved parting from fellow human beings. These forms of separations contributed to the formation of social classes based on the influence of a person or wealth.
How capitalism enhanced alienation
Marx observed that control of labor determined nature of social relationships. In this system, land acted as the primary source of capital for amassing wealth through the exploitation of human labor. However, not every member of the society had access to land because it was dependent on inheritance. Therefore, it was possible that the descendants of a working class generation would progressively offer labor to the capitalists. This possibility served as the first basis of alienation in the society in that bourgeoisie had the determination to acquire plenty of wealth by selling everything to raise income (Jossa, 2014, pp. 8). The way of life prompted alienation in that people began to sell their labor to facilitate production of goods and services they had little control over. This approach mirrors the current society in which nations are classified into industrialized, developing and underdeveloped countries. Similarly, the mainstream society classifies the citizens into rich, middle class and the have-nots. The classification of the nations and individuals determine the nature of roles, relationships, and capability to handle their affairs. Up to this point, the developed or rich influence policies and production patterns while the low-level earners act as subordinates. Marx highlighted this analogy by defining that sections of the society are alienated depending on the amount of wealth. The amount of wealth also offered individuals different capabilities to control factors of production.
Capitalism encouraged exploitation of the working class to maximize wealth acquisition. In view of this, Marx introduces the first concept of alienation in that persons are classified into different categories depending on the level of accumulated commodities. The landowners or capitalists, in this case, assume a higher position than the working class and maximize the human energy to harness value. According to this viewpoint, the capitalists or influential persons dictate or determine how to share the social capital, for instance, land or factories (Shantz, Alfes and Truss, 2014, pp. 2541). Most often, they purchase labor power to earn profits that benefit themselves. In the past and present societies, the capitalists place a monetary value on the services of the working class implying that they lack the freedom to demand accountability or benefit from the proceeds of their hard work. Up to this point, Marx had a valid point because social capital is the determinants of growth. The inconsistent valuation of the services of individuals (working class) makes them subordinates of the elite making and denies them the opportunity for self-actualization. These misconceptions are passed from one generation to the next leading to the unending cycle of the wealthy and poor. It is also evident from the arguments of Marx that capitalists and working class have different lifestyles.
Another evidence is that a worker lacked autonomy of the final product that he or she took part in its production. This situation arose from the fact that capitalists believed in mass productions to meet the demands of the growing populations. The anticipations facilitated developments such as division of labor and specialization, for example, in the manufacture of motor vehicles. Therefore, the workers only contributed a portion in the final product denying the opportunity to benefit from the commodity. Besides, the capitalists paid or bought labor from the working class. In the end, they received a compensation implying that they could not claim ownership of the final products. Marx suggested that separation of the laborer from final product represented a form of alienation.
In the context of isolation from fellow human beings, the arguments presented by Marx outline that the desire to produce surplus commodities led to competition. Individuals had the desire to enhance their income from the production of products. The wish motivated capitalists to acquire additional wealth such as land to control modes of production. In addition, high investment in production patterns resulted in immense profits. Similarly, the working class aimed to raise additional income to sustain the living standards. In the end, the capitalists alienated from one another as they concentrated on increasing their stake. The workers also detached from family members and other fellows in the society as they began working long hours or taking extra jobs in the industries. The trend is evident in the current setup in which people value their jobs at the expense of spending time with their loved ones. The work – life conflicts is also a manifestation of this form of alienation in the modern society because most people aim to maximize their wealth (Cater and Dash, 2013, pp. 15). Equally, the desire to control extra capital (land) has resulted in a few members of the society obtaining large tracts of land through legal or dubious means. In return, most people are landless while few possess vast tracts of land. In addition, resource-driven conflicts are manifestations of this form of seclusions, for instance, it is common to hear nations fighting over territorial boundaries. Furthermore, lack of adequate access or poor quality resources is also a recipe for civil conflicts. The point is that most people or nations devalue the significance of mutual collaboration. Instead, communities and families alienate themselves to protect their interests regarding the ownership of commodities.
Critique of alienation
Possibly, Marx asserted that labor is the cause of alienation. However, it is likely to mention that the social classification or alienation is a natural process for promoting social stability and coherence. A stable society requires specialization in the production system. The specialization naturally classifies people into different categories such as landowners, employers, and workers. In the event that people occupy the same level in the line of production, no person will be willing to take responsibility to work in a company (Sayers, 2007, pp. 91). This will lead to misunderstandings amongst the members of the society. Besides, the market is a means for displaying and advancing the skills of the laborers. Therefore, the claim that paying people to work delineates them from the final product is uncalled for because it offers people a chance to earn a living. Therefore, labor is not a conscious act but a holistic means for enabling people to nurture their skills.
The view that competition for land resources alienates people from one another is also unrealistic. Mainly, the property is acquired through a willing seller –willing buyer basis. Tin addition, the land is a factor of production meaning than failure to utilize land for income purposes is same as contributing to wastage of resources. Therefore, the stance by Marx that the process contributed to alienation lacks the moral backing (Archibald, 2009, pp. 167). Perhaps Marx preferred state ownership of land to enhance equality and access to the resources for production. However, the increasing population required drastic measures to improve production. The demographic changes enabled the increase of privately owned land to support the state interventions but never replaced the role of the government.
Concisely, Marx presented a valid opinion that capitalism led to alienation as evinced in the paper. The most notable reasons for this practice included the commercialization of labor and other factors of production. People worked hard to earn a living, take care of the families and contribute to the social development. In the process, humans alienated themselves from the mainstream social norms that defined a society. In addition, adults neglected their roles to of parenting to pursue careers with an aim to safeguarding the future of their generations. The introduction of the market system also enhanced competition between entities. The possible motivations were to increase production, control a significant market share and earn extra revenue. In the process, the entrepreneurs alienated themselves from nature and fellow beings. Despite the adversities of capitalization, it was a worthy idea because it met the demands of the increasing population. The society requires a holistic approach for managing the shared resources and empowering citizens to learn and acquire useful skills for production.
List of References
Archibald, W.P., 2009. Marx, globalization and alienation: received and underappreciated wisdoms. Critical Sociology, 35(2), pp.151-174.
Benedict, C., 2009. Processes of alienation: Marx, Orff and Kodaly. British Journal of Music Education, 26(02), pp.213-224.
Cater, C. and Dash, G., 2013. Alienation and false consciousness in adventurous activities. Outdoor adventure and social theory, pp.13-22.
Jossa, B., 2014. Alienation and the Self-Managed Firm System. Review of Radical Political Economics, 46(1), pp.5-14.
Lyons, R.G., 2007. Towards a theory of work satisfaction: an examination of Karl Marx and Frederick Herzberg. Journal of Thought, 42(3/4), p.105.
Musto, M., 2010. Revisiting Marx's concept of alienation. Socialism and Democracy, 24(3), pp.79-101.
Sayers, S., 2007. Individual and society in Marx and Hegel: Beyond the communitarian critique of liberalism. Science & Society, 71(1), pp.84-102.
Shantz, A., Alfes, K. and Truss, C., 2014. Alienation from work: Marxist ideologies and twenty-first-century practice. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(18), pp.2529-2550.
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