Karl Marx's Estranged Labor vs. Adam Smith's Division of Labor - Research Paper Example

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Without a doubt, the very novel philosophical ideas set forth about estranged labor in Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and Adam Smith’s ideas about the division of labor in part one of his Wealth of Nations are some of the most revered in the world…
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Karl Marxs Estranged Labor vs. Adam Smiths Division of Labor
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Download file to see previous pages While Marx sought to minimalize the effects of capitalism, Smith sought to emphasize the brilliance of the free market economy. Naturally, these two individuals’ ideologies clash, but there is value in both perspectives, as one shall soon see. Karl Marx’s ideas about estranged labor, Smith’s ideas about the division of labor, and a comparison of the two ideologies will be herein attempted. II. Karl Marx’s Estranged Labor Karl Marx identifies estranged labor as labor alien to man. Marx explains the condition of estranged labor as the result of man participating in an alien to his nature. It my interpretation that man is alienated from his labor because he is not the reaper of what he sows. Because he is never the recipient of his efforts, the laborer lacks identity with what he creates. For Marx then labor is alien to the worker and does not belong to his essential being. Marx identifies two explanations of why man’s lack of identity with labor leads him to be estranged from labor. The explanation that the laborer does not develop freely his physical and mental energy, but instead mortifies his mind, may extol the virtue of communism. In other words, labor fails to nurture man’s physical and mental capacities, and instead, drains them. Because the worker is denied any nurturing in his work, no intimacy between the worker and his work develops. Although, it’s very hard to see how working in a sweat shop in Communist China, for example, is creating intimacy with one’s work to the point that one is able to develop one’s energy freely. Thus, this quote “lack” of an intimate relation with what he creates, man is summarily estranged from his labor. Furthermore, labor estranges man from himself. Marx argues that the labor the worker produces does not belong to him, but to someone else. Given this condition, the laborer belongs to someone else and is therefore enslaved. As a result of being enslaved the worker is reduced to a “subsisting animal,” a condition alien to him. As an end result man is estranged from himself and is, in his words, mortified. Marx points to these situations as the reason man is essentially estranged from his labor. The incongruence between the world of things the worker creates and the world the worker lives in is the estrangement. As the worker gives up his or her contribution to the work, he or she begins to lose importance to the work and the work becomes more superior to the worker. As this happens, the owner of the company or organization accumulates more wealth and power and is able to overcome competition and have more power over the worker. ? I find this to be true based on my personal experience when I worked for a logistics company as a shipping lead. The harder I worked, the more powerful the department became, hence the more powerful the company became—and the less important I became to the company and its superiors. The department improved a lot under my leadership whereby it generated more revenue. The result was that the company became more important than the person—as stated by Marx in the above paragraphs. ? The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever-cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. According to Marx in Calhoun and Gerteis (2007), “On the basis of political economy itself, in its own words, we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity and becomes indeed the most wretched of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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