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January 14, 2017


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Self-development. She mistakes work for self-development. Self-development is essential. Prostrating oneself into remunerated employment is not the same thing.

Luc Hansen

Gotta be a bit careful about that retirement thing. One can be so busy thinking about something useful to say/do that the space between breakfast and dinner passes by before one can blink.


I have my own business. Can't sell it, can't find anyone to run it, can't wind it up as I'll put 10 people out of work. I feel as trapped as I would if I was having to work to clear debt. Ironically I'm also terrified of retiring but this article has helped

Jeffrey Stewart

Maybe you can read Marx again in retirement and actually understand it this time?

You quote Marx on alienation and then the paragraphs that follow have absolutely nothing to do with the quote. Why is it there?

It appears that abstract labor produces surplus value or its apparent form profit contained in commodities. They're sold and profit realized in money form. This profit is reinvested as capital in the form of means of production or constant capital which "begins to confront him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien."

Get it?


«because it ignores the fact that work is alienating»

Adding to "Jeffrey Stewart"'s comment, dear old Karl thought that work, not just "self development", was essential to human existence, and that alienation happened not because of work, but because of having to work under the overwhelming control of someone else, as a mere component of someone else's system. Alienation for Karl arose out of lack of autonomy, not from work itself.

A few decades before Karl our dear de Tocqueville expressed the same observations in "Democracy in America" (volume 1, part 2):

«In France, most of those who hire out their services to till the ground are themselves owners of a few plots of land which, at a pinch, will enable them to live without working for anyone else. When these people offer to work for a great landlord or a neighbouring tenant farmer but are refused a certain wage, they withdraw to their small and await another opportunity. I think that, on the whole, it can be said that the slow and gradual rise in wages is one of the more general laws of democratic societies. As conditions become more equal, wages rise, as wages increase, conditions become more equal.

But nowadays one great and unfortunate exception occurs. I have demonstrated in a previous chapter how the aristocracy, once expelled from the political life, had withdrawn into certain areas of industrial enterprise and had created its power there in a different form. This has a strong influence on the rate of wages.

As one must already be very rich to take on the great industries of which I speak, the number of entrepreneurs is very small. Being few in number they can easily league together and fix the level of wages as they like.

Workmen, by comparison, are very numerous and their numbers are constantly on the increase for, from time to time, extraordinary periods of prosperity occur when wages rise wildly, attracting people in the locality into manufacturing industry.

Now, once men have embarked upon this career, we have seen that they cannot escape from it because they soon pick up habits of body and mind which render them unsuited for any other work. These men usually lack education, energy resources. They are, therefore, at their master's mercy.

When competition, or any other circumstances, reduce the master's profits, he can curb their wages almost at will and can easily recoup from them what the fortunes of business take from him. Should they choose to strike, the master, who is wealthy, is easily able to wait, without risk of ruin, until necessity brings them back since they must work every day so as not to die, for they own almost nothing but the strength of their arms. Oppression has long since reduced them to poverty and, as they become poorer, they are easier to oppress -- a vicious circle from which they cannot escape.»


However I now realize that our blogger must have misworded his statement, because the video he links to has a caption that begins:

«Karl Marx believed that work, at its best, is what makes us human».


what gives you the right to tell a cold call salesperson in the car crash biz that he or she is not happy ??
Did someone die and make you god ?
(note that your own logic shifts here: you start off with jobs as emotion, and then switch, suddenly to jobs as benefit to society
not fair cricket))

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