Marx’s Theory of Alienation and Egalitarianism

Topic: Social & Political Theories
Words: 1129 Pages: 4


Capitalism has propelled innovation, business growth, and prosperity in contemporary society. However, increased inequalities and market failures have been associated with capitalism. Capitalistic economic and political systems involve private control of a country’s trade and industries. Consequently, there is a monopoly in the market, leading to higher product prices and poor product quality. Karl Marx developed a theoretical concept, alienation, describing the isolating, dehumanizing, and disenchanting consequences of a capitalistic production system. The theory discusses four aspects of labor alienation: alienation from the labor product, alienation from labor activity, alienation from one’s specific humanity, and alienation from society. Marx’s theory is not inscrutable since it argues that labor actions involve producing some objects by a human being in a specific social context. Therefore, Marx’s alienation theory suggests that human freedom can only be achieved if they regain control of their material things and resources. This essay analyses the four tenets of Marx’s alienation theory.

Marx’s Alienation Theory

Alienated labor is the primary characteristic of a capitalistic economy and political system. Alienation involves the surrender of control through overt denial of proprietary rights’ ownership. According to Karl Max, alienated labor involves involuntary labor that a worker is subjected to and finds no satisfaction (Smith 103). Furthermore, workers in alienated labor lack fulfillment, independence, mental growth, and physical development. The dominating capitalists enjoy the hard labor of their powerless employees living at their mercies. The consequences of alienated labor include isolation, humiliation, unworthiness, and insignificance among the working class. Labour alimentation has been associated with an increasing rate of psychological disorders and suicides among the capitalistic states. Karl Marx’s alienation theory suggests that any worker in a capitalistic system is susceptible to four alienation kinds.

Alienation from the product of labor

Knowledge and skills have been classified as intellectual properties that belong to whoever possesses them. Producing a product such as a piece of art or a product in a processing plant involves applying skills and knowledge under a worker’s possession. According to Karl Max, objectification can mean how the workers appropriate the natural world to produce valuable objects through human labor (Smith 106). In a capitalistic society, the thing, creating products, becomes an object of another influential person. In alienation takes place in the sense that the worker is separated from the owner. Therefore, what the workers produce becomes a possession of another person, and it is out of the workers’ control. The products made become autonomous and external power on their own. Therefore, the owners, capitalists alienate the workers from their production and may use the products against the workers.

Alienation from the labor activity

Self-autonomy is significant since it involves living a life that is free from manipulative and distorting external factors. However, the workers in a capitalistic system are denied self-autonomy over the production process. They are denied the results of their production efforts, the products, and control over the production process. The production activities lack’ relation to the workers’ desires, what they want to be, and what they might try to become. Since the workers earn wages from their labor, the only relation with their production activity is mere self-preservation and survival. Consequently, the workers are reduced to the animals’ level, filling a physical gap, not a social void.

Alienation from the labor activities enslaves the workers since they cannot control their working hours and the type of work they want. The workers, therefore, relate to their working activity as if it were an alien to them. Leisure time becomes an escape from compulsory work and not time to rest. With increasing civilization, the workers alienated from the production activity perceive their work as forced labor increasing the rate of depression, anxiety, and other psychological activities. The impact of alienating a worker from the product of labor and the product activities leads to alienation from self.

Alienation from self

Self-awareness is crucial for mental health, physical growth, and raising happiness among workers. Workers with self-awareness can recognize their capabilities and weaknesses, which are an essential aspect of quality production. In a capitalistic system, the workers are subjected to conditions set by a dominant capitalist controlling the products and the production activities. The alienation from sensuousness leads to an abstract view of the activities as a source of money and not as growth and development opportunities. Consequently, our creativity is limited, and we lack time for self-reflection, which is an essential aspect of mental growth. The alienation from self degrades a worker’s mechanical subservience level, and crude needs become aesthetes. Thus, the worker regards everything only from its use standpoint and not its aesthetic value. The combination of alienation from products, product activities, and separation from self leads to an estrangement from social life, other people.

Alienation from society

The societal breakdown can lead to a helpful individual or a threatening one. Alienation from the activities that bring the society together leads to “wolflike” behaviors among the community members. Since the workers spend most of their lifetime under oppression by the powerful capitalists, they lose their humanity sense and social values. Enmity is created among the workers who become primitive in their actions and inactions. Furthermore, being subjected to loneliness, the workers are depressed and prioritize spending time alone, which might lead to crimes such as homicides and murder. Therefore, a capitalist society aggravates alienations from self and the community, increasing primitive behaviors among the society members.

Marx’s alienation theory and my job

Alienation is detrimental to my routine activities since it exacerbates the feeling of lowliness and self- unawareness. Working in a capitalistic system would lead to denial of my product of labor and my labor activities control. Lack of self-autonomy at my workplace would lead to a loss of self sensuousness and a perception of working for money. Consequently, I would have limited self-development and growth, leading to a lack of creativity at my workplace. The overall consequence would be separation from society and the development of primitive behaviors that could influence criminality. Self-autonomy in the labor and production process significantly contributes to a happy self and society.


Although capitalism is beneficial to businesses in terms of profit accumulation, it is detrimental to the workers and society. Karl Marx developed the alienation theory that discusses capitalism’s consequences in society. Through capitalism, the workers are denied control over their production labor and activities. The labor is involuntary and forced, leading to the loss of one’s humanity and social values. Working in a capitalist system may lead to crime susceptibility due to a lack of social values and primitive behaviors. To enhance societal development and reduce psychological conditions, humans should be granted freedom of controlling their labor activities and resources. Freedom at workplaces encourages creativity, development, and personal growth, which are essential for business growth.

Work Cited

Smith, Tony. Beyond Liberal Egalitarianism. Brill, 2017.

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