Alienated Capitalist

I am certain that Marx thinks of the capitalist as alienated as well as the worker, just for different reasons. In many works he talks about how civil society breaks down the social relations of human beings with each other, regardless of whether they are workers, landowners, Christians or Jews. He rarely states it explicitly from the perspective of the capitalist—his urgent concerns are elsewhere. He does briefly mention it in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and promises to come back to it in greater detail later. Unless he deals with this in the missing pages of the second manuscript, I don’t remember seeing him ever elaborate on the idea. But the three volumes of Kapital are wide and deep and perhaps someone else has run across this explained in greater detail there or in the Grundrisse.

“Every self-estrangement of man, from himself and from nature, appears in the relation in which he places himself and nature to men other than and differentiated from himself. For this reason religious self-estrangement necessarily appears in the relationship of the layman to the priest, or again to a mediator, etc., since we are here dealing with the intellectual world. In the real practical world self-estrangement can only become manifest through the real practical relationship to other men. The medium through which estrangement takes place is itself practical. Thus through estranged labor man not only creates his relationship to the object and to the act of production as to powers that are alien and hostile to him; he also creates the relationship in which other men stand to his production and to his product, and the relationship in which he stands to these other men. Just as he creates his own production as the loss of his reality, as his punishment; his own product as a loss, as a product not belonging to him; so he creates the domination of the person who does not produce over production and over the product. Just as he estranges his own activity from himself, so he confers upon the stranger an activity which is not his own. We have until now considered this relationship only from the standpoint of the worker and later on we shall be considering it also from the standpoint of the non-worker.”
Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, XXV

He also brings up the issue in The Holy Family written later that same year.

“The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former class feels at ease and strengthened in this self-estrangement, it recognizes estrangement as its own power and has in it the semblance of a human existence. The class of the proletariat feels annihilated, this means that they cease to exist in estrangement; it sees in it its own powerlessness and the reality of an inhuman existence. It is, to use an expression of Hegel, in its abasement the indignation at that abasement, an indignation to which it is necessarily driven by the contradiction between its human nature and its condition of life, which is the outright, resolute and comprehensive negation of that nature. Within this antithesis the private property-owner is therefore the conservative side, the proletarian the destructive side. From the former arises the action of preserving the antithesis, from the latter the action of annihilating it.”
Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels The Holy Family, Chapter 4

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~ by severalfourmany on February 4, 2011.

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