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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2016 1:04 pm 
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One question about rent of land: How does housing fit into all of this? It seems as though in this section Marx is talking about land that yields productive capital. But housing is just a commodity and not industrial capital so it doesn't seem like it would fit into the structure that Marx lays out. Is it a special case or is there something I am missing?


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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:39 pm 
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The strict purchase and sale of houses isn't anything terribly different than regular purchases and sales of commodities, but once mortgages and loans come in to play things get slightly trickier. Basically the banks are giving out a loan backed by an asset and expect to collect interest on that loan and so financial capital comes in to play. Rent also is just the capitalization of the value in the house/land and so functions pretty in tandem with interest.

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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:01 pm 
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Alright, with estranged labour we finally get away from dealing with other people's work and Marx gives us a section which is pretty much unique to him.

There's a few things going on here that I'd like to explain. First of all, Marx doesn't explicitly distinguish between when he is speaking about production as such and specifically capitalist production. For example, labour is always realised by being objectified, but labour's object only becomes alien under capitalist production.

Basically we're looking at three things that all mean and stem from the same thing.

1. The alienation of the worker from his product
2. The alienation of the worker from his work
3. The alienation of the worker from his species

The connection between the first two is pretty apparent, because the realisation of labour is its objectification, to alienate the object of labour is identical with alienating the realisation of that labour i.e. the labour itself.

The last has to do with the fact that "the productive life is the life of the species," and therefor by alienating the productive life of the individual from the individual, the individual has been alienated from the life of the species.

But what is all of this talk of species-being and species-character and such?

Estranged Labour wrote:
The animal is immediately one with its life activity. It does not distinguish itself from it. It is its life activity. Man makes his life activity itself the object of his will and of his consciousness. He has conscious life activity. It is not a determination with which he directly merges. Conscious life activity distinguishes man immediately from animal life activity. It is just because of this that he is a species-being.


Man makes his life activity itself an object, we do not simply work in the same way for all eternity, we make the work itself an object to be constantly modified, and in this way we modify ourselves.

But that object is alien to the worker, and thus his species and indeed his species life is something alien and hostile to him. Yet, it is the worker who is actually working, the worker is the one that creates the alienation, the worker creates the capitalist.

We are now in a position to understand Cyril Smith when he says

Cyril Smith wrote:
Thus the key conflict is between productive powers, which are potentially free, and social relations which appear in the form of alien, oppressive forces. In a human society, productive forces and social relations would be ‘two different aspects of the development of the social individual’. Today, however, the battle between them permeates every phase of human life. It secretes the poison which runs through the heart of every individual. Communism is the task of transcending this conflict, moving towards a society in which individuals will be able consciously to make their own social relations, so that ‘the individuals obtain their freedom in and through their association’.


To briefly trace the development then, humans were originally pretty subject to the vicissitudes of nature, but through their labour were able to appropriate nature and mold it in such a way that it was relatively under the control of humanity, but in this process of this appropriation of nature, that appropriation (labour) itself became, like nature used to be, something hostile and alien to human-kind. The next task on the way to a human existence is to re-appropriate labour for itself, that is to dominate human life and treat it in a human manner rather than letting it be controlled by outside forces like nature before.

Against nature, humanity can claim no wrong. Humanity has dominated nature, but is still subjected to the forces of the market, the movements of wages of labour, profits of capital, and rent of land. These forces act like forces of nature following 'natural' laws, but these are all in fact human made while simultaneously not appearing to be the creation of humans. The point, then, is to abolish or control any and all forces which place control of humanity out of the hands of humanity.

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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:41 pm 
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In Estrangement of Labor Marx starts off by describing how the economists of his time fail to explain the problems of capitalism. The reason, he asserts, lays in the fact that they are unable to connect the issues presented by capital to the rule of private property. In general he explains that political economists consider the rules and laws of capitalism as a fact of life and therefore do not examine them closely. Since they do not understand the cause of things like the division of labor or wage labor they can only come up with critiques of capitalism that fail to to offer a solution or an adequate analysis of the problem. This tendency of course persists to this very day. Still today bourgeois educated intellectuals of both left and right wing persuasions can only explain that “greed” or bad apples among the wealthy are the cause of society’s woes, and they can rarely offer and scientific insight as to why.

What mainstream economists fail to explain to us is that rather than by accident, it is the very nature of capitalism that the ruling class’ relationship to the working class (and society at large) is a thieving and parasitic one. Marx’s description of how alienation of labor occurs throws light onto how this is true.

[quote2=]The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and this at the same rate at which it produces commodities in general.[/quote2]

I think this quote summarizes what is generally not understood about capitalism as a system based on property where labor is considered as essentially a commodity. In the same vein as the relationship between worker and capitalist, the relationship between laborer and their product is an antagonistic one.

To understand this relationship between laborer and the product of labor in capitalist production we must first look at the condition of labor in general.

[quote2=]This fact expresses merely that the object which labor produces – labor’s product – confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor which has been embodied in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor. Labor’s realization is its objectification. Under these economic conditions this realization of labor appears as loss of realization for the workers[18]; objectification as loss of the object and bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation.[/quote2]

As noted in this thread earlier, labor’s realization is its objectification. So what is hard for me to wrap my head around is what is meant when Marx is talking about the “loss of realization.” Is he talking about the fact that the realization of of labor is not that of the laborer? In other words, does this simply refer to the fact that the worker’s product is not his/her/their own, but the property of capitalists? If so how exactly does this fit into the general scheme of gradual loss for the worker?

I think what Marx is getting at here is related again to the natural condition of labor and a concept that he refers to as “species-being.” To put it briefly, the natural condition of labor is the natural condition of the human species. Unlike other animals who are born with the tools of their survival, humans must appropriate nature around them to survive, they must consciously modify it and therefore their life purpose becomes an object that is consciously chosen, rather than just innately given. Here lays the fundamental alienation that is involved in labor. On top of this “given” alienation, is the alienation that comes with capitalist production. The law of wage labor and private property dictates that the product of labor is the property of capitalists. So this is the way alienation manifests in capitalist society, through laws of private property.

But to go further into what estrangement in labor is, even aside from capitalist production, Marx seems to be saying that labor itself is estrangement. The worker is estranged from the product of labor. The product, no matter in what kind of society, will always appear as an object exercising power over the worker since the worker’s survival depends on it. The activity of labor is also considered an act of self estrangement. It is something that the worker is coerced to do for survival, it is an activity that feels hostile to the the worker. Then in the third aspect, is identifying the fact that for humans, life means labor, that labor for the survival of individual life is the object of the entire species. But at the same time, when considering the previous factors of estrangement in labor, humans alienate themselves from one another in order to survive to at least some extent.

If labor by its nature is already itself a form of alienation, then the increase of production, and the advancement the products of labor must bring with it further alienation.


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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:35 pm 
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N00BMarxist wrote:
As noted in this thread earlier, labor’s realization is its objectification. So what is hard for me to wrap my head around is what is meant when Marx is talking about the “loss of realization.” Is he talking about the fact that the realization of of labor is not that of the laborer? In other words, does this simply refer to the fact that the worker’s product is not his/her/their own, but the property of capitalists? If so how exactly does this fit into the general scheme of gradual loss for the worker?


So when we say that labour's realisation is its objectification, we could rephrase this by saying that the expenditure of labour is the creation of some useful product. In order to realise labour it must be realised in the form of some kind of object and hence objectified. One cannot simply labour in the abstract without producing anything of use, the only kind of labour that really counts as labour is that which produces a useful object. So the realisation of labour is necessarily the objectification of labour. So when Marx speaks of the loss of realisation we're talking about loss of the object. But in the case of the worker what is lost is not merely the realised labour, but the labour itself and thus everything that it produces.

N00BMarxist wrote:
Unlike other animals who are born with the tools of their survival, humans must appropriate nature around them to survive, they must consciously modify it and therefore their life purpose becomes an object that is consciously chosen, rather than just innately given.


Ah, but other animals too appropriate nature around them to survive, deer eat grass for example. What sets humans apart is that our appropriation is a conscious one. While the animal simply performs his life activity, i.e. eating grass, humans actively control and modify their life activity in a deliberate way. We do not merely hunt like cheetahs and leopards, we learn to actually raise our prey species and use them to help fertilise our crops etc.

N00BMarxist wrote:
Here lays the fundamental alienation that is involved in labor. On top of this “given” alienation, is the alienation that comes with capitalist production. The law of wage labor and private property dictates that the product of labor is the property of capitalists. So this is the way alienation manifests in capitalist society, through laws of private property.


Here I'm somewhat confused how you see the above as being alienation. There is no "given" alienation involved with labour. In the "natural" state or the state we're trying to achieve via communism, humans would be directly in control of their life activity. They would control production and the products that come out of it rather than letting market forces control investment and distribution.

N00BMarxist wrote:
But to go further into what estrangement in labor is, even aside from capitalist production, Marx seems to be saying that labor itself is estrangement. The worker is estranged from the product of labor.


Here you've stumbled in to the confusion that very easily arises from the fact that these are manuscripts and Marx wasn't terribly explicit when distinguishing between production in general and capitalist production. Labour in an ahistorical sense is not necessarily estranged labour as I've somewhat explained above.

N00BMarxist wrote:
The product, no matter in what kind of society, will always appear as an object exercising power over the worker since the worker’s survival depends on it. The activity of labor is also considered an act of self estrangement. It is something that the worker is coerced to do for survival, it is an activity that feels hostile to the the worker. Then in the third aspect, is identifying the fact that for humans, life means labor, that labor for the survival of individual life is the object of the entire species. But at the same time, when considering the previous factors of estrangement in labor, humans alienate themselves from one another in order to survive to at least some extent.

If labor by its nature is already itself a form of alienation, then the increase of production, and the advancement the products of labor must bring with it further alienation.


I would be interested to see your revised thoughts on this last quoted section given what I've already said. I'll give you my thoughts on it if you're still a bit confused though.

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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2016 8:10 pm 
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Estranged Labor
Marx makes a point to indicate how through political economy we have learned the worker becomes a commodity, there exists an inverse relationship between worker and the objects they produce, and monopoly is a result of competition, and that the society ends up being divided into two classes: capitalist and workers. However, political economy fails to explain how private property arises or why there exists a division of labor and capital. Marx goes to explain how there is a connection between the concepts of private property and labor that political economy cannot explain by looking into worker estrangement. There are three main themes I found in this section: 1) an existing inverse relationship between workers and the products they create. 2) estrangement of labor 3) nature in relation to workers. All these themes relate to each other and Marx uses them frequently to explain each other.

That there is an inverse relationship between the worker and the products they create is highlighted throughout the passage. The world of men loses value as the value of material things increases. This is largely because workers are always producing and ever increasing the number of material things. It is important to note that the more things a worker produces the less of those things are available for him to consume. However, the capitalist on the end are able to enjoy the finer and beautiful things at the expense of workers. The labor that is appropriated leads to palaces for the capitalist and hovels for the workers, and it leads to production of beauty while the worker sinks into deformity. The worker is not the owner of their labor, so their labor ends up being “an alien object exercising power over him”. The worker invests his time into the object, but since the object doesn’t belong to him, so all that time he put into the object is gone and it appropriated by the person who owns that object.

Labor is realized by objectification or the creating of something material, which is an important aspect of labor. The worker’s labor is appropriated and there is an alienation to his labor. The worker sees his product of labor as something alien and the life he has put in it faces him as something that is hostile and foreign. Who is the one that appropriates the worker’s labor? The only one that benefits from taking labor is man himself not nature. Man (capitalist) are the ones who hold power over man (workers). Since workers see their object as alien, hostile, and powerful, then they will place those same attributes to the person who appropriates their labor. The worker in a practical way see capitalist as the power dominating their product and production. Therefore, the worker sees capitalist as the owner of their activity. The worker is forced to do this because he has to make money to be able to eat, so he is forced into this slavery position. Private property is a result of estranged labor, which is something that political economy fails to see. The products are appropriated, which results in private property owned by capitalist.

Indirectly capitalists are appropriating nature because they are appropriating the worker’s labor, which in turn is using nature to create objects. The worker depends on nature to provide the resources for objects, so labor can’t exist without nature. Also nature provides a means by which to feed the worker. The worker ends up being a servant of his object in a capitalist society because as a worker he can work to buy food since he is a human being that needs to eat, but it is because he needs to eat that he works. If he didn’t need to eat or other basic needs to be filled, then he wouldn’t have to work. The worker is not only alienated from his products, but he is also alienated from the production process.

Marx wrote:
But the estrangement is manifested not only in the result but in the act of production, within the producing activity itself. ….If then the product of labor is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation


These sentences highlight constant alienation in every part of the production process, so the worker does not ever consider their labor their own. This alienation of labor isn’t natural in nature. It is only necessary in capitalist societies. The worker doesn’t feel like himself when he is a worker and he feels his labor is being forced, primarily because never at any point does it belong to him. This leads to the worker working to have the capital to meet his needs. The worker doesn’t feel in control at work, but only feels in control when is eating, drinking, and procreating. That is when he feels more human.

Marx really focuses on nature and the life of the species in this section. Man treats himself as a species and a free being. The estrangement of labor also estranges man from species. Since his labor doesn’t belong to him, man only sees work as a way to meet his needs not to contribute to the life of the species. Their activity is reduced to working to live. Animals without a conscious consider their labor inseparable from them, but humans consciously assign labor as an object of his consciousness. Workers create products freely while animals only produce for itself and for physical need. Therefore, capitalists are able to appropriate workers’ labor and exploit it. When capitalist take away a man’s object, then they tear away his species-life, so he no longer feels the connection to the production life of species to his own life and essentially man loses the connection he had with fellow man. He no longer sees himself as a human being, but as a worker.


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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:36 pm 
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(idk how to use this quote system rn so i'll just use quotation marks, lol sorry im lazy)

"So when Marx speaks of the loss of realisation we're talking about loss of the object. But in the case of the worker what is lost is not merely the realised labour, but the labour itself and thus everything that it produces."-Broletariat

Right, so I take “the loss of the object” literally, as in the worker has the product of labor taken away because it is the property of the capitalist. What I am having difficulty with is understanding what this loss looks like, it is too abstract for me as it is being described. I know that as capitalism has progressed and the more the world of commodities grows that the general trend is further immiseration of the worker and enrichment of the capitalist. But I’m still mystified by how that happens. If everything the laborer does is essentially considered to be the property of the capitalist, and therefore the activity and the product of the worker is completely left at the mercy of the market, then what is entailed in this loss of realization? I need this to be described to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:05 pm 
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N00BMarxist wrote:
Right, so I take “the loss of the object” literally, as in the worker has the product of labor taken away because it is the property of the capitalist. What I am having difficulty with is understanding what this loss looks like, it is too abstract for me as it is being described.


You've just described it yourself. Workers create products which do not belong to them. If you want a really concrete example we can think of a factory worker that creates shoes. The shoes are taken from him after he makes them because the labour, materials, machines, etc. used to make them do not belong to the worker.

N00BMarxist wrote:
I know that as capitalism has progressed and the more the world of commodities grows that the general trend is further immiseration of the worker and enrichment of the capitalist. But I’m still mystified by how that happens. If everything the laborer does is essentially considered to be the property of the capitalist, and therefore the activity and the product of the worker is completely left at the mercy of the market, then what is entailed in this loss of realization? I need this to be described to me.


Does the above answer your question?

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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:51 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 reading gro
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:06 pm 
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For the next two sections

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