....We have started
out from the premises of political economy. We have accepted its language
and its laws. We presupposed private property; the separation of labour,
capital, and land, and likewise of wages, profit, and capital; the division
of labour; competition; the conception of exchange value, etc. From political
economy itself, using its own words, we have shown that the worker sinks
to the level of a commodity, and moreover the most wretched commodity
of all; that the misery of the worker is in inverse proportion to the
power and volume of his production; that the necessary consequence of
competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands and hence the
restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form; and that, finally, the
distinction between capitalist and landlord, between agricultural worker
and industrial worker, disappears and the whole of society must split
into the two classes of property owners and propertyless workers.
....Political economy proceeds from the fact
of private property. It does not explain it. It grasps the material process
of private property, the process through which it actually passes, in
general and abstract formulae which it then takes as laws. It does not
comprehend these laws - i.e., it does not show how they arise from the
nature of private property. Political economy fails to explain the reason
for the division between labour and capital. For example, when it defines
the relation of wages to profit, it takes the interests of the capitalists
as the basis of its analysis--i.e., it assumes what it is supposed to
explain. Similarly, competition is frequently brought into the argument
and explained in terms of external circumstances. Political economy teaches
us nothing about the extent to which these external and apparently accidental
circumstances are only the expression of a necessary development. We have
seen how exchange itself appears to political economy as an accidental
fact. The only wheels which political economy sets in motion are greed,
and the war of the avaricious--competition.
....Precisely because political economy fails
to grasp the interconnections within the movement, it was possible to
oppose, for example, the doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly,
the doctrine of craft freedom to the doctrine of the guild, and the doctrine
of the division of landed property to the doctrine of the great estate;
for competition, craft freedom, and division of landed property were developed
and conceived only as accidental, deliberate, violent consequences of
monopoly, of the guilds, and of feudal property, and not as their necessary,
inevitable, and natural consequences.
We now have to grasp the essential connection between private property,
greed, the separation of labour, capital and landed property, exchange
and competition, value and the devaluation [Entwertung] of man, monopoly,
and competition, etc.--the connection between this entire system of estrangement
[Entfremdung] and the money system.
....Do not let us repeat the mistake of the
political economist, who bases his explanations on some fictitious primordial
condition. Such a primordial condition explains nothing. It simply pushes
the question into the grey and nebulous distance. It assumes as facts
and events what it is supposed to deduce - namely, the necessary relationships
between two things, between, for example, the division of labour and exchange.
Similarly, theology explains the origin of evil by the fall of Man--i.e.,
it assumes as a fact in the form of history what it should explain.
....We start out from an actual everyday
....The worker becomes poorer the more wealth
he produces, the more his production increases in power and extent. The
worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he produces.
The devaluation of the human world grows in direct proportion to the increase
in value of the world of things. Labour not only produces commodities;
it also produces itself and the workers as a commodity and it does so
in the same proportion in which it produces commodities in general.
....This fact simply means that the object
that labour produces, it product, stands opposed to it as something alien,
as a power independent of the producer. The product of labour is labour
embodied and made material in an object, it is the objectification of
labour. The realisation of labour is its objectification. In the sphere
of political economy, this realisation of labour appears as a loss of
reality for the worker, objectification as loss of and bondage to the
object, and appropriation as estrangement, as alienation [Entausserung].
....So much does the realisation of labour
appear as loss of realisation that the worker loses his realisation to
the point of starving to death. So much does objectification appear as
loss of the object that the worker is robbed of the objects he needs most
not only for life but also for work. Work itself becomes an object which
he can only obtain through an enormous effort and with spasmodic interruptions.
So much does the appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that
the more objects the worker produces the fewer can he possess and the
more he falls under the domination of his product, of capital.
All these consequences are contained in this characteristic, that the
workers is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object.
For it is clear that, according to this premise, the more the worker exerts
himself in work, the more powerful the alien, objective world becomes
which he brings into being over against himself, the poorer he and his
inner world become, and the less they belong to him. It is the same in
religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains within himself.
The worker places his life in the object; but now it no longer belongs
to him, but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the fewer
objects the worker possesses. What the product of his labour is, he is
not. Therefore, the greater this product, the less is he himself. The
externalisation [Entausserung] of the worker in his product means not
only that his labour becomes an object, an external existence, but that
it exists outside him, independently of him and alien to him, and beings
to confront him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed
on the object confronts him as hostile and alien.