Wages of Labour

....An enforced rise in wages (disregarding all other difficulties, including the fact that such an anomalous situation could only be prolonged by force) would therefore be nothing more than better pay for slaves and would not mean an increase in human significance or dignity for either the worker or the labour.
Even the equality of wages, which Proudhon demands, would merely transform the relation of the present-day worker to his work into the relation of all men to work. Society is then conceived as an abstract capitalist.
Wages are an immediate consequence of estranged labour, and estranged labour is the immediate cause of private property. If the one falls, then the other must fall too.
....(2) It further follows from the relation of estranged labour to private property that the emancipation of society from private property, etc., from servitude, is expressed in the political form of the emancipation of the workers. This is not because it is only a question of their emancipation, but because in their emancipation is contained universal human emancipation. The reason for this universality is that the whole of human servitude is involved in the relation of the worker to production, and all relations of servitude are nothing but modifications and consequences of this relation.
Just as we have arrived at the concept of private property through an analysis of the concept of estranged, alienated labour, so with the help of these two factors it is possible to evolve all economic categories, and in each of these categories--e.g., trade, competition, capital, money -- we shall identify only a particular and developed expression of these basic constituents.
But, before we go on to consider this configuration, let us try to solve two further problems.
....(1) We have to determine the general nature of private property, as it has arisen out of estranged labour, in its relation to truly human and social property.
....(2) We have taken the estrangement of labour, its alienation, as a fact and we have analysed that fact. How, we now ask, does man come to alienate his labour, to estrange it? How it this estrangement founded in the nature of human development? We have already gone a long way towards solving this problem by transforming the question of the origin of private property into the question of the relationship of alienated labour to the course of human development. For, in speaking of private property, one imagines that one is dealing with something external to man. In speaking of labour, one is dealing immediately with man himself. This new way of formulating the problem already contains its solution.
....As to (1): The general nature of private property and its relationship to truly human property.
Alienated labour has resolved itself for us into two component parts, which mutually condition one another, or which are merely different expressions of one and the same relationship. Appropriation appears as estrangement, as alienation; and alienation appears as appropriation, estrangement as true admission to citizenship.
....We have considered the one aspect, alienated labour in relation to the worker himself-- i.e., the relation of alienated labour to itself. And as product, as necessary consequence of this relationship, we have found the property relation of the non-worker to the worker and to labour. Private property as the material, summarised expression of alienated labour embraces both relations -- the relation of the worker to labour and to the product of his labour and the non-workers, and the relation of the non-worker to the worker and to the product of his labour.
We have already seen that, in relation to the worker who appropriates nature through his labour, appropriation appears as estrangement, self-activity as activity for another and of another, vitality as a sacrifice of life, production of an object as loss of that object to an alien power, to an alien man. Let us now consider the relation between this man, who is alien to labour and to the worker, and the worker, labour, and the object of labour.
The first thing to point out is that everything which appears for the worker as an activity of alienation, of estrangement, appears for the non-worker as a situation of alienation, of estrangement.
....Secondly, the real, practical attitude of the worker in production and to the product (as a state of mind) appears for the non-worker who confronts him as a theoretical attitude.















Send comments to: Lemmaesthetics@freeuk.com The Hypertext Manuscripts of Karl Marx, Paris 1844. Copyright Gary Tedman 2001-3.