Karl Marx, Estranged Labor This paper aims to relate the significance of the Philosophical insights of Karl Marx to the concrete experiences of workers around the world. The writer used several news reports from the Internet to derive inspiration. The text Estrangement of Labor was used as major reference to derive the quotations.
Keywords:Karl Marx, Workers, Union,
Quote from text
Alienation from the product of one’s labor
We have to grasp the intrinsic connection between private property, greed, the
Separation of labor, capital and landed property. the connection of exchange and competition, of value and the devaluation of man, of monopoly and competition, etc. – the connection between this whole estrangement and the money system.
More than 90 Filipino workers from LEX media were illegally dismissed last October 16, 2013. The workers were surprised to be given their last pay slip and were told that their contracts or workloads for LEX media are over. There was no prior notice, no just basis or any just explanation of the dismissal. Apparently, LEX media did this already in 2005 where more than 80 workers under News Division were also dismissed. The works rights to livelihood and job security were trivialized and ignored.
It is true that labor produces for the rich wonderful things – but for the worker it produces privation. It produces palaces – but for the worker, hovels. It produces beauty – but for the worker, deformity. It replaces labor by machines, but it throws one section of the workers back into barbarous types of labor and it turns the other section into a Machine. It produces intelligence – but for the worker, stupidity, cretinism.
Platinum is a vital metal utilized in most industries. South Africa is the worlds leading supplier of Platinum. A massive platinum mining operation exists in the country where over 80,000 African mining workers. The miners earn $400 a month and works in the harshest working conditions hazard pay and meager health benefits. Unionists are massacred, threatened, jailed or illegally dismissed.
Alienation from one’s labor
The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates.
Sreymonm is a 23 year old factory worker in Cambodia. Her daily shift starts from 7 AM to 4 PM, six days a week. With regular over time, she is only paid 50 cents per hour or over $85 per month. Workers are the backbone of and industry as they help build wealth and abundance. Ironically, they are twice poorer than the wealth they bring (Larson, 2014).
The product of labor is labor which has been Embodied in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor.
Filipino workers from the Pentagon Steel Company produce steel pipes, roofing, wiring, nails and other steel products. Over 500 workers are subject daily to harsh working condition without protective gear, hazard pay or other benefits. They are forbidden to get sick and commit and accident. If they did, they will be dismissed. Earning less than $200 a month, most of the Pentagon Steel workers suffer from tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases.
Alienation from oneself and others
On the basis of political economy itself, in its own words, we have shown that the
worker sinks to the level of a commodity and becomes indeed the most wretched of commodities.
In Bangladesh, men and women workers suffer from gross working condition. According to a study by the Human Rights Watch, the working condition is not fit for a human being to live. Workers found leeches in drinking water and they eat in toilets.
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.
Bangladeshi women workers are not treated as human beings but as mere extension of a machine. They do not receive paid vacation or legal holidays off. Women are being shouted at and are verbally insulted. Worse, pregnant workers are given half from their maternity leave.
Larson, C. (2014, January 9). Cambodians Risk Their Lives for 160 a Month. Business Week. Retrieved from http://www.business.com