In yesterday’s post, I discussed Professor Barry Schwartz‘s recent New York Times article “Rethinking Work.” I concluded that post by noting that no discussion of the nature of work is complete without a consideration of the economic conditions of the society or societies in question. And any such discussion must reflect upon the thought of Karl Marx.
Marx would say that Schwartz was talking about what Marx called alienated labor. The basic idea is that most workers aren’t happy with their work because it does not express or elaborate their being. Workers in modern capitalistic societies are alienated from the process and products of their labor, and ultimately from other people too. They work for money, but derive little satisfaction or meaning from their work. This short video provides an excellent introduction to the basic ideas of Marx’s philosophy. (I also recommend Terry Eagleton’s excellent book, Why Marx Was Right.)