Recently I have been reading Marx's manuscripts of philosophy and communist ideals. He explains alienated labor in a capitalist society as being degrading to the laborer and thereby rendering the object of his work alienated from him, as he doesn't get to see the fruits of his labor. Diverging from the explanation, how is the alienation of labor from the laborer analogous to the alienation of man from man in a capitalist society? Keep in mind I'm only in my first year of high school, so please keep jargon to a minimum.

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    Can you say more about what you mean by "to the alienation of man from man?" For example, capitalism is (in theory, at least) built on the voluntary exchange of goods and services between people, meaning that it requires people to engage with each other to work at all. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


I think that the alienation of man by man is the result of the capability of individualization within the modern urbanized societies, due to the development of means of production and communication and as opposed to the traditional forms of society's existence. I have found the notion in the book of Jean-François Lyotard The Postmodern Condition (as contradiction between the individual and society)

The notion of alienation is particularly important in the dialectical thought and philosophy and Marx uses the notion to that effect. Economical and Philosophical manuscripts.

In dialectics the being is constantly alienated through the becoming. The collective and individual existences are in constant change passing through the stages of Βeing, to the Being-for-itself, to the Being-in-itself, and ultimately leads to the for-itself- and in-itself-Being, the absolute -a new stage of dialectical movement (in Hegel's dialectics).

Alienation has numerous meanings and functionalities, positive, negative and neutral. Marx points (in the manuscripts) that a dialectical movement seems to have evolved in the proletariat as it becomes the negation of its own self (the laborer alienated from its product) and this would lead to a further dialectical movement in the economical structure of the society.

An analogy can be found between the idea of the alienation of the laborer and this of the alienation of man by man in contemporary societies, as each individual is stood on its own opposing and alienated to the means of production and economy. The vital connection between people, that emanates from his equal contribution and his equal status seems to have degraded.

From another side it is always more complicated as it may appear, because people are divided in economical classes so the "individual" is not generally a "revolutionary subject of the history". This contrast is reflected in politics and the two perspectives are kind of divided with Marxists taking the side of "community" and opposing the "individual" which is the subject of "capitalism".

By a dialectic perspective both stances can be considered "essentialisms" as the individual is the other of the society so you can't really separate them for long and at the same time they can not be joined completely.


James Dean was an actor; his labour goes into acting; to alienate him from his labour is to typecast him in a certain role whereas he wanted to fulfill his potential as an actor by playing different roles.

Once he has starred in a successful film playing a certain part - the troubled teen - the temptation is to have him play the same part; and then for him to play a part in the star-system; this is the pressure of capital on film-making as an art-form; it turns film into a commodity or a genre.

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