Commoditization of human labor

  • Trading labor

Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.

⇒ The wage-laborer is homogenized into a single indistinguishable set


  1. Alienation of the Commodity, the production

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. […] 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 begins to confront him as an autonomous power; that the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien.

  1. Alienation of Human Creativity

So if the product of labour is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation.

Hence the worker feels him­ self only when he is not working; when he is working he does not feel himself. […] It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists it is shunned like the plague.

Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, the human brain and the human heart detaches itself from the individual and reappears as the alien activity of a god or of a devil, so the activity of the worker is not his own spontaneous activity. It belongs to another, it is a loss of his self.

⇒ Thus ultimately alienation from the Species-being