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Gillian Anderson narrates this clip about Karl Marx's theory of alienation. And it's fabulous.

Alienation from your work was a real thing that Karl Marx identified, and I still see it happening today. Here's two minutes about that, narrated in the lovely voice of Gillian Anderson.

So, here's the blow-by-blow.


All images via BBC Radio 4.

Alienation

Karl Marx believed that work is what makes us human. But the alteration of that work by capitalism was responsible for many societal ills, including the concept of alienation.


Ahhh, Capitalism ...

Marx researched, studied, and witnessed that alienation in Europe — circa 1800s, where working people barely got by, pulling 12-hour shifts, or even longer — for just enough pocket change to maybe get some scraps of food before doing it all again the next day until they died, frequently much younger than they otherwise would have. There were even some cases where workers literally lived next to their machines and almost never left, and some children working in factories were actually chained to the machines. Good times.

(I'll pause while you consider that in comparison to where we are in today's working world, not just here, but in countries where many jobs have moved to. Insert some adage about things changing but remaining the same... )

Marxism Redux

That was the essence of 1800s capitalism in Europe. It's what drove Marx to write about capitalism and to do several deep dives into developing his economic and philosophic theories on communism, culminating in the writing of his book, "The Communist Manifesto."

One of Marx's most famous phrases stems from this idea of alienation. "Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!" Those chains (sometimes actual chains!) were what he thought workers would willingly throw off if they could just understand it all.

But let's let this video from BBC Radio 4 dig in a little more:

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