Today I taught Marx.

I did this to my students’ ideas that the free market is a good thing:

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And tried to show them that this is what happens to the worker in the service of the capitalist:

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And then this happened when one of my students asked, “Ok, I get that alienated labor is a bad thing. But what is non-alienated labor, and how is it different from private property?”

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But then by the end, my students seemed to come around to Marx and were looking like this:

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At which point, I was like:

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I’m just hoping they don’t write this in their papers. Uh, yeah, commodity fetishism. Totally comparable to a foot fetish.

One of my favorite passages from our reading (which was the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, section on Alienated Labor), is this:

Under the conditions of capitalism, “the worker does not affirm himself in his work but denies himself, feeling miserable and unhappy, develops no free physical and mental energy but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. The worker, therefore feels at eas only outside work, and during work he is outside himself. He is at home when he is not working and when he is working he is not at home. His work, therefore, is not voluntary, but coerced, forced labor. It is not the satisfaction of a need but only a means to satisfy other needs. Its alien character is obvious from the fact that as soon as no physical or other pressure exists, labor is avoided like the plague.” That’s why so many workers go home and veg out by watching TV, right? And feel most free during the work day when we get to take a bathroom break?

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