By Richard Schmitt
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There he discusses alienation in a restricted context—namely, as it manifests itself in the lives of wage workers. They just worked, not for the sake of work satisfaction, or in order to use and expand their skills, but merely for the money:They worked pretty much where they earned the most, selling their time and energy to the highest bidder without taking into account the character of the work they might have been required to do. That worker, Marx wrote, “does not fulﬁll himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery rather than of wellbeing, does not develop freely his mental and physical energies.
Marx points to the difference between work that is unpleasant—because it is hard, or demanding, or repetitive— and work that, in addition, does not enhance one’s competence and does not ﬁll one with pride, does not earn one respect and admiration from others. Most work is tiring; often it is repetitive. But not all tiring and repetitive work alienates the worker. Sometimes we glory in activity, even though it brings us no intrinsic pleasure, because we can take pride in the accomplishment of it, as well as in our strength and skill.
But man makes his life activity itself an object of his will and consciousness” (Marx 1963:127). Capitalist wage work, he tells us, alienates us from this capacity to direct our lives in ways we have chosen for ourselves. Workers impoverished, oppressed by their employers, with very few opportunities for healthful leisure, for reﬂecting about their lives and altering those lives, cannot really participate in the human enterprise of thinking about the good life and making their lives conform to their ideas.
Alienation And Freedom by Richard Schmitt