rethinking marx

the notion of marx today is more than a reference to a person. it is a reference to a system. a system that is interpreted in the marxist-leninist real draft in the soviet union and its extremes during stalin’s reign. due to these historic developments the notion is dismissed as being irrational or even bad. either way, the connotation is deeply negative.

but the judgement of historic events is only one side of the picture. and this very side neglects a confrontation with the original thoughts in marx’s work. there is one part i’d like to bring up to consideration again, for i think it is, more than ever, necessary to reflect on the current situation we live in. and the easiest to accomplish this task is to listen to a critical voice – to marx.

looking around, i get the feeling that there is not a lot of people living their profession to a limit of satisfaction in the fulfillment of what they do “for a living”. it seems to me that the main goal is manifested it the pursuit of making good money in order to spend a good life. (in this approach i want to neglect the extremes of people making money for the mere purpose of making money as well as those people who solely devote their life to a passion that brings them into an unstable or even critical financial situation.) yet to me the differentiation between work and life, in the deeper meaning of “job” versus “enjoyment”, needs to be questioned. should it not be the ultimate goal to pursue more than a “job” but a profession, that is a part of who you are and that is fulfilling and an enjoyment just as much as “private life” is?

“entfremdung” (alienation) is the german word marx uses to describe a process he identifies the capitalist system to be the cause of. i do not want to allocate judgement on sources of cause, so let’s skip the notion of capitalism and focus on what marx means when he talks about alienation.

in his definition the process of “entfremdung” means, that people “alienate” from the product they produce and thereby “alienate” from themselves. he leads the process further by stating that this leads to an “alienation” of ones “gattungswesen” (kind, type, species) and to an “alienation” of humans between each other. (morel et. al (2007). soziologische theorie, 8th edition, münchen: 97.)

when i was growing up, i was lucky enough to be given a choice that i can do whatever i want to do. but how often did i meet people, friends even, that told me, that they were asked by their parents not to pursue what they love as a profession, but to study something that guarantees a job in the future. if the purpose is to study what you think “the market” will need in the future – what does that mean for our future? if the question is how much money you make, or what job opportunities there are, rather than what you want to do – what does that mean for our future? if the main goal of school is to make every individual as comparable as possible to each other “for the market”, not supporting the differences that make us unique, that make us non-interchangable, that fulfill us, but rather ironing down every pleat that sticks out – what does that mean for our future? can we allow to be alienated from what we do and from who we are by separating job from joy and by setting our priorities due to market values instead of personal fulfillment?

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