Marx: Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1844)

The 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts remained unpublished during Marx’s lifetime and did not surface until 1927, about 44 years after his death. These manuscripts illustrate the young Marx’s transition from philosophy to political economy. Marx’s emerging interest in the economy is apparent – an interest that distinguishes him from other followers of Hegel – but his writing in these texts is much more philosophical, abstract, and speculative than his later works. For example, the concept of a species, of what it means to belong to the human species, is essentially a philosophical question. He also develops a concept of alienation that is opposite to Hegel’s thinking.

These manuscripts give us some insight into Marx’s intellectual background and into the philosophical convictions that underlie his later, less philosophical writings.

You find some quotes from the text below; the whole text can be found here. My selections are from the sections “Estranged Labour,” and “Private Property.”alienatedloabor

Selections from the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts.

In: The Marx-Engels Reader. lEdited by Robert Tucker. New York: Norton & Company, 1978, pp. 70 – 91.


Estranged Labour

We have proceeded from the premises of political economy. We have accepted its language and its laws. We presupposed private property, the separation of labour, capital and land, and of wages, profit of capital and rent of land—likewise division of labour, competition, the concept of exchange-value, etc. On the basis of political economy itself, in its own words, we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity and becomes indeed the most wretched of commodities; that the wretchedness of the worker is in inverse proportion to the power and magnitude of his production; that the necessary result of competition is the accumulation of capital in a few hands, and thus the restoration of monopoly in a more terrible form; that finally the distinction between capitalist and land-rentier, like that between the tiller of the soil and the factory-worker, disappears and that the whole of society must fall apart into the two classes—the property-owners and the propertyless workers.

Political economy proceeds from the fact of private property, but it does not explain it to us. It expresses in general, abstract formulae the material process through which private property actually passes, and these formulae it then takes for laws. It does not comprehend these laws—i.e., it does not demonstrate how they arise from the very nature of private property. Political economy does not disclose the source of the division between labour and capital, and between capital and land. When, for example, it defines the relationship of wages to profit, it takes the interest of the capitalists to be the ultimate cause; i.e., it takes for granted what it is supposed to evolve. Similarly, competition comes in everywhere. It is explained from external circumstances. As to how far these external and apparently fortuitous circumstances are but the expression of a necessary course of development, political economy teaches us nothing. We have seen how, to it, exchange itself appears to be a fortuitous fact. The only wheels which political economy sets in motion are avarice and the war amongst the avariciouscompetition.

Precisely because political economy does not grasp the connections within the movement, it was possible to counterpose, for instance, the doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly, the doctrine of craft-liberty to the doctrine of the corporation, the doctrine of the division of landed property to the doctrine of the big estate—for competition, craft-liberty and the division of landed property were explained and comprehended only as fortuitous, premeditated and violent consequences of monopoly, the corporation, and feudal property, not as their necessary, inevitable and natural consequences.

Now, therefore, we have to grasp the essential connection between private property, avarice, and the separation of labour, capital and landed property; between exchange and competition, value and the devaluation of men, monopoly and competition, etc.; the connection between this whole estrangement and the moneysystem.

Do not let us go back to a fictitious primordial condition as the political economist does, when be tries to explain. Such a primordial condition explains nothing. He merely pushes the question away into a grey nebulous distance. He assumes in the form of fact, of an event, what he is supposed to deduce—namely, the necessary relationship between two things—between, for example, division of labour and exchange. Theology in the same way explains the origin of evil by the fall of man: that is, it assumes as a fact, in historical form, what has to be explained.

We proceed from an actual economic fact.

The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities be creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity—and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally.

This fact expresses merely that the object which labour produces—labour’s product—confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labour is labour which has been congealed in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labour. Labour’s realization is its objectification. In the conditions dealt with by political economy this realization of labour appears as loss of reality for the workers; objectification as loss of the object and object-bondage; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation.

So much does labour’s realization appear as loss of reality that the worker loses reality to the point of starving to death. So much does objectification appear as loss of the object that the worker is robbed of the objects most necessary not only for his life but for his work. Indeed, labour itself becomes an object which he can get hold of only with the greatest effort and with the most irregular interruptions. So much does the appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that the more objects the worker produces the fewer can he possess and the more he falls under the dominion of his product, capital.

All these consequences are contained in the definition that the worker is related to the product of his labour as to an alien object. For on this premise it is clear that the more the worker spends himself, the more powerful the alien objective world becomes which be creates over-against himself, the poorer be himself—his inner world—becomes, the less belongs to him as his own. It is the same in religion. The more man puts into God, the less he retains in himself. The worker puts his life into the object; but now his life no longer belongs to him but to the object. Hence, the greater this activity, the greater is the worker’s lack of objects. Whatever the product of his labour is, he is not. Therefore the greater this product, the less is he himself. The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labour becomes an object, an external existence, but that it exists outside him, independently, as something alien to him, and that it becomes a power of its own confronting him; it means that the life which he has conferred on the object confronts him as something hostile and alien.

Let us now look more closely at the objectification, at the production of the worker; and therein at the estrangement, the loss of the object, his product.

The worker can create nothing without nature, without the sensuous external world. It is the material on which his labor is manifested, in which it is active, from which and by means of which it produces.

But just as nature provides labor with the means of life in the sense that labour cannot live without objects on which to operate, on the other hand, it also provides the means of life in the more restricted sense—i.e., the means for the physical subsistence of the worker himself.

Thus the more the worker by his labour appropriates the external world, sensuous nature, the more he deprives himself of means of life in the double respect: first, that the sensuous external world more and more ceases to be an object belonging to his labour—to be his labour’s means of life; and secondly, that it more and more ceases to be means of life in the immediate sense, means for the physical subsistence of the worker.

Thus in this double respect the worker becomes a slave of his object, first, in that he receives an object of labour, i.e., in that he receives work; and secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence. Therefore, it enables him to exist, first, as a worker; and, second, as a physical subject. The extremity of this bondage is that it is only as a worker that he continues to maintain himself as a physical subject, and that it is only as a physical subject that he is a worker.

(The laws of political economy express the estrangement of the worker in his object thus: the more the worker produces, the less he has to consume; the more values he creates, the more valueless, the more unworthy he becomes; the better formed his product, the more deformed becomes the worker; the more civilized his object, the more barbarous becomes the worker; the mightier labour becomes, the more powerless becomes the worker; the more ingenious labour becomes, the duller becomes the worker and the more he becomes nature’s bondsman.)

Political economy conceals the estrangement inherent in the nature of labour by not considering the direct relationship between the worker (labour) and production. It is true that labour produces for the rich wonderful things—but for the worker it produces privation. It produces palaces—but for the worker, hovels. It produces beauty—but for the worker, deformity. It replaces labour by machines—but some of the workers it throws back to a barbarous type of labour, and the other workers it turns into machines. It produces intelligence—but for the worker idiocy, cretinism.

The direct relationship of labour to its produce is the relationship of the worker to the objects of his production. The relationship of the man of means to the objects of production and to production itself is only a consequence of this first relationship—and confirms it. We shall consider this other aspect later.

When we ask, then, what is the essential relationship of labour we are asking about the relationship of the worker to production.

Till now we have been considering the estrangement, the alienation of the worker only in one of its aspects, i.e., the worker’s relationship to the products of his labour. But the estrangement is manifested not only in the result but in the act of production—within the producing activity itself. How would the worker come to face the product of his activity as a stranger, were it not that in the very act of production he was estranging himself from himself? The product is after all but the summary of the activity of production. If then the product of labour is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation. In the estrangement of the object of labour is merely summarized the estrangement, the alienation, in the activity of labour itself.

What, then, constitutes the alienation of labour?

First, the fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his essential being; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He is at home when he is not working, and when he is working he is not at home. His labour is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labour. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labour is shunned like the plague. External labour, labour in which man alienates himself, is a labour of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Lastly, the external character of labour for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own, but someone else’s, that it does not belong to him, that in it he belongs, not to himself, but to another. Just as in religion the spontaneoiis activity of the human imagination, of the human brain and the human heart, operates independently of the individual—that is, operates on him as an alien, divine or diabolical activity—in the same way the worker’s activity is not his spontaneous activity. It belongs to another; it is the loss of his self.

As a result, therefore, man (the worker) no longer feels himself to be freely active in any but his animal functions—eating, drinking, procreating, or at most in his dwelling and in dressing-up, etc.; and in his human functions be no longer feels himself to be anything but an animal. What is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal.

Certainly eating, drinking, procreating, etc. are also genuinely human functions. But in the abstraction which separates them from the sphere of all other human activity and turns them into sole and ultimate ends, they are animal.

We have considered the act of estranging practical human activity, labour, in two of its aspects. (1) The relation of the worker to the product of labour as an alien object exercising power over him. This relation is at the same time the relation to the sensuous external world, to the objects of nature as an alien world antagonistically opposed to him. (2) The relation of labour to the act of production within the labour process. This relation is the relation of the worker to his own activity as an alien activity not belonging to him; it is activity as suffering, strength as weakness, begetting as emasculating, the worker’s own physical and mental energy, his personal life or what is life other than activity—as an activity which is turned against him, neither depends on nor belongs to him. Here we have self-estrangement, as we had previously the estrangement of the thing.

We have yet a third aspect of estranged labour to deduce from the two already considered.

Man is a species being, not only because in practice and in theory be adopts the species as his object (his own as well as those of other things), but—and this is only another way of expressing it—but also because be treats himself as the actual, living species; because he treats himself as a universal and therefore a free being.

The life of the species, both in man and in animals, consists physically in the fact that man (like the animal) lives on inorganic nature; and the more universal man is compared with an animal, the more universal is the sphere of inorganic nature on which he lives. Just as plants, animals, stones, the air, light, etc., constitute a part of human consciousness in the realm of theory, partly as objects of natural science, partly as objects of art—his spiritual inorganic nature, spiritual nourishment which be must first prepare to make it palatable and digestible—so too in the realm of practice they constitute a part of human life and human activity. Physically man lives only on these products of nature, whether they appear in the form of food, heating, clothes, a dwelling, or whatever it may be. The universality of man is in practice manifested precisely in the universality which makes all nature his inorganic body—both inasmuch as nature is (1) his direct means of life, and (2) the material, the object, and the instrument of his life-activity. Nature is man’s inorganic body-nature, that is, in so far as it is not itself the human body. Man lives on nature—means that nature is his body, with which be must remain in continuous intercourse if be is not to die. That man’s physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.

In estranging from man (1) nature, and (2) himself, his own active functions, his life-activity, estranged labour estranges the species from man. It turns for him the life of the species into a means of individual life. First it estranges the life of the species and individual life, and secondly it makes individual life in its abstract form the purpose of the life of the species, likewise in its abstract and estranged form.

For in the first place labour, life-activity, productive life itself, appears to man merely as a means of satisfying a need—the need to maintain the physical existence. Yet the productive life is the life of the species. It is life-engendering life. The whole character of a species—its species character—is contained in the character of its life-activity; and free, conscious activity is man’s species character. Life itself appears only as a means to life.

The animal is immediately identical with its life-activity. It does not distinguish itself from it. It is its life-activity. Man makes his life-activity itself the object of his will and of his consciousness. He has conscious life-activity. It is not a determination with which he directly merges. Conscious life-activity directly distinguishes man from animal life-activity, It is just because of this that he is a species being. Or it is only because be is a species being that be is a Conscious Being, i.e., that his own life is an object for him. Only because of that is his activity free activity. Estranged labour reverses this relationship, so that it is just because man is a conscious being that he makes his life-activity, his essential being, a mere means to his existence.

In creating an objective world by his practical activity, in working-up inorganic nature, man proves himself a conscious species being, i.e., as a being that treats the species as its own essential being, or that treats itself as a species being. Admittedly animals also produce. They build themselves nests, dwellings, like the bees, beavers, ants, etc. But an animal only produces what it immediately need for itself or its young. It produces one-sidedly, whilst man produces universally. It produces only under the dominion of immediate physical need, whilst man produces even when he is free from physical needs and only truly produces in freedom therefrom. An animal produces only itself, whilst man reproduces the whole of nature. An animal’s product belongs immediately to its physical body, whilst man freely confronts his product. An animal forms things in accordance with the standard and the need of the species to which it belongs, whilst man knows how to produce in accordance with the standard of every species, and knows how to apply everywhere the inherent standard to the object. Man therefore also forms things in accordance with the laws of beauty.

It is just in the working-up of the objective world, therefore, that man first really proves himself to be a species being. This production is his active species life. Through and because of this production, nature appears as his work and his reality. The object of labour is, therefore, the objectification of man’s species life: for be duplicates himself not only, as in consciousness, intellectually, but also actively, in reality, and therefore he contemplates himself in a world that he has created. In tearing away from man the object of his production, therefore, estranged labour tears from him his species life, his real species objectivity, and transforms his advantage over animals into the disadvantage that his inorganic body, nature, is taken from him.

Similarly, in degrading spontaneous activity, free activity, to a means, estranged labour makes man’s species life a means to his physical existence. The consciousness which man has of his species is thus transformed by estrangement in such a way that the species life becomes for him a means.

Estranged labour turns thus:

(3) Man’s species being, both nature and his spiritual species property, into a being alien to him, into a means to his individual existence. It estranges man’s own body from him, as it does external nature and his spiritual essence, his human being.

(4) An immediate consequence of the fact that man is estranged from the product of his labour, from his life-activity, from his species being is the estrangement of man from man. If a man is confronted by himself, be is confronted by the other man. What applies to a man’s relation to his work, to the product of his labour and to himself, also holds of a man’s relation to the other man, and to the other man’s labour and object of labour.

In fact, the proposition that man’s species nature is estranged from him means that one man is estranged from the other, as each of them is from man’s essential nature.

The estrangement of man, and in fact every relationship in which man stands to himself, is first realized and expressed in the relationship in which a man stands to other men.

Hence within the relationship of estranged labour each man views the other in accordance with the standard and the position in which be finds himself as a worker.

We took our departure from a fact of political economy—the estrangement of the worker and his production. We have formulated the concept of this fact—estranged, alienated labour. We have analysed this concept—hence analysing merely a fact of political economy.

Let us now see, further, how in real life the concept of estranged, alienated labour must express and present itself.

If the product of labour is alien to me, if it confronts me as an alien power, to whom, then, does it belong?

If my own activity does not belong to me, if it is an alien, a coerced activity, to whom, then, does it belong?

To a being other than me.

Who is this being?

The gods? To be sure, in the earliest times the principal production (for example, the building of temples, etc., in Egypt, India and Mexico) appears to be in the service of the gods, and the product belongs to the gods. However, the gods on their own were never the lords of labour. No more was nature. And what a contradiction it would be if, the more man subjugated nature by his labour and the more the miracles of the gods were rendered superfluous by the miracles of industry, the more man were to renounce the joy of production and the enjoyment of the produce in favour of these powers.

The alien being, to whom labour and the produce of labour belongs, in whose service labour is done and for whose benefit the produce of labour is provided, can only be man himself.

If the product of labour does not belong to the worker, if it confronts him as an alien power, this can only be because it belongs to some other man than the worker. If the worker’s activity is a torment to him, to another it must be delight and his life’s joy. Not the gods, not nature, but only man himself can be this alien power over man.

We must bear in mind the above-stated proposition that man’s relation to himself only becomes objective and real for him through his relation to the other man. Thus, if the product of his labour, his labour objectified, is for him an alien, hostile, powerful object independent of him, then his position towards it is such that someone else is master of this object, someone who is alien, hostile, powerful, and independent of him. If his own activity is to him an unfree activity, then be is treating it as activity performed in the service, under the dominion, the coercion and the yoke of another man.

Every self-estrangement of man from himself and from nature appears in the relation in which be places himself and nature to men other than and differentiated from himself. For this reason religious self-estrangement necessarily appears in the relationship of the layman to the priest, or again to a mediator, etc., since we are here dealing with the intellectual world. In the real practical world self-estrangement can only become manifest through the real practical relationship to other men. The medium through which estrangement takes place is itself practical. Thus through estranged labour man not only engenders his relationship to the object and to the act of production as to powers that are alien and hostile to him; he also engenders the relationship in which other men stand to his production and to his product, and the relationship in which he stands to these other men. Just as he begets his own production as the loss of his reality, as his punishment; just as he begets his own product as a loss, as a product not belonging to him; so be begets the dominion of the one who does not produce over production and over the product. Just as he estranges from himself his own activity, so he confers to the stranger activity which is not his own.
Till now we have only considered this relationship from the standpoint of the worker and later we shall be considering it also from the standpoint of the non-worker.

Through estranged, alienated labour, then, the worker produces the relationship to this labour of a man alien to labour and standing outside it. The relationship of the worker to labour engenders the relation to it of the capitalist, or whatever one chooses to call the master of labour. Private property is thus the product, the result, the necessary consequence, of alienated labour, of the external relation of the worker to nature and to himself.

Private property thus results by analysis from the concept of alienated labour—i.e., of alienated man, of estranged labour, of estranged life, of estranged man.

True, it is as a result of the movement of private property that we have obtained the concept of alienated labour (of alienated life) from political economy. But on analysis of this concept it becomes clear that though private property appears to be the source, the cause of alienated labour, it is really its consequence, just as the gods in the beginning are not the cause but the effect of man’s intellectual confusion. Later this relationship becomes reciprocal.

Only at the very culmination of the development of private property does this, its secret, re-emerge, namely, that on the one hand it is the product of alienated labour, and that secondly it is the means by which labour alienates itself, the realization of this alienation.

This exposition immediately sheds light on various hitherto unsolved conflicts.

(1) Political economy starts from labour as the real soul of production; yet to labour it gives nothing, and to private property everything. From this contradiction Proudhon has concluded in favour of labour and against private property. We understand, however, that this apparent contradiction is the contradiction of estranged labour with itself, and that political economy has merely formulated the laws of estranged labour.

We also understand, therefore, that wages and private property are identical: where the product, the object of labour pays for labour itself, the wage is but a necessary consequence of labour’s estrangement, for after all in the wage of labour, labour does not appear as an end in itself but as the servant of the wage. We shall develop this point later, and meanwhile will only deduce some conclusions.

A forcing-up of wages (disregarding all other difficulties, including the fact that it would only be by force, too, that the higher wages, being an anomaly, could be maintained) would therefore be nothing but better payment for the slave, and would not conquer either for the worker or for labour their human status and dignity.

Indeed, even the equality of wages demanded by Proudhon only transforms the relationship of the present-day worker to his labour into the relationship of all men to labour. Society is then conceived as an abstract capitalist.

Wages are a direct consequence of estranged labour, and estranged labour is the direct cause of private property. The downfall of the one aspect must therefore mean the downfall of the other.

(2) From the relationship of estranged labour to private property it further follows that the emancipation of society from private property, etc., from servitude, is expressed in the political form of the emancipation of the workers; not that their emancipation alone was at stake but because the emancipation of the workers contains universal human emancipation—and it contains this, because the whole of human servitude is involved in the relation of the worker to production, and every relation of servitude is but a modification and consequence of this relation.

Just as we have found the concept of private property from the concept of estranged, alienated labour by analysis, in the same way every category of political economy can be evolved with the help of these two factors; and we shall find again in each category, e.g., trade, competition, capital, money, only a definite and developed expression of the first foundations.

Before considering this configuration, however, let us try to solve two problems.

(1) To define the general nature of private property, as it has arisen as a result of estranged labour, in its relation to truly human, social property.

(2) We have accepted the estrangement of labour, its alienation, as a fact, and we have analysed this fact. How, we now ask, does man come to alienate, to estrange, his labour? How is this estrangement rooted in the nature of human development? We have already gone a long way to the solution of this problem by transforming the question as to the origin of private property into the question as to the relation of alienated labour to the course of humanity’s development. For when one speaks of private property, one thinks of being concerned with something external to man. When one speaks of labour, one is directly concerned with man himself. This new formulation of the question already contains its solution.

As to (1): The general nature of private property and its relation to truly human property.

Alienated labour has resolved itself for us into two elements which mutually condition one another, or which are but different expressions of one and the same relationship. Appropriation appears as estrangement, as alienation; and alienation appears as appropriation, estrangement as true enfranchisement.

We have considered the one side—alienated labour in relation to the worker himself, i.e., the relation of alienated labour to itself. The property-relation of the non-worker to the worker and to labour we have found as the product, the necessary outcome of this relation of alienated labour. Private property, as the material, summary expression of alienated labour, embraces both relations—the relation of the worker to work, to the product of his labour and to the non-worker, and the relation of the non-worker to the worker and to the product of his labour.

Having seen that in relation to the worker who appropriates nature by means of his labour, this appropriation appears as estrangement, his own spontaneous activity as activity for another and as activity of another, vitality as a sacrifice of life, production of the object as loss of the object to an alien power, to an alien person—we shall now consider the relation to the worker, to labour and its object of this person who is alien to labour and the worker.

First it has to be noticed, that everything which appears in the worker as an activity of alienation, of estrangement, appears in the non-worker as a state of alienation, of estrangement.

Secondly, that the worker’s real, practical attitude in production and to the product (as a state of mind) appears in the non-worker confronting him as a theoretical attitude.

Thirdly, the non-worker does everything against the worker which the worker does against himself; but he does not do against himself what he does against the worker.

Let us look more closely at these three relations. {here the manuscript breaks off unfinished]

Private Property and Communism

Re. p. XXXIX. The antithesis of propertylessness and property so long as it is not comprehended as the antithesis of labour and capital, still remains an antithesis of indifference, not grasped in its active connection, its internal relation—an antithesis not yet grasped as a contradiction. It can find expression in this first form even without the advanced development of private property (as in ancient Rome, Turkey, etc.). It does not yet appear as having been established by private property itself. But labour, the subjective essence of private property, as exclusion of property, and capital, objective labour as exclusion of labour, constitute private property as its developed state of contradiction—hence a dynamic relationship moving inexorably to its resolution.

Re. the same page. The transcendence of self-estrangement follows the same course as self-estrangement. Private property is first considered only in its objective aspect—but nevertheless with labour as its essence. Its form of existence is therefore capital, which is to be annulled “as such” (Proudhon). Or a particular form of labour—labour levelled down, parcelled, and therefore unfree—is conceived as the source of private property’s perniciousness and of its existence in estrangement from men; for instance, Fourier, who, like the physiocrats, also conceived agricultural labour to be at least the exemplary type, whilst Saint-Simon declares in contrast that industrial labour as such is the essence, and now also aspires to the exclusive rule of the industrialists and the improvement of the workers’ condition. Finally, communism is the positive expression of annulled private property—at first as universal private property. By embracing this relation as a whole, communism is:

(1) In its first form only a generalization and consummation of this relationship. It shows itself as such in a twofold form: on the one hand, the dominion of material property bulks so large that it wants to destroy everything which is not capable of being possessed by all as private property. It wants to abstract by force—from talent, etc. For it the sole purpose of life and existence is direct, physical possession. The category of labourer is not done away with, but extended to all men. The relationship of private property persists as the relationship of the community to the world of things. Finally, this movement of counterposing universal private property to private property finds expression in the bestial form of counterposing to marriage (certainly a form of exclusive private property) the community of women, in which a woman becomes a piece of communal and common property. It may be said that this idea of the community of women gives away the secret of this as yet completely crude and thoughtless communism. just as the woman passes from marriage to general prostitution. So the entire world of wealth (that is, of man’s objective substance) passes from the relationship of exclusive marriage with the owner of private property to a state of universal prostitution with the community. In negating the personality of man in every sphere, this type of communism is really nothing but the logical expression of private property, which is this negation. General envy constituting itself as a power is the disguise in which avarice re-establishes itself and satisfies itself, only in another way. The thoughts of every piece of private property—inherent in each piece as such—are at least turned against all wealthier private property in the form of envy and the urge to reduce to a common level, so that this envy and urge even constitute the essence of competition. The crude communism is only the consummation of this envy and of this levelling-down proceeding from the preconceived minimum. It has a definite, limited standard. How little this annulment of private property is really an appropriation is in fact proved by the abstract negation of the entire world of culture and civilization, the regression to the unnatural simplicity of the poor and undemanding man who has not only failed to go beyond private property, but has not yet even attained to it.

The community is only a community of labour, and an equality of wages paid out by the communal capital—the community as the universal capitalist. Both sides of the relationship are raised to an imagined universality—labour as a state in which every person is put, and capital as the acknowledged universality and power of the community.

In the approach to woman as the spoil and handmaid of communal lust is expressed the infinite degradation in which man exists for himself, for the secret of this approach has its unambiguous, decisive, plain and undisguised expression in the relation of man to woman and in the manner in which the direct and natural procreative relationship is, conceived. The direct, natural, and necessary relation of person to person is the relation of man to woman. In this natural relationship of the sexes man’s relation to nature is immediatclv his relation to man, just as his relation to man is immediately his relation to nature—his own natural function. In this relationship, therefore, is sensuously manifested, reduced to an observable fact, the extent to which the human essence has become nature to man, or to which nature has to him become the human essence of man. From this relationship one can therefore judge man’s whole level of development. It follows from the character of this relationship how much man as a species being, as man, has come to be himself and to comprehend himself; the relation of man to woman is the most natural relation of human being to human being. It therefore reveals the extent to which man’s natural behaviour has become human, or the extent to which the human essence in him has become a natural essence—the extent to which his human nature has come to be nature to him. In this relationship is revealed, too, the extent to which man’s need has become a human need; the extent to which, therefore, the other person as a person has become for him a need—the extent to which he in his individual existence is at the same time a social being. The first positive annulment of private property—crude communism—is thus merely one form in which the vileness of private property, which wants to set itself up as the positive community, comes to the surface.

(2) Communism (a) of a political nature still—democratic or despotic; (b) with the annulment of the state, yet still incomplete, and being still affected by private property (i.e., by the estrangement of man). In both forms communism already knows itself to be re-integration or return of man to himself, the transcendence of human self-estrangement; but since it has not yet grasped the positive essence of private property, and just as little the human nature of need, it remains captive to it and infected by it. It has, indeed, grasped its concept, but not its essence.

(3) Communism as the positive transcendence of private property, or human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being—a return become conscious, and accomplished within the entire wealth of previous development. This communism, as fully-developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully-developcd humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man—the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.

The entire movement of history is, therefore, both its actual act of genesis (the birth act of its empirical existence) and also for its thinking consciousness the comprehended and known process of its coming-to-be. That other, still immature communism, meanwhile, seeks an historical proof for itself—a proof in the realm of the existent—-amongst disconnected historical phenomena opposed to private property, tearing single phases from the historical process and focussing attention on them as proofs of its historical pedigree (a horse ridden hard especially by Cabet, Villegardelle, etc.). By so doing it simply makes clear that by far the greater part of this process contradicts its claims, and that, if it has once been, precisely its being in the past refutes its pretension to being essential.

That the entire revolutionary movement necessarily finds both its empirical and its theoretical basis in the movement of private property—in that of the economy, to be precise—is easy to se.

This material, immediately sensuous private property is the material sensuous expression of estranged human life. Its movement—production and consumption — is the sensuous revelation of the movement of all production hitherto – i.e., the realization or the reality of man. Religion, family, state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production, and fall under its general law. The positive transcendence of private property as the appropriation of human life is, therefore, the positive transcendence of all estrangement — that is to say, the return of man from religion, family, state, etc., to his human, i.e., social mode of existence. Religious estrangement as such occurs only in the realm of consciousness, of man’s inner life, but economic estrangement is that of real life; its transcendence therefore embraces both aspects. It is evident that the initial stage of the movement amongst the various peoples depends on whether the true and for them authentic life of the people manifests itself more in consciousness or in the external world—is more ideal or real. Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, it is still mostly an abstraction.

The philanthropy of atheism is therefore at first only philosophical, abstract, philanthropy, and that of communism is at once real and directly bent on action.

We have seen how on the premise of positively annulled private property man produces man—himself and the other man; how the object, being the direct embodiment of his individuality, is simultaneously his own existence for the other man, the existence of the other man, and that existence for him. Likewise, however, both the material of labour and man as the subject, are the point of departure as well as the result of the movement (and precisely in this fact, that they must constitute the point of departure, lies the historical necessity of private property). Thus the social character is the general character of the whole movement: just as society itself produces man as man, so is society produced by him. Activity and consumption, both in their content and in their mode of existence, are social: social activity and social consumption; the human essence of nature first exists only for social man; for only here does nature exist for him as a bond with man—as his existence for the other and the other’s existence for him—as the life-element of the human world; only here does nature exist as the foundation of his own human existence. Only here has what is to him his natural existence become his human existence, and nature become man for him. Thus society is the consummated oneness in substance of man and nature—the, true resurrection of nature—the naturalism of man and the humanism of nature both brought to fulfilment.

Social activity and social consumption exist by no means only in the form of some directly communal activity and directly communal consumption, although communal activity and communal consumption-i.e., activity and consumption which are manifested and directly confirmed in real association with other men—will occur wherever such a direct expression of sociality stems from the true character of the activity’s content and is adequate to the nature of consumption.

But again when I am active scientifically, etc.,—when I am engaged in activity which I can seldom perform in direct community with others—then I am social, because I am active as a man. Not only is the material of my activity given to me as a social product (as is even the language in which the thinker is active): my own existence is social activity, and therefore that which I make of myself, I make of myself for society and with the consciousness of myself as a social being.

My general consciousness is only the theoretical shape of that of which the living, shape is the real community, the social fabric, although at the present day general consciousness is an abstraction from real life and as such antagonistically confronts it. Consequently, too, the activity of my general consciousness, as an activity, is my theoretical existence as a social being.

What is to be avoided above all is the re-establishing of “Society” as an abstraction vis-a-vis the individual. The individual is the social being. His life, even if it may not appear in the direct form of a communal life carried out together with others—is therefore an expression and confirmation of social life. Man’s individual and species life are not different, however much—and this is inevitable—the mode of existence of the individual is a more particular, or more general mode of the life of the species, or the life of the species is a more particular or more general individual life.

In his consciousness of species man confirms his real social life, and simply repeats his real existence in thought, just as conversely the being of the species confirms itself in species-consciousness and is for itself in its generality as a thinking being.

Man, much as he may therefore be a particular individual (and it is precisely his particularity which makes him an individual, and a real individual social beigi), is just as much the totality—the ideal totality—the subjective existence of thought and experienced society present for itself; just as he exists also in the real world as the awareness and the real enjoyment of social existence, and as a totality of buman life-activity.
Thinking and being are thus no doubt distinct, but at the same time they are in unity with each other.

Death seems to be a harsh victory of the species over the definite individual and to contradict their unity. But the determinate individual is only a determinate species being, and as such mortal.

(4) just as private property is only the sensuous expression of the fact that man becomes objective for himself and at the same time becomes to himself a strange and inhuman object; just as it expresses the fact that the assertion of his life is the alienation of his life, that his realization is his loss of reality, is an alien reality: conversely, the positive transcendence of private property—i.e., the sensuous appropriation for and by man of the human essence and of human life, of objective man, of human achievements—is not to be conceived merely in the sense of direct, one-sided gratification—merely in the sense of possessing, of having. Man appropriates his total essence in a total manner, that is to say, as a whole man. Each of his human relations to the world—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, thinking, being aware, sensing, wanting, acting, loving—in short, all the organs of his individual being, like those organs which are directly social in their form, are in their objective orientation or in their orientation to the object, the appropriation of that object, the appropriation of the human world; their orientation to the object is the manifestation of the human world; it is human efficaciousness and human suffering, for suffering, apprehended humanly, is an enjoyment of self in man.

Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it—when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc.,—in short, when it is used by us. Although private property itself again conceives all these direct realizations of possession as means of life, and the life which they serve as means is the life of private property—labour and conversion into capital.

In place of all these physical and mental senses there has therefore come the sheer estrangement of all these senses-the sense of having. The human being had to be reduced to this absolute poverty in order that be might yield his inner wealth to the outer world. (On the category of “having,” see Hess in the Twenty-One Sheets.)

The transcendence of private property is therefore the complete emancipation of all human senses and attributes; but it is this emancipation precisely because these senses and attributes have become, subjectively and objectively, human. The eye has become a human eye, just as its object has become a social, human object—an object emanating from man for man. The senses have therefore become directly in their practice theoreticians. They relate themselves to the thing for the sake of the thing, but the thing itself is an objective human relation to itself and to man, and vice versa. Need or enjoyment have consequently lost their egotistical nature, and nature has lost its mere utility by use becoming human use.

In the same way, the senses and enjoyments of other men have become my own appropriation. Besides these direct organs, therefore, social organs develop in the form of society; thus, for instance, activity in direct association with others, etc., has become an organ for expressing my own life, and a mode of appropriating human life.

It is obvious that the human eye gratifies itself in a way different from the crude, non-human eye; the human ear different from the crude ear, etc.

To recapitulate; man is not lost in his object only when the object becomes for him a human object or objective man. This is possible only when the object becomes for him a social object, he himself for himself a social being, just as society becomes a being for him in this object.

On the one hand, therefore, it is only when the objective world becomes everywhere for man in society the world of man’s essential powers—human reality, and for that reason the reality of his own essential powers—that all objects become for him the objectification of himself, become objects which confirm and realize his individuality, become his objects: that is, man himself becomes the object. The manner in which they become his depends on the nature of the objects and on the nature of the essential power corresponding to it; for it is precisely the determinateness of this relationship which shapes the particular, real mode of affirmation. To the eye an object comes to be other than it is to the ear, and the object of the eye is another object than the object of the ear. The peculiarity of each essential power is precisely its peculiar essence, and therefore also the peculiar mode of its objectification, of its objectively actual living being. Thus man is affirmed in the objective world not only in the act of thinking, but with all his senses.

On the other hand, looking at this in its subjective aspect: just as music alone awakens in man the sense of music, and just as the most beautiful music has no sense for the unmusical ear—is no object for it, because my object can only be the confirmation of one of my essential powers and can therefore only be so for me as my essential power is present for itself. as a subjective capacity, because the sense of an object for me goes only so far as my senses go (has only sense for a sense corresponding to that object)—for this reason the senses of the social man are other senses than those of the non-social man. Only through the objectively unfolded richness of man’s essential being is the richness of subjective human sensibility (a musical ear, an eye for beauty of form-in short, senses capable of human gratifications, senses confirming themselves as essential powers of man) either cultivated or brought into being. For not only the five senses but also the so-called mental senses—the practical senses (will, love, etc.)—in a word, human sense—the humanness of the senses—comes to be by virtue of its object, by virtue of humanized nature. The forming of the five senses is a labour of the entire history of the world down to the present.

The sense caught up in crude practical need has only a restricted sense. For the starving man, it is not the human form of food that exists, but only its abstract being as food -it could just as well be there in its crudest form, and it would be impossible to say wherein this feeding-activity differs from that of animals. The care-burdened man in need has no sense for the finest play; the dealer in minerals sees only the mercantile value but not the beauty and the unique nature of the mineral: he has no mineralogical sense. Thus, the objectification of the human essence both in its theoretical and practical aspects is required to make man’s sense human, as well as to create the human sense corresponding to the entire wealth of human and natural substance.

Just as resulting from the movement of private property, of its wealth as well as its poverty—or of its material and spiritual wealth and poverty—the budding society finds to hand all the material for this development: so established society produces man in this entire richness of his being—produces the rich man profoundly endowed with all the senses—as its enduring reality.

It will be seen bow subjectivism and objectivism, spiritualism and materialism, activity and suffering, only lose their antithetical character, and thus their existence, as such antitheses in the social condition. It will be seen how the resolution of the theoretical antitheses is only possible in a practical way, by virtue of the practical energy of men. Their resolution is therefore by no means merely a problem of knowledge, but a real problem of life, which philosophy could not solve precisely because it conceived this problem as merely a theoretical one.

It will be seen bow the history of industry and the established objective existence of industry are the open book of man’s essential
powers, the exposure to the senses of human psychology. Hitherto this was not conceived in its inseparable connection with man’s essential being, but only in an external relation of utility, because, moving in the realm of estrangement, people could only think man’s general mode of being—religion or history in its abstract general character as politics, art, literature, etc.,—to be the reality
of man’s essential powers and man’s species-activity. We have before us the objectified essential powers of man in the form of sensuous, alien, useful objects, in the form of estrangement, displayed in ordinary material industry (which can be conceived as a part of that general movement, just as that movement can be conceived as a particular part of industry, since all human activity hitherto has been labour—that is, industry—activity estranged from itself).

A psychology for which this, the part of history most contemporary and accessible to sense, remains a closed book, cannot become a genuine, comprehensive and real science. What indeed are we to think of a science which airily abstracts from this large part of human labour and which falls to feel its own incompleteness, while such a wealth of human endeavour unfolded before it means nothing more to it than, perhaps, what can be expressed in one word-“need,” “vulgar need”?

The natural sciences have developed an enormous activity and have accumulated a constantly growing mass of material. Philosophy, however, has remained just as alien to them as they remain to philosophy. Their momentary unity was only a chimerical illusion. The will was there, but the means were lacking. Even historiography pays regard to natural science only occasionally, as a factor of enlightenment and utility arising from individual great discoveries. But natural science has invaded and transformed human life all the more practically through the medium of industry; and has prepared human emancipation, however directly and much it had to consummate dehumanization. Industry is the actual, historical relation of nature, and therefore of natural science, to man. If, therefore, industry is conceived as the exoteric revelation of man’s essential powers, we also gain an understanding of the human essence of nature or the natural essence of man. In consequence, natural science will lose its abstractly material—or rather, its idealistic tendency, and will become the basis of human science, as it has already become the basis of actual human life, albeit in an estranged form. One basis for life and another basis for science is a priori a lie. The nature which comes to be in human history — the genesis of human society — is man’s real nature; hence nature as it comes to be through industry, even though in an estranged form, is true anthropological nature.

Sense-perception (see Feuerbach) must be the basis of all science. Only when it proceeds from sense-perception in the twofold form both of sensuous consciousness and of sensuous need—that is, only when science proceeds from nature—is it true science. All history is the preparation for “man” to become the object of sensuous consciousness, and for the needs of “man as man” to become [natural, sensuous] needs. History itself is a real part of natural history—of nature’s coming to be man. Natural science will in time subsume under itself the science of man, just as the science of man will subsume under itself natural science: there will be one science.

Man is the immediate object of natural science: for immediate, sensuous nature for man is, immediately, human sensuousness (the expressions are identical)—presented immediately in the form of the other man sensuously present for him. For his own sensuousness first exists as human sensuousness for himself through the other man. But nature is the immediate object of the science of man: the first object of man—man—is nature, sensuousness; and the particular human sensuous essential powers can only find their self-knowledge in the science of the natural world in general, since they can find their objective realization in natural objects only. The element of thought itself—the element of thought’s living expression — language — is of a sensuous nature. The social reality of nature, and human natural science, or the natural science about man, are identical terms.

It will be seen how in place of the wealth and poverty of political economy come the rich human being and rich human need. The rich human being is simultaneously the human being in need of a totality of human life-activities—the man in whom his own realization exists as an inner necessity, as need. Not only wealth, but likewise the poverty of man—given socialism—receives in equal measure a human and therefore social significance. Poverty is the passive bond which causes the human being to experience the need of the greatest wealth—the other human being. The dominion of the objective being in me, the sensuous outburst of my essential activity, is emotion, which thus becomes here the activity of my being.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.