• schopenhauer1
    1.9k
    No one person can ever in their lifetime know the mind bogglingly large number of factors that go into all the products that they encounter and use. This alienation from factors of production is a problem as we are atomized from the sources of production- reduced to a tiny infinitesimal fraction of the larger pie. Without grandiose notions of free-fettered capitalism's amazing invisible hand or the overblown notions of alienation from labor in Marx rhetoric, is this a problem for modern humans?
  • T Clark
    3k
    No one person can ever in their lifetime know the mind bogglingly large number of factors that go into all the products that they encounter and use. This alienation from factors of production is a problem as we are atomized from the sources of production- reduced to a tiny infinitesimal fraction of the larger pie. Without grandiose notions of free-fettered capitalism's amazing invisible hand or the overblown notions of alienation from labor in Marx rhetoric, is this a problem for modern humans?schopenhauer1

    I think it's probably inevitable. There's a discussion on "social capital" going on next door. I think the two subjects are related. The globalized, industrialized, alienated, atomized way we work destroys rather than replenishes social capital. I can't see any way of going back, short of world-wide catastrophe. I've started to think that the only way out is through, that, if there is a solution, it is in the evolution of what we have into something more humane. Maybe that's a pipe dream.
  • matt
    77
    One is isolated from a vast number events that occur and directly or indirectly influence with our day-to-day lives. Production is simply a whole/totality where we play the role of part(s).

    This isolation should not be a problem for modern man if his day-to-day is rich enough.
  • NKBJ
    316
    Ahem, the modern human, please and thank you.

    I think the problems with our general alienation from production are both manifold and dire. Just a few things off the top of my head:

    1. The general public cares little about the origins of consumer items, which includes slave labor, unethical work practices, and environmental destruction.
    2. The general public does not understand the actual worth of any given item and so is more easily influenced by capitalist propaganda (or, in their words, "marketing") so that the price of fresh produce seems exorbitant, while they happily pay hundreds to use a cell-phone (not buy, just use).
    3. They have forgotten the power of their role in the system as consumers.
    4. They don't realize they are potential producers of goods. Fewer and fewer people are capable of making something with their own hands nowadays.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.9k
    1. The general public cares little about the origins of consumer items, which includes slave labor, unethical work practices, and environmental destruction.NKBJ

    GettyImages-457978585-578b857a3df78c09e9d708f0.jpg

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQcTneSthX9PJ3zvaLRClSLIo5eEkLk5bGOyIH6zXH3G5WAM039

    graphics4.png

    Where others see efficiency, specialization, and the growth of goods and services I see an explosion of boredom and anomie spread around. You are so overwhelmed by the factors of production. Yes the invisible hand specializing the pin factory, yadayada. It's always fun to hear @Bitter Crank account though.
  • andrewk
    1.4k
    I don't think alienation from aspects of production - be they factors or products - is intrinsically a problem. What is a problem is alienation from other people and from a sense of purpose, and it is easy for both of those to occur in modern, large-scale production processes. But with care that can be avoided and it is in the interests of employers as well as employees that that care be taken. Some employers do this well. Others do not.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.8k
    The pastoral life has been at odds with modernity since the beginning. An alienation from the production of modern Man's necessities is an inevitable result of massive populations and urban sprawl.
  • csalisbury
    1.4k
    I think the first thing to do when you think about people being alienated from production is to create a picture, in your mind (or in words) of what it would belike to produce without being alienated from that production. And then think about what's good and bad about that situation.

    To talk about man being alienated from his production - that sounds bad (and probably is). Conjure a picture of someone in an amazon warehouse - bad news, guy seems miserable.

    But what are they lacking? and why does the amazon warehouse strip them of that? and then, only then, what to do?

    (a kind of pessimist methodology. Things are bad. Now assume things are always bad and have always been bad. Take that as a starting point (there's some truth to it). Now the burden is to show when things weren't bad, and why they weren't, and how we can maybe fix that. It's easy to decry things. It's very hard to explain how to make things better.)
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    is this a problem for modern humans?schopenhauer1

    Only inasmuch as ignorance of anything is a problem.
  • csalisbury
    1.4k

    Ok, I'll bite, so what is the thing they're ignorant of, here
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    No one person can ever in their lifetime know the mind bogglingly large number of factors that go into all the products that they encounter and use. This alienation from factors of production is a problem as we are atomized from the sources of production- reduced to a tiny infinitesimal fraction of the larger pie. Without grandiose notions of free-fettered capitalism's amazing invisible hand or the overblown notions of alienation from labor in Marx rhetoric, is this a problem for modern humans?schopenhauer1

    True enough, manufacturing has become extraordinarily complex. But that isn't "alienation" exactly. Edited, Marx said,

    - My work would be a free manifestation of life,
    hence an enjoyment of life.
    Presupposing private property, my work is an alienation of life,
    for I work in order to live,
    in order to obtain for myself the means of life.
    My work is not my life.

    If a man builds his own house, cultivates food on his own land, hunts his own game for food and leather, etc. his work and life would be a unity. Since the industrial revolution, the expansion of the capitalist economic system, urbanization, and so on -- fewer and fewer people have had any opportunity to experience a unity of work and life.

    Almost all of us work for others, because we must. Production of all that we need and want is pretty much centralized and highly organized. We work in order to obtain the means of life, as Marx said -- food, clothing, shelter, heat, etc. But our work is not our life. We don't work for the sake of the work we do; we work so that we can buy bread.

    That is the kind of alienation Marx was talking about.

    There is another meaning of alienation, and which is increasingly common, where people don't feel like they belong to the world they live in. They feel like outsiders. They don't feel needed, wanted, or loved. They don't feel they have any value in the world they live in. And worse, they might be right. Capitalism values people on their ability to produce wealth through their labor. Outside of that... what good are you, anyway?

    The second meaning of alienation comes from, but perhaps not obviously, the fact of one's working in an office or factory that is private property and one is just a hired hand. It comes from the recognition that one, in fact, may not have a place in the world that can't be taken by someone else -- just about anybody else.

    When we alienated, unhappy people have lost all our connections that bind us together, we are atomized. The next stage, after Alienation and Atomization, is Anomie, the lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.9k
    But what are they lacking? and why does the amazon warehouse strip them of that? and then, only then, what to do?csalisbury

    It's easy to decry things. It's very hard to explain how to make things better.)csalisbury

    They are lacking an awareness of the products they use. The answer- there is none. We are just tiny recipients of billions of transactions of labor and resources. We specialize in our little niche and consume stuff. We are awash in "Stuff" but we don't know how it got here. We are alien to our surroundings. Many will praise this as "good" as it shows the invisible hand at work and man's ability to engage in markets that they only need to have a tiny fraction of knowledge of to participate in. There is something missing here to be alien from understanding all the technology that goes into the stuff we use every day or any day for that matter.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.9k
    True enough, manufacturing has become extraordinarily complex. But that isn't "alienation" exactly. Edited, Marx said,

    - My work would be a free manifestation of life,
    hence an enjoyment of life.
    Presupposing private property, my work is an alienation of life,
    for I work in order to live,
    in order to obtain for myself the means of life.
    My work is not my life.

    If a man builds his own house, cultivates food on his own land, hunts his own game for food and leather, etc. his work and life would be a unity. Since the industrial revolution, the expansion of the capitalist economic system, urbanization, and so on -- fewer and fewer people have had any opportunity to experience a unity of work and life.

    Almost all of us work for others, because we must. Production of all that we need and want is pretty much centralized and highly organized. We work in order to obtain the means of life, as Marx said -- food, clothing, shelter, heat, etc. But our work is not our life. We don't work for the sake of the work we do; we work so that we can buy bread.

    That is the kind of alienation Marx was talking about.
    Bitter Crank

    Nice summation of Marx concept of alienation.

    The second meaning of alienation comes from, but perhaps not obviously, the fact of one's working in an office or factory that is private property and one is just a hired hand. It comes from the recognition that one, in fact, may not have a place in the world that can't be taken by someone else -- just about anybody else.

    When we alienated, unhappy people have lost all our connections that bind us together, we are atomized. The next stage, after Alienation and Atomization, is Anomie, the lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.
    Bitter Crank

    I agree we are atomized. Bringing this idea to production itself- we are an infintesimally small part of production, yet we are dictated by the transactions of production. Here we are, working in our production settings (e.g. office spaces, manufacturing plants, warehouses, transport mode, etc.) using all these products which we have nothing to do with except possibly paying for or consuming it. The economy is the big MACHINE that we push a tiny sliver of the levers for to keep intact. You are not going to like this, but it all goes back to why we have new humans in the first place. Why bring more people into the world to keep the MACHINE afloat? We think it is for self-interest, but due to the fact that we are tied into this impersonal (invisible) behemoth of an economy- self-interest is simply just the inadvertent strengthening of the MACHINE. More level pushers alienated from the forces that keep them alive and as you explain well, possibly alienated socially from each other. It is a two-prong alienation then- from the factors of technology that keeps us alive and the socialization with others throughout the day (at least 8 hours of it for the usual workers). If this is just what reality is, then what makes reality that great? I still don't get that one. Because you go on rafting adventure trips, read books on the Philosophy of Science, attend religious events, and watch plays and movies? This is the big payoff of life? If reality is just plain reality why do people really prefer it? Is it just that we are alive, so we are predisposed to accepting it as good?
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    The "large number of factors that go into all the products that they encounter and use."
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    You are not going to like this, but it all goes back to why we have new humans in the first place. Why bring more people into the world to keep the MACHINE afloat?schopenhauer1

    Marx stuffed a lot into the Manifesto. One of the points he covered was "the reproduction of labor". The folks who run and have run societies, be they pharaohs, oriental piss pots, caesars, shahs, brahmans, lords of the castle, viking raiders, tribal chieftains, bourgeois factory owners, top gestapo leaders, or multi-billionaires, understand that if people don't keep breeding, the market will suffer. Armies won't find fresh recruits. The fields won't get plowed. Production will be short-handed, and consumption will be short of buyers. The value of stocks will fall, which, horror of horrors, is the worst thing that can happen.

    Oh, no -- wealth evaporates!!! Keep breeding, people. Breed, baby, breed. Fuck your brains out, and skip the b.c. pills and prophylactics. You might not be producing quality, but quantity counts too.

    Marx wasn't the only person to think and write about alienation. In English, at least, the term "alienate" was coined about 300 years before Marx came along.

    EDIT: ATOMIZATION, ANOMIE, PLUS ALIENATION CHARTED HERE

    tumblr_p754bqR6bG1s4quuao1_540.png

    Just guessing, but perhaps the primary meaning in 1770 had more to do with the "alienation of property" rather than the "alienation of persons feeling like they were getting shat on", which is more the meaning today. Atomization and anomie haven't caught on, oddly enough. Let's all use these words more often. It's the least we can do.

    At any rate...

    During the period of high emigration from Europe to the US, 1840s through 1900, say, military and imperial apparatchiks were definitely concerned about the loss of population for the reasons stated above. Losing a million adult breeding pairs could give a crowned head throbbing pains. "Why, oh why don't the wretched peasants want to remain in their filthy hovels, spawning a brood of brats that will someday become excellent cannon fodder?"

    The mass immigration to the US is well known; less well known is that a lot of wretched peasants found that life in the United States could be just as wretched or worse than the old world, and wretched without the familiar ties that bind and quirky festivals that peasants enjoy. Quite a few returned if they could, and resumed their more familiar wretched and quirky existence in Europe.

    No doubt, the OT command to be fruitful and multiply was conceived at a time when the available personnel didn't seem to be sufficiently high. Given the death rate, biblical people probably never found themselves with too many people, unless you count the enemies occupying desirable plots of land.
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    I still don't get that one.schopenhauer1

    There are things I don't get either. My thread on social capital, which I thought was a productive topic, has been waylaid by several posters who, for some perverted reason, have a reaction of fear and loathing to assessing the level of social capital in the thousands of US counties. In a way, good social capital is the opposite of alienation, but these people just seem to hate the idea of surveying social capital -- like they were making up a list of people to send to the gas chambers, or something. I don't get it. I would think everyone would be in favor of determining how healthy or sick various communities are, in terms of solid families, social interaction, low crime rates, etc.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.9k

    Do you think there is something intractable in life itself which your main solutions of better community and more projects to focus on will not be able to fix? Essentially this is a watered down Maslows Hierarchy of needs. Is that whole self-actualization hope what makes more new people worth bringing into the world?
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    Do you think there is something intractable in life itself which your main solutions of better community and more projects to focus on anything we think of will not be able to fix?schopenhauer1

    Yes, of course. We are not perfectible. We will always be not-quite-smart-enough primates with primitive emotions which will ever derail our best efforts. Our primitive emotions can be quite dark, too. We are pained by existence, sometimes quite pained, yet we are unable to alter our basic approaches to life.

    Perhaps we could not guess what would happen at the time, but embarking on the Industrial Revolution and loving the glories that flowed from smoke-belching factories and pollution-spewing tailpipes has led us to the unpleasant place where we are now, contemplating our possibly slow, over-heated demise.

    One of the obvious conclusions one should reach after recognizing that we will not stop global warming is that bearing more children makes no moral sense whatsoever. When, and/or if, later in this century, it becomes clear that human life will become unsustainable on earth, will people stop reproducing? Of course they won't. Some will refrain, but many will just go right ahead.
  • XTG
    28
    Overproduction? The research and development for superfluous products and merchandise? Certainly we are not talking about the art industry, or the entertainment industry, for there is a proven value in those yes? They help us find meaning in life and develop culture.

    Rather, we must be talking about ”designed obselecance”, the strange range in the quality and functionality of products in correlation with their range in price. The millions of unbought washers, dryers, refrigerators, microwaves, toasters, power tools, computer chairs, sofas, television sets, computers and motor vehicles, all of the piece of shit bikes at Walmart... What the hell is it all doing there? Does it really all get purchased? And if so; how much of it ends up in the landfill within 10 years? 30%? 60%? 90%???

    I don't know if I've failed to understand the concept of the opening post, but ^this shit; keeps me up at night.
  • aporiap
    66

    No one person can ever in their lifetime know the mind bogglingly large number of factors that go into all the products that they encounter and use. This alienation from factors of production is a problem as we are atomized from the sources of production- reduced to a tiny infinitesimal fraction of the larger pie. Without grandiose notions of free-fettered capitalism's amazing invisible hand or the overblown notions of alienation from labor in Marx rhetoric, is this a problem for modern humans?
    I don't think the consumer's knowledge of a product's production method and sources is the issue.

    I believe you mean the manufacturer's or worker's alienation from the product and the fact that they only participate in a figurative segment or link in a much larger, sometimes transnational chain of production. I think this stems from the centralization of private market power into large, multifaceted entities consisting of divided labor segments, each of which is manned by a large number of dedicated specialists of those segments, and thus confining and minimalizing the impact and power-reach of individual workers within those segments.

    I think a big part of what makes work life satisfying is increased autonomy, sense of attachment to the business entity, intimacy with coworkers, and a sense of tangible impact and ownership. Those things are more available in small business settings and lost in larger, corporate ones. Even though it seems we're increasingly moving in that direction, I don't think it's going to end at some worst case worker-dystopia scenario. You must be a believer in the power of collective frustrations and volatility. Clearly there is suspicion of power concentration just see all these populist movements popping up and the political support they are garnering. I think we will have a push toward more regulatory policies that can help influence market structure in a healthy way -- promoting diverse and competitive market place with smaller business entities. And I think we will find ways to more efficiently organize workers to advocate for workplace autonomy and reshaping of workplace. There are many social platforms and major online communication highways, with enough frustration there will be some kind of push for positive changes. Let it evolve
  • Bitter Crank
    5.9k
    Does it really all get purchased? And if so; how much of it ends up in the landfill within 10 years?XTG

    Most of it gets purchased. THAT part is under control. After it leaves the store, most of it will end up in an open dump, a landfill, a municipal incinerator, or if we are very very lucky, a recycling operation. A lot of it is just scattered all over the place, or will go down the drain into the rivers, lakes, and oceans.

    Most of the stuff we buy means nothing to us, and once it is used and disposed of, out of sight (however that is achieved), it is out of mind.

    We do not seem to be able to fully grasp this basic truth: stuff doesn't disappear. The plastic packet from which I squeezed mustard will, for all practical purposes, never disappear. All the tiny pieces of it will be somewhere. In 100,000 years those tiny pieces will still be in existence. All of them.
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