Even when we allow Man to escape the degradations of the workplace and go out into the marketplace to spend the money he has earned or to sell the product he has made, he cannot leave his alienation behind. Man brings his own alienation with him to the marketplace in the forms of product and of money.
In what are called the Excerpt Notes, Young Marx contends that the products brought to market exert, almost as if they are something alive, a POWER over the transactors. This power is the desire engendered in Man TO POSSESS.
And going back to our Hegel, we know that the exercise of any external force over us is an indicator of an act of alienation in progress.
In the marketplace, each exchanger acts, as it were, as his property’s feet, getting the product to market where it can exercise its dominion over the minds of men– and where each property’s taxi service (that would be you and me) will be dominated by our property’s brother-products brought to market by their own human taxis. “In other words,” says Young Marx, “our own product has turned against us. It appeared to be our property, but actually we are its property.” The awakening of the desire of possession in us is “the domination of the product over the producer.”
Today, instead of bartering goods for goods, we obtain the products of our desire by using an agreed upon medium of exchange. But this middle-man Money is even more powerful than the products on display in the marketplace… Money does not represent just one product… it embodies ALL products. Thus Money exercises a dominion over us many-times greater than a single product ever could. Money, believes Young Marx, is man’s alienated work circling back to him as master.
That modern man believes he must work for Master Money or else perish, is for Young Marx, the greatest of tragedies. As the seventeen-year-old Marx said in his essay on Choosing An Occupation: “What a desperate rescue is the one that guarantees self-betrayal!”
In my next post we’ll start getting into where all of this degradation, alienation, manipulation, and slavery is leading (hint: it starts with “R” and sometimes end with a guillotine).
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