MIA: Subjects: Estrangement and Alienation:


Marxism & Alienation

Alienation is the transformation of people’s own labour into a power which rules them as if by a kind of natural or supra-human law. The origin of alienation is commodity fetishism – the belief that inanimate things (commodities) have human powers (i.e., value) able to govern the activity of human beings.

Alienation is an idea developed by the young Marx in the 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and later developed in his critique of political economy in Capital.

Marx developed the idea out of his study of Hegel. Hegel believed that history was the manifestation of the movement of Spirit acting “behind the backs” of actors in history; Marx however held that Hegel’s “Spirit” was nothing more nor less than human activity itself.

From M.I.A. Encyclopedia:

Alienation” & “Commodity Fetishism


Estranged Labour, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
Private Property & Communism, 1844 Manuscripts
Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy in General, 1844 Manuscripts
Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843
Comment on James Mill, 1844
The Fetishism of Commodities, Chapter 1, Capital
The Grundrisse
The “omitted Chapter Six” of Capital
The German Ideology


Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat, Georg Lukács, 1923
The General Theory of Law and Marxism, Evgeny Pashukanis, 1924
The Young Hegel, Georg Lukács, 1938
Marx on Alienated Labour, Herbert Marcuse, 1941
Reification of People and the Fetishism of Commodities, Raya Dunayevskaya, 1943
The Theory of Alienation: Marx's Debt to Hegel, Raya Dunayevskaya
Alienation, George Novack
Fetishism, George Novack
The Alienation of Modern Man. An Interpretation Based on Marx And Tönnies, Pappenheim, 1959
Alienation, Erich Fromm
Freedom and Fetishism, Marshall Berman, 1963
Reification, Gajo Petrović, 1965
Marx’s Theory of Alienation, István Mészáros, 1970
Marx’s notion of commodity fetishism, Geoffrey Pilling, 1980
Introduction to Lucien Seve's The Begin with the Ends, 2000

Marxist Psychology

Other Writers

Spectres of Marx, Jacques Derrida 1994
Spirit in self-estrangement, Phenomenology, Hegel 1807
Alienation of Property, Philosophy of Right, Hegel, 1821