My new job bombards me with alienation. Not just my own, but everyones. I just started work in a downtown sandwich shop. The shop caters to the professional lunch rush a state capitol provides. My vantage point behind the counter lets me overhear the small talk made between the long term customers and the shops owners. Like a previous job- at a YMCA in Olympia WA ( another state capitol)- the small talk consists of platitudes that you can be sure have been repeated ad nausem for years. The nature of these platitudes is whats striking; they are about alienation. The cliches about how many days are left until the weekend or retirement, the complaints about how they would make you work on the weekend if they could, even the escapism of golf are examples of estranged labour. This is what ties white collar workers, petit bourgeois  sandwich shop owners and me together; the negative universality of the capitalist totality. But, of course I am not the first to realize this; Marx nails it on the head in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, he even explains the attraction of the golf; under alienated conditions even free time is banal

“What constitutes the alienation of labour?

Firstly, the fact that labour is external to the worker – i.e., does not belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. Hence, the worker feels himself only when he is not working; when he is working, he does not feel himself. He is at home when he is not working, and not at home when he is working. His labour is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is forced labour. It is, therefore, not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, it is shunned like the plague. External labour, labour in which man alienates himself, is a labour of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Finally, the external character of labour for the worker is demonstrated by the fact that it belongs not to him but to another, and that in it he belongs not to himself but to another. Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, the human brain, and the human heart, detaches itself from the individual and reappears as the alien activity of a god or of a devil, so the activity of the worker is not his own spontaneous activity. It belongs to another, it is a loss of his self.

The result is that man (the worker) feels that he is acting freely only in his animal functions – eating, drinking, and procreating, or at most in his dwelling and adornment – while in his human functions, he is nothing more than animal.

It is true that eating, drinking, and procreating, etc., are also genuine human functions. However, when abstracted from other aspects of human activity, and turned into final and exclusive ends, they are animal.”

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