Considering the truths of both videos my response reflects my concern for the future of America. In the Land of the Free, Home of the Poor Americans were questioned to pick a pie chart that reflected the distribution of wealth. Most Americans were choosing the pie chart that represented the wealth of Sweden. In my opinion their motives for choosing the pie chart that actually reflected the wealth of Sweden was , considering the location of the poll of that time , that the opinion of a specific social class of elite status. At the end when two men that would be though of as low middle class, actually pick the right chart. This makes sense since the elite individuals in our society are not always or don’t want to be aware of how unequal is our society. This would point to Marx concept of class consciousness, where the proletarians become aware of their position and united to fight against the bourgeois. In the Wealth Inequality in America, they show the same phenomenon as the first video but the pool of people question is bigger therefore it is more accurate. The remark about communist lets the viewer know that they are not making propaganda for communist, they believe in capitalism but they do believe that something needs to be done. My concern is people’s ignorance about our reality, people tend to not want to admit how unequal our wealth distribution is and the gap keeps getting bigger. There is a need for class consciousness, even if is not to establish communism as Marx would want but just to be more realistic about our economic situation. In conclusion I enjoyed the videos very much and made me understand better the occupy Walt-street campaign.
Marx’s theory of Alienation is surprisingly common when looking into our social structure in the U.S. Being a capitalist country, we developed a mode of production that deprives humans of being “human”. Workers are basically drones, gears in a grand industrial clock, where they are emotionless and have only one output which is labor. What is the point of constantly grinding out work, the same thing day in and day out, if you can’t enjoy life. It’s unfortunate that this net, that is alienation, has caught so many people and exploited them. However, as seen in history many times over, revolution seems to cure, even if only for a short time, the proletariat’s epidemic. I would assume that in order to achieve a “fresh start” that overcoming bureaucracy would be necessary and as time passes it seems more and more difficult. Alienation of the worker is spreading and it looks as if we are drifting further away from humanism.
After watching “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”. It was shocking to see the reality of our income inequality. I would of liked to have seen more people realize the issue than a bunch of seemingly oblivious drones. Being that I work in the Financial industry it’s easy to see how the rich seem to get richer and those not at the level are stuck struggling just to scrape by.
I especially enjoyed watching “Wealth Inequality in America” since it broke it down in several graphs and images which make it simple to see how skewed income inequality actually is in the U.S. The chart of the U.S. income breakdown is a clear example of Marx’s idea that capitalism causes inequality. Also, since Sweden’s “chart” was among the favorite as an ideal breakdown of income, maybe we should be taking notes as to how they run their society. All in all, it is clear that the U.S. has a major income inequality problem that seems to only be worsening. Hopefully some change is able to occur to relieve the issue.
In the “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, Karl Marx examines the condition of alienation from the essay “Alienated Labour”. He mentions that in order to maintain a physical existence in the work field, alienation is a necessary feature in a capitalist society. The wage earner, also known as the proletariat, “has little, if any, control over the production process.” He also mentions how working just for the money is “akin to selling your soul”. I agree with this because I have been in this position along with the rest of American workers who are not CEO’s of companies.
When one goes to work, they do not act the same way they would outside of it; they may be a whole different person. Once this becomes a routine, people start not to feel like themselves at work and become robotic in a sense. As Marx states, “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 labor is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is forced labor.” We see here that labor is forced because it is not voluntary anymore. This proves that the worker has just sold his/her soul to money and the bourgeoisie.
If a labor worker is unhappy with their job, they might choose another alternative, whether for better or for worse. In the song, “Gimme the Loot”, by the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie reenacts a scene of him and his friend choosing to rob people instead of actually working for someone. In his rap he says: “When it’s time to eat a meal I rob and steal, ‘cos Mom Duke ain’t giving me s**t so for the bread and butter I leave n****s in the gutter.” Biggie does not want to become an alienated worker and chooses to get his money in an illegal but faster alternative. He wants to live his life on the edge, still be himself, and still get his money. In actuality, he even sold drugs to raise money for his newborn daughter–even after he was selling records as an artist.
“Money so they say,
Is the root of all evil today,
But if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re
giving none away” -Pink Floyd, Money
In Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Karl Marx addresses how, upon the “realization of their objectification,” workers in a capitalist society present a loss of self and feel alienated/estranged from their labor; that is, after performing the same repetitive routine every day, they would soon begin to feel as if they are nothing more than cheap commodities who have practically structured their lives around their work. According to Marx, “the alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor 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” (43). Workers on an assembly line, for instance, may have no prior knowledge of the particular product they are working on (i.e. an electronic knife that plays radio) and would confront it “as something alien” (43), but the product will soon take control/become a part of their lives as they are persistently ordered to manufacture/sell them to the demanding public with minimal breaks. This would cause the workers to feel that they are not engaging in an activity that expresses their capacity to shape their lives and their relationships with others but would instead feel that their roles are being reduced to that of a cog in a machine.
Once the labor product and the mundane process of this labor has turned into “an alien object exercising power over [the workers]” (45), Marx believes that there are two more aspects in hand that will make them feel completely alienated/separated from their line of work. Workers may begin to feel isolated towards each other as the prospect of estranged labor turns their “species being . . . into a being alien to him, into a means to his individual existence” (46); fellow coworkers who were once good friends may start to look upon one another as rival competitors to see who can get their line of work done more quickly and efficiently. The final aspect that Marx presents is that workers will feel completely isolated towards other people in “the estrangement of man from man,” which is “an immediate consequence of the fact that [they are] estranged from the product of [their] labor, [their] life-activity, [and their] species being” (46). For instance, fast food restaurant employees would feel estranged from their environment, customers, boss, and possibly their social life because they are mainly considered as “numbers” who aren’t actually acknowledged for their work and who seem to accept that they are “selling their souls” every day to work for minimum wage and not for the creative potential of labor itself. It could be said that Marx’s four aspects of alienation/estrangement in labor may have been some of the key factors that led to his 1848 publication of The Communist Manifesto, in which the proletariat is urged to rise up against the impending bourgeoisie.
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Tagged alienation, bourgeoisie, capitalism, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, estrangement, Karl marx, Labour economics, Marx, Marxism, Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, proletariat
This movie has shows a clear distinction between class and status (Weber) in the character of Berhani. He is blind to the fact that he belongs to a lower class or clearly does not belong to the upper class. He came from his country and lost both his class and his status. Though, he tried to keep that status and class of a General in America, it really meant nothing. He held on to it so much so he couldn’t see what he was here. In terms of status, he faked his ‘lifestyle’ in order to marry off his daughter to a well off man. They lived lavishly, way out there means . Everyone from the outside viewed them as an upper class rich family. This was just an allusion but nonetheless the status they owned. Weber definition of status meant someone’s lifestyle- meaning if you are ‘poor’ but you lived an extravagant lifestyle, your status can be viewed as high; or sometimes you can have a high status with no relation to income. An issue was that Berhani was ignorant to his class because of his past life. He definitely did not have class consciousness(Marx). Technically when he purchased Kathy’s home, he became part of the Bourgeoisie and left the Proletariat, but in modern views he would barely be considered middle class.
During these times the economic crisis is making everyone struggle, unfortunately some more than others. There is a controversy with the president’s proposition to raise the minimum wage to $9 mostly coming from those who have money and are employers. The rich fail to realize that everything that we need in order to survive increases except the salary. This January the taxes increased about 4%, which caused worker to earn less than they did last year, even with a raise. Imagine if you didn’t get a raise? how much less are you making now than what you did a month ago? I am speaking from personal experience with myself and coworkers. We receive a raise every year, and this year when we saw our first paycheck we realized that even with the raise we were making less money per week then we did last year; mind you we get paid by salary and not by hours. Seems like the more money companies make; the harder it is to give their employees a substantial raise. For example there was an article about McDonald’s complaining about the president’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $9 which I found to be very disappointing. Why is it so difficult for them to raise their employees hourly salary from $7.25 to $9, when one of their meals is about $9? Is not like their sales are low. People are always going there to get food at any time of the day. In whose right mind can a person who has a family live comfortably with $7.25 and hour? No one can. I just hope that the minimum is raised because it will help a little bit every family that is struggling. When you are in the lower class branch every penny counts. I believe that the more company makes the less they want to pay its employees. These employers might argue that they have things to pay for the company such as taxes, bills, etc, but they don’t stop to think that if their employees are happy they might work better. instead of exploiting their services.? Apparently not. I see thir dilemma in a way, but at the end of the days the consumers are the ones paying for all of that. I just hope that one days these employers see the struggles that its employees go thru every single day and how hard they have to work in order to make ends meet, and realize that every dollar that is taken away makes a big difference for them and their family. Things are only getting harder in this country and in many others, if it keeps going i don’t know where will we end up.
Here are a few links that i thought would be useful.
The Minimum Wage STILL Isn’t a Good Idea
$9 Minimum Wage to Hurt McDonald’s?