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/leftypol/ is a non-sectarian board for leftist discussion.

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Anonymous 11/17/2019 (Sun) 16:25:32 No. 129776
Have there ever been any solid criticisms of alienation? Most of what I've encountered hasn't been very strong; most fall back onto economic claims (i.e., alienation isn't possible, because we cannot escape Capitalism - which seems like a weak claim but also seems way too focussed on 'economics' for some, which in itself seems silly given Marx is an economist first, philosopher second). I've made a couple of threads on here and while interesting, I've yet to come to find any real solid potential criticisms or critical analysis of alienation: what I have found is the indication that alienation will continue under socialism, but this doesn't seem like a problem for Marx.

I've heard Althusser was critical of alienation, but that more seems due to a belief in some sort of historic break in Marx (in another thread a poster tried to explain Althusser's criticisms but from what I've been able to find, it really just seemed like Althusser rejected alienation on the basis it was humanism and was not a scientific concept). I'm not sure how amazing that is as a critical attack on Marx's idea; it sounds more like a historical classifcation more than anything. I haven't really found any responses to Althusser beyond people calling him a Stalinist and silly shit like that. Others seem to argue Althusser has made errors in his claims regarding Marx abandoning alienation (which seems accurate, given it runs through almost all of Marx's work).

One Dimensional Man provides some degree of criticism of Marx's original views, in that there seem to be people within Capitalism who are not alienated (though it does not argue this is in anyway positive).


So, have there any been any solid attempts at criticising Alienation?
>what I have found is the indication that alienation will continue under socialism, but this doesn't seem like a problem for Marx
this is what tankcells actually belive

<Supersession as an objective movement of retracting the alienation into self. This is the insight, expressed within the estrangement, concerning the appropriation of the objective essence through the supersession of its estrangement; it is the estranged insight into the real objectification of man, into the real appropriation of his objective essence through the annihilation of the estranged character of the objective world, through the supersession of the objective world in its estranged mode of being. In the same way atheism, being the supersession of God, is the advent of theoretic humanism, and communism, as the supersession of private property, is the vindication of real human life as man’s possession and thus the advent of practical humanism, or atheism is humanism mediated with itself through the supersession of religion,whilst communism is humanism mediated with itself through the supersession of private property
>>129796
I did not say it would continue under Communism, at least, late stage Communism. Sean Sayers explains in 'Essays on Hegelian Themes' that Marx abandons a crude belief that alienation will cease with the suppression of private property and moves to the view that it will take a greater change of society; Clarke likewise states that alienation will not cease until work is abolished.

To quote an obviously more 'Tankie source', a Soviet book entitled the Fundamentals of Marxist Leninism,

"Of course, socialist society is not yet entirely free of the birthmarks of the old system from which it sprang. These birth-marks include bureaucratic attitudes and such ideological survivals in people’s consciousness as religion. All these and other phenomena alien to the nature of socialism are being gradually eliminated; society thus liberates itself from the elements of alienation.

The theory of “eternal alienation” is a variant of the old notion of the inevitability of conflict between the individual and society. The development of socialism provides the practical refutation of this idea and demonstrates the growing unity of society and the individual, the possibility of the successful combination of social, group and personal interests"
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A lot of poststructuralist thought challenges the idea of Marx' concept of human "species-essence" (Gattungswesen) and with it the idea of alienation. If there is no human essence you can't be alienated from it. Deleuze, Foucault and especially Lyotard go in that direction. Incidentally all of this has its roots in Althusser's anti-humanism. As you said Althusser had no idea about Marx, but that doesn't really take away from his original thoughts.
A current trend that picks up on all of this is accelerationism. Following Deleuze and Lyotard they argue that capitalism molds humanity to its image, any concept of human nature is meaningless and any attempt to go back to some previous "un-alienated" state is inherently reactionary.
>>129828
>French theoryfags can't into the negation of the negation except Lacan
>>129832
French theory explicitly tries to find a way out of the Hegelian dialectic which, following Horkheimer & Adorno, it sees as homogenising and oppressive.
>>129828
This seems very interesting. Could you point me to any of the works attacking Species Being/Essence?

Did any Marxists respond to such work btw? In defence of the concept that is, or in an attempt to try and fit it into the wider Marxist theory?
>>129834
>tries
>>129842
Check out the articles by Deleuze + Guattari and Lyotard in pdf related. The foreword also gives a nice summary of those texts. They're mostly taken from D&G's Anti-Oedipus and Lyotard's Libidinal Economy respectively if you're interested in the broader picture.
>>129823
There is no difference between socialism and communism, they are used interchangeably. Marx never presents a qualitative difference in any text about it, doesn't talk about the specific character of each, like tankoids pretend he does. He only mentions a difference between higher and lower communism, in which neither mentions alienation, ever, they are only ever compared in the calculation of production through the use of social labour-time, and other stuf that tankoids also deny like the contradiction between mental and physical labour, and city and country.

What this means is that lower stage communism is not a period of transition into higher state communism like you seem to imply. They remain fundamentally the same, the period of transition is supposed to be the Dotp, in which alienation is done away with, and work is abolished

>Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

also the birthmark quote is used indiscriminately, it meant a very particular kind of birthmark, which is said later in the text, and that is labour-time calculation, it is not a catch all excuse for your shitty red social democracy

>What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society -- after the deductions have been made -- exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor
so literally prove that marx belived that alienation would continue into communism/socialism using quotes, i dare you
>>129851
Page 149 is where Nick Land went wrong because he can't into maths
>>129857
Check the manuscripts for the crude communism vs full communism dialectic
>>129861
Most accelerationists are hacks and Land is the biggest of them all but their sources of inspiration are mostly pretty interesting.
>>129867
>[Nick Land's] sources of inspiration are mostly pretty interesting.
In the same way Nick Land is
>>129877
Imo he keeps the worst and throws out the best.
>>129776
>Have there ever been any solid criticisms of alienation?
Have you ever heard of a solid materialist definition of alienation? As I've seen the term thrown around it's a complete mishmash used in different contexts to mean completely different things. Sometimes by "alienation" you niggas mean the effects of commodity fetishism, sometimes you use it to describe Debord's spectacle, other times by it you mean some kind of vaguely defined human essence that has been lost and must be regained, and then the term is also supposed to cover the fact that the proletariat doesn't own the MoP as well? What is there to "solidly" criticize? Your own term is an aborted Frankenstein monster sewn together with threads of ignorance and confusion.

I fucking hate these threads, nigger. You "heard" stuff? You "heard" stuff about things you are supposedly interested in? Then fucking do the legwork and read the books - otherwise you are just asking people to spoon feed you, that is play a role in allowing you to stay half-informed.
>>129892
>As I've seen the term thrown around it's a complete mishmash used in different contexts to mean completely different things. Sometimes by "alienation" you niggas mean the effects of commodity fetishism, sometimes you use it to describe Debord's spectacle, other times by it you mean some kind of vaguely defined human essence that has been lost and must be regained, and then the term is also supposed to cover the fact that the proletariat doesn't own the MoP as well?
And let's not even get into 'alienation' when used as a verb, which has its whole range of idpol connotations: "white cis males are alienating POC from the movement" etc.

stupid fucking thread
>>129892
>when you don't understand a concept so you decide it's "an aborted Frankenstein monster"
>>129891
Honestly the only thing worthwhile that came out of that line of thought was Mark Fischer, and this is precisely because he identifies the deadlock it contains despite its apparent liberating potential
Which is to say he castrates it
>>129892
Alienation is a legal term for transfer of property, recall that this transfer is registered in what you might consider abstract symbolism, but in reality is a set of concrete material practices contributing to a very material general intellect, as material as the pages of a book you pick up
>>129894
1. Provide a solid materialist definition of alienation.
2. Explain how it covers all these examples that are plaguing the left.
>>129896
Except they don't use it in that way, now do they?
>>129900
When you sell your labour, you are selling your body
This means your body is alienated from you
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>>129897
I ain't gonna do shit. To quote you:
>fucking do the legwork and read the books
Your "As I've seen the term thrown around" is every bit as vague as OP's "I've heard" and the "materialist definition" you crave is just an empty phrase allowing you to discard any explanation you get as idealist.
>>129905
Please just stop. In the physical sense I am my body. I am nothing outside my body. There's no "my body" + "me". In no meaningful sense of the word am I capable of being alienated from my body.

In the legal sense your argument is self-defeating, because it would necessarily introduce degrees of alienation: slavery being the most alienating and capitalism the least. It's judging our history from its supposed bourgeois peak and declaring its victory.

>>129913
>I ain't gonna define my terms.
>I use these terms however the fuck I wish.
>DEBATE ME!
>>129913
Was this necessary comrade?
>>129896
>>129905
I already gave the comrade a solid materialist basis for alienation
tbqh I get the sense you're just as confused on the notion as he is trying to teach something is the best way of learning something on a fundamental level btw
>>129923
>I ain't gonna define my terms.
>I use these terms however the fuck I wish.
>DEBATE ME!
That's literally (You).
>>129923
>In the legal sense your argument is self-defeating, because it would necessarily introduce degrees of alienation: slavery being the most alienating and capitalism the least. It's judging our history from its supposed bourgeois peak and declaring its victory.
Yes, one could argue that it is less alienating although I'd problematise this by noting that often historically slaves got wages and their owner was also on top of this obligated to house and feed them

If you were to live a less alienated life, how would you do it, is a cabin in the woods an option?
>>129931
>less alienated life
>cabin in the woods
That's the thing, tho. If alienation in the legalistic sense has any meaning it's tied to one's society, the freedoms and opportunities it offers, the obligations in return it demands. Going off the grid isn't liberating, it's escapism. If we take alienation in the anthropological sense (with Feuerbach and young Marx) it's either a transhistoric fact of human existence (there's no return for us to pre-social, pre-language animal existence) or a series of infinite regressions (as someone already said above, if human nature allows x and y, it is part of human nature) or worse, a series of dubious normative statements (how it should be).

I've read anprim accounts where they said that civilization and work are the prime examples of alienation. While the former is known to everyone, in the latter case they argued that while, say, crafting a bow in the jungle, you externalizing your hunger onto an object, which is an act of depravity instead of creativity... The mature Marx, on the other hand, explicitly says that only under communism can work become "life's prime want" (Gotha, I.) and he dropped using his Species-being (openly borrowed from Feuerbach) altogether.

Which leaves us with these options: "alienation" as a legal fact, which is necessarily tied to societies with complex division of labor and hence a state - but this is purely descriptive and not normative, so I don't see its usefulness. Or we take Althusser's route who says that outside the economic fact of extraction of surplus value the term is completely meaningless. Or, following in his footsteps, we could instead drop the term altogether, and ask people to kindly tell us what the fuck they mean, when they say shit like "the alienation late stage capitalist advertisements impose upon us".

I found the latter route to be the most constructive, because it brings out how the term became a mere buzzword permeating leftish culture, and proper knowledge could be gained if we wanted to make true statements about, in our example, the effects of advertisement on us.
>>130016
>crafting a bow in the jungle, you externalizing your hunger onto an object
Which is, btw, the exact formula found in Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity: we, humans externalizing our essence onto a spoopy God figure, losing parts of it in the process.

It's theoretically unsound. Hogwash. Marx realized it. So should everyone else.
>>130035
Why is it theoretically unsound?
>>130181
Because essences don't exist. It's a leftover from idealist philosophies.
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