Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 6, Issue 3/4, Fall/Winter 1999

Barry L. Padgett
Pages 67-77

Alienation in the “Cashless Society”

Since the global political events of the early 1990’s Marxian philosophy has faced significant challenges. This essay attempts to reinterpret Marx’s theory of alienation in light of contemporary social issues. In particular, Marx claims that labor is alienated because workers lose control over the process of production, its outcomes and effects. In order to support my argument that alienation of labor is still a relevant concept to post-modem, post-industrial social critique, I examine the contemporary proliferation of credit (especially in the form of credit cards) in the United States. I demonstrate that the preponderance and reliance on credit in American culture serves as an excellent example of Marxian alienation.