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Radical Philosophy Today

Volume 4, 2006

Philosophy Against Empire

Richard Schmitt
Pages 175-194
DOI: 10.5840/radphiltoday2006428

Can the Alienated Make a Socialist Revolution? Reflections About the Prospects for Socialism

Alienation is the name of the deformations of human personality produced by capitalism and, specifically, by wage labor. The alienated are powerless. That inhibits their self-esteem, and takes from them the direction of their own lives and the choice of their life values. They become passive bystanders to existence, distrustful of their fellows and motivated by the desire for gain. The alienated tend to be timid, morally indifferent, and ready to support great evil. Appearances are all that matters to them. They are resentful, conservative. Alienation itself becomes invisible. It unfits those who work for a wage from being active in the movements for social change from capitalism to socialism. The transition to socialism appears to become well-nigh impossible. The force of this argument is moderated by the fact that the conditions of wage labor are not uniform and alienation, and therefore are more severe for some workers than for others.

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