Labour, Industry and the Error of Man

Both Robert Owen and Comte de St. Simon talk about the natural ways of man.  Owen especially talks about the natural errs of man and that a bloodless revolution is possible if society rejects the “system” and adopts better principles.  He rejects the industrial man and states that this is the last thing he wants people to subject themselves to as it will make a slave of them.  Marx takes more of a stance against politics and the economy saying the only things it “sets in motion are greed, and the competition against greed.” He compares the workers to commodities and the more they produce, the poorer they get.  Marx states that the worker must reconnect with nature and that nothing can be created without a good relationship between the worker and nature.

This strong natural theme is represented in many of our other readings. Man going back to nature or their natural state is a common theme and industry takes man father away from nature.  The first word in the excerpt of Hobbes’s Leviathan is nature and the natural equality between men.  In contrast Turgot talks more about the division of land and social classes and their obligations in the changing age of the Enlightenment and the up- in -coming industrial revolution.

2 thoughts on “Labour, Industry and the Error of Man

  1. In “Estranged Labor”, Marx suggests that workers lose their human qualities in the process of their labor. He claims that workers only feel free in their animal functions, implying that they cannot even think of feel for themselves. The mere fact that Marx chooses to acknowledge this is degrading to the workers. Who is Marx to say that a hard-working individual no longer possesses human qualities? Many workers have and continue to be employed in senseless jobs requiring little creativity and intellectual skill. This does not mean that their work is dishonorable, or animalistic, however. A job does not define a person, which Marx seems to imply. One who has a mindless job is not mindless himself, but he may have no other option for employment. Many of these workers had lives outside of their work, even if time spent outside their job was minimal. These people worked for the purpose of supporting themselves and their families. Isn’t that part of the natural human instinct?

  2. I think its very interesting to bring up this idea of nature while speaking about the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was very much about technology advancements used to harness nature. However the industrial revolution also appears to man’s natural state because it made aspects of life easier.

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