Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

PART I
OUTLINES OF A FUTURE SOCIETY

1. From "The German Ideology"

THE division of labor presents just the first example of the fact that so long as men find themselves in a natural-grown society, so long therefore as the split exists between the individual and the common interest, so long as activities are not divided voluntarily but by a process of natural growth, man's own act becomes to him an alien power standing over against him, dominating him, instead of being ruled by him. That is to say that according as labor begins to be divided, everyone has a definite, circumscribed sphere of activity which is put upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is hunter, fisherman or shepherd or "critical critic," and must remain so if he does not want to lose the means of subsistence -whereas in the Communist society, where each one does not have a circumscribed sphere of activity but can train himself in any branch he chooses, society by regulating the common production makes it possible for me to do this today and that tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, to carry on cattle-breeding in the evening, also to criticize the food--just as I please--without becoming either hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic. This setting-fast of social activity, this consolidation of our own product into an objective power over us, which outgrows our control, thwarts our expectations, brings our calculations to nothing, is one of the principal distinguishing points in historic evolu. tion up to this day. . . .

In all history up to now it is certainly an empiric fact that single individuals, with the expansion of their activity to a world historic scale, have become more and more enslaved to an alien power . . . a power which has become steadily more

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