Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation

New York: Palgrave Macmillan
164 pages

The theory of alienation occupies a significant place in the work of Marx and has long been considered one of his main contributions to the critique of bourgeois society. Many authors who have written on this concept over the 20th century have erroneously based their interpretations on Marx’s early writings. In this anthology, by contrast, Marcello Musto has concentrated his selection on the most relevant pages of Marx’s later economic works, in which his thoughts on alienation were far more extensive and detailed than those of the early philosophical manuscripts.

Additionally, the writings collated in this volume are unique in their presentation of not only Marx’s critique of capitalism, but also his description of communist society. This comprehensive rediscovery of Marx’s ideas on alienation provides an indispensable critical tool for both understanding the past and the critique of contemporary society.

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Table of contents


1. Alienation Redux: Marxian Perspectives 3
Marcello Musto
1. The Origin of the Concept 3
2. The Rediscovery of Alienation 4
3. The Other Conceptions of Alienation 8
4. The Debate on the Conception of Alienation in Marx’s Early Writings 14
5. The Irresistible Fascination of the Theory of Alienation 21
6. Alienation Theory in North American Sociology 25
7. The Concept of Alienation in Capital and Its Preparatory Manuscripts 28
8. Commodity Fetishism 33
9. Communism, Emancipation and Freedom 36
References 44


2. Early Philosophical and Political Writings 51
1. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (1844) 52
2. Comments on James Mill’s “Elements of Political Economy” (1844) 59
3. The Holy Family (1845) 62
4. The German Ideology (1845–1846) 63
5. Wage Labour and Capital (1849) 64
6. Speech at the Anniversary of “The People’s Paper” (1856) 67

3. From the Grundrisse to the Theories of Surplus Value 69
1. Grundrisse: Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy (1857–1858) 70
2. The Original Text of “a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” (1858) 97
3. On the Critique of Political Economy (Manuscript 1861–1863) 99
4. Theories of Surplus Value (1862–1863) 110

4. Capital and Its Preparatory Manuscripts 123
1. Economic Manuscripts (1863–1865) 124
2. Capital, Volume One, Unpublished Chapter VI (1863–1864) 126
3. Capital, Volume One (1867) 143
4. Capital, Volume Three (1864–1875) 151

Selected Further Reading 157

Index 159