Past talks

Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation

“The realm of freedom really begins only where labor determined by necessity and external expediency ends; it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper. Just as the savage must wrestle with nature to satisfy his needs, to maintain and reproduce his life, so must civilized man, and he must do so in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. This realm of natural necessity expands with his development, because his needs do too; but the productive forces to satisfy these expand at the same time. Freedom, in this sphere, can consist only in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature. But this always remains a realm of necessity. The true realm of freedom, the development of human powers as an end in itself, begins beyond it, though it can only flourish with this realm of necessity as its basis. The reduction of the working day is the basic prerequisite.” —Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume Three

The postcapitalist system of production, together with scientific–technological progress and a consequent reduction of the working day, creates the possibility for a new social formation in which the coercive, alienated labor imposed by capital and subject to its laws is gradually replaced with conscious, creative activity beyond the yoke of necessity, and in which complete social relations take the place of random, undifferentiated exchange dictated by the laws of commodities and money. It is no longer the realm of freedom for capital but the realm of genuine human freedom.
—Marcello Musto, Introduction to Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation

Marcello Musto is a professor of Sociology at York University (Toronto, Canada) and is acknowledged globally as one of the authors who has made significant contributions to the revival of Marx studies over the last decade. His major writings comprise Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International (Bloomsbury, 2018); and The Last Years of Karl Marx: An Intellectual Biography (Stanford, 2020). Among his edited books there are Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Bloomsbury, 2014); Marx’s Capital after 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism, (Routledge, 2019); and The Marx Revival: Key Concepts and New Interpretations (Cambridge, 2020). His writings are available at and have been published in 25 languages.

MICHAEL HARDT is a professor of Literature at Duke University, and a political philosopher whose writings explore new forms of domination in the world as well as social movements and other forces of liberation that counter such domination. In the Empire trilogy—Empire (Harvard, 2000), Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire(Penguin, 2004), and Commonwealth (Harvard, 2009)—he and Antonio Negri investigate the political, legal, economic, and social aspects of globalization. Their most recent work, Assembly (Oxford, 2017), challenges social movements having traditional, centralized forms of political leadership and instead advocate a social unionism—a combination of mixing labor organizing with social movements.