Karl Marx 
                             written between  
                          April and August 1844 
                            FIRST MANUSCRIPT 
                             Estranged Labor   
We have started out from the premises of political economy.  We have 
accepted its language and its laws.  We presupposed private property; 
the separation of labor, capital, and land, and likewise of wages, 
profit, and capital; the division of labor; competition; the conception 
of exchange value, etc.  From political economy itself, using its own 
words, we have shown that the worker sinks to the level of a commodity, 
and moreover the most wretched commodity of all; that the misery of the 
worker is in inverse proportion to the power and volume of his 
production; that the necessary consequence of competition is the 
accumulation of capital in a few hands and hence the restoration of 
monopoly in a more terrible form; and that, finally, the distinction 
between capitalist and landlord, between agricultural worker and 
industrial worker, disappears and the whole of society must split into 
the two classes of _property owners_ and propertyless _workers_.  
Political economy proceeds from the fact of private property.  It does 
not explain it.  It grasps the _material_ process of private property, 
the process through which it actually passes, in general and abstract 
formulae which it then takes as _laws_.  It does not _Comprehend_ these 
laws -- i.e., it does not show how they arise from the nature of private 
property.  Political economy fails to explain the reason for the 
division between labor and capital.  For example, when it defines the 
relation of wages to profit, it takes the interests of the capitalists 
as the basis of its analysis -- i.e., it assumes what it is supposed to 
explain.  Similarly, competition is frequently brought into the argument 
and explained in terms of external circumstances.  Political economy 
teaches us nothing about the extent to which these external and 
apparently accidental circumstances are only the expression of a 
necessary development.  We have seen how exchange itself appears to 
political economy as an accidental fact.  The only wheels which 
political economy sets in motion are _greed_, and the _war of the 
avaricious_ -- _Competition_.  
Precisely because political economy fails to grasp the interconnections 
within the movement, it was possible to oppose, for example, the 
doctrine of competition to the doctrine of monopoly, the doctrine of 
craft freedom to the doctrine of the guild, and the doctrine of the 
division of landed property to the doctrine of the great estate; for 
competition, craft freedom, and division of landed property were 
developed and conceived only as accidental, deliberate, violent 
consequences of monopoly, of the guilds, and of feudal property, and not 
as their necessary, inevitable, and natural consequences.  
We now have to grasp the essential connection between private property, 
greed, the separation of labor, capital and landed property, exchange 
and competition, value and the devaluation [_Entwertung_] of man, 
monopoly, and competition, etc.  -- the connection between this entire 
system of estrangement [Entfremdung] and the _money_ system.  
We must avoid repeating the mistake of the political economist, who 
bases his explanations on some imaginary primordial condition.  Such a 
primordial condition explains nothing.  It simply pushes the question 
into the grey and nebulous distance.  It assumes as facts and events 
what it is supposed to deduce -- namely, the necessary relationships 
between two things, between, for example, the division of labor and 
exchange.  Similarly, theology explains the origin of evil by the fall 
of Man -- i.e., it assumes as a fact in the form of history what it 
should explain.  
We shall start out from a _present-day_ economic fact.  
The worker becomes poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his 
production increases in power and extent.  The worker becomes an ever 
cheaper commodity the more commodities he produces.  The _devaluation_ 
of the human world grows in direct proportion to the _increase in value_ 
of the world of things.  Labor not only produces commodities; it also 
produces itself and the workers as a _commodity_ and it does so in the 
same proportion in which it produces commodities in general.  
This fact simply means that the object that labor produces, it product, 
stands opposed to it as _something alien_, as a power independent of the 
producer.  The product of labor is labor embodied and made material in 
an object, it is the _objectification_ of labor.  The realization of 
labor is its objectification.  In the sphere of political economy, this 
realization of labor appears as a _loss of reality_ for the worker, 
objectification as loss of and bondage to the object, and appropriation 
as estrangement, as _alienation_ [Entausserung].  
So much does the realization of labor appear as loss of reality that the 
worker loses his reality to the point of dying of starvation.  So much 
does objectification appear as loss of the object that the worker is 
robbed of the objects he needs most not only for life but also for work.  
Work itself becomes an object which he can only obtain through an 
enormous effort and with spasmodic interruptions.  So much does the 
appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that the more objects 
the worker produces the fewer can he possess and the more he falls under 
the domination of his product, of capital.  
All these consequences are contained in this characteristic, that the 
workers is related to the product of labor as to an _alien_ object.  For 
it is clear that, according to this premise, the more the worker exerts 
himself in his work, the more powerful the alien, objective world 
becomes which he brings into being over against himself, the poorer he 
and his inner world become, and the less they belong to him.  It is the 
same in religion.  The more man puts into God, the less he retains 
within himself.  The worker places his life in the object; but now it no 
longer belongs to him, but to the object.  The greater his activity, 
therefore, the fewer objects the worker possesses.  What the product of 
his labor is, he is not.  Therefore, the greater this product, the less 
is he himself.  The externalization [Entausserung] of the worker in his 
product means not only that his labor becomes an object, an external 
existence, but that it exists _outside_ him, independently of him and 
alien to him, and beings to confront him as an autonomous power; that 
the life which he has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile 
and alien.  
Let us not take a closer look at objectification, at the production of 
the worker, and the estrangement, the loss of the objet, of his product, 
that this entails.  
The workers can create nothing without nature, without the sensuous 
external world.  It is the material in which his labor realizes itself, 
in which it is active and from which, and by means of which, it 
But just as nature provides labor with the means of life, in the sense 
of labor cannot live without objects on which to exercise itself, so 
also it provides the means of life in the narrower sense, namely the 
means of physical subsistence of the worker.  
The more the worker appropriates the external world, sensuous nature, 
through his labor, the more he deprives himself of the means of life in 
two respects: firstly, the sensuous external world becomes less and less 
an object belonging to his labor, a means of life of his labor; and, 
secondly, it becomes less and less a means of life in the immediate 
sense, a means for the physical subsistence of the worker.  
In these two respects, then, the worker becomes a slave of his object; 
firstly, in that he receives an object of labor, i.e., he receives work, 
and, secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence.  Firstly, then, 
so that he can exists as a worker, and secondly as a physical subject.  
The culmination of this slavery is that it is only as a worker that he 
can maintain himself as a physical subject and only as a physical 
subject that he is a worker.  
(The estrangement of the worker in his object is expressed according to 
the laws of political economy in the following way: 
     the more the worker produces, the less he has to consume; 
     the more value he creates, the more worthless he becomes; 
     the more his product is shaped, the more misshapen the worker; 
     the more civilized his object, the more barbarous the worker; 
     the more powerful the work, the more powerless the worker; 
     the more intelligent the work, the duller the worker and the  
              more he becomes a slave of nature.) 
Political economy conceals the estrangement in the nature of labor by 
ignoring the direct relationship between the worker (labor) and 
production.  It is true that labor produces marvels for the rich, but it 
produces privation for the worker.  It produces palaces, but hovels for 
the worker.  It produces beauty, but deformity for the worker.  It 
replaces labor by machines, but it casts some of the workers back into 
barbarous forms of labor and turns others into machines.  It produces 
intelligence, but it produces idiocy and cretinism for the worker.  
The direct relationship of labor to its products is the relationship of 
the worker to the objects of his production.  The relationship of the 
rich man to the objects of production and to production itself is only a 
_consequence_ of this first relationship, and confirms it.  Later, we 
shall consider this second aspect.  Therefore, when we ask what is the 
essential relationship of labor, we are asking about the relationship of 
the worker to production.  
Up to now, we have considered the estrangement, the alienation of the 
worker, only from one aspect -- i.e., his relationship to the products 
of his labor.  But estrangement manifests itself not only in the result, 
but also in the act of production, within the activity of production 
itself.  How could the product of the worker's activity confront him as 
something alien if it were not for the fact that in the act of 
production he was estranging himself from himself? After all, the 
product is simply the resume of the activity, of the production.  So if 
the product of labor is alienation, production itself must be active 
alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation.  The 
estrangement of the object of labor merely summarizes the estrangement, 
the alienation in the activity of labor itself.  
What constitutes the alienation of labor? 
Firstly, the fact that labor is external to the worker -- i.e., does not 
belong to his essential being; that he, therefore, does not confirm 
himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, 
does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his 
flesh and ruins his mind.  Hence, the worker feels himself only when he 
is not working; when he is working, he does not feel himself.  He is at 
home when he is not working, and not at home when he is working.  His 
labor is, therefore, not voluntary but forced, it is _forced labor_.  It 
is, therefore, not the satisfaction of a need but a mere _means_ to 
satisfy needs outside itself.  Its alien character is clearly 
demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion 
exists, it is shunned like the plague.  External labor, labor in which 
man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification.  
Finally, the external character of labor for the worker is demonstrated 
by the fact that it belongs not to him but to another, and that in it he 
belongs not to himself but to another.  Just as in religion the 
spontaneous activity of the human imagination, the human brain, and the 
human heart, detaches itself from the individual and reappears as the 
alien activity of a god or of a devil, so the activity of the worker is 
not his own spontaneous activity.  It belongs to another, it is a loss 
of his self.  
The result is that man (the worker) feels that he is acting freely only 
in his animal functions -- eating, drinking, and procreating, or at most 
in his dwelling and adornment -- while in his human functions, he is 
nothing more than animal.  
It is true that eating, drinking, and procreating, etc., are also 
genuine human functions.  However, when abstracted from other aspects of 
human activity, and turned into final and exclusive ends, they are 
We have considered the act of estrangement of practical human activity, 
of labor, from two aspects: 
(1) the relationship of the worker to the product of labor as an alien 
object that has power over him.  The relationship is, at the same time, 
the relationship to the sensuous external world, to natural objects, as 
an alien world confronting him, in hostile opposition.  
(2) The relationship of labor to the _act of production_ within labor.  
This relationship is the relationship of the worker to his own activity 
as something which is alien and does not belong to him, activity as 
passivity [Leiden], power as impotence, procreation as emasculation, the 
worker's own physical and mental energy, his personal life -- for what 
is life but activity? -- as an activity directed against himself, which 
is independent of him and does not belong to him.  Self-estrangement, as 
compared with the estrangement of the object [Sache] mentioned above.  
                                  [ * ] 
We now have to derive a third feature of estranged labor from the two we 
have already examined.  
Man is a species-being, not only because he practically and 
theoretically makes the species -- both his own and those of other 
things -- his object, but also -- and this is simply another way of 
saying the same thing -- because he looks upon himself as the present, 
living species, because he looks upon himself as a universal and 
therefore free being.  
Species-life, both for man and for animals, consists physically in the 
fact that man, like animals, lives from inorganic nature; and because 
man is more universal than animals, so too is the area of inorganic 
nature from which he lives more universal.  Just as plants, animals, 
stones, air, light, etc., theoretically form a part of human 
consciousness, partly as objects of science and partly as objects of art 
-- his spiritual inorganic nature, his spiritual means of life, which he 
must first prepare before he can enjoy and digest them -- so, too, in 
practice they form a part of human life and human activity.  In a 
physical sense, man lives only from these natural products, whether in 
the form of nourishment, heating, clothing, shelter, etc.  The 
universality of man manifests itself in practice in that universality 
which makes the whole of nature his inorganic body, (1) as a direct 
means of life and (2) as the matter, the object, and the tool of his 
life activity.  Nature is man's inorganic body -- that is to say, nature 
insofar as it is not the human body.  Man lives from nature -- i.e., 
nature is his body -- and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it 
is he is not to die.  To say that man's physical and mental life is 
linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for man 
is a part of nature.  
Estranged labor not only (1) estranges nature from man and (2) estranges 
man from himself, from his own function, from his vital activity; 
because of this, it also estranges man from his species.  It turns his 
species-life into a means for his individual life.  Firstly, it 
estranges species-life and individual life, and, secondly, it turns the 
latter, in its abstract form, into the purpose of the former,also in its 
abstract and estranged form.  
For in the first place labor, life activity, productive life itself, 
appears to man only as a means for the satisfaction of a need, the need 
to preserve physical existence.  But productive life is species-life.  
It is life-producing life.  The whole character of a species, its 
species-character, resides in the nature of its life activity, and free 
conscious activity constitutes the species-character of man.  Life 
appears only as a means of life.  
The animal is immediately one with its life activity.  It is not 
distinct from that activity; it is that activity.  Man makes his life 
activity itself an object of his will and consciousness.  He has 
conscious life activity.  It is not a determination with which he 
directly merges.  Conscious life activity directly distinguishes man 
from animal life activity.  Only because of that is he a species-being.  
Or, rather, he is a conscious being -- i.e., his own life is an object 
for him, only because he is a species-being.  Only because of that is 
his activity free activity.  Estranged labor reverses the relationship 
so that man, just because he is a conscious being, makes his life 
activity, his being [Wesen], a mere means for his existence.  
The practical creation of an _objective world_, the fashioning of 
inorganic nature, is proof that man is a conscious species-being -- 
i.e., a being which treats the species as its own essential being or 
itself as a species-being.  It is true that animals also produce.  They 
build nests and dwelling, like the bee, the beaver, the ant, etc.  But 
they produce only their own immediate needs or those of their young; 
they produce only when immediate physical need compels them to do so, 
while man produces even when he is free from physical need and truly 
produces only in freedom from such need; they produce only themselves, 
while man reproduces the whole of nature; their products belong 
immediately to their physical bodies, while man freely confronts his own 
product.  Animals produce only according to the standards and needs of 
the species to which they belong, while man is capable of producing 
according to the standards of every species and of applying to each 
object its inherent standard; hence, man also produces in accordance 
with the laws of beauty.  
It is, therefore, in his fashioning of the objective that man really 
proves himself to be a species-being.  Such production is his active 
species-life.  Through it, nature appears as _his_ work and his reality.  
The object of labor is, therefore, the objectification of the 
species-life of man: for man produces himself not only intellectually, 
in his consciousness, but actively and actually, and he can therefore 
contemplate himself in a world he himself has created.  In tearing away 
the object of his production from man, estranged labor therefore tears 
away from him his species-life, his true species-objectivity, and 
transforms his advantage over animals into the disadvantage that his 
inorganic body, nature, is taken from him.  
In the same way as estranged labor reduces spontaneous and free activity 
to a means, it makes man's species-life a means of his physical 
Consciousness, which man has from his species, is transformed through 
estrangement so that species-life becomes a means for him.  
(3) Estranged labor, therefore, turns man's species-being -- both nature 
and his intellectual species-power -- into a being alien to him and a 
means of his individual existence.  It estranges man from his own body, 
from nature as it exists outside him, from his spiritual essence 
[Wesen], his human existence.  
(4) An immediate consequence of man's estrangement from the product of 
his labor, his life activity, his species-being, is the estrangement of 
man from man.  When man confront himself, he also confronts other men.  
What is true of man's relationship to his labor, to the product of his 
labor, and to himself, is also true of his relationship to other men, 
and to the labor and the object of the labor of other men.  
In general, the proposition that man is estranged from his species-being 
means that each man is estranged from the others and that all are 
estranged from man's essence.  
Man's estrangement, like all relationships of man to himself, is 
realized and expressed only in man's relationship to other men.  
In the relationship of estranged labor, each man therefore regards the 
other in accordance with the standard and the situation in which he as a 
worker finds himself.  
We started out from an economic fact, the estrangement of the worker and 
of his production.  We gave this fact conceptual form: estranged, 
alienated labor.  We have analyzed this concept, and in so doing merely 
analyzed an economic fact.  
Let us now go on to see how the concept of estranged, alienated labor 
must express and present itself in reality.  
                                  [ * ] 
If the product of labor is alien to me, and confronts me as an alien 
power, to whom does it then belong? 
To a being _other_ than me. 
Who is this being? 
The gods?  It is true that in early times most production -- e.g.,  
temple building, etc., in Egypt, India, and Mexico -- was in the service 
of the gods, just as the product belonged to the gods.  But the gods 
alone were never the masters of labor.  The same is true of nature.  And 
what a paradox it would be if the more man subjugates nature through his 
labor and the more divine miracles are made superfluous by the miracles 
of industry, the more he is forced to forgo the joy or production and 
the enjoyment of the product out of deference to these powers.  
The alien being to whom labor and the product of labor belong, in whose 
service labor is performed, and for whose enjoyment the product of labor 
is created, can be none other than man himself.  
If the product of labor does not belong to the worker, and if it 
confronts him as an alien power, this is only possible because it 
belongs to a man other than the worker.  If his activity is a torment 
for him, it must provide pleasure and enjoyment for someone else.  Not 
the gods, not nature, but only man himself can be this alien power over 
Consider the above proposition that the relationship of man to himself 
becomes objective and real for him only through his relationship to 
other men.  If, therefore, he regards the product of his labor, his 
objectified labor, as an alien, hostile, and powerful object which is 
independent of him, then his relationship to that object is such that 
another man -- alien, hostile, powerful, and independent of him -- is 
its master.  If he relates to his own activity as unfree activity, then 
he relates to it as activity in the service, under the rule, coercion, 
and yoke of another man.  
Every self-estrangement of man from himself and nature is manifested in 
the relationship he sets up between other men and himself and nature.  
Thus, religious self-estrangement is necessarily manifested in the 
relationship between layman and priest, or, since we are dealing here 
with the spiritual world, between layman and mediator, etc.  In the 
practical, real world, self-estrangement can manifest itself only in the 
practical, real relationship to other men.  The medium through which 
estrangement progresses is itself a practical one.  So through estranged 
labor man not only produces his relationship to the object and to the 
act of production as to alien and hostile powers; he also produces the 
relationship in which other men stand to his production and product, and 
the relationship in which he stands to these other men.  Just as he 
creates his own production as a loss of reality, a punishment, and his 
own product as a loss, a product which does not belong to him, so he 
creates the domination of the non-producer over production and its 
product.  Just as he estranges from himself his own activity, so he 
confers upon the stranger and activity which does not belong to him.  
Up to now, we have considered the relationship only from the side of the 
worker.  Later on, we shall consider it from the side of the non-worker.  
Thus, through estranged, alienated labor, the worker creates the 
relationship of another man, who is alien to labor and stands outside 
it, to that labor.  The relation of the worker to labor creates the 
relation of the capitalist -- or whatever other word one chooses for the 
master of labor -- to that labor.  Private property is therefore the 
product, result, and necessary consequence of alienated labor, of the 
external relation of the worker to nature and to himself.  
Private property thus derives from an analysis of the concept of 
alienated labor -- i.e., alienated man, estranged labor, estranged life, 
estranged man.  
It is true that we took the concept of alienated labor (alienated life) 
from political economy as a result of the movement of private property.  
But it is clear from an analysis of this concept that, although private 
property appears as the basis and cause of alienated labor, it is in 
fact its consequence, just as the gods were originally not the cause but 
the effect of the confusion in men's minds.  Later, however, this 
relationship becomes reciprocal.  
It is only when the development of private property reaches its ultimate 
point of culmination that this, its secret, re-emerges; namely, that is 
 (a) the product of alienated labor, and 
 (b) the means through which labor is alienated, the realization of 
     this alienation.  
This development throws light upon a number of hitherto unresolved 
(1) Political economy starts out from labor as the real soul of 
production and yet gives nothing to labor and everything to private 
property.  Proudhon has dealt with this contradiction by deciding for 
labor and against private property [see his 1840 pamphlet, _Qu'est-ce 
que la propriete?_].  But we have seen that this apparent contradiction 
is the contradiction of estranged labor with itself and that political 
economy has merely formulated laws of estranged labor.  
It, therefore, follows for us that wages and private property are 
identical: for there the product,the object of labor, pays for the labor 
itself, wages are only a necessary consequence of the estrangement of 
labor; similarly, where wages are concerned, labor appears not as an end 
in itself but as the servant of wages.  We intend to deal with this 
point in more detail later on: for the present we shall merely draw a 
few conclusions.  
An enforced rise in wages (disregarding all other difficulties, 
including the fact that such an anomalous situation could only be 
prolonged by force) would therefore be nothing more than better pay for 
slaves and would not mean an increase in human significance or dignity 
for either the worker or the labor.  
Even the equality of wages,which Proudhon demands, would merely 
transform the relation of the present-day worker to his work into the 
relation of all men to work.  Society would then be conceived as an 
abstract capitalist.  
Wages are an immediate consequence of estranged labor, and estranged 
labor is the immediate cause of private property.  If the one falls, 
then the other must fall too.  
(2) It further follows from the relation of estranged labor to private 
property that the emancipation of society from private property, etc., 
from servitude, is expressed in the political form of the emancipation 
of the workers.  This is not because it is only a question of their 
emancipation, but because in their emancipation is contained universal 
human emancipation.  The reason for this universality is that the whole 
of human servitude is involved in the relation of the worker to 
production, and all relations of servitude are nothing but modifications 
and consequences of this relation.  
Just as we have arrived at the concept of private property through an 
analysis of the concept of estranged,alienated labor, so with the help 
of these two factors it is possible to evolve all economic categories, 
and in each of these categories -- e.g., trade, competition, capital, 
money -- we shall identify only a particular and developed expression of 
these basic constituents.  
But, before we go on to consider this configuration, let us try to solve 
two further problems.  
(1) We have to determine the general nature of private property, as it 
has arisen out of estranged labor, in its relation to truly human and 
social property.  
(2) We have taken the estrangement of labor, its alienation, as a fact 
and we have analyzed that fact.  How, we now ask, does man come to 
alienate his labor, to estrange it? How it this estrangement founded in 
the nature of human development? We have already gone a long way towards 
solving this problem by transforming the question of the origin of 
private property into the question of the relationship of alienated 
labor to the course of human development.  For, in speaking of private 
property, one imagines that one is dealing with something external to 
man.  In speaking of labor, one is dealing immediately with man himself.  
This new way of formulating the problem already contains its solution.  
ad (1): The general nature of private property and its relationship to 
truly human property.  
Alienated labor has resolved itself for us into two component parts, 
which mutually condition one another, or which are merely different 
expressions of one and the same relationship.  Appropriation appears as 
estrangement, as alienation; and alienation appears as appropriation, 
estrangement as true admission to citizenship.  
We have considered the one aspect, alienated labor in relation to the 
worker himself -- i.e., the relation of alienated labor to itself.  And 
as product, as necessary consequence of this relationship, we have found 
the property relation of the non-worker to the worker and to labor.  
Private property as the material, summarized expression of alienated 
labor embraces both relations -- the relation of the worker to labor and 
to the product of his labor and the non-workers, and the relation of the 
non-worker to the worker and to the product of his labor.  
We have already seen that, in relation to the worker who appropriates 
nature through his labor, appropriation appears as estrangement, 
self-activity as activity for another and of another, vitality as a 
sacrifice of life, production of an object as loss of that object to an 
alien power, to an _alien_ man.  Let us now consider the relation 
between this man, who is _alien_ to labor and to the worker, and the 
worker, labor, and the object of labor.  
The first thing to point out is that everything which appears for the 
worker as an activity of alienation, of estrangement, appears for the 
non-worker as a situation of alienation, of estrangement.  
Secondly, the real, practical attitude of the worker in production and 
to the product (as a state of mind) appears for the non-worker who 
confronts him as a theoretical attitude.  
Thirdly, the non-worker does everything against the worker which the 
worker does against himself, but he does not do against himself what he 
does against the worker.  
Let us take a closer look at these three relationships.  
     [ First Manuscript breaks off here. ] 
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