May all your labors be rewarding

My quote for this Monday, surprisingly, comes from Karl Marx. Whatever your political persuasion, Marx’s theory of alienation and description of unrewarding work, of work that causes us to deny ourselves, is worth pondering this Labor Day holiday.

I count myself as one of the fortunate workers who abandoned alienating work years ago and instead forged a career of 20+ years that has brought me the most fulfilling, creative and life-expanding professional work and fabulous colleagues and friends. And for that I am extremely fortunate. Thank you. Gayle

From Marx:

“What constitutes the alienation of labor? First, that the work is external to the worker, that it is not part of his [her] nature; and that, consequently, he [she] does not fulfill himself in his [her] work but denies himself [herself], has a feeling of misery rather than well-being, does not develop freely his mental and physical energies but is physically exhausted and mentally debased. The worker therefore feels himself [herself] at home only during his [her] leisure time, whereas at work he [she] feels homeless. His [her] work is not voluntary, but imposed, forced labor. It is not the satisfaction of a need, but only a means for satisfying other needs.”

[gender neutrality added by me] From the “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” First Manuscript, XXIII)

In Marx’s Concept of Man, Erich Fromm writes:

“Marx is primarily concerned with the emancipation of man as an individual, the overcoming of alienation, the restoration of his capacity to relate himself fully to man and to nature.”

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