Alienated Youth

By Timothy Dirté

The development of capitalism leads, in the final analysis, to not only the simplification of labor but its predominant occupation in society. We are presented today with the consequence of this in the form of a deepening crisis of chronic illness borne from the alienation inherent in capitalist production.[1] This is expressed as both chronic physical and mental illness.[2] In other words, our true relation to nature, society, our labor, and even ourselves is distorted by the imperatives of commodity production under capitalism creating a rift in human development. This is because we view nature as potential commodities, we view others in society as competitors, we view our labor as being owned by someone else, and perhaps most crucially, we view and judge ourselves in terms of how profitable or useful we are to the growth of capital. The youth of today understand this all too well.

Because labor is highly simplified, the economic necessity to sell our labor power drives competition over increasingly menial occupations in order to buy back the necessities of life. For example, petty competitive drives in the non-basic industries such as service oriented occupations that compel anti-worker  behavior for equally petty raises.

Rather than viewing ourselves as productive members of society we become disenchanted with our worth in it as the threat of replacement by the labor reserve army serves as a constant reminder of our unskilled and replaceable condition. Yet, in order to actually become skilled labor requires either a degeneration of our physical or spiritual constitution. We either physically or mentally exhaust ourselves to die early in dangerous but easily entered trades or be saddled with debt and mental anguish in the non-basic skilled industries, commonly called “white collar” jobs.

Importantly, not all distorted relations (nature, society, labor, self) are possible to completely reconcile under capitalism, but not all are felt equally. Some present themselves as larger sources of alienation than others depending on the nature of a labor in question. For example, minor reprieves are possible, but do not fundamentally change the overall condition of our labor under capitalism. Someone who labors in nature derives much less reprieve from nature than someone who labors in the city.

Unfortunately, in our pursuit of a reprieve, our time away from labor under capitalism, must then conform to the same imperatives of commodity production under capitalism. In the same way, our leisure is simplified, it is reduced to the simple consumption of commodities rather than being a time for the development of skills and ideas that benefit all of society. Characterized by the extent of entertainment consumption among younger people as well as merchandise associated with it.

It is our fundamental mission to change this situation and to give actual meaning to our labor, as well as our leisure, and to help all members of our society to realize their full potential. This requires first and foremost the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, and the establishment of socialist emulation (exemplified by the USSR) to bring all of society into a united effort. Competition for profits will cease and competition to improve the technical development of production and its productive capabilities will eliminate the degradation of labor generally from automation. Importantly, in combination with the technical development of production, access to higher education will be made available to all.

To prevent the spiritual and physical degeneracy of the youth, menial labor must be eradicated and replaced with socially useful labor (labor aimed at the betterment of our society, rather than for the profit of a few people), to make labor our most cherished pursuit as it revolutionizes our society to see us master our own social organization and the forces of nature for human development in perpetuity.

Socialism within our lifetime!

[1] “The  contradictory  and  antithetical  character  of  the  capitalist  mode  of production  leads  it  to  count  the  squandering  of  the  life  and  health  of  the worker, and the depression of his conditions of existence, as itself an economy in the use of constant capital, and hence as a means of raising the rate of profit.” – Karl Marx, Capital Vol III

[2] “Representing what Fromm argued to be a universal human nature, the satisfaction of these drives is essential for optimum mental well-being. As he contended, “mental health is achieved if man develops into full maturity according to the characteristics and laws of human nature. Mental illness consists in the failure of such development.” (Fromm, The Sane Society, 14.) Rejecting a psychoanalytical understanding that emphasizes the satisfaction of the libido and other biological drives, mental health, he claimed, is inherently associated with the satisfaction of needs considered uniquely human. Under capitalism, however, the full satisfaction of the human psyche is thwarted. For Fromm, the origins of poor mental health are located in the mode of production and the corresponding political and social structures, whose organization impedes the full satisfaction of innate human desires. (Fromm, The Sane Society, 76.) The effects of this on mental health, Fromm argued, are that “if one of the basic necessities has found no fulfillment, insanity is the result; if it is satisfied but in an unsatisfactory way…neurosis…is the consequence.” (Fromm, The Sane Society, 66.) – David Matthews, Capitalism and Mental Health

Leave a Reply