Are the bourgeoisie alienated, really?

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lem_
Are the bourgeoisie alienated, really?
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I was taught by a "no bullshit" marxist at undergrad, that they were.

Today I saw this in the paper

"In 1978, the typical male US worker was making $48,000 a year (adjusted for inflation). Meanwhile the average person in the top 1% was making $390, 000. By 2010, the median wage had plummeted to $33,000, but at the top it had nearly trebled, to $1,100,000".

And stopped to think.

If I were in the top 1% I don't think I would be alienated, at all!

It is not that I have a "price", and that I would forgo my values for an income like that, but if I had that much, and felt at all like I earnt it, I (perhaps) do not see what atrocity I would not indulge in to keep things that way. 

Startling! And we (might, idly) wonder why social democrats aren't communists?

commiegal
of course they're alienated,

of course they're alienated, there are income differentials among the bourgeoisie as well, some greedy fuckers always want more. it can't be a very happy life can it, money can't buy you happiness and for the bourgeois their entire life is geared towards making more and more and more money when they don't "need" any more. i have heard of people having mental breakdowns after winning the lottery etc and it is a well known fact that many rich people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. probably to cope with the guilt.

Alf
Marx thought so

"The propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement. But the former class feels at ease and strengthened in this estrangement, it recognises estrangement as its own power and has in it the semblance of human existence. The latter feels annihilated in estrange­ment; it sees in it its own powerlessness and the reality of an inhuman existence. It is, to use an expression of Hegel, in its abasement the indignation at that abasement, an indignation to which it is necessarily driven by the contradictions be­tween its human nature and its conditions of life, which is the outright, resolute and comprehensive negation of that na­ture" (The Holy Family)

mhou
Duality; the proletariat

Duality; the proletariat exists because of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie exists because of the proletariat. An article in the Sic journal puts it that if the bourgeoisie is defeated and abolished, so will the working-class as a class, because it is solely defined by its relationship with the bourgeoisie. If worker's alienation (in the Marxist sense) is due to their relation to what they produce or service at work, it would be the same for the bourgeoisie (who are also not hiring people to make things or service for themselves, but to be commodified and sold). All the income disparity stuff is too close to Max Weber's definition of class (and all bourgeois sociology).

lem_
thanks a great quote, thanks

thanks a great quote, thanks alf. marx [and engels?] is always so evoactive! for me at the moment, the most effective bit of capital is just the part we he talks about bodily movement at work.

mihou, your commnent worked for me a bit but didn't really click - i thought it provided me some insight but then lost the idea.

commiegal i completely sympathize with thinking about income and equality, ans suspect it may be a good way to differentiate liberal / leftist bourgeois theory held by workers, from philosophy.

 

i did some thinking of my own about this, not so much for enjoyment but i get carried away sometimes and think i can prove things etc., that are surely totally beyond me. one thing that struck me then was the notion that the alienation of capitalists is rational alienation - to be rational they need to invest etc. and that is something out of their control, both the need to invest as well as how to do so, whereas the worker also lives [i think about the meaning of life too much] out his or her own alienation. and the blow to their rationality that occurs in capital is just the inability to understand that. i won't go on. too long... but guess i might think that the proletariat are the revolutionary class because capital alienates the worker's conciousness by covering up the truth of their lives, rather than, as with the capitalist, merely controlling what it means for them to be self interested - an inability to form their self interest according to every wish or whim, to integrate their moral system and their role in capitalism.

i just mean that because lack of class consciousness is alienation from knowing a fact about life, rather than simply lack of freedom, our lives can be un- or de- alienated. not simply because if there is a fact of the matter then it can be changed, but also because life - "human existence" - need not be alienated.
if we recognize that we currently don't understand our own life, then the fine [if unfree] lives of the bourgeois demonstrate that our own can be good.
????
i would't see that freedom is entirely a bourgeois concept to be disposed of, but i'd rather do so to it than democracy :-) 

Fred
lem wrote: ...Ii might think

lem wrote:
...Ii might think that the proletariat are the revolutionary class because capital alienates the worker's conciousness by covering up the truth of their lives...
.

By discovering the truth of their lives, and their exploitation, the workers can develop consciousness. And that's what makes them the revolutionary class, as lem says.

He also says: "the alienation of capitalists is rational alienation." I like this. I know the bourgeoisie see themselves as the most rational folk on the planet: pursuing war, death, destruction and environmental disasters (all in the name of profit) with a vigorous rationality that is plain lunacy to anyone with eyes to see. For the bourgeoisie, the truth of their lives, as lived at the behest of the system they serve, is that they are engaged in negating all humanity's hopes for a future worth living.

mhou
I don't think the high

I don't think the high standard of living of the bourgeoisie is just a golden ticket- they are involved in a perpetual fight to maintain what they have (by expanding)- otherwise they get taken by the forces of the economy like everyone else. What's the common knowledge of the rate of failure of new businesses? 10% survive past the first year or 2? It's a mistake to view the bourgeoisie as static, with no upward or downward mobility, they rise and fall everyday with the petit-bourgeoisie (the anxious class) hanging on to the scraps they've got for dear life. I don't think there's much rationality involved, look at how many of them got taken by the Nigerian prince gold e-mail scam, investment banking scandals (where these tens of million dollar mansions are forceclosed on). They are just a function of a systemic and structurally placed class; just like we are. I just don't see the evidence of a safe, comfortable class with nothing to do but count their money and plot Machiavellian schemes; in practice it appears to be much messier.

Fred
You are right mhou when you

You are right mhou when you say about our beloved bourgeoisie: "I don't think there's much rationality involved.". But given their view of capitalism - as an eternally given system which will exist for ever (and has existed for ever!); and which has no faults that can't be corrected (this understanding has taken a bit of a knock lately); and which gives everyone a chance, through honest competition to be a success in the world (although as you say success can be followed by failure -but then that's the luck of the draw); and which always sees war as a way that'll lead to better things (despite there being no evidence for this since 1914, apart of course from the period of reconstruction in the 'fifties - but was that really "better" or just building on the dead?); they feel entitled to regard themselves as rational beings serving a rational system; which a lot of them don't even grasp is a system at all, just a way of life. The way things are. Unchangeable. Just extend marriage to everyone, in an act of liberal generosity, and everything will be fine.

As you say it's all a mess, even for them. But they daren't admit it. There are now so many sticky plasters and rusty nails holding things together, that a spontaneous action somewhere could tear it all down; or, as our Spanish comrades put it, the volcano on which the bourgeoisie so uncomfortably squat ( the volcano being US THE WORKING CLASS) might explode at any time. Let's hope it's soon.

lem_
well i didn't mean that the

well i didn't mean that the bourgeois class are entirely comfortable but that while / if they are succesful their lives are fine

and incase i expressed myself really badly before, i was not saying that capitalism is a rational organization of the economy but that it is the most rational form available to a capitalist. hope that makes sense :-) !

 

i mean what is "freedom" really, it seems a very abstract concept really? oh we are poor and live in fear and so on but at least we have out political freedoms? we may have a slighty better democracv but i do not know what freedom could mean here, maybe ever! of course freedom is a nice idea and maybe even the promise of it is good but then also maybe the promise of heaven or some eternal felicity for our good behaviour can on occasion be a myth that does not deny life but it is of course completely impossible, and we should totally recognize that. 
i spent a bit of time yesterday googling marx amd the term freedom but did't sink my teeth into anything... alf :-) ??

lem_
i mean obviously it's better

i mean obviously it's better to have the freedom to e.g. practice homoexuality etc.. but does that word help or actually conceal what is going on - is the problem that we are not free or that if we act in a completely reasonable way someone will come along and murder us, or put us in jail or whatever?

 

i was suggesting we don't need the word.