By Dan Swain
We live in a world in which our capacity to transform and control our lives has never been greater. And yet for most people the world is radically outside of their control. Their lives are dictated by the demands of employers and politicians.
This is part of the phenomenon of alienation that the young Karl Marx began to diagnose in the early 1840s, and remained preoccupied with throughout his life. As he analysed the system of capitalist production he identified the profound social, physical and mental ills that it creates.
This accessible guide charts the development of the concept of alienation from the Enlightenment onward. It shows the continuing relevance of it in a world shaped by climate change and economic crisis. Crucially, it reminds us that, for Marx, the point of studying capitalist production was precisely to understand how to free human beings from its tyranny.