By James Thompson

Alienation is the process whereby people become foreign to their own labor.

Workers sell their labor to the business owners in return for wages which they use to survive. As a result, a portion of the product of their labor becomes the property of the owner. The product of the worker’s labor becomes alien to them.

The employer takes control of the product of the worker’s labor and frequently uses part of it against the employee. The boss may use part of the profit they make from the product of the labor of the workers to support politicians who work to reduce the worker’s rights, wages and benefits. The owner may use part of the profit to hire consultants who tell them how to reduce the number of workers and/or cut their benefits. The owner may use part of the profit to support religious leaders who tell the workers to be obedient to their masters so that they will go to paradise when they die. These are but some of the ways the owners use a part of the worker’s labor against them to further the interests of the owners and fight the interests of the workers.

The bosses strive to alienate workers from the value that they produce through their labor. This makes it easier for the capitalists to appropriate (i.e. steal) a portion of what the workers produce. Alienation confuses workers and makes it less likely that they will fight for their rights and for the wealth that they produce.