(From the L.Q. sidebar: Karl Marx, from Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. After a seven-year-long engagement, Marx at the age of twenty-five married Jenny von Westphalen in 1843. Four months later they moved to Paris, where he became acquainted with the conditions of the working class. He observed that they were “utterly crude and unintelligent” but also noted that “The brotherhood of man is no mere phrase with them, but a fact of life.” This early piece of writing was not published until 1959.)
It is true that labor produces for the rich wonderful things—but for the worker it produces privation. It produces palaces—but for the worker, hovels. It produces beauty—but for the worker, deformity. It replaces labor by machines—but some of the workers it throws back to a barbarous type of labor, and the other workers it turns into machines. It produces intelligence—but for the worker idiocy, cretinism.
The direct relationship of labor to its produce is the relationship of the worker to the objects of his production. The relationship of the man of means to the objects of production and to production itself is only a consequence of this first relationship—and confirms it.
When we ask, then, what is the essential relationship of labor, we are asking about the relationship of the worker to production. ...