The Estrangement of the #Lumpenprofessoriate

With “Higher Education” among the last “factories” making “measurable” products near the main nodes of the Globalized Society of Control, information workers (researchers, teachers, etc) become more and more estranged from themselves and their surroundings even as they succeed in the unstoppable production of “gold standard” objects (books, essay-articles, patents, policies, etc.,) and “plastic models” (students).

Academia and its Lumpenprofessoriate–so civilized and orderly–have spent 200 years crawling toward a bourgeois socialist subsistence that confuses output for virtue and confounds the fetishization of information for the love of wisdom.

Oh, this sad, sad creature *homo academicus”: to have given themselves over to being a mere metric rather than to keep at being the measurers of all things. frown emoticon

In both respects, therefore, the worker becomes a servant of his object, first, in that he receives an object of labour, i.e., in that he receives work; and secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence. This enables him to exist, first, as a worker; and, second, as a physical subject. The height of this servitude isthat itisonly asa workerthat he can maintain himself as a physical subject, and that it is only as a Physical subject that he is a worker.

(According to the economic laws the estrangement of the worker in his object is expressed thus: the more the worker produces, the less he has to consume; the more values he creates, the more valueless, the more unworthy he becomes; the better formed his product, the more deformed becomes the worker; the more civilised his object, the more barbarous becomes the worker; the more powerful labour becomes, the more powerless becomes the worker; the more ingenious labour becomes, the less ingenious becomes the worker and the more he becomes nature’s servant.)

Political economy conceals the estrangement inherent in the nature of labour by not considering the direct relationship between the worker (labour) and production. It is true that labour produces wonderful things for the rich — 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 labour by machines, but it throws one section of the workers back to a barbarous type of labour, and it turns the other section into a machine. It produces intelligence—but for the worker, stupidity, cretinism.

Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts in Collected Works, Vol. 3 1843 – 1844. Trans. Clemens Dutt. New York: International Publishers, 1975, p. 273.


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