The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

  • Ali Rattansi
Part of the Contemporary Social Theory book series


The central unifying theme in the Manuscripts is the alienation of labour under capitalist conditions of private ownership and its transcendence and abolition under communism. The doctrine of total emancipation which, as I have argued, was crucial in enabling Marx to assimilate ‘class’ and the ‘division of labour’ in his work is much more clearly articulated here and eloquently expressed. Communism, Marx argues, is ‘the positive transcendence of all estrangement’; the abolition of private property, communism:

is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature — the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and knows itself to be this solution.27

The vision of communism Marx unfolds in the Manuscripts derives much of its force from his remarkable analysis of the alienation of labour and is clearly underpinned by a preconception of truly human, free productive activity. Man’s productive interchange with nature is in fact taken as the defining characteristic of the species: ‘the productive life is the life of the species’; and Marx is careful to point out that while an animal can also be said to engage in production it ‘only produces what it immediately needs for itself or its young’.


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Copyright information

© Ali Rattansi 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Rattansi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Leicester School of EducationUK

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