Recently, Jordan Peterson did an extended interview with Bob Murphy. Peterson begins the interview by pitching it as a “two hour lesson in Austrian Economics”, but mainly, it was an overview comparison of the principles of Austrian economics against Marxism. It was difficult to dispute much of it. I’m already a proponent of free market capitalism, and I’m also fairly partial to Friedrich Hayek’s work (at least, as it is represented in The Constitution of Liberty, and Law, Legislation, and Liberty).
What is exploitation?
Marxists make a great deal of hay out of the term. What are they talking about?
The dictionary offers a definition that perhaps accidentally includes a subtle but profound distinction. Exploitation is either (a) “to make full use of” or “derive benefit from”, or (b) “to use unjustly”, or “to derive unfair benefit from”.
So, on the one hand, we have a neutral term that might even be seen as a positive, in some respects.
A moment of synchronicity occurred for me, yesterday morning. A Twitter user I follow fairly closely, tweeted about the decrepit state of Karl Marx’s character (borrowing from Paul Johnson’s famous book, *Intellectuals* ), and argued that Marxists would all invariably turn out like him. At nearly the same time, one of my fellow philosophy students on the University of London student Facebook group posted an apocryphal story about how pedantic and brittle Wittgenstein was toward his hosts the Keynes, and implied that this was what it meant to be an analytical philosopher.
In his famous Paris Manuscripts of 1844, Marx argues that a society organized around the principle of private property and the commercial production of commodities forces man to stand in opposition to his own nature in order to subsist, and that this self-oppositional stance is best described as ‘alienated’ (or ‘estranged’) labor. To fully understand what Marx means by ‘alienated labor’, and under what circumstances labor becomes alienated, we must therefore first understand what Marx means by ‘human nature’.