Karl Marx developed the Theory of Alienation to explain the relationship between capitalism and its effect on the wellbeing of workers. According to the theory, workers lose control of their lives after securing employment and as such become alienated from their families, communities, and society. Marx maintained that workers lack control over their work and lives. Alienation occurs when people are separated from their communities and families due to stringent working schedules.
According to Marx, alienation of labor occurs when workers make sacrifices for the sake of their work and in that way fail to gain happiness. In addition, it occurs when workers use their work to gratify their physical needs only at the expense of their spiritual needs. This happens because employees do not own the means of production and cannot, therefore, determine their pay or working conditions.
Workers become alienated because they are controlled by authorities that deny them the power to alter their working conditions. As a result, work distances them from their communities, families, and society. The workers’ main focus becomes their work because it is their only livelihood. A large portion of their time is spent working in industries. In many workplaces, workers lack the power to decide how they relate to each other because of the lack of control of the means of production.
Their relationships are affected by competition, indifference, and lack of cooperation. Finally, workers become separated from their own nature because their work lacks the critical aspect of thoughtfulness that defines human nature. Workers are subjected to external pressure and are not given the power to alter their working conditions to suit their work.
Martin Luther King Junior did not use the term alienation directly. However, he used the term segregation to describe the alienation of African Americans due to racial segregation. The abolishment of slavery did not eradicate racism and discrimination. In the mid 20th century, African Americans were still experiencing racial segregation.
King maintained that racial inequality was immoral and unethical. His people were prevented from visiting certain areas and using certain public facilities that were frequented by the whites. In addition, they were prevented from working and living in certain areas. For many years, King advocated for the emancipation of African Americans from racial discrimination and segregation. His efforts were augmented by the actions of Rosa Park who refused to give a seat to a white passenger on a bus.
Her actions marked the beginning of a new era in the fight against racial inequality in America. According to King, all people were equal and deserved equal treatment and access to opportunities. He always emphasized the importance of equality for everyone in society. For instance, he maintained that everyone had a right to access to public facilities such as schools, churches, and restaurants. In addition, he criticized the decision to deny African Americans their voting rights.
Racial inequality led to a division of American society into different social and economic classes. The whites enjoyed great privileges and access to all amenities. Another factor that facilitated segregation and alienation of African Americans was the economic policies that denied them equal access to jobs and businesses.
King advocated for the abolishment of these policies because they barred his people from working in certain businesses. Racial segregation made African Americans feel powerless and helpless. Marx’s and King’s notions of alienation applied to different situations. However, they had similar effects on people and communities.