I grew up exposed to a great deal of Marxist thought, and thought I had mostly left it behind. But in the past year or so I’ve been at something of a crossroads, reconsidering my work life as I teeter between academic and non-academic work, and I have repeatedly returned to one insight of Marx’s that now strikes me as completely true: the theory of alienation. The work we do for pay is not our own. It is never our own, by definition; it is the work we do for someone else (whether employer or customer) and it is done on that someone else’s terms.
It would be nice to think that the academy was some sort of exception to this rule; but it’s anything but. Continue reading