Its a lost cause especially if they are a hate filled person. Good morning. I am just taking a few minutes to think hard about next week. My son who died at the age of 14 —- the school is again for the 26 year is awarding a student who has leadership skills within the school. This award is given to either a female or male student. This is an 8 hour drive for myself but I have not missing a year. The down side is his father stalks me each year either by following my vehicle around town, or walking up the front of a sidewalk to get as close to me as possible.
I have been to the police regarding this type of behavior last year. The police have not giving me any information other that what I gave them like dates, years time etc. His behaviors need to stop yes change but mainly stop. I will never return to him. The down side is only one of my 3 adult children talks to me. He needs to know. I am not interested in talking to or even looking at my sons father.
I have closed that chapter in my life.. I let go. I made my own plans for Christmas eve and Christmas day. When my kids asked, I said I already had plans but would be off on 26th. I enjoyed my Christmas holiday and did not deal with drama, or attitudes. Sadly, my daughters are dealing with the stress of trying to comply with their dads insane time requirements and other rules. All I can do is laugh to myself and tell them I am sorry they cannot stay and watch a movie or go out to dinner with me tonight.
I enjjoyed other family and friends this weekend. Missed my kids with me, but not all the B. Am remarried to a dam nice guy and we had supper with two of his children and one set of in laws — who drank their face off — I had tea and got out as soon as I could —- its sad because is supposed to be sober and clean and so far his is drinking a lot —- the drugs will come soon and it will be again the police and rehab— loss of this house — and get this the two are trying to have a baby oh yes a stone baby who will be born to drugs I have nothing to say here am the in law so I just get watch.
Very well written Dennis , every word is correct. Impossible for these adult children now to see anything different. They have become the Sociopaths their mother has always been. My children are the same ages as yours and react in the same way. Great story. As a mother of a 37 year old ES, I can relate. But as was posted earlier, …. This is exactly how I feel.
I am thankful that for my significant other giving up was not an option. He has exhausted the courts and his finances, but is rebuilding his life and supporting his children. He will always be their father. It is hardest when he realizes that being even on the fringes of their lives means hurt for them.
The mother tortures them emotionally, stirring up drama, not just in private, but publicly. He keeps his distance, but she does not. We walk away but both feel that completly abandoning them is disgusting. We plan carefully so we can financially support them in an appropriate and responsible way, we keep in touch with cards, notes and small gifts, and are building a family website to record what the rest or their family is about. I hope one day to get to know them.
He knows that he will always be their father and that they cannot deny that. Even if he dies before they realize, he will leave to them a story of his love and support. The court system MA. Not a caring,loving parent. Scrap it from bottom to top. It is a despicable mess.
An abusers best weapon! I could not agree with you more regarding the court system. With the help of the court system my ex exhausted all my financial means to fight back and in that the courts may as well have handed my son over on a preverbal silver platter. My ex tried to discredit me and prove me an unfit parent for years; unsuccessfully I may add but the day my son said those words at 11 years old my ex just stood behind him using him as a human shield having our son do all of his dirty work from that point on.
The courts are completely useless!!! My son has not even seen my parents or any other family member or friends of mine since shortly after he stopped seeing me. My ex knew the only way his plan would be successful was to ensure no possible contact at all!!! I keep thinking this is terrible nightmare that I just need to wake up from. I am just so sick of feeling sad and mad and hurt and depressed and and and need I go on? I think it is a relatively new phenomenon for mothers though at least to the degree it is happening today.
I have a sick elderly mom living with me. My son claimed he was just so stressed out and he was failing school. Still failing school too. I email my son, when he even bothers to read it. But he prefers being with his dad, they have the funds to go out to eat every night, go to movies, sporting events, concerts and other things nightly, even if it interferes with his sleep for school.
I just hope some day my son realizes less about material things and that he has a mom who does love him and tries her best to have a good relationship with him. It is sad when one parent feels their child is their property. I am going through parental alienation with my ex. We have 3 small children under the ages of 9 and their dad has alienated them from me.
He got primary custody because he had the better attorney prior to my ex and I seperating I was a stay at home mom so I had no financial help and the court systems are ridiculous. He has got my children to lie to cyfd and police claiming child abuse. He has completely brainwashed my kids and now they want nothing to do with me and beg to stay with their dad when its supposed to be my time. My ex is a narcissist and will do whatever it takes to make my life miserable and he knows that using my kids is the only way he can get to me.
I went through the process GAL, home inspection, private interviews with the kids and they found in my favor, so his buddies just refused to enforce. For my girls, the torture has stopped. For example, he used to call them at my home and tell them he was going to die alone in his house and nobody would even know because they lived with me.
My girls are turning 18 and will find their way back to me when and if they are ready. My focus for the next years will be getting that badge of respect off of corrupt chests. Diane- I am going through this exact thing right now. I read your words and they are exactly what I am feeling about the current situation with my son. Thank you for making me not feel so alone. Do things can get better or easier? I am going through this exact thing now as well. It has been going on for 2 months. It is just awful. One bad judge determined the sad tragedy of a life my daughters now live.
Trish I wish I could do that. I did try but the area we live is too small. I feel a desperate need to move away. Sam you will certainly hear no judgement from me. Perhaps envy since you say you were able to let go. This experience is so psychologically damaging. I feel like we have all suffered so much in so many ways. Barbara I feel like your post was written by me. The only difference is I do not look at my boys on facebook. I did it once and the pain was too great. The loss of my children, my reputation, financial destruction. I lack that basic feeling we probably all took for granted that life is safe and everything will work out.
It no longer matters that what my children have said is untrue. I blame myself that I did something in raising them that they would turn and hurt another this way. The guilt for failing to fix this and the ongoing suffering has created such a hole. I think I should have the right to feel peace again. I just cannot seem to make that happen.
I also relive the devastating announcement from my son regarding wanting to not only live with his father but also no longer have me in his life. If you feel comfortable, do you mind sharing the current circumstances regarding your son? A little back story.. We had 2 daughters. I found out he was cheating. H e said he would not stop seeing her and packed our clothes. He put me and the girls in the road.
A year to by before he wanted to see. He saw them a total of 24 hours during the next years time. During that time, he had a child with this girl. Over the next 5 years, he saw them like 2 or 3 times a year. Ok, so my oldest daughter was 16 when the alienation hit me. She had spent 2 weeks with him. I thought ok, he is trying. Well, he gave her a secret cell phone. Had her lying to me. I found the phone. She had hid it in the vent in the bathroom. I said something about it, she flipped out and said I am moving in with dad and Danielle yep he married his mistress and they now have 2 kids He came and got her.
The courts would do nothing tomake her come back. I had sole custody for 6 years. He refused to bring her back. We went to court and instead of getting him for contempt they gave him custody. Only calls when she wants something. I hear things from my youngest daughter about how they always talk bad about me. They have completely turned my oldest against me and they are trying to do the same to my youngest.
Oh, you know when he came back in their lives? When I remarried and he said no other man was going to play daddy to his kids. He told them my husband was nothing to them. I never went to court it was all handle by the lawyers who certainly come out with a lot of money. I like this he immediately married the first woman he dated wow fast and she was not pregnant I like it. In a strange his fast marriage to the first woman is a victory for me think about it is funny, Remember the first person you ever date think about a marriage that way.
Mary, when does an adult child held accountable on their own merits? Your husbands unconditional love is noble, however, disrespect and ill treatment of a parent is not acceptable. The Grieving process is a natural, and essential one to cope with catastrophic events that cannot be changed. This includes the initial Denial when the facts confronting the person, are just too enormous to all be taken in. The final stage, Acceptance for all that has happened and that cannot be changed, is also the signal for a turning point in Life, a looking forward instead of backwards.
I have been attempting to re-create my relationship with the child who accuses me of being abusive when she was young, but forgiving me although not to my face, as she denies me contact with my two grandchildren see, still a struggle as I relapse back into the staged of the Grief cycle , I write to her, blog, research ways to give gifts that cannot be returned to charities that have some meaning and a good record of accomplishment.
I am now at the point where it is hard to continue to read of struggle and defeat, all those places I was and want to leave behind, in group postings, in my Network of Fcebook contacts, and on. I have only one face, I am not Janis, and I want my face to be oriented to the sun, not the dark of the past. Like all of you above, I have gone through all of the emotions. Grief is the hardest. I had no choice. All I can do is keep myself busy and try to show and love to other children and my grandchildren. I totally agree with your analogy comparing the grief of a parent losing a child to death verses alienation.
With our alienation comes rejection, the most extreme kind!!! Rejection in a typical relationship breakup is hard enough but the rejection from a child is just not fathomable. You can remarry or date again but your son or daughter will always be your son or daughter and only we can be their biological mom or dad…..
Great article and great discussion. Thank you, Monika, for your continued insights and willingness to help others. In the U. One of the keys to letting go is to focus on all the things for which we are thankful. These people deserve to have me in their lives at my best — happy, healthy and with an optimistic view of the future. While my alienated son is never far from my thoughts, the ability to to not let parental alienation ruin my life was a key component in my ability to let go, move and and even help others through their alienation nightmares.
The speech is called Surviving parental alienation. Please check it out if you get a chance. Monika, thank you for this article. Jennifer, thank you. Letting go is necessary. As Mike Jeffries mentions, letting go is needed for the rejected parent to remain happy and healthy. Monika, thank your for posting this article. Although it is my stepdaughter who has abandoned her dad after living her first 16 years with him, I too am grieved as I helped raise her for 12 of those years.
This woman has done nothing but try to destroy my husband in every manner possible. I am beyond the self blame but angered over how my husband has been treated. I cringe when she calls him, asking for money for something. After each phone call he becomes depressed and we go thru the last 4 of the stages all over again. Is there anything I can do to help him off this merry-go-round?
Thank you for your time. Hi Renee, thank you for your comment! Your situation is frequently overlooked— the perspective of a stepparent. Often it is portrayed that stepparents are the one that start a campaign of hatred. This is unfortunate, as there are many wonderful stepparents that pick up the slack. They pick up the slack when the biological parent refuses to follow court orders, pay school lunches, does not adhere to drop off times, etc.
They will not pay child support but they will purchase the latest video game. Without a doubt, they do not focus on the child, but spend time figuring out how to get even. It is exactly what you describe:….. Richard Warshak discussed this in his article, titled Remarriage as a Trigger of Parental Alienation. If courts have not helped in your case, coping and a support group may be an option. Self care is vital. The parental alienation awareness organization and Dr. Richard Warshak offers a lot of resources.
Good luck to you! Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately for me, bio-mom started campaigning against me from the get go. She is, after all, almost Sure it hurts, but what hurts most is the way my stepdaughter treats her dad. There is, however, and upside to this situation. Dear Monika, I love your site.
Sophie stood in a long staggered line of people. Some stretched back and forth to see what was at the head of the line, but Sophie held the small hand of her son and cradled her daughter on her hip. She kept her head down, while shielding her children with prayers. A moment later, a patrolling Nazi Commandant caught her defensive darting eyes. However, the deck was stacked, and every pebble of truth and humanity she found was yanked from her hands.
She ruminated about how her children were building their own prisons and she was tormented by the ease in which the abuser destroyed young, innocent lives unabated. For the rest of her life, Sophie sought peace from the persistent whirling torture of guilt, exhaustion, despair, desperation, and the fear of acceptance. Within those life-long prisons, the young innocent ones will grow up never having the opportunity to live the lives they were born to live. Accept what? Accept that your child will no longer be a part of your life? Accept that your child will no longer have the opportunities to live and love fully, like you have dreamed and worked for?
Accept that your child will someday be the reason that someone else must endure the insufferable existence of an alienated parent. Every second of every day, their absence is all I can feel. He spent years setting this up and I was so stupid. He refused to return them on the next visit.
While my ex is responsible for his own actions, so is law enforcement. Judges and police officers who violate federal and state laws to interfere with child custody face no repercussions. That makes the whole system guilty. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing your powerful message! About giving up; it has been 25 years. My adult children have continually berated and blamed me over the duration.
I have had rare visits from them that dwindled to no visits 15 years ago from one of them. The other has popped up at intervals of a year or two at a time, only to start exhibiting hostility that she projects on to me, and them storm out. This year also, in our home, she physically assaulted her stepsister who then called the police.
Then she texted me at some point with four texts, spilling out abusive language and telling me that if I ever contacted her again, she would file harrassment charges. Interestingly enough, her sister made the same assertion this year. I have tried to contact both of my children by phone once or twice a year. I suppose that is it then, time to let go. What else can I do; they are adults and they have both told me that they consider my yearly call to be harrassment. Yes, I know their minds are confused and yes, the father in this case was the architect of alienation.
I am not naive; there are other factors, among them my own frailty. I dare say that the aggressor described in the Parental Alienation Disorder is an apt description of my ex-husband. I almost want to disappear for the fear that their irrational hatred will culminate into a physical attack against me or my present family members. Dear Phyllis, no one can decide for another when to let go. And, the wait may continue on for years to come, as there remains a lot of debate around parental alienation syndrome. This is unfortunate. Alienating parents have found the right means.
If adults join cults, it seems absurd to dismiss the possibility that children cannot be coerced into rejecting a once loved parent. As you noted, your ex-spouse was the architect of the alienation. Most notably, you have dealt with this for 25 years. If disrespect is taught at a young age, it is likely to carry into adulthood. If you can, get a copy of Dr. He discusses the topic of letting go.
It is a tough process indeed. Best of luck to you. This resonates with me and my family. Unfortunately, after such a long time having a child withheld from our home, our love, our attention, and then having that same child hate us, after a while acceptance is the only road to take to heal ourselves after all else fails, miserably. Thank you for this article! The biggest problem of all; most courts do not recognize the problem. We finally got our day in court only to have our attorney shaft us!
The Judge found her not guilty on all of the Contempt Charges even though we did prove she was in contempt of court. What is sad is no one is really looking out for the Children who are the most important ones. They know we love them and are fighting for them. As a matter of fact, the oldest one who is 8, knows exactly what his mom is doing and has made the statement several times that he is angry with her and when he is old enough to tell the Judge, he is going to tell him he wants to live with his dad.
A Christian point of view on this subject: There was a reason God had honor thy father AND mother in the ten commandments. There was no conditions put on that commandment either. Children, obey your parents in the Lord,[a] for this is the right thing to do. I believe an alienating parent is removing the promise or blessing from God on these children by teaching them to hate the other parent. A loving parent would never do these things. A loving parent would never teach to love and respect the other parent only with conditions met.
Janet: Thank you for your comment. I am hopeful that the Christian community will recognize the turmoil that alienation thrusts upon rejected parents. Although alienated children clearly appear like they are harboring hatred, the appearance is misleading. It is easy to see why many are critical of rejected parents as they observe the rejection.
Or, without education about parental alienation, one can understand why rejected parents believe and internalize that their child ren hate them. This is yet another reason why education about parental alienation is needed. It is difficult for rejected parents when they are dealing with children who display extreme rebellion, destroy property, perpetually trash family dinners, refuse visitation in the absence of true abuse and neglect and many other manifestations of undesirable behavior that result from parental alienation.
And what happens when the alienators are also your own parents, sisters and ex-husband? I am a Catholic and believe in the 10 commandments, but also believe that I cannot enable evil. And an evil in the past which is denied and unrepented does not make its present day impact any less evil. I severed ties with my family after trying to explain what they had done to finally an ultimatum to which more alienating behavior ensued. Not everything is so cut and dry. My action was the correct and noble one. I miss my 4 children 2 boys, 2 girls…my oldest is full of hatred..
I think these people are nothing of God, even when they claim to go to church, because they certainy never went when I was the head of the house hold , the ex was an athiest. Dying is a pretty good indication that we have experienced something we cannot bear. God has not given us these terrible circumstances; it is the result of the sin of the alienating parent.
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But no, we have not been given these circumstances because we are strong or because we need some sort of twisted lesson. We can look to god for ways to help us respond and care for ourselves. Hugs to you. This is correct. I pray for both of my children so that they will one day hear the voice of Jesus and find healing from their anger since it is a true removal of a blessing. Just because parents are alienated temporarily does not mean they are never going to see their children again…. I disagree that alienated parents or other family members need to grieve….
Presumption of right of contact for both parents is fair and justice…. Forget grieving…. This comment angers me. Regardless of raising awareness or campaigning for change. Thank you for your comment, Denise. Yes; parents do grieve, for many years. Alienation for some is akin to the death of a child.
Talk here again on this forum in 10 years when you realize this process turned your child into a psychopath. Do you know what the recovery rate is from psychopathology? Almost 0. Wow, Luci, you are way off the mark. Have you a child who eventually turns to an adult — cut you off from your life or your grandchildren? I know parents of years gone by not seeing their children. Parental alienation when young almost every times turns into missed events, opportunities, loving bonds to tie a young adult to parents.
It usually turns into adult children still cutting off the parent. My sister is cut off from her only child — my friend cut off from her only child. And these are two exemplary not perfect parents. It is NOT temporary for many and leads to long term chronic relationship problems. And the GRIEF of not being with ones child — teen or young adult during Christmas, birthdays, special events, like them having their first child?
And yes, we all have tried every strategy and book under the sun. Including making sure to apologize, and listen to the concerns of the estranged child or teen or adult child of ours. I am a mom who created a beautiful home environment, good home cooked meals, 3 meals a day, garden, canned, brought the girls to their lessons. Made costumes, sat up holding their heads when they were sick…….
Made sure they had many opportunities to spend time with family on both sides and learn to trust and love others. Now, only to have one daughter reject me due to her dad alienating me when I was ill. Then we separated and it only got worse. I redeemed myself with my younger daughter, but that took work to help her understand that being overindulged by her Dad was not the answer to a self sufficient independent rewarding adult life. I am fortunate I have two children. They are distinct and I try very, very hard to make sure the 25 year old knows she is not responsible for my happiness or has to be a go between.
She was only 13 when I got sick. Now we have grandchildren and she allows her Dad whom I still live with to do whatever he wants with the children and has severe restrictions on me. I have family who lived with us and a sea of my husbands family who visited us for 2 week stays — and 6 of them at different times for over 20 years we live in resort seaside area — they are witnesses to my good mothering of both our girls.
And they are incredulous that this is happening. Of course she smoozies up to Dad, and does not like mom who will say enough and take care of your own responsibilities. Nothing wrong with age appropriate helping our adult children out when they first get out in the big world, but it is detrimental to SAVING them all the time and bailing them out, rather than let them make mistakes and clean up their own messes. God help us all. And she will not speak to me, nor receive my gifts nor allow her children to receive my gifts or love and the list goes on.
Painful does not begin to describe. And everyone else was allowed to hold my grandchildren but me. What kind of person would do that? Stifling it is the hardest thing to do and gradually somehow through all the emotions, asking forgiveness for obviously perceived hurts even some embellished or mixed up with what Parents have to do to guide a child, teen, young adult…..
Yes, my daughter or other estranged children — now adults are alive, but it is excruciating to not be in their lives. In addition, I have two sister in laws who did lose sons tragically drowning and a shooting — one at age 16 and one at age One was 32 years ago and the other 22 years ago.
Because the death — eventually the pain is dulled after 20 years. But the one who is alive is a constant yoyo in and out of grief, hope, anger, short moments of joy, and then back to estrangement and the cycle starts all over again. May God help us all and find compassion for people going through this…. And yes, it can be over in a flash — that is the difference between a living child or a child lost to death. It can be healed and a relationship managed and it would be wonderful, ……but……. What if it never happens. Never comparable to a real death, but something akin to it.
Marty you mentioned walking on eggshells. There is a book by that exact name and it is a great read. Within 10 minutes this guy said the ex was borderline personality. We could have written the book ourselves. I often thought my husband was exaggerating the emotional abuse he said she inflicted until I experienced it firsthand. We are fortunate that my step daughter reconnected with us and has a great boyfriend that is helping her to see her mother for what she is. Alienation comes in many forms and affects each one of us differently, yet the same.
In wish we could find a cure for it. I think that whenever we lose someone we love deeply, that there will be grief. But when someone you love passes away there comes a time when you might find closure. A second is the need for human beings to assert their communal essence. Whether or not we explicitly recognize it, human beings exist as a community, and what makes human life possible is our mutual dependence on the vast network of social and economic relations which engulf us all, even though this is rarely acknowledged in our day-to-day life.
After the post-Reformation fragmentation of religion, where religion is no longer able to play the role even of a fake community of equals, the state fills this need by offering us the illusion of a community of citizens, all equal in the eyes of the law. Interestingly, the political liberal state, which is needed to manage the politics of religious diversity, takes on the role offered by religion in earlier times of providing a form of illusory community.
But the state and religion will both be transcended when a genuine community of social and economic equals is created. Of course we are owed an answer to the question how such a society could be created. It is interesting to read Marx here in the light of his third Thesis on Feuerbach where he criticises an alternative theory.
story bridge from alienation to community action Manual
The crude materialism of Robert Owen and others assumes that human beings are fully determined by their material circumstances, and therefore to bring about an emancipated society it is necessary and sufficient to make the right changes to those material circumstances. However, how are those circumstances to be changed?
By an enlightened philanthropist like Owen who can miraculously break through the chain of determination which ties down everyone else? Indeed if they do not create the revolution for themselves — in alliance, of course, with the philosopher — they will not be fit to receive it. However, the manuscripts are best known for their account of alienated labour. Here Marx famously depicts the worker under capitalism as suffering from four types of alienated labour. First, from the product, which as soon as it is created is taken away from its producer.
Second, in productive activity work which is experienced as a torment. Third, from species-being, for humans produce blindly and not in accordance with their truly human powers. Finally, from other human beings, where the relation of exchange replaces the satisfaction of mutual need.
Essentially he attempts to apply a Hegelian deduction of categories to economics, trying to demonstrate that all the categories of bourgeois economics — wages, rent, exchange, profit, etc. Consequently each category of alienated labour is supposed to be deducible from the previous one. However, Marx gets no further than deducing categories of alienated labour from each other. Quite possibly in the course of writing he came to understand that a different methodology is required for approaching economic issues.
Nevertheless we are left with a very rich text on the nature of alienated labour. Both sides of our species essence are revealed here: our individual human powers and our membership in the human community. It is important to understand that for Marx alienation is not merely a matter of subjective feeling, or confusion. In our daily lives we take decisions that have unintended consequences, which then combine to create large-scale social forces which may have an utterly unpredicted, and highly damaging, effect. For example, for as long as a capitalist intends to stay in business he must exploit his workers to the legal limit.
Whether or not wracked by guilt the capitalist must act as a ruthless exploiter. Similarly the worker must take the best job on offer; there is simply no other sane option. But by doing this we reinforce the very structures that oppress us. Several of these have been touched on already for example, the discussions of religion in theses 4, 6 and 7, and revolution in thesis 3 so here I will concentrate only on the first, most overtly philosophical, thesis.
Materialism is complimented for understanding the physical reality of the world, but is criticised for ignoring the active role of the human subject in creating the world we perceive. Idealism, at least as developed by Hegel, understands the active nature of the human subject, but confines it to thought or contemplation: the world is created through the categories we impose upon it. Marx combines the insights of both traditions to propose a view in which human beings do indeed create — or at least transform — the world they find themselves in, but this transformation happens not in thought but through actual material activity; not through the imposition of sublime concepts but through the sweat of their brow, with picks and shovels.
Capital Volume 1 begins with an analysis of the idea of commodity production. A commodity is defined as a useful external object, produced for exchange on a market. Thus two necessary conditions for commodity production are the existence of a market, in which exchange can take place, and a social division of labour, in which different people produce different products, without which there would be no motivation for exchange. Marx suggests that commodities have both use-value — a use, in other words — and an exchange-value — initially to be understood as their price.
Use value can easily be understood, so Marx says, but he insists that exchange value is a puzzling phenomenon, and relative exchange values need to be explained. Why does a quantity of one commodity exchange for a given quantity of another commodity? His explanation is in terms of the labour input required to produce the commodity, or rather, the socially necessary labour, which is labour exerted at the average level of intensity and productivity for that branch of activity within the economy. Thus the labour theory of value asserts that the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of socially necessary labour time required to produce it.
Story Bridge: From Alienation to Community Action
Marx provides a two stage argument for the labour theory of value. As commodities can be exchanged against each other, there must, Marx argues, be a third thing that they have in common. Both steps of the argument are, of course, highly contestable. Capitalism is distinctive, Marx argues, in that it involves not merely the exchange of commodities, but the advancement of capital, in the form of money, with the purpose of generating profit through the purchase of commodities and their transformation into other commodities which can command a higher price, and thus yield a profit.
Marx claims that no previous theorist has been able adequately to explain how capitalism as a whole can make a profit. The cost of this commodity is determined in the same way as the cost of every other; i. Suppose that such commodities take four hours to produce. Thus the first four hours of the working day is spent on producing value equivalent to the value of the wages the worker will be paid.
This is known as necessary labour. Any work the worker does above this is known as surplus labour, producing surplus value for the capitalist. Surplus value, according to Marx, is the source of all profit. Other commodities simply pass their value on to the finished commodities, but do not create any extra value. They are known as constant capital. Profit, then, is the result of the labour performed by the worker beyond that necessary to create the value of his or her wages. This is the surplus value theory of profit. It appears to follow from this analysis that as industry becomes more mechanised, using more constant capital and less variable capital, the rate of profit ought to fall.
For as a proportion less capital will be advanced on labour, and only labour can create value. In Capital Volume 3 Marx does indeed make the prediction that the rate of profit will fall over time, and this is one of the factors which leads to the downfall of capitalism. A further consequence of this analysis is a difficulty for the theory that Marx did recognise, and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to meet also in Capital Volume 3.
It follows from the analysis so far that labour intensive industries ought to have a higher rate of profit than those which use less labour. Not only is this empirically false, it is theoretically unacceptable. Accordingly, Marx argued that in real economic life prices vary in a systematic way from values. Although there are known techniques for solving this problem now albeit with unwelcome side consequences , we should recall that the labour theory of value was initially motivated as an intuitively plausible theory of price. But when the connection between price and value is rendered as indirect as it is in the final theory, the intuitive motivation of the theory drains away.
Any commodity can be picked to play a similar role. Consequently with equal justification one could set out a corn theory of value, arguing that corn has the unique power of creating more value than it costs. Formally this would be identical to the labour theory of value. Nevertheless, the claims that somehow labour is responsible for the creation of value, and that profit is the consequence of exploitation, remain intuitively powerful, even if they are difficult to establish in detail.
However, even if the labour theory of value is considered discredited, there are elements of his theory that remain of worth. Both provide a salutary corrective to aspects of orthodox economic theory. Marx did not set out his theory of history in great detail. Accordingly, it has to be constructed from a variety of texts, both those where he attempts to apply a theoretical analysis to past and future historical events, and those of a more purely theoretical nature.
However, The German Ideology , co-written with Engels in , is a vital early source in which Marx first sets out the basics of the outlook of historical materialism. Cohen, who builds on the interpretation of the early Russian Marxist Plekhanov. However, some scholars believe that the interpretation that we shall focus on is faulty precisely for its lack of attention to the dialectic. Hence it does not follow that Marx himself thought that the concept of class struggle was relatively unimportant. Furthermore, when A Critique of Political Economy was replaced by Capital , Marx made no attempt to keep the Preface in print, and its content is reproduced just as a very much abridged footnote in Capital.
In The German Ideology Marx and Engels contrast their new materialist method with the idealism that had characterised previous German thought. The satisfaction of needs engenders new needs of both a material and social kind, and forms of society arise corresponding to the state of development of human productive forces. This is the thesis that the productive forces tend to develop, in the sense of becoming more powerful, over time. This states not that they always do develop, but that there is a tendency for them to do so. The productive forces are the means of production, together with productively applicable knowledge: technology, in other words.
The next thesis is the primacy thesis, which has two aspects. The first states that the nature of the economic structure is explained by the level of development of the productive forces, and the second that the nature of the superstructure — the political and legal institutions of society— is explained by the nature of the economic structure.
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