Loss of control is the fundamental expression of alienation. Popularly, and particularly among psychologists, alienation is understood almost exclusively as a psychological state. It refers to a variety of disorders, including anxiety, despair, loneliness, apathy, meaninglessness and powerlessness.
Some if not all of these problems will be intimately familiar to us, but are these just psychological problems? If alienation is a state of mind then there is an implication that it exists only within the individual. But we do not live in a vacuum. Feelings of powerlessness result not from the individuals, but from the organisation of society.
Alienation, to put it simply, is the idea that an “alien” force confronts individuals, overruling their aims and designs and subjecting them and their lives to its initiatives. This force affects all human activity from everyday labouring to the creation of art. It is the loss of the power to choose what we produce, how it is produced and what it is used for. [Read more...]