Request for philological assistance with regard to a Marx quote

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Sun Aug 24 07:01:48 MDT 2003

I recall Marx performs a little thought experiment in one of his early
writings, maybe the German Ideology or the Paris manuscripts. In this
thought experiment, he considers a situation in which alienation would be
overcome. In that case, he says, if you want to be X, you must practically
do X, do what it takes, and he gives a number of examples, such as art,
love, and so on..I meditated upon this quote when I worked as statistician.

I am trying to track down the quote again (I thought definitely the Paris
Manuscripts) but I cannot find it. Maybe I am going a bit blind. Can anybody
help me out there with finding this quotation ?

This is part of my thinking about alienation, and my argument is that, in a
mature, objective view rather than a puberal or primitive one, alienation
must not be conceived as monumental, monolithic domination or oppression,
but rather as a counterpoint of alienating conditions AND the revolt against
these conditions, suggesting that alienation is never total, as well as
suggesting the limits involved in overcoming alienation. This is a point
which Marx himself does not really make explicit.

This line of thinking forms the basis of another argument, which conceives
of politics in a way, which suggests that politics might be an avenue which
might help overcome personal alienation, rather than being the supreme form
of alienation, next to religion (as John Ross argued once), i.e. the
intelligently politicised revolt against injustice, exploitation, oppression
and alienation might assist the overcoming of alienation, rather than
increase it. It also has some implication for the relationship between
politics and mental health.

When I originally studied this question in 1979 with the aid of the texts of
the young Marx, Meszaros, Ollman, Petrovic, Kostas Axelos, Mandel, Tonnies,
Sennett, Laing, Walton, Camus etc. I did not satisfactorily resolve this
problem beyond a draft stage, and I am trying to get more specific about it,
in a more systematic way, now (see further also Roy Bhaskar, From Science to
Emancipation: Alienation and the Actuality of Enlightenment, a new book
which I haven't been able to read yet).

Thanks in advance for your help,


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