From Alienation to Participation

I like the resonances that are set up in endings to two lectures, the penultimate and the ultimate, given by Robert Heilbroner as part of his CBC Massey Lectures. First he rifts off Marx's notion of alienation and then offers a scenario of participation.

Alienation thus not only blinds us to whatever losses may result from our surrender to a commodified world, but dulls any awareness that the very vocabulary in which we appraise the performance of the economy — "efficiency," "cost," "value" — smuggles into the evaluation process the prerogatives and requirements of the social order to which that economy caters. Smith anticipated Marx when he pointed out that "efficiency" appears to be socially useful because we are blinded to its cost in the degradation of the labourer.

Participation thus envisages a world in which widely shared decision-making by discussion and vote displaces self-interest alone, or by persons privileged by wealth or position to make unilateral determinations. It assumes that social and economic equality has replaced social and economic inequality as the widely endorsed norm of the society, because equality seems best suited to enable individuals to lead the most rewarding lives they can.
Robert Heilbroner. Twenty-First Century Capitalism. CBC Massey Lectures.

And so for day 1609