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MartinKoa

132138

3May2016

PH102JTAD
Analyzing
OfficeSpace
withMarxsPhilosophy
Marxsphilosophysaysthatman,byhisphysicalnatureandexistenceinamaterial
world,isorderedtoproduceandcreateobjectsthroughhislabor.Theseobjectsaresupposed
toreflecthisessentialnatureandindividualityasaproducerbysatisfyingtheneedsofeither
himselforsomeonespecificwhomheisawareof.Thisisselfaffirminglabor.Incapitalism,
however,thecapitalistscontroltheresourcesnecessaryforproductionandextractsurplus
valuefromlaborthroughtheabstractionofitsvalueintoawage.Becausetheworkernow
hastosubjecthimselftoexploitationandworkforthiswageasameansforsurvival,he
becomesalienatedinlaborinfourwayswhichareverycloselyrelatedandwecanseein
OfficeSpace
.
Firstisalienationfromtheproduct.Theworkerdoesntownwhatheproduces,and
doesnotbenefitdirectlyfromit.Hebecomesaslavetotheproductbecausehehastoproduce
ittosurvive,andthemoreheproduces,thelessofhimselfhebecomes.ForPeter,hehasno
motivationinhisjobsincemoreTPSreportsdontmeananythingtohim.Hedoesntownthe
TPSreportsthathemakesnoristhereanydirectbenefittohim.Themoretimeandefforthe
putsintothereports,themoremiserableheis.Thatswhyhedidntreallycareaboutthenew
coverpage.WecanalsoseethisalienationinJoanna,inhowshestubbornlyrefusestowear
morepiecesofflairandwassatisfiedwithdoingthebareminimum.Themoreeffortsheput
intoherwork,thelessofherselfshebecomesbecausesheisforcedintowork.
Thisleadstothesecondaspect,alienationfromtheprocessofworking,becauselabor
isnowforcedandexistsonlyasmeanstosatisfyotherneedsinsteadofsatisfyinganeedby
itself.Theworkerdoesnothaveasayintheproductionprocessandmakesnouseofhis

creativepower.Heisforcedtosimplyblindlyfollowapredefinedprocedure.Thusinhis
workhebelongsnottohimselfbuttoanotherperson,usuallyhisboss.Thisismostevident
withthenewcoversheetfortheTPSreports.Peterisforcedtofollowthenewcoversheet
andtheonetimethathedidnthegetsreprimandedbyallhisbossesbecausehehasnosayas
tohowthereportsaresupposedtobemade.Joannahasnosayastohowsheissupposedto
reflecttherestaurantsimageofselfexpressionithastobethroughwearingpiecesofflare.
ThisalienationfromworkismadeobviousbyhowthepeopleincludingMichaelandSamir
hatetheirjobs,andwhenPetertellstheBobsthatheavoidsdoingworkasmuchashecan.
Thefirsttwotieincloselytothethird,alienationfromhisspeciesbeing.Mans
productionissupposedtobereflectiveofhisnature,hisspeciesbeing,asproducer.Butin
capitalism,engaginginthosesortsofdrainingandalienatinglabor,thelaborerlosesthe
freedomtocreateoutofhisownwill.Hiscreativitybecomesreducedtosomethingnecessary
forsurvival.Thisisactuallytheconditionofeveryoneintheofficewhichiswhytheyre
afraidoflosingtheirjobs,becauseproductionhasbeenreducedtoameansforsurvival.We
canseethiswhereJoannaasksPeterhowhesgoingtosurviveifhereallyplansonnot
workinganymore.Additionally,Petersayingthatheddonothingifhehadamilliondollars
showshowalienatedheisfromworkandfromhisspeciesbeingthathedoesntevenwantto
workanymore,oratleastworkinthesenseofemployment.
Lastly,manisalienatedfromothermanbecausewhatheproducesisultimatelyfor
thebenefitofsomeoneelse,andnotintheselfaffirmingsense.Itcanonlybeanothermanto
forcethelaborertoworkwhichleadstoimmediatealienationbetweenthecapitalistandthe
exploitedworker.ThepatheticsingingofthestaffforBillonhisbirthdaymakesclearthe
lackofreal,personal,relationshipsbetweenthebossandhisstaff.Thethingistheyareso
alienatedfromeachotherthatBilldoesntseemtomindatall.HetriestobepolitetoPeter,

Milton,etc.butheobviouslydoesntcareaboutthem.Also,theworkersarealienatedfrom
oneanotherbecausetheworkplacedoesntallowforreal,personal,humaninteractionwith
allthewallsandcubiclesseparatingthemfromoneanother.EvenintheargumentthatPeter,
Michael,andSamirweregoodfriendsatwork,theywerestillseparatedintocubicles,and
havetogooutoftheofficeforwhatwouldlookmorelikerealhumaninteractionbetweenthe
three.Also,alienationfromothermanhappensbecausecompetitionemergeswithinthe
workersforwage.ThisisseenquitewellwhentominitiallytellsPeterandtheothersabout
theconsultantsandremarksthathedoesntwanttogotothestateunemploymentofficewith
thosescumbags.Heck,almostnobodyevergaveadamnaboutMilton.Thealienationis
alsoshownwhenPeterwonderswhyhecantjustgotoworkandbehappylikeeveryone
else,becausehecantrelatewiththeothers.
Marxarguesthatitisverydifficulttoescapecapitalismandalienationbecauseits
everywhere.IntryingtogetawayfromtheInitechbuilding,Peterandfriendsendupatthe
restaurant,whichitselfexploitsthelaborofJoannaandhercoworkers.EvenTomsaccident
wasseenasluckybecausehegotmoneyoutofit.Andgoingtothevirus,itwascreated
becausePeterandfriendsneedmoneytosurvive.
Marxalsotalksabouthowonlythemassescanliberatethemasses.Onahypothetical,
simplified,microlevelperspective/lookingatInitechinisolation,weseehowMarxposits
thatcapitalismsowstheseedsofitsowndestruction.Theconsultantswerehiredtomakethe
companymoreefficient/profitablebylayingoffwhomeverwasdeemeduseless.Thisis
whatcausedtheemployeestopanicaboutlosingtheirjobsespeciallyinthecaseofTom,and
withPetercomingupwiththeplanandMichaelandSamireventuallyagreeingtoit.They
couldverywellhavedonesomuchmoredamagewiththevirusthanjuststealingmoney,but
thatshowwegettoseetheirownformofrebellion.IntheenditspoorMiltonwhosfinally

hadenoughofbeingmistreatedandfollowsthroughonhisthreattoburnthebuilding,which
presumablytakesdownInitech.Itstherepeated,systematicexploitationofthelaborerwhich
incitesthelaborertorevolt.Revolutionmusthappenquickly,anditdidnottakemorethana
daytoplantthevirusorsetthebuildingonfire.Butrevolutionalsohastohappenglobally
andgoingbacktothebiggerpictureinthemovie,thisdoesnttakeplace.Sowhathappened
intheendwasthattheyweremerelymovedtonewjobsInitrodeforMichaelandSamirand
theconstructioncompanyforPeterbuttheywerentabletoescapefromalienatinglabor.
Thethingis,alienationisaconditionandnotjustafeeling.Thisiswherewerealize
thateventhoughBrianmightbehappyintherestaurantwithhis37piecesofflare,heisstill
alienatedbecauseheworksforabossandforawage.Intheend,eventhoughPeter,Michael,
andSamirseemedhappier,itdoesntchangethattheyarestillstrugglingagainstthecapitalist
systemandarealienatedintheirlabor.Infact,whenPeterasksthemhowtheirnewjobsare,
theyjustsay,Itsworkinawaywhichseemstoimplythatitsnotmuchdifferentfrom
Initech.Anditsstillaboutthemoney,withSamiraddingthatitwouldbeashameifthe
$300,000burnedup.EvenPeter,asifhavingcometotermsandacceptingthe
nearimpossibilityofescape,merelyconcedestoLawrencethatThisaintsobad.followed
upbymakingbucks.SoitcanbeseenasPeterhavingfoundajobwhichalienateshimata
levelthatheiscomfortablewith,butisalienatinglabornonetheless.

SOURCES
OfficeSpace
.Dir.MikeJudge.Perf.RonLivingston,JenniferAniston,DavidHerman.
TwentiethCenturyFox.1999.Film.

Marx,Karl.AlienatedLaborandTheRelationshipofPrivateProperty.
Readingsin
PhilosophyofManVol.II.
QuezonCity,Philippines:ClaretianPublications,5379.

Marx,Karl.
CommentsonJamesMill.
1844.