Since this is in the communist section, I presume that Nightshadows is speaking about the Marxist conception of alienation.
This is a cute little piece, but you'll note that it speaks in the past tense and puts qualifications upon everything that Marx doesn't—so that it implies that capitalism has solved the issue.
But it hasn't.
Let us start with, work is lame. That's why we get paid for it. But it's not actually something we'd volunteer to do, for the most part, it's something that we must do in order to live. We like to think that it's something of a choice, you could just die, but it's not really much of a choice. You must work. And in doing this, you're participating in something alien to you for an abstract reward.
Marx wrote:He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labor is shunned like the plague. External labor, labor in which man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification.
...As a result, therefore, man (the worker) only feels himself freely active in his animal functions – eating, drinking, procreating, or at most in his dwelling and in dressing-up, etc.; and in his human functions he no longer feels himself to be anything but an animal. What is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal.
Certainly eating, drinking, procreating, etc., are also genuinely human functions. But taken abstractly, separated from the sphere of all other human activity and turned into sole and ultimate ends, they are animal functions.
Perhaps more interestingly, what I've seen in my lifetime, in that if nothing else it reflects a bit of what Marx himself witnessed.
This is how in the 1960s they thought that the world in 1999 would look:
I was working, had been working, and continued to work in 1999. They were somewhat correct in how the computer was going to be able to calculate things, make work easier, etc. And the premise of the film was that these things would make life easier, which would allow more time for the worker, more leisure, and nicer things.
This did not happen. In fact, we work more and longer hours now that we have computers.
This is the same thing that occurred in the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly one man could produce a thousand times more than he could before—and yet people had to work longer hours.
How could a labour saving device lead to more
The answer, in the least abstract, is that capitalism will simply demand more of its workers in order to stay ahead of the competitor. It is not in the interests of the forces controlling the market to just start giving time off when needed. And if there's too much time, it's laying everyone off until they can find jobs servicing the increased productivity of their machines. Until this too is automated and the job becomes more scarce while paradoxically more and more stuff more efficiently. The result of this, ultimately, is that:
Marx wrote:The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and this at the same rate at which it produces commodities in general.
This is one way that the objects, the things that we create with our machines, become objects that control the workers who created them:
ibid wrote:This fact expresses merely that the object which labor produces – labor’s product – confronts it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer. The product of labor is labor which has been embodied in an object, which has become material: it is the objectification of labor. Labor’s realization is its objectification. Under these economic conditions this realization of labor appears as loss of realization for the workers; objectification as loss of the object and bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation.
This is, naturally, something of a simplification and there is more detail to it.
But ultimately, the fact is that you become alienated from your function, from your work, from the objects you buy, from each other, and from yourself as a result of how we interact with the world in a system like ours.
Alis Volat Propriis; Tiocfaidh ár lá; Proletarier Aller Länder, Vereinigt Euch!