Psychologist Erich Fromm sums up the human condition under capitalism.
“In capitalism economic activity, success, material gains, become ends in themselves. It becomes man’s fate to contribute to the growth of the economic system, to amass capital, not for purposes of his own happiness or salvation, but as an end in itself. Man became a cog in the vast economic machine – an important one if he had much capital, an insignificant one if he had none – but always a cog to serve a purpose outside of himself.”
— Fromm, Erich. 1941. Escape from Freedom. New York : Rinehart (p. 95)
Does this rendition of alienation fits the facts? I believe it does.
The very name "capitalism" says it all. Other economic factors serve capital. Why? Because it is assumed that growth lifts all boats.
The fist assumption is unlimited notional desire for economic goods and scarcity of resources to provide those goods. Therefore, resources must be allocated optimally. Capital produces growth, so the primary economic goals are the formation and preservation of capital.
Capital formation is the sine qua non for growth and growth is the antidote to economic scarcity. Therefore humanity must serve capital, which in the final analysis implies that labor must serve capital, that is, workers must serve owners. Even owners are on the treadmill since natural capital depreciates and financial capital is always at risk.
Humans become means that serve capital formation, preservation, and deployment as an end.
Economic Sociology and Political EconomyErich Fromm: Man is a cog in the vast economic machine
Oleg Komlik | founder and editor-in-chief of the ES/PE, Chairman of the Junior Sociologists Network at the International Sociological Association, a PhD Candidate in Economic Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University, and a Lecturer in the School of Behavioral Sciences at the College of Management Academic Studies