This post was originally published in October 2010, and was a tongue in cheek response to footballer Wayne Rooney’s attempts to negotiate a new contract with Manchester United.
News of Wayne Rooney’s new deal with Manchester United – a reported £160-200000 per week – caused a mixture of amusement at the very public negotiations, followed by tabloid anger that someone should be earning so much at a time of great economic uncertainty.
While I doubt Wayne has read much Karl Marx, it struck me that he is behaving exactly as Marx suggested a member of the “proletariat” would do:
• He is attempting to sell his labour for the highest price possible, knowing that whatever he gets for it his employer will still get more (if he scores the winning goal in the Champions League, will all the profit Man Utd make go back to him?) – the concept of “surplus value”
• He is “alienated” from his team mates (not just because he criticised them!) as his football skills have just been reduced to a commodity to be traded on the market. His apparent gain will be at the expense of other players who cannot sell their skill at such a high value.
• He recognises that no-one is interested in him as a person, but for his ability to do a job to a particularly high standard and for his subsequent value as an image – what Marx termed “commodity fetishism”.
So there you have it – Wayne is an exploited, alienated member of the proletariat, just like the rest of us (and Karl Marx is quite a useful left-winger by all accounts).