Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Commodity Fetishism

Refers to the illusion that the value of a commodity is inherent within it, i.e. that it is something to do with the commodity itself, the qualities it possesses that provides it with Value. This is manifest in a belief that exchange is an exchange of things rather than values, and consequently that exchange is merely a relation between things, rather than between human beings. This is also an element contributing to alienation, because in their dealings with one another, human beings lose sight of these human relations, and see only this exchange of things.

Marx strips away this illusion to show that commodities only have Value, because they are the products of human labour. What is actually being exchanged is not commodities, but quantities of human labour, just as if A had worked for 1 hour for B, in return for B likewise providing 1 hour for A. It is only the market, and the intervention of money in this process that hides the real relations.

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