A Marxist Approach to IAS

In Marx’s critique of political economy Das Kapital, commodity fetishism denotes the (quasi-religious) mystification of human relations that are said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by, and transformed into, objectified relationships between things. The things are commodities and money.

Commodity fetishism is not unique to capitalist societies, since commodity trade has occurred in one way or another for thousands of years; but in Marx’s opinion, commodity fetishism became pervasive especially in capitalist society, because this kind of society is based almost totally on the “production of commodities by means of commodities”.

That means that market relationships influence almost everything that people do, something which was not the case in pre-capitalist societies, where commerce was much more restricted. Marx was talking about object-centered sociality elevated to religious power.

In a hyper-capitalist society that is saturated with marketing distribution channels, commodity fetishism is also understood as reification, the “thing-ification” of relationship forming boundary objects.

Boundary objects are the objects at the periphery of two different clusters of non-intersecting peoples.

In other words, what we love connects us. Marx wanted that thing to be the collective, but in the most countries, that thing is the stuff (money/products/fame) we covet. Building a personal network under a single banner – a collective forming banner – based on the stuff we covet is a backdoor to Marx by way of Madison Avenue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *