[OPE-L:2834] Re: Re: relabeling commodities, value, and socialism

From: clyder (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 05:12:25 EDT

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> Reply to Allin's [OPE-L:2829]:
> > Marx
> > says that the "division of a product into a useful thing and a
> > value [characteristic of the commodity] becomes practically
> > important, only when exchange has acquired such an extension
> > that useful articles are produced for the purpose of being
> > exchanged, and their character as value has therefore to be
> > taken into account, beforehand, during production" (Capital, I,
> > ch. 1 sect. 4).
> Marx also says at the beginning of that section that: "A commodity appears
> at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis
> brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical
> subtleties and theological niceties". A comprehension of the "magical
> character of the commodity" as explained by the fetishism of the commodity
> is *certainly* a different understanding of the meaning of the term
> "commodity" than is generally used by economic historians -- who would
> indeed (mostly) view such a characterization as "idiosyncratic".

Yes but this is not at issue, we are not discussing fetishism but whether
commodity production, according to Marx, is co-extensive with capitalism.
The passage quoted implies that it is not, all that is required is that it
is produced for the purpose of exchange. Sugar was produced
on Jamaican slave plantations for sale as a commodity, as were
cattle sheep and horses on Sicilian latifundia. The debate is not
about fetishism but about slave production of commodities.

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