[OPE-L:4660] Tilting at Windmills

Hans Ehrba (ehrbar@marx.econ.utah.edu)
Mon, 7 Apr 1997 09:16:34 -0700 (PDT)

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Regarding Gil's question [OPE-L:4659] about Don Quixote, there is a
famous footnote in the Commodity Fetishism Section of Chapter One of
Capital where Marx writes among others:

One thing is clear: the Middle Ages could not live on Catholicism,
nor could the ancient world on politics. On the contrary, it is the
manner in which they gained their livelihood which explains why in
one case politics, in the other case Catholicism, played the main
role. Regarding the Roman Republic, for instance, one needs no more
than a slight acquaintance with its history to be aware that its
secret history is the history of landed property. On the other hand,
already Don Quixote had to pay for the mistake of believing that
knight erranty was equally compatible with all economic forms of

In Chapter Two, Marx writes:

What chiefly distinguishes a commodity from its owner is the fact
that the commodity considers every other commodity only as the form
of appearance of its own value. A born leveller and cynic, it is
always ready to exchange not only soul, but body, with each and every
other commodity, even one that is more repulsive than Maritornes

Maritornes is a character from the novel Don Quixote.