[OPE-L:5607] Re: Marx & advertising

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 14 Oct 1997 14:14:32 -0400 (EDT)

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Tony wrote:

> In answer to Jerry's questions, I don't know of any places where Marx
> discussed advertising. But the topic seems to have a natural place in the
> architectonic in the Volume II discussion of circulation time, circulation
> costs, and turnover time. Anything that allows capital to pass through the
> C'-M' stage of the capital circuit at a faster rate aids the accumulation
> process, and advertising is designed to do just that.

I agree that Volume 2 seems to be a "natural" place to *begin* a
discussion of this topic. But, we have to go beyond V2 as well. Why? To
begin with, what assumptions are made in V2 regarding the relation of
value to market price? Can these assumptions still be maintained when we
consider the way in which corporations with heavy expenditures on
advertising and existing within branches of production where there is a
significant degree of monopoly power can mark-up prices so that consumers
bear the cost of advertising? Then, there is the very interesting
question of how firm advertising can shape and re-shape consumer needs
and wants. Thus advertising not only can decrease circulation time: it
can also be a means through which the character (quality) of commodities
demanded is changed. Then, there are questions relating to how
advertising affects the division of income among classes. For instance,
if -- in the presence of monopoly power, e.g. oligopolistic markets -- a
significant # of firms are able to double the price (and demand) of means
of consumption destined to be consumed by workers through advertising,
how does this affect the customary standard of the value of labour-power?
Is there any reason to think that the wage will adjust upwards as a
consequence or will it translate into a reduction in the standard of
living of workers?

In solidarity, Jerry