Commodity fetishism... is really not concerned with 'use value' at all

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lem_
Commodity fetishism... is really not concerned with 'use value' at all
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Hello, I suggested that commodity fetishism changes both our use of, and the utility of, objects, and the above was the reply.

I kinda feel like they're completely off point, but I may be wrong, so thought to ask here.

 

edit by changing the "utility of" i didn't mean actual use value, but how that use value appears to us.

slothjabber
Expectations...

So what are you expecting here Lem? Talking to the same people on a different forum is not going to produce substantially different answers.

lem_
hahaha, ok - are you DL

hahaha, ok - are you DL ?

gosh, i was hoping to get someone else's opinion; i think you're wrong tbh. it seems pretty clear that

a) cf does make use value independent of exchange

b) so that circulation is independent of use

c) and i took the next step and assumed this was all it was.

lem_
OK rather that being coy i'll

OK rather that being coy i'll simply argue the case and not care if i'm right unfil i'm proven wrong.

"the exchange of commodities is evidently an act characterised by a total abstraction from use value"

so 1 above is born out by the first chapter in capital volume one. 2 does seem to follow from that, deducatively, and with few assumptions - none other than the circulation of capital is always achieved via exchange.

as to 3, i would be surprised if there were much more to it; the section "commodity fetishism" ends with a dicsussion of use value.

"Our use value may be a thing that interests men. It is no part of us as objects. What, however, does belong to us as objects, is our value. Our natural intercourse as commodities proves it. In the eyes of each other we are nothing but exchange values."

more importantly, if we are going to discuss this: what do you think "commodity fetishism" amounts to, specifically / analytically, which is not entailed by an exchange economy?

 

note: the idea that use value seems and actually does become exchange, is really well born out by that chapter.

lem_
SJ seems to be making the

SJ seems to be making the actual claim that use value determines exchange value, that they are the same thing.

 

I'm quite speechless.

lem_
"No; the exchange is

"No; the exchange is determined by the use-value"

 

ah i dunno TBH,

lem_
i just don't understand how

i just don't understand how anyone in their right mind can claim that

"the exchange is determined by the use-value"

it's not like i'm saying anything arbitrary or difficult, it;s marxism 101. hook me up to dis-illusioned lol

slothjabber
So this will still be hear in the morning...

The commodity is predicated on use-value. No use-value = no commodity. There is no commodity without the use-value.

If it just has a use-value, but no exchange-value (eg air, which you can use, but will find it hard to sell) it is not a commodity.

If it has embodied labour-power, but no use-value (like a deliberately-smashed window), it is not a commodity.

Clear?

Therefore, the exchange-value (ie, the fact that something is a commodity in the first place) is predicated on the fact that it also has a use-value.

So; without use-value there is no commodity form. As the commodity form reveals itself in exchange, the fact that something has an assumed use-value preceeds it having exchange-value. People don't make things to sell, knowing that they won't have a market for them.

Something being created and offered on the market is only possible because there is a potential market for the good/service.

Therefore, in short: 'the exchange is determined by the use-value'.

 

lem_
OK but then it seems like you

OK but then it seems like you weren't addressing my question at all, whether "commodity fetishism changes [determines] both our use of, and the utility of, objects"..

I've provided quite a lot of support for the idea that it does.

slothjabber
Not what you asked

Your latest formulation of the question is pretty different to the first formulation.

 

Let's see how this panned out:

 

"You: *use is defined by exchange value*

 

Me: No; the exchange is determined by the use-value

 

You: I thought that's what I said

 

Me: You're claiming that the use-value is determined by the exchange-value.

Quote: *use is defined by exchange value* - from 4 posts above this one.

That's the OPPOSITE of what you just claimed to have said...

 

You: yeah i'm too drunk to care what you are quoting me from"

 

Followed by an edit to a post in this thread saying "by changing the "utility of" i didn't mean actual use value, but how that use value appears to us."

 

So you've gone from "use is defined by exchange value" to "commodity fetishism changes both our use of objects, and how  use-value appears to us."

 

They appear quite different propositions to me. I think it's disingenuous of you to imply that a response I made to your first statement was made to the second. The second statement might mean that you think a bought version of something might be better than a home-made one. The first might imply that you were unable, or maybe just unwilling, to breathe unless you'd bought the air.

lem_
No I am never disingenious, I

No I am never disingenious, I don't know why I would be here to act like that.

So you've gone from "use is defined by exchange value" to "commodity fetishism changes both our use of objects, and how  use-value appears to us."

It's an argument, a sequence of (I believe) logical propositions.

If commodity fetishism changes X and Y, then it defines them; exhaustively or not -

see this:

"c) and i took the next step and assumed this was all it was."

So to say "They appear quite different propositions to me." suggests that you misunderstood what I've been saying all along (disingeniously, or not).

lem_
PS"The second statement

PS

"The second statement might mean that you think a bought version of something might be better than a home-made one. The first might imply that you were unable, or maybe just unwilling, to breathe unless you'd bought the air."

I am baffled that you make either deduction from either proposition.

I am sorry you misunderstood me - not offended; though somewhat annoyed you called me "disingenious" on those grounds.

EDIT and if you remember I asked two questions on that facebook thread: the first was whether exchange value can exist without use value. I don't know why you ever assumed that the second question (about being "defined" by it) was ther exact same as the first, even after me agreeing with your reply on the first and trying to explain the second.

I don't mind that I've been banned from your group, and don't have access to that conversation now. But anyway, maybe consider climbing off your high horse, regardless of if I over-reacted about misreading something you said there.

lem_
"If commodity fetishism

"If commodity fetishism changes X and Y, then it defines them; exhaustively or not -"

This does seem true to me.

I suppose you may disagree if you reify fetishism into some physical property, rather than realising that fetishism is a way of understanding something which mirrors the reality of it.

E.g. The English language is changed through exposure to other languages (e.g. Chinglish): here Chinese redefines English.

New cultures and technologies like the internet change how we speak and communicate: they define our linguistic practices.

 

Yes, I did say exhaustively: but it seems that is the case! In the eyes of other commodities, at least:

"Our use value may be a thing that interests men. It is no part of us as objects. What, however, does belong to us as objects, is our value. Our natural intercourse as commodities proves it. In the eyes of each other we are nothing but exchange values."

slothjabber
Don't know what you're talking about

lem_ wrote:

...

I don't mind that I've been banned from your group, and don't have access to that conversation now. But anyway, maybe consider climbing off your high horse, regardless of if I over-reacted about misreading something you said there.

 

Have you been banned from the group? Not by me.

My high horse? You were too drunk to continue discussion and I was very pleasant to you. You then came over here and posted a bunch of things to the effect that answer A I'd given you was to question Z when in fact it was to question A. That's what's disingenuous.

lem_
no it isn't "disingesnious" i

no it isn't "disingesnious" i didn't even know you used this site - i was trying to clarify a concept not at all make you look bad.

i've actually lost the thread of what question you answered now.

the same question twice?

or you disagree that exchange exhaustively determines use?

or you think that exchange has nothing to do with use except the latter is necessary for the former?

> Have you been banned from the group? Not by me.

> My high horse? You were too drunk to continue discussion and I was very pleasant to you. 

 

You sound like you're on a high horse tbh... use of term "disingenious" e.g.. And yes, thanks for being pleasent, if allowed I might return, but that dude who keeps saying I have to be banned I find overly aggressive with me.

lem_
so anyway - is commodity

so anyway - is commodity fetishism the thesis that use value is usurped by exchange value, both in use and appearance?

and if not, does fetishism include that ?

i'd really like to discuss / argue on this: obviously it's an essential doctrine and there's value to be had in clarifying it even to ourselves :-)

Fred
fetish

Surely the fetishism of commodities is about the way we are all reduced to worshipping things  as a substitute for loving life and the joy of living. We measure our happiness and success in the possession, quantity  and adoration of our fabulous things, our commodities.  These will include our wives, boyfriends and children; our houses and meticulously shampooed cars.  This fetish probably reaches its apogee, at least in the West, around Christmas time when our beloved commodities are transformed by tinsel and fancy wrappings, or decked out in twinkling lights.   Even our very lives are commoditised as we sell our talents and even bodies to the highest bidder and understand ourselves as for ever for sale. Going, going gone.  Happy are they who  go for a good price! Only then can you hold your head in pride and pat your carefully garnished hair contentedly. 

slothjabber
commodity fetishism is the result of alienation

We start with the commodification of labour, which results in the idea that the capitalist can take the products of labour in exchange for the (replacement) value of the labour-power expended, rather than the value of the goods produced; this is regarded as 'natural'. So workers are recieving back less in recompense than the value they have created. This is fundamental to Marx's understanding of the functioning of capitalism.

The result of this is that the products produced by the workers stand as objects not pertaining to the workers and their exercise of skill and effort, but as the products of exterior forces ('the market') with which the worker only has a tangential relationship (ie the economic process alienates from the worker his or her products).

When the products of labour (which exist as commodities) must be re-acquired by the workers, this alienation assumes the form of the commodities themselves dictating to the individual worker. It is necessary to get plenty of food, clothes, a cooker, a fridge, a house, a car... and then it's at least socially desireable to get a new car, a bigger fridge, more expensive clothes, a better house... (this I think is where your concern with 'exchange-value determines use-value' comes in).

If the working class did not have its production and consumption mediated by the capitalist class, then workers would be free to produce cars, fridges, food and clothes for need, not the market; they would not be paid for doing so but would be free to use the necessary products of other workers (because they are directly accessing 'their own' products there is no 'alienation' here).

As it is, with the production of commodities through the alienating process of wage labour, the products of that labour assume the form of something external to and not controlled by the worker. The workers must then sacrifice their time and effort to re-acquire the products that they have created. The products seem to acquire a life of their own, and 'their' demands (which are in fact the consequence of commodity production, in turn a consequence of bourgeois property) must be met through the workers' continuing subservience to the economic system.

lem_
ok thanks for the good reply

ok thanks for the good reply SJ:

> The workers must then sacrifice their time and effort to re-acquire the products that they have created.

so you thnk that 

"Commodity fetishism... is really not concerned with 'use value' at all"

who agrees?

lem_
does commodity deftishm exist

does commodity fetishism exist in any (including the simple) exchange economy?
 

because your (very well explained) definition does imply that, i think.

i still don't believe that "commodity fetishism... has nothing to do with use value" and i have already on FB provided many quotes that suggest that the existence of use value is completely pivotal to both das kapital and the idea of "commodity fetishism". i could repost them, and will probably do so if you continue to argue otherwise

lem_
your ejection from this

your ejection from this conversation is a little annoying.

i will have to just say you disagree with me and leave it there.

it seems quite clear to me that the existence and differentiation of use value is pivotal to marx. 'exchange' value predates him e.g. he quotes:

“Value” – (i.e., exchange value) “is a property of things, riches” – (i.e., use value) “of man. Value, in this sense, necessarily implies exchanges, riches do not.”

Fred
On being a commodity

Commodity fetishism is concerned neither with "use-value" nor "exchange-value" but just with "value" pure and simple.  In this understanding "value" equals self-value. The proud owner of the commodity gets to see themselves   as somehow objectified, expressed and valued as a discerning personage  in the carefully selected commodity which they purchased only after what they interpret  as serious thought.  Someone who doesn't  like the commodity, or fails to respond to it satisfactorily will be considered  to lack taste and to be adversarial to the purchaser in addition.   Rejection of the chosen commodity equals rejection of the personage that selected and purchased it, and becomes a personal affront.

As commodities themselves and in their own right,  personages are carefully manufactured and honed to as near as what is perceived as perfection by the involved personage, as money and the  understanding of what is currently fashionable and regarded as good taste permits. Personages,  including celebs and those who have an established image to preserve and maintain for public consumption, will spare no money or effort in the maintenance of themselves as a commodity carefully designed and  structured and well-rehearsed in public presentation.  Indeed, the presentation of the manufactured appearance may become the be-all and end-all of a successfully commoditised  personage's existence and career. 

Just as you evaluate the worth of the jewelry, hair style  and clothes they wear, so you evaluate their good taste and success in presenting their "image" and their prowess as something that comes up to the taken-for-granted standards of the commoditised capitalist world. Thus these personages become not only successful and desirable commodities to be imitated, but may even bought for a good price on the market.  

PS.  Reading what I have written I realize that I have supported lem's view that  value is really exchange value. 

PPS.  Or, to put it better,  that fetishism relates more to "exchange' value than it does to "use". 

slothjabber
is it swings and roundabouts?

lem_ wrote:

does commodity fetishism exist in any (including the simple) exchange economy?...

 

I don't think so. Commodity fetishism is I think a consequence of the creators of value not being the owners of value.

 

In a simple exchange economy I make beer and you make axes. I give you lots of beer and you give me an axe. I also keep some beer for myself and you have your own axe.

 

In a capitalist economy, I make beer and you make axes. I hand over my beer to my boss who puts it on the market. You hand over your axes to your boss who puts them on the market. I need to buy an axe and some beer, you need to buy an axe and some beer. We have to work for the wages to get these things. The things we have created then stand as things in their own right, seperate from us. We need to sacrifice ourselves (our work, our effort and time) to attain them. That's why they are 'fetishes' (false gods). This seems to be a product of the things themselves, but is in fact as Marx is at pains to point out a symptom of property relations - ie, a result of us handing over 'our' products to the owners of capital.

 

lem_ wrote:

...

i still don't believe that "commodity fetishism... has nothing to do with use value" and i have already on FB provided many quotes that suggest that the existence of use value is completely pivotal to both das kapital and the idea of "commodity fetishism"...

 

But what you're arguing is irrelevant. As commodities contain use-value, and commodity fetishism is a consequence of commodity production through wage-labour, then they are connected, but use-value is not in itself related to commodity fetishism. Humans have 14 trillion neutrinos passing through them every second, and humans wear hats, but you don't have to consider the neutrinos when you put a hat on.

 

lem_ wrote:

your ejection from this conversation is a little annoying.

i will have to just say you disagree with me and leave it there...

 

Well, I'm sorry that the fact that I have to sometimes work for a living, and have a family and friends I need to maintain social bonds with, get in the way of the primary puropse of my existence which is being your philosophy-monkey. I shall make more effort to be instantly on hand to repeatedly say the same things to you while you fail to understand them because you're drunk.

 

lem_ wrote:

...

it seems quite clear to me that the existence and differentiation of use value is pivotal to marx. 'exchange' value predates him e.g. he quotes:

“Value” – (i.e., exchange value) “is a property of things, riches” – (i.e., use value) “of man. Value, in this sense, necessarily implies exchanges, riches do not.”

 

This has nothing to do with your contention that 'exchange-value determines use-value', which can only mean 'no-one is capable of using something unless they've bought it'. Which I have disproved hundreds of times during the time it took me to type this reply, as I was breathing (and therefore using air I hadn't paid for).

 

Fred wrote:
...

PS.  Reading what I have written I realize that I have supported lem's view that  value is really exchange value...

 

Funny, I don't think that's lem's view at all. I think lem's view is that we can't use things we haven't paid for. Of course 'value' on its own means means 'exchange-value'.

 

Fred wrote:
...

PPS.  Or, to put it better,  that fetishism relates more to "exchange' value than it does to "use". 

 

Which is what I have been arguing all along, against lem, who insists that commodity fetishism is about use.

lem_
> I think lem's view is that

> I think lem's view is that we can't use things we haven't paid for.

why not ask me to clarify what i mean rather than assign absurd beliefs to me? 

really wish you would take a fairer tone with me. yes we both think we're right, but that doesn't mean either of us should make sarcastic comments - should we ?

> "commodity fetishism changes both our use of objects, and how  use-value appears to us... i took the next step and assumed this was all it was

not that that's all there is to use value (we have been over this - e.g. the use of air!!), but all there is to fetishism.

> If commodity fetishism changes X and Y, then it defines them; exhaustively or not

i don't know if i ever said it was exhaustive, i should have if i did (not that the mistake would matter one jot)... i could quite clearly claim that it defines the use value of commodoties to some extent, or even exhaustively in reproduction. either would be legitimate expressions.

>> does commodity fetishism exist in any (including the simple) exchange economy?...

> i don't think so

i think you skipped what i mean to ask here: i am not asking if all workers are alienated from what they make in simple exchange, as that's not the case in capitalism either [which also has self emploted people].

i may reply again later, i'm off out quickly... anyway

"you don't have to consider the neutrinos when you put a hat on."
 

i seem to have confused you by asking two questions at once on your fb group, for which i apologise.

lem_
i discussed this with a

i discussed this with a friend and textural evidence aside, i think that saying that we use commodities based on their exchange value is a little abstract and silly.

sorry for being so argumentative and combatative :-)

A.Simpleton
I'm a commodity get me out of here

Yes . One has to be aware, in the quote you pick, that what's in brackets '(i.e. exchange value) etc' are Marx's interpolations. S.Bailey the author is only stating

'Value is an attribute of things....  Value in this sense necessarily implies exchange'

And are we any the wiser for it?

Marx  took the political economists severely to task for having accepted the reified, alienated forms of bourgeois economy at face value, for having failed to inquire into the historical and social basis of these forms.

Many had written about 'value' 'exchange' - and he gives credit where credit is due throughout Capital -  but always without seeming  even to imagine that the question   'How so?' needed to be asked.

'Value does not stalk about with a label describing what it is. It is value, rather, that converts every product into a social hieroglyphic.' ( i.e. gives it a 'sacred mark' in society.)

When we bring the products of our labour into relation with each other as values, it is not because we see in these articles the material receptacles of  human labour.

Quite the contrary: whenever, by an exchange, we equate as values our different products, by that very act, we also equate, as human labour, the different kinds of labour expended upon them.

We are not aware of this, nevertheless we do it.

That's interesting with regard to your comment earlier about do we see and use things differently. Yes we are born into it before any considerations pass through our consciousness.

The supremacy of the commodity is hidden: what 'value' means (and doesn't! in real human terms) is hidden. It is a mystification BUT Marx rightly insisted that even if one is theoretically  aware of it it can't be demystified by the power of thought. Knowing the gasses that make up air does not change the air.

(ahem) well you did ask :@}

AS

lem_
maybe as a group or class

maybe as a group or class individuals only use things for exchange.

have you ever seriously shared in (the use of) anything ?

 

thanks for the reply btw A.S

A.Simpleton
Marx versus Wagner

Not the Valkyrie Wagner but Adolf Wagner,  1879  'A Textbook of Political Economy' 

RE: 'Value': 'Use-Value' 'Exchange-Value':

He criticises Marx, implicitly if not explicitly. Unfortunately Adolf misrepresents, misquotes, has not read or misunderstands what Marx wrote in Capital 1 (1867) and in other works,

Marx was doubly clear in stating what he meant - as perhaps we all are - when refuting misrepresentations, misquotes and pure inventions which Adolf Wagner was prolific at cobbling together 

Here's Wagner: {Marx's interpolations in brackets}

"“The much disputed concept of value, still obscured by many investigations frequently of merely apparent depth, resolves itself”  {indeed? rather “involves” itself} “ if, as has been done hitherto” {namely by Wagner}, “we take the needs and the economic nature of man as our starting-point and on arriving at the concept of goods—tie it up with the concept of value” 

Marx's response: (referring to earlier passages)

"Here we have the concept juggling, whose supposed development according to the 'vir obscurus' boils down to “tying up,” and indeed “trying it on.”

           After taking what is  termed “use-value” and dubbing it “value in general” and then the “concept of value pure and simple,"  Wagner assuredly concludes that the “value" “derived” (!) “in this way” (well, well!) is “use-value.”

            After dubbing “use-value” the “concept of value in general," or “value pure and simple,” he discovers, on second thought, that he has simply been drivelling on about “use-value,” and  has  thus “derived” it. Drivelling and deriving now being for him “essentially” identical mental operations. "

***

Marx then summarises:

"I do not proceed from “concepts,” hence neither from the “concept of value,” and am therefore in no way concerned to “divide” it.

What I proceed from is the simplest social form in which the product of labour presents itself in contemporary society, and this is the “commodity.”This I analyse, initially in the form in which it appears. 

Here I find that on the one hand in its natural form it is a thing for use, (alias a use-value); on the other hand, a bearer of exchange-value.

But further analysis of the latter shows me that exchange-value is merely a “form of appearance,” an independent way of presenting the value contained in the commodity, and then I start on the analysis of the latter.

A commodity is an object of utility, and a ‘value’.

It manifests itself as this twofold thing which it is, as soon as its value assumes an independent form of appearance distinct from its natural form—the form of exchange-value,” etc.

Thus I do not divide value into use-value and exchange-value as opposites into which the abstraction “value” splits up, but the concrete social form of the product of labour, the “commodity,” is on the one hand, use-value and on the other, “value,” not exchange value, since the mere form of appearance is not its own content."

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1881/01/wagner.htm

***

With bourgeois economic categories one is always fighting the way they have been back-projected as with other concepts on to 'history' ahaha itself only properly conceived and depicted by Marx.

If something any human group has discovered or made comes in handy then it comes in handy: it's useful: it doesn't "have use-value" per se until 'his majesty the commodity'was enthroned. 

Marx again:

Human beings only give a special (generic) name to these things because they already know that they serve to satisfy their needs...... ......they call them “goods” or something else which expresses the fact that they use these things in practice, that these things are useful to them.

They give the thing this character of utility as if it possessed it, although it would hardly occur to a sheep that one of its “useful” qualities is that it can be eaten by human beings.

AS

 

A.Simpleton
So....in a way lem_

"Commodity Fetishism is not concerned with use-value at all" ...Ha! as a 'category' that is. 

But it is in the sense that all  'value' is the mystification : in Capitalist relations the alienation of humans from the product of their work, from working itself, from other humans etc.. 

The 'useful thing' is the alien commodity: because it is useful however, it appears as non-alienated, a normal thing and so the alienated work that went into producing it can seem normal.

BTW : I have 'seriously' shared my car ...well quite light-heartedly actually :@}- my car eventually giving it away. The 'giving it away form' now that was serious hefty bureaucracy.

 

AS