File Under: Commodity Fetishism

This guy sells tons of these “exclusive elite gadgets,” basically just gold plated garbage like iPads and Macbooks, for exorbitant amounts of money to the ultra-rich. Like this:

On the one hand this appears extreme, and of course it is. But this kind of bizarre behavior, which seems to give worship to something simple and straightforward such as gold, for example, is the logical outcome of capitalism. This is the central argument in Marx’s concept of “commodity fetishism,” in which Marx argues that in a capitalist market, relations between people become expressed as, mediated by and transformed into social relations between things (like commodities and money).

All commodities are the product of human social labor. Yet, in a capitalist society the exchange of these products of human labor appear to take on a life of their own, and go on to determine the lives of human beings. Consider the present economic crisis as an example. So, while inanimate objects have social relations, in the form of exchange, living human beings have material relations, as subjects of that exchange, as mere producers in the abstract, etc.

Marx compares this to religious mythology, “in that world the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race.” In other words, products of human imagination take on lives of their own, but then interact with the human world and even altering it. So it is in the world of commodities. The quality of giving inanimate objects religious or supernatural qualities is what Marx meant by the word “fetish.”

And so, we wind up with things like this:

P.S. For a billionaire this guy has awful taste in furniture, right? Look at those hairy hot pink pillows!

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One Response to File Under: Commodity Fetishism

  1. I guess I’ll be returning your Christmas present.

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