Sex and capitalism

Chris Burford cburford at
Wed Aug 30 01:14:57 MDT 1995

Lisa on veggies:

Jon [Beasley-Murray] really did a fine job on this thread.  We have
transformed a marxist analysis of vegetables and mineral water from
an off-hand contribution to that recurrent marxist-humor thread into
a deeper and insightful discussion of bourgy-pop-USA culture.

Chris B:

I do feel the unusual lettuce has gone a bit limp
from over fingering, and while I am sure that Scott's Kiwi fruit
are perfectly hardy for ordinary purposes, I am not sure they
are really hard enough. I think its time we moved on from the vegetable
hors d'oeuvres, to get down to explicit sex.

How about this piece on commodities, culture, and monopoly
capitalism. No doubt it has been much discussed in the States
but this report in yesterday's Guardian, clearly by a card
carrying communist, is IMO particularly revealing.

"Jeans ads dropped after protesters see blue"

"This is the first time Calvin Klein has decided to bring an
advertising campaign to an early end.

The images, shot in deliberately amateurish style, include
television commercials, bus posters, billboards, and magazine
adverts, with some more sexual than others.

In some versions, the teenage models are clad in denim short revealing
their underwear. In others young men are shirtless. In one magazine
advert one boy, legs splayed, wears a denim jacket, briefs and
sneakers and sports a tattoo.


The jeans campaign was scheduled to coincide with the return to school
for maximum impact. The jeans market has been stagnant in the US
for several years and Calvin Klein, like other companies, has been trying
to come up with new marketing ploys to boost sales.

Sales of Calvin Klein jeans come to about $100 million annually in the
"fashion jeans" market. The market leader, Levi, has more than $600
million in sales."


No doubt we all support the socialistic values of the Catholic League
and the American Family Association, which thwarted this unscrupulous
expoitation a vulnerable market.

But what really interested me was the justification by Calvin Klein
that the adverts were supposed to convey "the idea that glamour is an
inner quality that can be found in regular people in the most
ordinary setting".

Here we see the fetishism of the commodity explicity coinciding with
the fetishism of sex. It has its power because of its focussed location
in a much wider complex of great psychosocial significance. We see a major
capitalist company trying to shape this unscrupulously but having also
to try to court that psychosocial life, much wider really than
commodity production, to force the intensified development of the market
for these commodities.

By extension so much of modern commodity promotion is linked with sex
and social status. Why even your choice of lettuce leaf might say
a lot to visitors about you and your range of intercourse.

Worse still, the capitalists know this!

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list