[Marxism] reification

DLVinvest at cs.com DLVinvest at cs.com
Thu Jun 3 02:17:11 MDT 2004

In a message dated 6/2/04 7:13:45 PM Mountain Daylight Time, 
s.hopkinson at cqu.edu.au writes: 
> Markets are not a fiction or merely ideological and totems do have "real 
> concrete power" (in Nick's words) precisely because they are an embodiement of 
> real social 
> relations (albeit alienated ones). 

Not to parse or quibble but I interpret Marx a little differently, and I'd 
like to hear from Jurriaan B. and Melvin P. on this:

Reification is the conceptual process or linguistic device which converts a 
process npt only into a thing but also a metaphor.

The word "market" originally described a place at which things were 
exchanged. In the capitalist mode of production, "market" is no longer a place but a 
metaphor for a process in which commodities are exchanged in many places and 
over time by and through many people and institutions that are not the direct 
producers, but are related to them and the process of production in and through 
those commodities. (I know the beer, not the brewer, etc.). The relationship of 
this exchange is abstracted from the process which created it as labor is 
alienated from the means and process of production -- labor-power of the living, 
creative indivudal human worker is quantified in piecework manufacture, 
jobbing out and share-cropping as wage-for-unit of production and through 
accumulation/re-investment of capital, changes in the composition of capital lead to 
division of labor and exchange of wage-for-time on the production line; so the 
human worker is abstracted as labor-power, reduced to a quantifiable, measurable 
unit of time, and rendered as a "thing" or concept (i.e., "reified") by vrtue 
of his/her lack of ownership and control over the means of production; 
"commodity fetishism:" is not merely or exclusively the anthropomorphic investment 
of things with human or supernatural powers, but the masking of the relations 
of capitalist production (the expropriation of surplus value from wage-labor 
defined and measured as units of time and its embodiment in a commodity as 
capital that can only be realized in exchange). "Market" is therefore a reification 
of the relations of exchange in which the relations of production have been 
reified into "commodity fetishism." 
Douglas L. Vaughan, Jr.
for Print, Film & Electronic Media
3140 W. 32nd Ave. 
Denver CO 80211

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