[Marxism] Fwd: Black Friday, Through the Eyes of Smith and Marx - The Atlantic

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 27 10:40:24 MST 2014

For all the flare-ups over coveted toys and conflict over labor 
practices, Black Friday—which only became a nationwide phenomenon in the 
1980s—remains very exciting to shoppers. On this day, American 
hyper-consumerism is on full display. But in many ways, Black Friday is 
about what we don’t see. A look back at the early theorists of 
capitalism explains what’s behind the doorbusters and exuberant 
shopping, and why it’s important that we look.

The first sentence of Karl Marx’s Capital notes that wealth “presents 
itself as an immense accumulation of commodities.” Marx marveled at 
capitalism’s potency, its over-productiveness even—and how it creates a 
wellspring of new “needs” that we didn’t know we had. The commercial 
spectacle we walk through each day—a visual inundation of alluring 
objects, tempting prices, glossy advertisements, exclamatory price tags 
and deals—is presented in this way, but conceals a vast social and 
economic machinery of production and exchange underneath. This illusion 
is the commodity fetish.


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