Sunday, February 2, 2014

Money Conceals

For me, reading Marx is sometimes like wandering a maze, but then I read a sentence or passage that raises my line of sight over the tops of the hedges to see the whole.  I begin to see the progression of abstractions that Marx outlines.

One such sentence is in the section on Commodity Fetishism, when Marx writes that the money form “conceals the social character of private labour and the social relations between the individual workers, making those relations appear as relations between material objects, instead of revealing them plainly” (169-70).  If we could see the labor and the material conditions in which the Dollar Store items ($1 in exchange value) are produced, then the exchange-value of these items may seem disproportionate to the labour expended by a worker in another country in comparison to our own.

It seems, then, that the discourse around, for example, the working conditions of those in China who make our iPhones, would be to reveal the reality behind the abstraction. That to me would be the point of some of the social justice discourse on the working conditions involved in the production of our commodities.

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