Marx's commodity fetishism

Inquiry 18 (1):39 – 63 (1975)
Abstract
Marx's work in the first chapters of Capital is sometimes taken to be ?metaphysical?, since his remarks do not lend themselves to ?scientific? testing against quantitative data. I argue that Marx aimed to re?present the economic theory of his day in order to reveal the characteristic presuppositions of capitalist society, and ? in the first instance ? to rid the theory of logical confusions. Though his distinctions are ingenious and his arguments consistent, the enterprise fails in certain respects, because he relies on Ricardian propositions about value and labour, and because his use of certain methods and distinctions of nineteenth?century logic is no longer convincing. Hence he reaches conclusions about the meaning of value, and the nature of commodities and labour, that are wrong in principle. These conclusions were the logical basis for his most sweeping predictions about capitalist society
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