Marx Final Draft corrections

Marx Final Draft corrections - November 7 2007 Matt...

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November 7 , 2007 Matt Brickell [email protected] .edu Dr . Charles Lipson Marx’s Interpretation of Commodities Karl Marx was a progressive thinker , attempting to change the world . In his essays and manuscripts , Marx puts forth his ideas on economics and politics, and challenges the dominant beliefs of his society . Marx contests Adam Smith’s assertions about the merits of a market economy and proposes an alternative economic and political structure. Marx’s system is that of communism , with one goal: “abolition of private property”(Marx , 1978, p .484). One of Marx’s principal focuses in his writing is commodities : what they are, how they should be valued, and how they should be distributed in society . Although Marx shares some common ground with other thinkers on economics and politics , he presents his ideas about commodities as a partial justification for his communist proposition . Marx agrees with Adam Smith and others that commodities exist to fulfill human needs and have certain core economic attributes . He begins his discussion of commodities by saying “a commodity is…a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another”(p .303). In accord with Adam Smith, he acknowledges that their value may be determined in the process of exchange, “at first sight a commodity presented itself to us as a complex of two things—use-value and exchange-value”(p . 308) . Marx acknowledges that without the market a commodity cannot exist. He explains that , “to become a commodity a product must be transferred to another, whom it will serve as a use-value , by means of an exchange”(p .308). His acceptance that commodities are largely valued by the markets they exist in seems counterintuitive since the market system is the basis for capitalism , the idea Marx argues against . This simple definition of a commodity though, is not inconsistent with the ideas of his predecessors , giving Marx’s arguments a more solid foundation. In order to sway the reader to his other beliefs on the need to change the structure of society , Marx adds abstraction to the idea of the value of a physical commodity . Instead of limiting himself to a definition like Smith’s , that a commodity is any object that could be transferred from one man to another through a market , Marx expands the definition by connecting commodities to the soul of the laborer who produced them , giving commodities a greater significance . Marx’s new classification of commodities takes into account more than just their monetary value . There is a connection to society through commodities as well . To Marx , “a commodity is therefore a mysterious thing simply because in it the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an objective
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course HUMA 11600 taught by Professor Vessey during the Spring '08 term at UChicago.

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Marx Final Draft corrections - November 7 2007 Matt...

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