Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Prussian journalist, philosopher and political thinker
Sought to offer an alternative to Adam Smith’s and others’ views
Based on a critique of capitalist
At one time, 1960s, 1/3 of the worlds nations claimed to be guided by his ideas.
DOL, private property, personal interest will lead to the greatest good for all.
Where does the value/wealth come from?
From the amt of labor put into making, producing things.
This is the labor theory of value- no longer used (price theory)
Smith says that human labor creates things.
Marx- human labor is the essence of being human
Lee, in our reading, gives us an overview of Marx’s thought in order to situate his
discussion of commodities
According to Marx, human beings create things
We make things that had not existed before, therefore, we create our world.
We create our means of subsistence
We even create other human beings through re-production
Homo faber- man: the maker, the creator, the laborer.
The idea of culture is very important.
Thru material production, we develop a form of expressing our lives; we develop a way
Culture is the meaningful expression of human life and social relations.
Labor/production are never isolated acts- always social- always requiring the cooperation
DOL in the home, in the factory, at work.
no lone person in the forest, who comes together with others to form a society; society is
there from the beginning.
Against the “social contract” view of the origins of society- Hobbes, Rousseau
the process of turning nature into culture is called the objectification of social consciousness.
Production of human labor is something sacred for Marx
It is the basis; the essence of being human (our “species-being”
capitalist economic relations have turned this central human activity into a
An exchangeable value, thereby stripping it of its original, special character.
What is a commodity?
For Marx, a commodity has two essential characteristics, it congeals two forms of value;
original value- it is what we do with things
limited by the physical properties of the thing itself
related to its production, how it was made.
exchange value, or simply, value.
the worth of something in relation to something else.
equalization of all values in abstract value because they become
relation to each other
1 lb of coffee= x umbrellas= y gallons of gas= z US dollars
the exchange value is not tied to the intrinsic value of the thing
which means things lose their specific character, i.e., uses- and become merely
what else is lost, according to Marx, besides the “character” of the thing in exchange?