Hi, need to submit a 1250 words essay on the topic The influence of Marxist theory in ‘The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America’ by Michael Taussig.
aussig sets out the premise of his work as an attempt to interpret what are “to us in the industrialized world the exotic ideas of some rural people in Colombia and Bolivia concerning the meaning of the capitalist relations of production and exchange into which they are daily being drawn.” (Taussig,1983, p 3). Therefore, he sets up the critical vantage point that people in peripheral civilizations have on capitalism and suggests that they may offer valuable insight into western culture. On this basis therefore, it may be noted that Taussig appears to place the primitive people of these peripheral tribes of Bolivia and Colombia in a superior position to observe the western cultures, which in reality are the more primitive because they are based upon the system of capitalism.
Marx introduces the concept of commodity fetishism in the introductory chapters of his work “Das Kapital” as a state of social relations which arise in complex capitalist market systems, where such relations are centered upon the value placed by people on commodities. The significance of Marx’s use of the term fetishism in the context of commodities lies in the fact that in Marx’s day, the word was primarily used in the context of primitive religions, therefore Marx’s relegation of commodities to fetishism signifies the primitive nature of the belief system which lies at the heart of modern society. Therefore, it is akin to an illusory role that Marx ascribes to private property which is often at the centre of capitalist systems.
Applying this, Marx argues that the work of social relations among people appears to be conditioned not by their interactions, but largely by commodities in the marketplace, since it is the market that appears to decide who should do what for whom. As a result, human relations conditioned by the market become so commercial that people become unaware of their social relations and become alienated from their own social activity, because they are so lost in
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