CAPITALISM AND COMMODITY
PRESENTED BY :
What is Marxism ?
•Marxism is a philosophy of history. It is also an economic doctrine.
•Marxism also a theory of revolution and the basic explanation for
how societies go through the process of change.
•Marxists believe that they have an empirical, scientific approach
to human history and society
• “Just as Darwin discovered the law of
development of organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of
development of human history.” (Engels, 1884)
• This is the idea that development is contingent on the emergence
and maintenance of social classes. Ideologies and political
structures. Materialism dictates our consciousness.
• “That legal relations as well as forms of states are to be grasped
neither from themselves nor from the so called general
development of the human mind, but rather are rooted in the
material conditions of life.”
(Marx : A Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy).
• Also, can be conceptualized as economic determinism.
• Differentiating from Feuerbach's idea of Philosophical
materialism, Marx argues materialism does not refer to the
assumption of any logically argued ontological position.
• Human consciousness is conditioned in dialectical interplay
between subject ( man in society) object (the material world), in
which man actively shapes the world he lives in at the same time as
it shapes him, that is even our perception of the material world is
conditioned by society.
• The creative interchange between and their natural environment,
the foundation of human society
Relations of productions & Class
Modes of Production has two elements
1. Forces of Production : Knowledge, Technology, Skills,
2. Relations of Production : Bourgeoisie, Proletariat, Owner,
Non owner etc.
To understand Relations of Productions , we need to
understand Means of Productions.
Owners : Those who owns the Means of Productions.
Non-Owners : Those who don’t own any Means of
Forces of Production + [raw materials, warehouse,
= Means of Productions
Capitalist Mode of Production:
Ways of thinking==Capitalist Ideologies.
Capitalism allows individual freedom,
democracy, social mobility etc.
This liberalism serve to conceal
the exploitation which is at the core of society.
Class structure in a capitalist society wrt Relations of
setting of scarcity
Ideology and consciousness
According to Marx, consciousness is rooted in human praxis (practice) which is
in turn social. This is the sense of the statement that ‘It is not the consciousness of
men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that
determines their consciousness.
Ideas that naturally emerge out of everyday life with capitalism and reflect
reality in an inverted manner.
Marx believed there was a system of ruling ideas that are in place to hide the
contradictions in society.
Marx did not believe people are free under capitalism because they do not have
control over their own labor and products of their labor.
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY: Communism- the establishment of a classless,
stateless social organization, based upon common ownership of the means of
production in which the state “withers away”.
“Consciousness is from the very beginning a social product.” -Marx
•Capitalism as stated by Marx is a system of commodity production.
•Every commodity, as Marx states has two- fold aspects: use value
and exchange value.
•Use-value, which is realized only in the process of consumption,
exchange value refers to value a product has when offered in
exchange for other products.
•Also according to Marx, that exchange-value cannot be derived
from use-value .
• The two aspects of commodities are simply an expression of dual
character of labor itself.
These commodities have use values
You can eat an apple
Or write with a
•But they also exchange: say,
4 apples = one pen
•Almost everything has a number (price tag) attached to it. We
work in return for numbers on coloured bits of paper, rather
than because we want the products of the work for ourselves or
our community, or because we are forced to.
•So what is equal here?
It's not something natural
It must be something social
Apples and pens are equal things in society in both being
“congealed” social labour time.
Commodities are values.
Congelation of Labour time.
Value is expressed in exchange value or price.
•One particular commodity is separated off from others and
becomes money. Later, commodity-money is replaced by pure
•Most of us exchange one particular commodity, labour-power,
for money, and then for food, etc.
•Labour-power is not the same as labour. You own labour-
power when you are not working. When you sell your labour-
power, your boss owns it and "consumes" it by making you
•Marx offers a theory of profit because he does not take it for
granted that things have prices, and then explain one price
(selling-price) from another(cost-price).
•Markets long predate capitalism
but primarily for use values
C M C
•Under capitalism markets predominate
Overwhelming for exchange value
M C M’
Value of Output = Value of Material Goods + Labour Time
"Material inputs" includes wear and tear of machines etc.
So profits, because value added (labour-time) is more than value
paid out for labour-power.
What is the value of labour-power? It is not a commodity
produced in factories. You produce it yourself, in your free time,
which does not count as social labour-time. But to produce it, you
need inputs which do embody social labour-time: food, etc.
Inherent contradictions in capitalist societies
•This results is Alienation, where the man is alienated from
object he produces, from the process the process of production,
from himself, and from the community of his fellows, caused by
the antagonistic relation of the two dominant classes.
• Alienation may be described as a condition in which men are
dominated by forces of their own creation, which confronts them
•Economic alienation under capitalism is involved in men’s daily
activities and not only in their minds, as other forms of alienation
Marx’s envision and social reality
Marxists envisioned The Theory of Class as a Grand Theory.
They saw the rise of Socialism over Capitalism.
Pure Socialist societies as envisioned never occurred.
As history tells polarization never really happened to a great
extent as Marx believed.
Concentration of industries within few hands never really
happened. Small scale industries also emerged, emergence of stock
Industries as unfolded – there has been proliferation of new
occupations. Rise of service sector, outsourcing in developing
Due to embourgeoisement, working class tried to get into the
middle class rather than trying to bring radical change.
Co-operation rather than conflict between employer and
employee emerged. Co-operation is brought by working class itself.
Negotiation played a bigger role in bringing co-operation
between two classes. Resolution of conflict is institutionalized
through collective negotiation.
Evolution of managerial class-
with the emergence of a managerial class to control and manage
the working class people, a separation between the Property
class(Owners) and Non-property class(Workers) occurred.
The cohesiveness in working class actually very less than Marx
thought They are rather much differentiated (heterogeneity among
workers). Hierarchy based on skills etc. exists within class.
In Marxism there is no accounting for an industrialist like Henry
Ford, who granted his workers the unheard of wage of $5.00 per day,
because, as Mr. Ford argued, “If I don’t pay them enough to buy
my cars, who is going to buy them?” (Mazlish, p. 117)
Working class of the whole world never really united.