Marx in Jargon


“The fetish-character of commodities described by Marx is truly an intellectual dead end. It does cramp the reader into a gesture of abstract repentance that cannot be other than sanctimonious. This compression is its satire, the literary thinking that declares that its standard of truth is irreconcilable with the expectation that astonishment will be disciplined into recollection of the natural and manifest. Das Kapital détourns not just the jargon of Du Culte des Dieux Fétiches, but its whole satiric drama of sympathetic mutuality and rescue; and it blocks the reductive processing of its détournement into an array of concepts to be held at the disposal of theory by anticipating that this is what bourgeois readers will want to do with it. Any interpretation of Marx that forgets the dramatis persona of the bourgeois reader, who is of course living and real, that passes over him in silence, or conjures some elaborate theoretical periphrasis to take his place, is a complacent misinterpretation to the full extent that it discounts the expense of Marx’s satire. That expense is not a concept in Das Kapital, it is the lived infliction of the text on intelligent readers who may reject the jargon of “transubstantiation” in its Catholic use just as they will reject its “joking” use in Marx’s analysis of the commodity, but who nonetheless continue, “unthinkingly” or not, to eat human beings transubstantiated by industrial reduction into the base of Gallerte in every commodity on the market.” – Keston Sutherland, ‘Marx in Jargon’, available here:
I have found this essay very helpful for thinking about the fetish character of commodities – Ed.


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