One of the most essential terms with regard to Marx and Marxist theory that often comes up in conversation and tumblr discussions is the word “commodity”. While a commodity, most simply put, is a product of labor – either a good or service – that can be bought, sold, or exchanged in a market, it is important to break down the meaning of “commodity” as a concept.

First, a commodity is produced by a worker’s labor (or the labor of many workers). Under capitalism, commodities are consumed – purchased and used – but first must be produced. Workers, whose labor is exploited under capitalism, produce commodities, while those who control the means of production – the bourgeoisie – aim to make maximum profit from the sale of such commodities primarily by lowering the cost of labor and creating surplus value in the form of underpaid labor. Workers sell their labor to the bourgeoisie in order to get paid so they can secure for themselves food, water, shelter, and other basic means of survival. When labor is sold, it becomes a commodity, and becomes alienated from the worker because the labor no longer belongs to the worker; it belongs to the factory owner. 

Culture can also be a commodity, as we see in the current phenomenon of gentrification – wealthy (typically white) individuals spend extra money to live in a city neighborhood in order to “consume” the idea of “other cultures” or the cultural value created by the presence of artists and community gardens, while at the same time pushing out longtime residents who cannot afford increasing rent prices. This is just one example of how culture is a commodity – going to a movie, buying music, and paying to see art are also forms of “consuming culture”.

It is important to remember that a commodity is not just something that is tangible, that can be held in your hand (like an iPhone), but can also take the form of workers’ labor and culture. There are many forms of consumption that parallel the many forms of commodities, and a Marxist perspective on consumer culture emphasizes the endless nature of production, the exploitation of workers, and the irony that we are all workers, but are also forced to consume the goods we produce.

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lila-of-the-valley-1 replied to your post: emonydax asked:One of the profess…

Sadly, I have to say I agree. Even after studying at Oxford, where on the one hand research of all kind is welcome, on the other hand they too still have these gate-keeping mechanisms that stop all ‘unwanted’ research from gaining legitimacy…

I swear I’m not just babbling when I talk about financial and sociopolitical pressures on education and academia. These are real and tangible systems that exist to hoard knowledge and access for the purpose of the usual things-power, prestige, personal gain, et cetera. You can point to them and say “hey! this is a concrete example of how this happens and is enforced.”

And like, I’m a part of that. It feeds my family. On the one hand, running this blog does limit me in other ways, but on the other it’s the only way I can stand doing what I do in some respects, because I feel like I’m providing some kind of offset here. It’s sad that our society is set up in such a way that you can’t get basic needs met without being complicit in some kind of social violence.

And like, this isn’t just something I say because it sounds good; I’ve turned down several opportunities because I don’t feel comfortable hobbling my conscience or my “tone”. I’d rather live paycheck to paycheck than be silenced, and yeah, that’s a choice I made.

Which is why I get so irritated with people who are always claiming “my hands are tied!” and “That’s just how it IS okay!” depending on how many times I’ve dipped into the 12lb. bag of rice that week, and depending on who they are.

And yeah. I don’t know if you noticed, but Medievalpoc seems both desperately needed and extremely unwanted at the same time, by different people.

A consequence of this alienation of humans from their own nature is that they are also alienated from each other. Productive activity becomes ‘activity under the domination, coercion and yoke of another man’. This other man becomes an alien, hostile being. Instead of humans relating to each other co-operatively, they relate competitively. Love and trust are replaced by bargaining and exchange. Human beings cease to recognize in each other their common human nature; they see others as instruments for furthering their own egoistic interests.
—  From Peter Singer’s A Very Short Introduction on Karl Marx.
The prostitute remains to be considered. […] In her case, the qualities of woman’s body are ‘useful.’ However, these qualities have 'value’ only because they have already been appropriated by a man, and because they serve as the locus of relations–hidden ones–between men. Prostitution amounts to usage that is exchanged. Usage that is not merely potential: it has already been realized. The woman’s body is valuable because it has already been used. In the extreme case, the more it has served, the more it is worth. Not because its natural assets have been put to use this way, but, on the contrary, because its nature has been 'used up,’ and has become once again no more than a vehicle for relations among men.
—  Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which Is Not One

Producers of a Showtime series on global warming due this spring said Thursday it was crucial to get celebrities and Republicans involved to spread the stories beyond people who already believe it’s an important issue.

The series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” begins April 13.

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who was in Pasadena to promote the series, is among the celebrities who travel to different sites to illustrate the impact of climate change. Matt Damon, Jessica Alba and Don Cheadle also participate.

“We want to break down the tribalism on this issue,” said David Gelber, a former “60 Minutes” producer who is helping make the series. “You ask people what they think about climate change and they say, ‘I don’t like Al Gore.’”

Along with Schwarzenegger, Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., is involved talking about the impact of Superstorm Sandy on his district. Schwarzenegger talks about the impact of wildfires, an important issue in California and other western states.

Gelber initially wanted to make a movie on climate change and met with veteran Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub, who steered him to television and helped open doors in his world.

Scientists will never get the attention that someone in show business will,” Weintraub said.


 Cameroon Wants the World to Wake Up to the Smell of its Coffee 

With world demand for coffee rising by about three percent every year, Cameroon is now looking to revive the once-thriving sector. The CICC has launched a project known as “New Generation”, which to attract youths into a sector currently sustained by ageing farmers and ageing farms.

Gaetan explains that “New Generation is a programme for youths. In this programme, we introduce 200 young people every year, and we give them support over three years. From next year, we will be having 600 young people every year. That gives me hope that we will re-launch this sector. It is necessary not only to renew the farms, but also to bring in fresh blood into the sector.”

In February the European Union and Cameroon signed a 30-million euro agreement to boost coffee production here, as part of the “Coffee Sector Re-Start Emergency Plan”. Gaetan says the six-year project that begins this year “aims to get the sector out of its misery, and will involve supporting farmers in a variety of ways.”

He says the objective is to create 3,600 hectares of coffee plantations in six years.

“We will supply farmers with everything they need, except labour,” he says.

”We will supply them with inputs necessary to create plantations; from setting up the nursery to setting up the infrastructure to control post-harvest losses.”


Commodity believes that fragrances should be an approachable luxury, so they created a unique e-commerce experience that allows you to discover fragrances that truly fit in the comfort of your own home.

Tell them a little bit about yourself and they’ll send you a range of premium samples at first, then you can order the one that fits you best to create your own personal signature scent. The beautifully branded product line includes scents like Whiskey, Gin, Wool, Paper, Gold, Cane…