This phenomenon where objects have social power, in which things act as if they have a will of their own, is what Marx sought to unravel with his notion of “…
Video Rating: 4 / 5

36 Responses to “Law of Value 2: The Fetishism of Commodities”

  • brendanmcooney:


  • gno nimo:

    we become “atomized individuals” by selling our labour as a commodity right?

  • brendanmcooney:

    You are welcome. I’m glad I was able to help clarify. I agree that my videos have a lot of information and that they move quickly. This is due to the complexity of the material and the need to fit it all into a short video. I always encourage viewers to follow the link to my wordpress blog where the full text can be read at one’s leisure and where there is space for discussion.

  • Jenny C:

    Thank you, that really clarifies things up. There’s so much information in your vid, so it was a lil overwhelming. Thanks though :) The video is pretty awesome.

  • brendanmcooney:

    Quoting myself: “The illusion that value comes from the commodity itself and not from the social relations behind it is a “fetish”.”

    Fetishism is when the social power of commodities appears as an inherent property of the commodity itself and not a result of its position within a social system.

  • Jenny C:

    you are so focused on the explanation of commodity and the importance of exchange value and use value of commodity, I feel like you barely touch on commodity fetishism. I’m still confused with what commodity fetishism is about, can you explain more?

  • Kerwin Kaye:

    Thanks for the (very quick) reply. Actually, I would love it if you could find that other version without the spanking clip. You do explain things very well, and the time you put into making a good video is apparent. It’s truly just the one clip… Post a note here if you’re able to find it – and thank you!

  • brendanmcooney:

    It’s misleading if you don’t have a sense of humor. I would hope viewers could make the distinction.

    I’ve seen much worse in classrooms. At some point a while back some teacher overseas asked me to make an edit of this without that vintage-spanking clip so that she could use it in a class. Would you be interested in this? I’d have to dig it up.

    The other option would be to walk in front of the projector for 5 seconds during that part of the video.

  • Kerwin Kaye:

    A nice explanation. Unfortunately, completely unusable in my class due to the unnecessary and misleading sexual imagery. Marx was not thinking of sexual fetishism in his writing, as you are aware. Adding the sex is therefore misleading, something I could explain to the class, but the imagery is sufficiently explicit as to make it unshowable in a classroom setting. Very unfortunate.

  • Mullahgrrl:

    So fetischism in the modern sense is fine as well?

  • RahubaatNeteru:


  • David Hollings:

    marx’s views on religion are more linked to his views on alienation than on commodities although they are somewhat linked. he saw religion as a response to and a reflection of the alienation people feel in exploitative systems such as capitalism. i think he would never advocate banning religion but would probably say it is likely to naturally fade away when alienation does. again, this is not to say that religion is incompatible with communism, just that it probably wouldnt exist

  • David Hollings:

    he doesnt. he sees the social relationships between people as more profound than simply relationships between commodities. therefore capital production limit people and alienates them from their full potential to flourish as human beings by reducing them to a part of a production process over which they have no control

  • flowerchild69:

    Actually if you look at it closely, there is not much difference between for example Christianity and Communism in their respective theories (in practice perhaps there are). In Marxist theory however Capitalism itself is a form of religion and in that sense you cannot be religious. Hope that explains it :)

  • Alex McGowan:

    So why does Marx see commodities as problematic?

  • RegeneratingHeart:

    A big Thanks for these videos, we’re reading The Marx-Engels Reader in one of my courses. These videos help “translate” Marx’s very technical writing. (Also, I’m a visual learner these images will help me reference things later in my mind) THANKS!

  • brendanmcooney:

    no. Marx used the term ‘fetishism’ as a metaphor to describe an economic phenomenon particular to capitalism. It was not a statement about religion.

  • QuietGuitaristfan:

    I was just wondering, does this mean we can’t have a religion and be a communist?

  • Ev b:

    I would just like to thank you for these wonderful video’s… Critical thinking is nearing extinction in modern society. It is comforting to see that there are at least some individuals out there that still posses it.

  • vahe stepanian:

    A moneyless,classless,stateless communities of humanity expressing our freedom in creative harmonious cooperation for a world that is so POTENTIALLY AND ACTUALLY nourishing. Capitalism in any form, Statist or Corporatist is the denial of our common humanity in a politically manipulated,tyrannical armed MARKET SYSYTEM OF ARTIFICIAL SARCITY and distortions that is designed to perpetuate the enslavement of the working class for material interest of the criminal ruling elite.

  • hersheyguy:

    thanks for explaining what fetishism was. i thought it was just an obsession with commodities. maybe i didnt make the connection in capital haha

  • SpectacleofDebord:

    You’re over exagerating the “use-value” of the commodity. Wal-Mart will let a loaf of bread sit on the shelf and turn to dust before they let you have it w/o $. Commodities are for those that can afford them, not for those who need or can use them. They’re created only to make their owners wealthy, period. If someone else happens to benefit along the way, thats an unintended consequence.

  • Subgenius:

    This all seems rather hair-brained and weird… Price is where supply meets demand… it reflects what people are willing to pay, and yes people do think of objects as imbued with value, but i think they always have. When I am cold, a sweater is valuable, when I am hot an air conditioner is etc. Whether I am a capitalist or living in agrarian society I will think this. Precisely what’s wrong with this valuation of goods. I don’t think this necessarily bleeds into social relationships.

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