Talk:Commodity fetishism

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Ok article, but why is Mary DOuglas' World of Goods in the bibliography? It makes no mention of fetishism or even of Marx. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:25, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Exhaustive but exhausting[edit]

I'm not sure if the embellishment of this article has much improved it over the last half decade.

  • Positives: Lots of interesting stuff related to the basic concept, and encyclopaedic references to related theories and theorists. Mostly fine, if a bit chaotic and tenuous in places.
  • Negatives: in terms of rendering the core point accessible to the non-specialist (or juvenile) enquirer, that's a nope. Not much sign of a structured story through the topic. Reads like a shoebox full of random post-it notes, not an article.

But where to begin? Some particular claims and phrases are obviously doted on by jealous eds, leading me to feeling a general sense of 'am I bovverred?'. But if I had to start back on this, somewhere, I'd urge all parties to consider whether above-the-fold summaries should rely on terms like reification. C'mon, folks, write for the audience, not your intellectual rivals. A 14 year old should be able to make it to the contents table without feeling an overwhelming urge to retreat to Bieber. What should follow from there is a gradual introduction of the subtleties and controversies surrounding the concept, arranged according to some kind of plausible framework or context, to render the information into an intelligible narrative. Adhib (talk) 21:30, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

The stringing together of long quotes is very poor style that turns off most readers. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:30, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

poor analysis of commodity fetishism -- PLEASE READ CAPITAL[edit]

It's amazing how little to no attention my previous post (confusion over commodity fetishism) has received. I've been teaching Capital One for over 15 years and let me just say that as interesting and insightful this topic is, it has been massively misinterpreted and misunderstood by all sorts of scholars. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:18, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

So you guys want to wreck the article some more?[edit]

If you people posing as "authorities" want to wreck the article some more, go ahead. It's just that if you do, I am not going to waste time working on it again. Having studied and taught these things for 30 years, I would agree that this topic has been "massively misinterpreted and misunderstood". The first (but not the only) reason is that people simply do not read Marx's own text at all, and that is why, in my contributions, I referred to a few texts deliberately. The second reason is that they cannot actually understand Marx own text. I think though the reader is entitled to know where Marx got his idea of fetishism from originally, and how his specific use of the term evolved in the course of his studies. However, I would also agree that the concept of commodity fetishism can be understood ("read") in different ways, including ways which go far beyond Marx's own understanding. All you can do about that in the article, is to distinguish fairly between Marx's own idea and various subsequent interpretations. But if Marx is not even allowed to speak for himself, because "authorities" claim to know better than Marx himself what his idea was, and want to silence Marx himself, we simply don't get very far with that project at all. The discussion is not helped either, by fascistic scholars arrogantly and haughtily telling us to do our homework, when in fact there is no evidence for their own scholarship, none. What we need is constructive suggestions about how to improve the article, not Marxists masturbating their inflated ego's. As far as "authority" is concerned, a few days ago, the research director of the IISH here in Amsterdam (where many of Marx's original manuscripts are stored) took me out to dinner and, among other things, presented me with a copy of the first volume of Riazanov's Marx-Engels Archiv (the journal of the Marx-Engels Institute). It raised a smile, but anyhow I don't think he would have done that, if he thought I willfully tried to misrepresent the ideas of Marx and Engels! We might well argue that Riazanov committed scholarly errors as well, or that his work is in several respects outdated/superseded, but his dedication to Marx-Engels scholarship is wellknown. I am saddened by the narcissism, arrogance and flatulence displayed on this page. If you have a constructive suggestion to make about how to improve an article about this undoubtedly controversial topic, please do. But if you just want to have a status-wank, do it somewhere else, please! User:Jurriaan 12 September 2011 19:47 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

REAL meaning commodity fetishism[edit]

Here are the four points he makes (in his own words!):

Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly from this form itself. (1) The equality of all sorts of human labour is expressed objectively by their products all being equally values; (2) the measure of the expenditure of labour power by the duration of that expenditure, takes the form of the quantity of value of the products of labour; and (3) finally the mutual relations of the producers, within which the social character of their labour affirms itself, take the form of a social relation between the products. (4) The sum total of the labour of all these private individuals forms the aggregate labour of society. Since the producers do not come into social contact with each other until they exchange their products, the specific social character of each producer’s labour does not show itself except in the act of exchange. In other words, the labour of the individual asserts itself as a part of the labour of society, only by means of the relations which the act of exchange establishes directly between the products, and indirectly, through them, between the producers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:31, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

We do not interpret primary sources on wikipedia as this would constitute original research.Fifelfoo (talk) 06:09, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
I have looked through several secondary sources to see if anyone notable (e.g. McLellan, or Kolakowsi) and I cannot find any that supports Jurrian's interpretation of "commodity fetishism." NPOV tells us we must include multiple points of view, but NOR tells us that these views cannot be our own. It cannot be our own interpretation of Marx. If it is a notable understanding of "commodity fetishism" then we will be able to provide reliable sources that say so. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:42, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

What is there to interpret? Let Marx speak for himself. You have taken ONE single point from his section on commodity fetishism and paraded it as his sole definition and meaning of commodity fetishism. Why then does Marx spend so much time discussing use-values and exchange-values (i.e. socially necessary labour time imbued in the commodity)? No one on wikipedia seems to care or they think they're "interpreting" a primary absurd this all sounds! Marx is very clear in his writing and the points he makes. You have totally left out or failed to mention 1) different use-values being exchanged, 2) different amounts of socially necessary labor time or abstract labour being equated....ugh what's the point, no serious Marxist scholar here so I think I am wasting my time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:38, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Do not ask me why Marx says anything. This is NOT a debate between you and me over what Marx meant. Wikipedia is not a place for you or I or anyone to debate what Marx meant. (1) this is not a chatroom. If you want to debate what Marx meant, don't do it here, go to a chatroom. (2) we do not allow original research. If you have an interpretation of marx that you believe is important and correct, and wish to publish it, find a publisher and publish it. Submit it to the New Left review, or write a book for Verso or Polity Press or whatever. But do not use Wikipedia to publish your interpretation of Marx. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:52, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Fifelfoo comments[edit]

Jurrian: your constant soapboxing and original research amounts to a continuous campaign of disruption of the article process. Consider this a formal warning that future article disruption on articles related to Marx and his work will be treated as attacks on the encyclopaedia. I have warned your current IP and your user account. You are more than welcome to contribute content, and make cogent arguments regarding content for the purpose of improving the encyclopaedia, within the policies and processes of the encyclopaedia. This would mean relying on secondary sources. Fifelfoo (talk) 08:45, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Fifelfoo, I am not "disrupting" the article process, nor have I disrupted any article related to Marx and his work. My edits have been limited for 99% to articles which I created myself. You make a false accusation, and provide no proof whatsoever for it. In fact, I haven't even worked on this article anymore. I would also prefer it, if you respond to my comment in the appropriate space on this page, and NOT below the comment of someone else (I have entered a new heading). Let me just note that e.g. an article on e.g. Barack Obama references Obama himself from his own books! BTW neither McLellan nor Kolakowski are considered "authoritative" on Marx anymore nowadays. User:Jurriaan 3 Nov 2011 12:29 (UTC)
Jurriaan, if McLellan nor Kolakowski are no longer authoritative, tell us who are. Better yet, cite them in this and other articles you work on. But do not propose that you are more authoritative than McLellan nor Kolakowski. You are not. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:54, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
OK Rubinstein I think we are in agreement there; and I have never claimed to be the supreme authority here. Most people agree that McLellan wrote a creditable biography of Marx, but also that he never went into Marx's ideas in any great depth. Kolakowski moved from a Marxist position to a non-Marxist and sometimes anti-Marxist position. However, I am still confused on one point: if you write an article about an idea which an intellectual created, can you legitimately quote the author himself on his own idea, or can you report only what other authors have said about this idea? It seems terribly odd that you would explain the idea of an author not directly according to how the author himself explicitly defined it, but rather only according to what other authors said about it. When I use wikipedia to understand particular concepts linked to particular individuals, I find that the creator of the idea is himself or herself quoted as well as secondary sources. User:Jurriaan 3 Nov 2011 23:32 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
The key word in what you wrote is "explain", and the answer to your question is yes, we report what reliable sources have said about the subject at hand. It is not appropriate for us to provide any explanation based Marx's own words. Your opinions, my opinions--these are not useful here. --Nuujinn (talk) 22:43, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
If the subject of an article is an intellectual's idea, we do not quote that intellectual on the idea. For the idea to be notable in a wikipedia sense, it has to have been appreciated and discussed in other sources, ie: secondary sources. With Marx's ideas, his ideas have been appreciated at length and in great detail by experts. We quote and source off the expert's opinions.
If you want to publish your original thoughts on Marx, then seek out the scholarly publishing industry (an industry I believe you have some access to). There is also the party-political publishing industry which, when published by a party press that has a reputation for fact checking, ought to be fine for wikipedia purposes. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:17, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Jurriaan, you have yet to explain why Kolakawski is not an authoritative source on Marxian thought or Marx's thought. All you wrote was, "Kolakowski moved from a Marxist position to a non-Marxist and sometimes anti-Marxist position" but so what? What does this have to do with whether or not he is an (an in English means one of perhaps many) authority? I asked you to name people who were more authoritative, and you didn't ... can you? Slrubenstein | Talk 11:37, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Kolakowski is in a certain sense an authority on Marxism; after all he wrote a three volume treatise on Main currents of Marxism. People still use it. But that is not to say that his work is free from biases, or that it necessarily does justice to Marx himself. Kolakowski had his own axes to grind in the catholic culture of Poland. About the definition of the "Marxian authority" question I have to think more deeply, I do not have a ready answer immediately available. Of course, over the years I have read thousands of pieces by "authorities" on Marx, mainly in English but also in German and sometimes in French or Dutch. You could consult, for example, the second edition of Tom Bottomore's Dictionary of Marxist Thought, for a list of academics who have written a "definitive article" on various Marxist topics ("definitive" in the sense that it is published in a encyclopedia). However that is a book published in 1991, which is now twenty years ago. The article in it by Ben Fine on Commodity fetishism cites Simon Mohun, Norman Geras, and himself. One of the problems is that the ideology of Marxism was formed even before essential writings of Marx were ever published, or available to a broad audience. Even in the 1920s and 1930s, very few people had read all of Das Kapital, never mind all of Marx's and Engels's writings. A complete insight into all Marx's texts began to become available only in the 1990s, but the MEGA2 is not even finished. So you can say that a "mode of Marxist interpretation" was established well before most people truly knew what exactly they were interpreting, which of course suited the Marxist bureaucrats pretty well (Stalin had David Riazanov and Isaac Rubin murdered; a Swedish friend of mine is going to publish a story about their show trial from the Russian archives). Another is that the editing together of Marx's unfinished writings typically involved the biases of the editors as well. The guru's of modern Marxism are "pastiche people" like Zizek, Badiou and Toni Negri, but from a Marxological point of view their writings do not offer much that is very substantial or significant. As "living" Marx specialists, I could mention for example the Marx-Engels-Forschung team working on the MEGA2 and publishing in related journals; the authors involved in Wolfgang Haug's ongoing Critical Dictionary of Marxism; the circles of intellectuals around people like Elmar Altvater, Marcello Musto, Terell Carver, Jairus Banaji, Alan Freeman, Enrico Dussell Fred Moseley, Geert Reuten, Paolo Giussani and Riccardo Bellofiore; scholars at SOAS in London, the New School, Berkeley, FUB, Frankfurt Institute etc. There are also journals like Capital & Class, Historical Materialism, RRPE, NLR, CJE etc. which publish some fairly authorative pieces. This is not at all an exhaustive list, it's just what comes to mind, and it is probably heavily biased towards the North Atlantic region. But anyway the number of serious as well as competent Marxologists in the sense of, say, Hal Draper, Maximilien Rubel or Terrell Carver is just not very great these days. There exist today very few "authorities" on Marx (if any) whom everybody would agree with. That is precisely WHY people prefer to reference expository pieces about Marx directly to Marx's own text. That way, they don't get into trouble so much with the numerous tendencies and sects who cherish their own interpretation, and jealously guard it against those who would think differently. Personally I don't have any particular axe to grind, except that I think a credible interpretation of Marx ought to be fairly solidly based on what the man had to say himself. Yet, even this is controversial; Marx & Engels wrote more than 50 volumes of material, and a lot of what they wrote was never prepared for publication. That obviously leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Gotta go back to work. User:Jurriaan 4 Nov 2011 20:56 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
So a sequence of theoretical concepts which have eluded full and obvious expression for years, can be elucidated for the first time in a generalist encyclopaedia that has explicit policy against original research from primary sources? You can't write that kind of article on Marx in Wikipedia: it breaks wikipedia's policy. (Feel free to write up, and publish, your research findings elsewhere; then return and note them within the Conflict of Interest policy). You must rely on established authorities' structure of presentation, weight applied to different points, and for matters of interpretation and fact. Wikipedia long ago chose to be a generalist rather than a scholarly encyclopaedia. You could attempt to unchain that prometheus, but until you do, you have to edit within existing policy. Fifelfoo (talk) 22:35, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
Jurriaan, I am glad that you have swung arouns 180 degrees and now acknowlege Kolakowski as an authoritative source. I agree he is biased, but I think that all of the authoritative sources on Marx and commodity fetishism (to your list I'd add Pietz and maybe Taussig)_ are biased one way or another. Their bias is irrelevant in one regard: bias is not an obstacle to inclujsion in Wikipedia, in fact we are obliged by WP:NPOV to add views we do not share or respect, as long as they are from reliable sources. Their bias is relevant only in one regard: in adding diverse (even conflicting) views oif Marx and commodity fetishism, we need to proviude some contextual matterial - not to judge which views are right or wrong, but to help readers understand why there sre different views. You obviously know a great number of secondary sources as well as the contrexts or positions out of wqhich they emerged. If you really wanted to contribute to this encyclkopedia article in a way that conforms with WP policy (and spares you accusations of violating NOR) what you would do is all the views of all the people you mention (including Kolakowski and Mclellan) as long as they come from a reliable source; organize these many views into some kind of intelligible narratiuve (however you think it is best to frame them - e.g different debates that emerged in different places or at different times, inclunced by local or historical events) that helps people understand where these differnt views are comming from, without inserting your own views about which views are correct (and Fifelfoo and I have to similarly refrain ourselves). From your last post it sounds like you are eminently qualified to do this, and if you did it would make this a much stronger and more effective article! Slrubenstein | Talk 23:39, 4 November 2011 (UTC)
OK. Of course I agree the articles should be balanced, and that all relevant points of view should be represented. But it's sadly also true that people who don't know what they are talking about start writing and changing articles. Originally I never intended to write for wikipedia. It was just that I was asked to do it by some academic people. Also, searching for information I sometimes struck entries that were so badly written that they practically cried out for some improvement. As regards specifically Marxian stuff, I originated about 30 articles because there was no entry for them, and I contributed to about 20 articles on Marxian topics that already existed. My other contributions (about 75 of them) are not specifically in the area of Marxism or Marxian thought. For example, I also write on basic national accounting concepts, or, sometimes, specific theoretical topics. It is not my aim to be a "missionary" or an "evangelist", let alone an "advertiser". That is not what wikipedia is about. But I do know from experience as educationist, research statistician and translator/editor how badly concepts are often taught. If you can provide good, clear and balanced explanations of concepts, it is a great service to the community. The only real proof I have, that my contributions are OK is, that most of what I wrote is still there, years later, and it is still being used rather than violently removed; but I should add that generally I have stayed away from topics about which there is intense wikicontroversy. Altogether I have contributed about 125 wikipedia articles (either originated or modified) and they get close to 2 million hits per year. Not bad going. But in reality, I have realized the articles still leave much to be desired. The main problem is that they should be much better referenced to sources. The reason is that often, I would just write them off the top of my head, or I would not have the technical literature handy - the idea was, that somebody else might improve them more after the pilot. I now think though that I should prepare a new article properly from start to finish before submitting it to wikipedia. Meantime, what I tend to do is improve the articles which I already wrote with references etc. rather than write new articles. It's better to shape up the ones I already did first so that they fit exactly with wikipedia requirements. My experience is that my hope that others will improve them is in vain. User:Jurriaan 5 Nov 2011 18:14(UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
Often times other editors are like a pack of sub-editors, pecking at problems. It is fine to dump stuff out out of the top of your head and source it vaguely. However, as an expert, you're like to dump your own original interpretations of Marx—something that belongs in a journal or post-graduate textbook. If you want to illustrate rather than demonstrate with quotes from Marx, you could do it like this, "Mandel argues that commodity fetishism is __x__, referencing where Marx says, "__y__"". We're still quoting the relevant passage of Marx, but: 1) we're quoting it to illustrate Mandel's demonstration. 2) Mandel himself references that text. I know it can be frustrating when your area of interest isn't backed up with an editorial community. We do give out gongs ("Featured Article status" which allows access to being on the front page), for excellent work. Some authors edit mainly offline / in user space... see the excellent Economy of England in the Middle Ages for an example of this style of work. Others edit progressively online. One of the reasons why I'm trying to get across policy to you, is because of the _excellence_ of your engagement with the encyclopaedia; and because you have a capacity few other editors have to contribute high quality material. But the material needs to be inline with the encyclopaedia's scope. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:05, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Jurriaan, I sure hope that this comment is not directed at me. I say that because what you wrote sounds a bit defensive, and nothing in my comment was critical of you. In fact, nothing that I have written (and as I see it, nothing Fifelfoo has written) is about you at all. My comments were about your edits. I hope you can see the difference. My point was simply that based on your previous comment it seemed to me that you could make far more constructive edits to this article, and I tried to explain what I mant by "far more constructive." Do you think anything I suggested violates WP policy? Do you think anything I suggsted is not "in the spirit" of WP policy? If not then there is just nothing more to say. If you agree that what I suggested would improve the article, all you have to do is do it (unfortunately I cannot help as I do not know most of the sources you refer to ... but obviously you do). I understand that you have to have the literature handy in order to edit this way, but surely as you know our verifiability policy and reliable sources guidelines, you understand that whenever we edit the contents of an article (as opposed to grammar, spelling and style) we must have the reliable sources on hand. As I understand our policy this is the only way to make effective edits to content. If you find this easier to do offline, well, okay, we all have our way of writing. Just a final note - this may just be semantics but I would not use the word "submit." Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit, which means that no article has "an author" and there is no one for authors to "submit" their articles to. Whatever changes you make to an article can be changed by anyone at any time. Many of the articles you happen to be editing are articles that very few people are interested in (fact, not a value judgment) which means that it is only rarely that another editor even looks at it, which is one reason why one person's edits endure. This has happened to articles I have worked on that are of interest to maybe three other people. Try editing the article on Justin Beiber!! You would find 90% of whatever you wrote gone within a week!! These are just the crazy vicisitudes of Wikipedia. The bottom line is: you seem to know many reliable sources (meaning, secondary sources) and you know that WP articles are supposed to provide accurate accounts of all significant views, given due weight and properly contextualized. This article suffers for lacking this, but based on your previous e-mail it sounds like you have the knowledge and resources to fix this so I hope you do. Good luck! Slrubenstein | Talk 19:04, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
Rubinstein, thanks, I was not trying to get at you. I was trying to clarify my motivation in response to what Fifelfoo alleged, namely that I was trying to spread a "new reading" of Marx via Wikipedia. This is not the case, all I have tried to do is write articles which are difficult to disagree with. "Reliable sources on hand" can sometimes be a problem for me, because I am a migrant who migrated from an English-speaking country to a non-English speaking country and who left his book collection behind (I could not very well take it with me, too many books; right now my apartment is again loaded with books). Sometimes you can reference things from your own collection or from memory using Google Books, but often I have to go to the libraries here, to get the thing I want (but they don't always have the English texts). If I make the complete article offline, so that it fits with wiki standards, I don't get into trouble later because people feel it wasn't up to standard. I am aware that an article like "Justin Bieber" would get a million hits a month. But my aspiration is much more modest: to write some articles which people in the area of interest find genuinely useful. Talk 5 Nov 2011 18:14(UTC)
I do find your editing contributions genuinely useful; they're in areas of Marxism I rarely relate to because I work in areas where other concepts are the day-to-day elements of theory. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:05, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Fifelfoo, but do you have some examples of your concepts which are "day-to-day elements of theory"? This may be relevant to improving the article. Talk 6 Nov 2011 14:35 (UTC)
I do labour history, so it is skill, length of the working day, intensity of labour, class composition, class consciousness, class formation, prefigurative forms. Not so particularly useful to this article. Fifelfoo (talk) 21:47, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I see. I am familiar with the subject, as I translate and edit academic books and articles on labour history in English. I would regard labour history very relevant to commodity fetishism; after all, historical experience allows us to relativise theoretical concepts and enrich their meaning. Talk 7 Nov 2011 01:32 (UTC)
Labour history might influence people who theorise about commodity fetishism; however, it is rarely a contested category within unions, workplaces, industrial relations, disorganised bodies of workers, etc. The idea of the commodification of non-market labours often involves the reification of human experiences into objects mediating these experiences (the wage replacing domestic production in the shift from outworker to factory worker, etc.); but, these contests often don't involve a very explicit "counter-project." About the only instance of proletarianisation and commodification I can think of is housework and the call for a social wage in the 1970s—even here, these research perceptions aren't broadly agreed with outside of Autonomia influenced authors. In general, the category of the manager's right to manage (ie: the property form of capitalism) gets challenged more often in my experience than the fetishisation of commodities. So I feel like my work offers up data to theorists; but, this particular segment of theory isn't informative as the commodity fetish isn't a chief axis of capitalist oppression that is regularly challenged at formal work. (Informal economy labour historians might get more mileage out of Commodity fetishism due to non-commodity substitute production in the underground working class economy.) Fifelfoo (talk) 02:40, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

There is no question that this is an important article, far more important than Justin Bieber! My point was that Wikipedia works best when many people work to improve an article, and it is unfortunate that this article has not attracted a critical mass of well-informed editors. In the meantime, we all have to strive to avoide WP:NOR and to comply with WP:NPOV by organizing the article around the different major veiws of this concept, from reliable secondary sources. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:52, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Frankly I am not yet sure myself, what the best kind of layout of the article would be. The concept of commodity fetishism can be extended to refer to all the reifying effects of market trade, and, certainly, there is a huge critical literature discussing the concept in all kinds of different contexts (political, sociological, cultural, anthropological, economic, aesthetic etc.). One could write a Phd dissertation simply tracing out the impact of the concept of commodity fetishism on the social science and humanities literature. I have read some of that literature but I am not sure what would be a useful structure for an overview of it for the generalist reader. There is a sense in which you would easily be guilty of "original research". User:Jurriaan 8 Nov 2011 01:37 (UTC)
I have written some relevant rules on weight and scope for history articles, a closely related field to Marxology, at WP:HISTRS. In short: field review articles, magisterial works (recent, for the definition of recent in the field), introductions to major monographs, contents of scholarly encyclopaedia (ie: aimed at the scholarly public), etc. The reason why we don't use Kolakowski, despite his work being magisterial, is that the state of research has moved on seriously since the last major revision to his text—not due to his politics, or his limitations (he's shithouse at dealing with left communist thought, for example). But if there were a right wing scholar, who did conduct a magisterial publication on Commodity Fetishism, whose work was informed by the recent work on Marxology in the last 30 years (seems to be the horizon of "recent" in this field to me), then we'd use them. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:47, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Interested to read all this and here is a take, in case it helps. My immediate instinct is to see connections, and yes, I want to add them to the article. The use/value exchange value distinction is relevant here, as is much of the eco-Marxist work (J.B. Foster, Gorz's Critique of Economic Reason). I also read a really odd book called Female Fetishism that discusses Marx's commodity fetishism quite carefully before arguing, untenably, that women's bulimia nervosa is the equivalent of men's sexual fetishes for shoes, underwear, etc. But I need to set all of this aside. If I'm going to make any of those connections, I need to do it in another forum. Writing for Wikipedia, you can never be as innovative as you would be for academic or political writing. You have to accept that your role is really just to identify the standard texts on the topic, and then to summarise them. Itsmejudith (talk) 21:24, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I guess the point is, that there is dispute about what the "standard texts on the topic" are in this case, since there is not one "authorative" text that would be agreed on by everybody... except perhaps Marx himself. This is also why, in my contributions, I focused on what Marx said himself. The best we could do would be to summarise different strands of argument. To some extent we have done that already. User:Jurriaan 10 Nov 2011 12:13 (UTC)
We don't expect there to be one authoritative text agreed on by everyone. Rather, different writers, Marxist and non-Marxist, have discussed commodity fetishism in different ways. Sometimes they talk past each other, sometimes they may critique each other or disagree. What this article seems to need next is to identify all the discussions that might be notable, a long-list, then by discussion whittle that into a short-list. After that, we can check that the article makes good use of the short-listed sources. Working from the sources outwards. Itsmejudith (talk) 11:25, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Right. Jurriaan, with respect - have you read our WP:NPOV policy? One of the driving forces behind is the reality that editors will not agree on what the "standard texts on the topic" are. We assume that individual editors will have conflicting views of the topic. So WP:NOR instructs us to keep our personal views out of Wikipedia (this is not a comment on your knowledge or expertise; it is a policy that if you are an expert on the topic, you should publish your own analysis and arguments in a magazine, journal or book but not in Wikipedia). And our WP:NPOV policy instructs us to include all significant views. The four of us might have different views on what Marx meant or what chapter one of Capital is saying. We do not have to convince other editors that any particular view is "right." All we have to do is demonstrate that it is a significant view from a reliable source (and surely you have read our WP:RS guidelines on what sources count and which ones do not). If we find competing or even conflicting views but we can agree that they come from reliable sources (as WP defines "reliable" which you know does not mean "correct" in our policy) they go into the article. If there are three or five or six or seven major interpretations of Commodity Fetishism, we include them all and we do not say which one is right.
Editors do have to worrk collaboratively, which means we do have to sort out some things ourselves. We have to agree that a source is "reliable" in the sense of our policy and guideline. And we have to agree that the view is "significant" meaning that a lot of people subscribe to it, and perhaps even that people who disagree with it nevertheless acknowledge it (e.g. if one historian or philosopher is arguing against another view - that probably means the other view is significant enough to include in WP). The other thing we need to collaborate on is, how much weight to give any particular view. A whole section? A paragraph? Two sentences? Fifelfoo does not think Kolakowski's view is still significant. I disagree. But perhaps he and I can reach an agreement that K's views belong in the article, but merito only a couple of sentences. These are the kinds of things WP editors have to settle through polite discussion.
But one thing is clear: we do not have to agree on which view is correct, in fact, we should not even be discussing it. On some topics, agreement will be unachievable, especially as more and more people edit an article. NPOV assumes that people often disagree about which views are correct. Wikipedia's solution to the problem is to present all significant views, as long as readers can verify that they come from reliable sources 9as defined by our policies and guidelines), giving each one its due weight. So all we really have to agree on is, is the source reliable, and how much weight to give the view. These tasks are quite achievable. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:11, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
But there's the rub, Rubinstein: there's little agreement on what is a "reliable source". Thousands of people have written on Marx's concept of commodity fetishism. Whole theses have been written on it. But this doesn't mean the sources are reliable, other than that they occur in bona fide publications. There are plenty sources which we could use to write all sorts of stories, but what specific criteria should be applied? User:Jurriaan 10 Nov 2011 18:00 (UTC)
WP:SCHOLARSHIP is the relevant guideline. Any scholarly work could be reliable. We can't use them all, but can be guided by which ones are cited most often, have remained in print longest, from most notable authors. And ensuring that we make a fair sample of the various kinds of relevant work, Marxist, non-Marxist and anti-Marxist, probably with more Marxist than the others because that's the largest body of work. Itsmejudith (talk) 17:17, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Jurriaan, I just do not see "the rub." Can you point to one major source that we cannot agree on as reliable following our policies? Stop mentioning the vague thousands of publications. Please tell me which ones fail to meet our guidelines?

I honestly do not understand by your question "but what specific criteria should be applied?" I have mentioned the specific criteria, I have provided links to some of the key policies and have named other policies and guidelines. Please tell me why you are still confused about which criteria? Or do you simply refuse to read our policies? Slrubenstein | Talk 02:11, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

Rubinstein, thank you for all your patient explanations. As I said, there are thousands of writings on the concept of commodity fetishism in all kinds of scholarly disciplines and in political texts. Now, certainly, we can write an article which cites a selection of texts, and those texts could be reasonably "authoritative". But we don't entirely remove two problems thereby, i.e. the question of how representative the selected texts are of the total literature, and the likelihood that some furious Marxist starts changing the article again because it does not fit with his particular dogma and he wants to introduce the true doctrine. There are all kinds of Marxists - Leninists, Stalinists, Trotskyists, Maoists, Eurocommunists, Western Marxists, Left communists, etc. - and they all have their own interpretations. Anyway, for now, the best I can do is to reference the claims introduced by myself better. User:Jurriaan 11 Nov 2011 14:02(UTC)
Jurriaan, so what? You are not the author if this article. I am not the author if this article. No one is the author of an article - WP is the encyclopedia anyone can edit. The very reason this is a wikipedia is that no single author can provide a complete account or even a representative account of all the significant views from reliable sources. Each editor adds what she can, following WP:NOR, WP:V and WP:RS. NPOV demands that we strive to include all significant views but we assume no one editor and not even two or three editors can accomplish this. Just do your best, and let later editors fillin the gaps. As for your second concern, you are wasting your time writing it. We all must edit by assuming good faith so let's not assume anything about future editors — foreover, please read what I wrote to you about NPOV. We assume editors will have passionately different views of the truth. Our policies and our wikistructure deal with that. We are supposed to include views we do not agree with, so it would be GREAT for this article if "all kinds of marxists - Leninists, Stalinists, Trotskyists, Maoists, Eurocommunists, Western Marxists, Left communists, etc. - and they all have their own interpretations" came to this article to add those views!! We are counting on this. But if any of these future editors insist that their view is the truth, well, you have read NPOV, and you have read V, so you know what any WP editor will tell them.
You use the word "authoritative" but that is not in our policies, is it? What matters is that they are significant and come from reliable sources as we define the term. Good luck. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:30, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Ok, time for an article rub-down[edit]

I took the time today to look over Jurrian's changes (per the issue raised at a noticeboard, and while I'd say that the work is both good faith and productive, there are some issues with the result. There's a tendency to slip off into wordy discussion and explanations that feel like synthesis (e.g., interpreting the concept, rather than discussing it). I'm going to work through it today and see if a good, vigorous copy editing can work out the kinks. Face-smile.svg --Ludwigs2 14:14, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

Thanks, Luwigs2! It is critical that this be in encyclopedic style and comply fully with NOOV, V, and NOR. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:06, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Ludwigs2, please do me a favor and substantiate/explain your accusation against me of "a tendency to slip off into wordy discussion and explanations that feel like synthesis (e.g., interpreting the concept, rather than discussing it)." Please provide specific examples! user:Jurriaan 13 Nov 2011 17:20 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
Jurriaan, Ludwigs2 is commenting on what you wrote, not on you personally. If you think that he was accusing you of anything, then perhaps you should not be editing at Wikipedia. This is the encyclopedia anyone can edit. No article has an author, or an owner. Anything we write can be improved upon. Wikipedia articles are written through a collaboration with countless strangers; we all expect others to improve whatever we write. The only queston is, is the edit an improvement. No editor needs to explain a change to an article to another editor, but Ludwigs actually did you the courtesy of explaining that he has EYNTH concerns as many other editors have expressed. I do not see why he needs to explain beyond the information he provided. Our policy provides a full explanation of what we consider synthesis. In the meantime, if you are going to take it personally anytime another editor improves this article, maybe you should try submitting your articles to peer-reviewerd journals, where you would be named author and won't have to worry about anyone changing your words. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:14, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Jurriaan, also look at a number of featured articles (WP:FA) and see how virtually every sentence is supported by a reference or two. Itsmejudith (talk) 18:01, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Guys, let's not continue the dispute. Jurrian - I made a substantial revision which I think will answer your question. you tend to draw in needless examples, assert claims about the topic rather than describe the topic, and you have a tendency to use phrases that are unclear. nothing all that major, but a simple, succinct style is better.
look over what I did, and let's talk about it. collaborativity! collaborativiviity? cholerabitavititude? whatever, you know what I mean. Face-smile.svg --Ludwigs2 18:08, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
It's not that I am taking it personally, Rube, but that if an accusation is made about my edits, I expect to see some proof and evidence. When people make a criticism while leaving us in the dark about what the criticism actually is exactly, this is not enlightening, but a form of obscurantism. We learn nothing from that other than that somebody does not like our edits. Whew. User:Jurriaan 14 nov 2011 01:20 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
Jurrriaan: there are in fact people on project who abuse the editing process; SLR, Judith, and I are not like that. Please accept my statements as a good-fath effprt to improve the apge rather than personal commentary - there is always room for improvement even in the best articles, and the encyclopedia has restrictions on what can go into it that you may not be aware of. It's too easy to fight on the internet. we all have to make that special effort to give others the benefit of the doubt otherwise we won't ever get anywhere.
let's talk about what we think is good/bad with the article itself, and not get personal unless we have to. --Ludwigs2 00:45, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

The new theory section[edit]

I don't think the new Theory section adds anything useful - it is vague, barely comprehensible and abstract. Obviously the work of somebody who thinks himself an expert theoretician but who isn't. But I will tell you what, you guys go ahead and destroy a good, clear and informative text, go an replace it with a terrible waffly International Socialists type text. I will take my talents elsewhere. I cannot spend all my time fighting against wiki-bullshit User:Jurriaan 15 Nov 2011 11:17 (UTC)

Well, the current section on theory is rapidly deletable as original research given the lack of citations to high quality reliable sources. Fifelfoo (talk) 10:28, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Fifelfoo and Jurriaan here. But as Jurriaan wrote above, we need to be specific if our criticisms are to be constructive and collaborative. Here are two problems I have with the section. First, the concept fetishsim did not originate with Marx or first appear with marx. Wm. Pietz addresses this at length in an article I do not possess; Riaan and Fifelfoo might know other sources, but before xplaining how Marx uses it I think we need to be clear on how his predecessors and contemporaries used the term. Second, I do not think we can just say that money itself has little value or that the intrinsic value of the materials is not the source of its exchange value (or price) — at the time Marx wrote most political economists were trying to explain the relationship between the value of money and the price of its composit materials. I think Marx has a novel theory but we need to provide the context. Zizek is one person who has written on how Marx provides a symbolic theory of the meaning of money. Pietz and Zizek are two notable views but I am sure Fifelfoo and Riaan have other reliable sources we can use but we need to contextualize Marx's theory. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:35, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
I'd agree with most of this: I was mostly interested in removing synth and making things more concise than in adding new material, so content revisions are welcome. however, two points:
  • It would be a good idea to expand on the idea of the origins of the term fetishism a little, if only to clarify that the word didn't have the same perversion connotation that the word carried in modern English. But I don't think we want to draw it out excessively: Marx really is making a new concept here - he's generalizing a fairly loose anthropological term about specific tribal practices into a general principle of human psychology - so we don't learn much about what Marx meant by 'fetishism' by looking at the common use of the term.
  • Marx is reasonably clear on the valuelessness of paper money (one of the quotes currently on the page goes into detail about the difference between specie and money nations). The point that needs to get across is that Marx thinks that money has value solely because it is objectified as a thing with value. The relationship to fetishism is clear, here: in a culture people believe that an inanimate object (a totem, a charm, a dollar) has an intrinsic power to bring a desired outcome (fair hunting, good health, a candy bar), where there is no material connection between the one and the other. At least with (say) a gold coin there is a physical thing that has worth in itself; money is entirely abstract and culturally determined. The fact that the first two rely on divinities or metaphysical principles and the latter relies on economic precepts like 'the Market' is of no consequence for Marx; the Market just becomes a substitute for a divinity, without all the personification issues.
So please, feel free to revise. just keep things focused on Marx. --Ludwigs2 16:47, 16 November 2011 (UTC)
Excellent deletion, concur entirely. Fifelfoo (talk) 16:25, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

when words are scarce they are seldom spent in vein[edit]

I for one am looking forward to seeing what materializes out of this discussion. I did not mean to offend anyone, especially you Slrubenstein by emphasizing the need to let Marx speak for himself instead of always relying on his interpreters, as Andrew Kliman argues and yes I understand WK policy regarding this issue. Yes McLellan and Harvey are 'authoritative' sources, however, that does not make their own personal interpretation a good one. Harvey makes several mistakes, for example, in his 'Companion to Marx's Capital' but this is immaterial.Best of luck and happy new year.

It is not a question of offense, it is a question of complying with our policies, especially NOR and NPOV. NOR tells us that often texts, especially by people who died some time ago, or texts that are used by diverse people with diverse interests and in different contexts, do not "speak for themselves" and the claim "this is what Marx says" is often indistinguishable from "this is m y interpretation of what Marx says." And NPOV tells us that Wikipedia articls provide accounts of all significant views. It is inappropriate for a WP editor to say whether a significant view (like McLellan, or Harvey) is "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong," "correct" or "mistaken." To do so is to violate NOR and NPOV. This comment makes it sound as if you have never red those policies, or are willfully ignoring them. Which is it? Have you not taken the time to read the policies? Or do you not understand them? Or do you not like them? You seem to wish to write your own essay on this topic, making your own selection of quotes from Marx in order to support your own interpretation of Marx. If you want to do this, by all means do this but then submit your essay to a magazine or journal to see if they will publish it. But you cannot use WP to publish your essay. WP editors can collaborate to write articles only if they work within the terms of our NPOV, NOR and V policies. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:33, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I never carefully selected or cherry picked any quotes from Marx and put them together in some sort of crafty way in order to support my own interpretation. The passage I quoted from Marx, is indeed what Marx himself makes clear in his own (ordered) words: "Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly from this form itself..." Unfortunately, the text is all there and I've already made my point but for someone who is not familiar with Marx's writings or has not read enough of his work, it is all too difficult of a task for me to try and convince you of the multi-layered argument that commodity fetishism holds (i.e. 'this form itself' -- use-values and exchange-values imbued in the commodity). Thank you for the suggestion however I have already published a few articles and in my PhD dissertation argued this before. You have your articles on wikipedia to edit and I have my classes on Classical Marxism to teach. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:25, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Whoever wrote the title "when words are scarce they are seldom spent in vein" got the spelling wrong. It is not "vein" but "vain". What you often get on wikipedia is, that people who cannot even spell simple words, pronounce themselves as authorities on Marx. The so-called "Marxists" are usually stinky hippies, petty fascists or scheming bureaucrats living off tax money and endowments who think they are standing on the shoulders of Karl Marx, directing the course of history, or at the very least, like to posture their "profound erudition and knowledge". It's certainly a handicap in writing about Marx (the noise and distraction of "Marxism"), but it doesn't mean that a good article is impossible to write. User:Jurriaan 20 January 2012 15:14 (UTC)
And BTW "Classical Marxism" is, according to scientific historians, simply a myth. Isaac Deutscher invented this myth to distinguish, according to his own value-judgements, between "legitimate" Marxism and "bastard" Marxism (its toxic Stalinist and Maoist offspring). The idea was, that there had once existed an era in which Marxism bloomed, as a high point in democratic intellectual culture, with democratic, critical and humanist values etc. (the "glory days" of Marxism)... before things turned nasty and the doctrine became rotten. The conservative historian Perry Anderson popularized Deutscher's idea, suggesting that there had been a "golden era" of Marxism that leftists should return to, and rediscover. If however one bothers to study in detail this so-called "era of Classical Marxism", one finds among other things, rather spectacularly, that (as Deutscher himself admits in places) most of the "Marxists" had read almost nothing of Marx's works! There was also a very good reason for why they had not read Marx: most of his writings had either not been published, or they were not available, or they were heavily censored by the state. The question is then, how can there have been an "era of classical Marxism", when most of the "Marxists" were not even familiar with basic works by Marx, nevermind the difficulties they had in making themselves heard in politics? But then, who gives a shit about the historical facts, when you can earn a fatcat academic salary, teaching mythology? User:Jurriaan 20 January 2012 15:36 (UTC)
"according to scientific historians ..." Who? can you please provide some citations? Slrubenstein | Talk 16:29, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

hi there, can i aske for clarification of what Jurriaan wants to add? it seems like a matter of emphasis - whether the source of commodity fetishism is given. is that right? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:55, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Rubinstein, in this area of research the people I am acquainted with at the International Institute of Social History are the scholars around Marcel van der Linden, Jaap Kloosterman and Jan Lucassen. There are a few modern US scholars such as Richard B. Day and Kevin B. Anderson who reject the mythological nursery tales about "classical Marxism". As regards myself, I researched the early history of Marxism in Australia and New Zealand (for New Zealand, Kerry Taylor has published very detailed articles and books). If you just wanted to have a very quick read of something, try the relevant part VIII of Ernest Mandel's "The place of Marxism in history" [1]. Mandel admits very explicitly that until the 1930s, i.e. after the beginning of Stalinist Marxism-Leninism, few people had read much of Marx (never mind understanding it). The question then is how you can have a classical Marxism when the Marxists knew and understood very little about Marx. What I have been saying is not a big secret, nor very controversial. It is obvious to anyone who is prepared to familiarize themselves thoroughly with the facts about the earlier history of Marxism. It is just that that many of the pretentious Marxist academics of today (the odious Trotskyists, Zizekists, Badiouists and Negri-ites) have a sentimental attachment to mythology - a beautiful idea and a beautiful world of revolutionary heritage that once existed, and which we ought to return to. As I am sure Roland Boer would point out, this approach is actually rooted in judeo-christian eschatology, it has nothing to do with scientific historiography. It is also deeply reactionary and backward-looking as matter of fact (although the self-styled "classical Marxists" consider themselves to be at the very forefront of human progress - if you say things like "classical Marxism" obviously it sounds like a really good product). As regards the question by the unsigned contributor to this talk, I am not going to respond to it, because I do not really want to discuss here with people who refuse to identify themselves. User:Jurriaan 2 february 2012 11:20 (UTC)
That is all very sweet Juriann, but I do not want a suggestion for what to read, I just want you to comply with NPOV, V and RS policies. Your view of Trotskyites is simply irrelevant. You mention a list of people. If they have published in reliable source, by all means, add accounts of their views to the article and provice the appropriate citations, that is all I ask. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:43, 2 February 2012 (UTC)
Rubinstein, I agree that the issue of whether there was, or was not, an era of "classical Marxism" is not really relevant to this article. I was merely replying to your request for documentation. The general difficulty with writing on these topics - in my opinion - is that Marxists have frequently mis-taught the concepts at the most basic level, misled people about the theory and miseducated them. So then you are often better off reading the original texts yourself to work out what it means. I agree that we need to stick to reliable sources and refer to them in the notes. User:Jurriaan 3 february 2012 7:35 (UTC)
Thank you, Jurriaan. I appreciate your naming sources. I am glad that we agree that the key point is to provide a properly sourced account of their respective views in the article. Best, Slrubenstein | Talk 17:03, 3 February 2012 (UTC)
A general problem with social scientific concepts is that their meaning - as Marx would have been the first to point out - is not static, but evolves across time. As a corollary, each new era in history develops its own "reading" of what the concepts mean. This should alert us especially to the continuities and discontinuities of meaning, but also alert us to the possibility - as historians frequently note - that contemporary meanings are (wrongly) projected onto the past, even although in the past they did not have quite the same significance. A retrospective "reading" of the past can therefore become "mythological" in the sense that meanings are projected which never truly existed in that way. The myth may provide a convenient justification for current political and intellectual practices, but scientifically speaking, the mythological story is not truly enlightening, and provides no real orientation, because it ascribes a meaning to things which they never truly had to start off with. User:Jurriaan 5 february 2012 9:30 (UTC)
We are required to provide all significant views. If one of these significant views (y) is: that another significant view (x) is anachronistic or a myth, or not truly enlightening, or not truly orienting, then we include both views (x and y), providing the citations. So this is not a problem at Wikipedia. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:55, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
I don't think we disagree on this, Rubinstein. It's just that I think we owe it to readers to distinguish between those who originated a theory and those who subsequently deformed it. User:Jurriaan 7 february 2012 16:45 (UTC)
We are not allowed to judge content of articles. We are not allowed to say that anyone deformed the theory, or has a wrong interpretation of Marx, or of Capital chapter one. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:33, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Agree with you Slrubenstein except to quibble that we are allowed to say those things IF we have a good source that says that. Another way of looking at it is that "commodity fetishism" was a concept in Marx's thought, and it is also a concept in Marxism. Those are separate things. There is continuity and also discontinuity in how various thinkers have used and developed the concept. We need to cover all that, from good sources. Some readers will be interested in whether and how Gramsci thought of commodity fetishism, others in Lukacs. Some people might be interested in the connection with Bourdieu's ideas. All that and more can be covered to the extent that there is a good academic literature on it. Itsmejudith (talk) 18:26, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, of course: if a reliable source for a significant point of view makes such a judgment we have to include it — but in a neutral way. Gramsci, Lukacs, both significant, also Bourdieu, and anthropologist Michael Taussig, and perhaps sociologist Daniel Bell? Slrubenstein | Talk 19:03, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
These are all valid points. There is already a bit on Lukacs, though it could be expanded. Gramsci and Bourdieu had little to say directly about commodity fetishism, but they elaborated the theory in different ways. Taussig is certainly worth including. I am happy to write some text about these authors in future, when I have an opportunity (if others do not do so). User:Jurriaan 10 februari 2012 10:57 (UTC)


There are many associated dangers in making one too many assumptions. Classical Marxism is simply the title of the course I teach on volume one of Capital. As much as I'm amused by your outlandish responses, I do not suffer fools gladly. It's a shame that someone with so much knowledge, rather than publishing any significant work or anything at all has to prove himself on the talk page of a wikipedia article. Don't waste your time with a reply, it's better spent on something worth it like finishing that PhD. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:45, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Yikes. Insecure much? Sindinero (talk) 13:20, 16 February 2012 (UTC) are you plying Marxism as a trade? Who are you addressing? You don't seem to be very good with Wikipedia, did you read the talk header? It was definitely there when you made your comments. In any case I maintain tags and the ones there now, looking for a clarification of what the OR issue is so that can be addressed, if the complaint is stale will remove the tag. (talk) 12:57, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

Why delete a chunk of the preceding discussion from this talk page?[edit]

Why has a chunk of the preceding discussion been deleted from this talk page? user:Jurriaan 31 May 2012 3:52 (UTC)

Now watch scum editors wreck a clearly written article[edit]

With the edits of Mhazard9, which are presumably intended to impose a standard (his standard), the article's readibility has declined and a lot of statements have become barely comprehensible crap. User:Jurriaan 8 June 2012 1:38 (UTC)

Whoa there tiger. The article was actually barely readable as it was, and went into lots of meandering (or doddering) digressions that didn't have much to do with commodity fetishism. The article needs a major overhaul, and treating other editors like that won't help anything. And may even get you blocked. Sindinero (talk) 09:26, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
. . . and furthermore, I expect “scum editor” to be spelled with initial caps, in Standard English, please. So, that’s “Mr. Scum Editor”, to you.

Mhazard9 (talk) 10:56, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

I won't be participating in this article anymore, although I may reset it when it has become total gibberish. I am deeply disappointed by all kinds of pretentious wikiriff-raff with no in-depth knowledge of the subject, nor any editing ability, wrecking good, readable articles. User:Jurriaan 8 June 2012 14:41 (UTC)
Having read through the above threads, I see that you've ostentatiously and histrionically washed (or wrung) your hands of this article at least three or four times since September 2011 alone. Given your snivellingly condescending tone, the weird meandering and often incoherent digressions that your "in-depth knowledge" seems to secrete, your abuse of other editors, and your idiosyncratic approach to wikipedia policy in general, allow me to humbly invite you to flush your disappointment, deeply, and to hope for the record that this dramatic departure stage right is not another of your cyclical lupumvocations. We may be disappointed on that score, though. Sindinero (talk) 12:57, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
I looked through your contributions over the years, Jurriaan, and they're impressive. We should be grateful to you for starting articles on Ronald Meek and Samir Amin, even if you had done nothing else of value here. But you should know that referring to other editors as "scum" is unacceptable. I really have no idea where you are coming from in relation to this article. Remember that one thing that you can always do is maintain a copy of the article in your user space and work it up as you would wish it to be, then propose that version here on the talk page. In the meantime, I really think we can best make progress if we work section by section. Itsmejudith (talk) 13:46, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
Judith, I agree the term "scum" is not in accordance with protocol. Nevertheless, I think the expression is accurate, since people with a vastly inflated sense of their own ability start to chop up and rewrite articles, when they don't have specialist knowledge about the topic, and don't have the skills to edit so that the intent of other contributors is preserved. What you get then is articles which are full of faults, but because they are barely readable anymore after the edit, nobody is interested very much anymore in rewriting things so that the article is readable and presentable. The amoral thing about wikipedia is that even when articles I have written consistently get very high ratings (and up to 20,000 hits a month), there are plenty amateurs who nevertheless want to hack into the articles to change them around into something that looks far, far worse - instead of developing what is there into something better. The only thing I am still doing in wikipedia at this stage is to provide more references for articles that I have written, but even there, I am starting to have my doubts - what is the use of this work, when (1) riffraff amateurs start to butcher my work after I have done it (2) bogus publishers steal my article and publish it for private profit under bogus author names and bogus editors? Perhaps I should explain, that I have worked professionally as translator and editor for world authorities on these topics, and that I am not very amused by wikiscum wrecking a lot of my work, when they demonstrably cannot do a better job! Altogether my work on wikipedia gets around two million hits per year. User:Jurriaan 8 June 2012 18:55 (UTC)
It's a collaborative encylopedia. Given your interests, your attitude seems rather individualistic and competitive. As for bogus publishers, yes, it's appalling, but on every edit page you see: "If you do not want your writing to be edited, used, and redistributed at will, then do not submit it here." Riffraff amateurs - count me in. Itsmejudith (talk) 17:11, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
In my experience most wikipedians are individualistic and indeed wikipedia is an American idea. The ideological categories you use are hardly enlightening. I am neither being individualistic or competitive, because if I was, I would not even go near wikipedia as editor, except that I might use it in a self-interested search for information. The issues are rather different. When you take a great deal of time to write an article, and somebody starts to wreck it without explanation, that is not "collaboration", and it is not an incentive to colaborate further. As regards authorship, nobody "owns" an article but the wikimedia foundation explicitly prohibits wikipedia articles from being published under the names of bogus authors and editors - it is just that the foundation does not enforce the prohibition particularly if the publication does refer to "wikipedia content". If I put a lot of effort in to write a clear and informative article, and it gets wrecked by another editor who has no real ability to do a good job, I am being treated with contempt. If my work gets stolen to be published for private profit with bogus authors, I am being treated as a tool. If so, there is not much point in contributing to wikipedia. User:Jurriaan 8 June 2012 19:38 (UTC)
I can quite understand you being cross about people recycling Wikipedia content for profit. But this isn't the place to discuss that. And here we have editors working in good faith. I can tell you my level of expertise on this: I've read a fair bit of Marx, know Gramsci well, Bourdieu, bits of Lukacs, know at least something about all the other writers cited. Can write in grammatical English, but my first-draft style can often do with improvement. Do you want to be part of that or not? Itsmejudith (talk) 18:30, 8 June 2012 (UTC)
I have no problem at all with people re-editing stuff I wrote... if indeed the result means that the article becomes genuinely better than it was. But if it gets worse instead, then I have to both explain again what's wrong with the re-edits, and re-edit the thing so that it makes correct sense again. This starts to take a lot of time, and it becomes tiresome. There are a lot of editors active in wikipedia who just pick on popular articles, jump in and start to re-edit them, for their own selfish pleasure, but that does not mean at all, that the articles necessarily become genuinely better. I am sure that you have valuable editing and collaborative skills, but the point is, all that ability can be wiped out at the stroke of a keyboard... and you just end up at best as a repairman or repairwoman. Suppose you are a college graduate - would you want to collaborate with a freshman? Of course you would, on a range of activities. But for some things you would not, because you would say, "the freshman first has to go through a learning process before he or she is ready to participate." Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but that means also that any freshman can edit the work of somebody who spent ten years at university! That's okay but the odds are that the result will not be an improvement since the freshman lacks the experience to do a better job. User:Jurriaan 8 June 2012 21:20 (UTC)

Just one other point, Judith: Jimbo Wales, the founder of wikipedia, professes to be a follower of Aynd Rand, and that's extreme individualism. Wales merely says, that he doesn't consider that extreme individualism is incompatible with sharing, in particular sharing information (as the scum-editors like Mhazard9 have now taken over, and wrecked the article, I am not going to waste anymore time on this). User:Jurriaan 7 July 2012 22:21 (UTC)

Article structure[edit]

It would be useful to agree a structure for the article. How about this. First main section: CF as outlined in Capital, including its place in Marx's political economy. Second: evolution of Marx's idea of fetishism, including the ideas Marx drew on and the ways he used the term in his writings pre Capital. Third: CF as it has been used in Marxism. Fourth: use by non-Marxist writers. What do people think?Itsmejudith (talk) 10:49, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Excellent idea, and I like the suggested outline. I think it would also be useful to include sources that tend more towards explication/unpacking than analysis/commentary, in addition to the latter. A while back I added Harvey, Fine, and Bottomore to the further reading section - I think these sources could be quite useful as references for the section that develops Marx's presentation of CF in Capital, so that we wouldn't have to quote only Capital itself as a primary source. Sindinero (talk) 10:59, 8 June 2012 (UTC)

Dear Judith:

The editorial purpose is the lucidly consistent presentation of the Commodity Fetishism subject matter, so that the article says what it means and means what it says, by means of a cohesive narrative of Iteration, Explanation, and Reiteration, because this is a didactic enterprise.

I agree with your suggestions about the structure of the article; hence, I respectfully ask that you be consistent when you change the layout; either delete all of the bullets, in the Cultural Theory and in the Intellectual Property sub-sections, or not. I think they should remain, because they are brief, discrete paragraphs meant to communicate thematically related facts pertinent to the subject. Otherwise, you are playing “ 'cause I say so” games . . . because . . . you forgot to delete the Baudrillard bullet, and you mis-corrected the theoretic “du spectacle”, in English it also is a two-word usage. If you disbelieve me, please READ aloud the title of the theory and the title of the book, and you shall HEAR that it is what I wrote, and not because I say so.

I am all for co-operation, but, please practice what you preach to me; and do not deceive yourself, theoretic is an English word. If you dislike it, I can respect that, but bullshit (that which is neither true nor untrue) is impolite editorial politics. Respect and be respected.


Mhazard9 (talk) 14:44, 9 June 2012 (UTC)

Let's get rid of all the bullets. OK, I forgot one of them, but there is no deadline, is there? We are allowed bullet-pointed lists, but they should be short-item lists, not paragraphs. "Theoretic" is not in common usage in discussion of Marxist theory, critical theory etc. "Theoretical" is better, but both "theory" and "theoretical" are dreadfully overused in this article. "Du spectacle" is not a logical or usual way to refer to Debord's concept. Either "spectacle" in French or "spectacle" in English. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:01, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
I would also like to get rid of the Criticism section, because these are deprecated. The material should be worked into the article so that critical writers are mentioned in the places that their critiques pertain to. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:51, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
Dear Judith:
I disagree, your recommendation of cut-and-paste-integration of critical contradiction, next to a given Marxist statement, would close the (broken) vicious circle and re-establish the tangential, opinionated prolixity (not on subject) that was the initial problem; too many OPINIONS . . . which is TOO MUCH ADO about a psychological theory of economics that is “not true”. An internal hypertextlink would suffice to connect theme and criticism within the Article text. The Commodity Fetishism article is an historical report about a 19th-century concept in political economy, Marxism is not serious-subject metaphysics requiring a busy-body contradiction in every paragraph, in each sentence, lest the reader. . . . (What?) Facts are facts; gilding the lily is unnecessary.
I think the criticism section should stand, because its entries are specific to a given Marxist theme (readily connected with an internal hypertextlink). As run-in text, the textually VOLUMINOUS criticisms would become thematically inappropriate, and thus tangential, because they are not the subject, commodity fetishism. Moreover, an itemized bullet listing (I believe) is standard Wikipedia-page layout. Yet I shan’t put my hand in the fire; correct me if I am mistaken. Nonetheless, the contemporary version of the Commodity Fetishism article is transitory, not definitive, but discomfiting; without the textual padding, the article appears naked; it is not. Reading the sources explains the delayed polishing, substantive and stylistic.
Yours, Mhazard9 (talk) 18:42, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
I think what you mean is that you do not want sections to be unnecessarily long, with refutations of every criticism. Agreed. The solution is to cut out a lot of material. And you have not been editing much because you have been reading the sources. Good stuff. My point stands. Criticism sections don't help our NPOV policy. Itsmejudith (talk) 19:36, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Dear Judith:
No, I do not mean that. It is time to tuck-point the extant text, as required.
Mhazard9 (talk) 00:43, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean, tuck-point? Please spell out what you are suggesting. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:25, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Culture industry?[edit]

In the criticism section, a change was recently made by MHazard, altering the sentence, "thus, if the market did not exist, it would have been impossible for the masses to have access to cultural objects" to a version that read "Therefore, if the market for commodities did not exist, it would have been impossible for the mass of society to have access to the gppds and services of the culture industry." I restored this to the previous version -- while I don't have the Cowan text in front of me, I think it pretty unlikely that a (not very theoretical) neoliberal economist would be drawing on Frankfurt School terminology; to use this terminology in representing his view would give a skewed picture, given the value judgments and other baggage associated with the term "culture industry." I don't see that there's any need to use this inflated term in this context -- unless I'm wrong, that is: does Cowan use the term? Sindinero (talk) 06:40, 16 June 2012 (UTC) Does it matter? Cowan is worthless either way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:57, 4 October 2012 (UTC)


Is there a version of this article for idiots? I haven't read Marx, or economics, and if I wanted to, I'd get the original books.

Aren't encyclopaedias meant to give laymen a working idea of a topic? This article reads like an essay for some politics class. Many other articles do a good job of explaining complex topics to people who are idly curious, I think this needs a re-write. Cite your sources, don't paste them in wholesale! (talk) 15:25, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Actually, it depends. Some articles (Moon, for example) have a combination of introductory and more technical material. I agree with you about citing sources rather than pasting them in.


I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure Marx doesn't use the language of "reification" ("Verdinglichung") to describe commodity fetishism. If this is the case, then I suggest we remove references to reification from the lead and the explanation of commodity fetishism. Reification is known primarily through the work of Lukacs (History and Class Consciousness), who was himself building on Marx's theory of commodity fetishism. Thus it's not only anachronistic but unnecessarily circuitous to rely on "reification" to explain Marxian commodity fetishism, as much as the two concepts have in common. It's also unnecessarily jargony and not the most helpful thing for readers who may have no background in Marxist theory. For unpacking and explaining the concept, let's stick to Marx's terms; we can elaborate on reification in the section that actually discusses Lukacs's contribution to Marx's theory. Sound about right? Sindinero (talk) 15:18, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

You are correct, Marx doesn't refer specifically to reification when he discusses commodity fetishism. Commodity fetishism is only one of several fetishisms he discusses - there is also money fetishism and capital fetishism. This article has been wrecked by idiot editors who don't know what they are talking about. Hence, the article is now largely nonsensical gibberish which misinforms readers about the topic. User:Jurriaan 11 Feb 2013 20:07 (UTC)

The first sentence here is nigh unreadable[edit]

Each new clause of the opening sentence has a new, ambiguous subject; first, "commodity fetishism is a transformation" which gets "derived;" then, "trading of commodities" is the way in which social relationships get objectified; and then those "relationships" are what is among money and commodities and buyers and sellers. Or perhaps it says something completely different; it's hard to tell. The subject is constantly moving, and reading the sentence is like trying to keep your eye on a fast-moving subterranian gopher.

If someone knows what this sentence is trying to say, I'd suggest breaking it up into two or three smaller sentences, and using nouns instead of tacked-on clauses (e.g. replace "whereby" with a noun). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cjaywork (talkcontribs) 17:40, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

What I originally wrote was: "In Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism denotes the mystification of human relations said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by and transformed into, objectified relationships between things (commodities and money)." It was slightly clumsy to put it that way, but okay. Next, the wiki-shit dumb-down morons did a bit of "creative" editing and now it just becomes blabber-jabber gibberish. User:Jurriaan 21 March 2013 20:50 (UTC)

Then revert the passages that are inaccurate already. 2001:558:6045:1D:56E:DCCB:ED9D:24EA (talk) 01:04, 14 April 2013 (UTC)


"Hence, in a capitalist society, social relations between people—who makes what, who works for whom, the production-time for a commodity, et cetera—are perceived as economic relations among objects, that is, how valuable a given commodity is when compared to another commodity."

Perhaps someone could polish up the definition of social relations here. Is it similar to or different from the concept of the relations of production? Along with economic relations, it seems to be a pretty important concept and worth elaborating on and so an item significant enough to call for 'et cetera' is probably important enough to be named.

Economic relations among objects still doesn't make sense even if we think of it in terms of commodity X's value vis a vis commodity Y's value. Value refers to what exactly? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

CF and other modes of production[edit]

Perhaps it would be a good idea to include a section discussing why commodity fetishism does not exist in other modes of production (e.g., feudalism). I can't find any sources at hand but I think a historical comparative analysis would be a good way to shed light more light on this concept and furthermore explain why or how exactly it is peculiar to capitalist society. Just a thought. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:35, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

As I see it, there are two issues.

1) The separation of the product from the producer. 2) The assignment of mystical magical properties to a product.

1. Separation of the product from the producer is evident even in the wild kingdom. As soon as one predator preforms the difficult task of killing a large animal, the large dead animal is now 'a kill'. A smart, fleet, dangerous animal, has been converted into a heap of ready to eat meat. All sorts of other predators now compete to eat the kill. The antelope has been converted into meat.

Separation of the product from the producer reaches it's absurd maximum in the case of the Beatles no longer owning their own songs. The right to sell a copy of "Hard Day's Night' is a long way from John, Paul, George and Ringo singing in a club.

2. A King's Crown. It is just a ring of metal. But it has been assigned an agreed upon value that it it's wearer is the King. "Many" would believe that the crown has magical powers to bestow who ever wears it with KingShip. Same with an Idol. And idol is just a carved block of wood or stone. But once it is carved, "many" would believe it is now contains the spirit of a god or is a god.

The iPhone is both a product that is separated from the capital, labor, marketing and design that produced it.

And it is a status symbol that imbues it's purchaser with 'cool'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:32, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

removal of chart[edit]

I removed the comment and chart in the "Naturalisation of market behaviour" section. It seemed distracting and not relevant to or illustrative of the concept of Adam Smith et al, of the natural forces of the market, i.e., supply and demand etc., and was unreferenced. IamNotU (talk) 21:27, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Remove Cowen?[edit]

"In the book In Praise of Commercial Culture (2000), the libertarian economist Tyler Cowen said that, despite the cultural tendency to fetishes and fetishism, the human fetishization of commodities (goods and services) is an instance of anthropomorphism (ascribing personal characteristics to animals and objects), and not a philosophic feature particular to the economics of capitalism or to the collective psychology of a capitalist society."

I read this book and I don't see any relevant passages about commodity fetishization. He lists potential reasons why some Marxists are cultural pessimists and makes the case that free markets make an "art-producing-friendly" environment but that appears to be it. The google search of the book name and "commodity fetishism" only links to this wikipedia page, and another page that links to this wikipedia page. Sentientfroot (talk) 03:39, 16 May 2017 (UTC)