The Social Constitution of Commodity Fetishism, Money Fetishism and Capital Fetishism

  • Georgios Daremas
Part of the Luxemburg International Studies in Political Economy book series (LISPE)


The critical concept of commodity fetishism and its developed forms of money and capital fetishism ground the contemporary shape of social life under the rule of capital. This chapter offers a novel interpretation based on Marx’s Capital, elucidating the oft-overlooked interconnection of the fetishism triptych that accounts for domination, as well as the normalisation of exploitation as experienced in capitalist life. In commodity fetishism, a market-based pseudo-social ‘thing-hood’ preponderates over commodity owners and producers, concealing the double inversion that constitutes the ‘world of commodities’. Money’s fetish form makes it appear as the ‘sovereign’ of the commodity world, possessing the exclusive social power to establish the value hierarchy of all persons and objects relativised in regard to it. The universal condition of monetisation of the life process in bourgeois society necessitates the adoption of the competition principle, leading to the generalised formation of a commodity self, shaped by competitive individualism. The social separation of the great mass of commodity producers from the means of production and the consequent need to sell themselves as commodities in the form of wage labour constitutes the social basis of capital fetishism, through which the process of capital ‘valorisation’ is enfolded within the process of use value production, disappearing into its socio-material character and thus naturalised. Capital fetishism dissimulates the production of surplus value by social labour and constructs the harmonised appearance of an equitable contribution of ‘factors of production’ in the sharing of the surplus product, thereby obscuring distributional struggles over it. Such antagonisms over surplus undergird the logic of neoliberal capitalism’s two-pronged strategy, pursuing ‘deregulation of labour relations’ on the one hand and dismantling the welfare state on the other.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgios Daremas
    • 1
  1. 1.Nicos Poulantzas InstituteAthensGreece

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