The Commodity as ‘Characteristic Form’
In his ‘Notes on Wagner’ Marx describes the commodity as the ‘characteristic form’ of the product in contemporary society. This description of the commodity, taken together with Marx’s claim that ‘the determinate character of social man must be the starting point’ (Marx, 1975, p. 189), suggests that Capital begins with reference to capitalism (with the determinate character of capitalist social man) by beginning with the analysis of the commodity. This interpretation of the beginning of Capital, even though suggested by Marx himself, seems, on the face of it, untenable. Because the commodity form is not unique to capitalism, it does not seem possible that an analysis of this form could disclose the determinate character of capitalism.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- DeBrunhoff, Suzanne (1976) Marx on Money, transl. Maurice Goldbloom (New York: Urizen Books).Google Scholar
- Heidegger, Martin (1962) Being and Time (New York: Harper & Row).Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1967) Capital, vol. III (New York: International Publ.).Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1973) Grundrisse, transl. Martin Nicolaus (New York: Vintage Books).Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1974) Urtext, in Grundrisse (Berlin: Dietz Verlag).Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1975) ‘Notes on Wagner’, in Texts on Method, transl. and ed. Terrell Carver (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).Google Scholar
- Marx, K. (1977) Capital, vol. I, transl. Ben Fowkes (New York: Vintage Books).Google Scholar
- Marx, K. and F. Engels (1975) Selected Correspondence, ed. S. W. Ryazanskaya, transl. by I. Lasker, 3rd edn. (Moscow: Progress Publishers).Google Scholar
- Meek, Ronald (1973) Studies in the Labour Theory of Value, 2nd edn. (London: Lawrence & Wishart).Google Scholar
- Rosdolsky, Roman (1977) The Making of Marx’s ‘Capital’, transl. Pete Burgess (London: Pluto Press).Google Scholar