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.
KeywordsCapitalist Form Exchange Relation Capitalist Production Wage Labour Capitalist System
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