We take off from Althusser’s contrast between the idealist/mechanical materialist method of abstraction, which, Althusser argues are different forms of essentialism and Marx’s materialism grounded in overdetermination–contradiction. Our central proposition is that the mode of analysis of commodity employed by Hegel and the neoclassical is based on essentialist modes of reasoning while that used by Marx is based on overdetermination–contradiction. The paper tries to establish this through the elaboration of Marx’s critique of commodity fetishism. The relation between Marx’s idea of fetishism, in general, and commodity fetishism is explored through the twin concepts of alienation and reification, which are argued to be the two pillars of fetishism. The critical role of interpellation is brought to the fore in the course of this exploration. The article then moves on to examine how the analyses of commodities in Hegel and in neoclassical economics are both governed by the figure of commodity fetishism.
KeywordsFetishism Alienation Reification Commodity Interpellation
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