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The Eucharist and the Commodity

The Eucharist and the Commodity

Chapter:
(p.86) 4 The Eucharist and the Commodity
Source:
The Birth of Theory
Author(s):
Andrew Cole
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226135564.003.0004

Marx’s theory of the commodity fetish is not as original as it seems. In fact, it has its foundations in Hegel’s writings on religion—specifically, Hegel’s discussions of the sacramental feelings and fetishism of Christianity, from the time of Christ to the Middle Ages. Marx, this chapter demonstrates, translates the Hegelian eucharist into the commodity; more broadly, he takes from Hegel a sacramental theory of fetishism that explains, in ways never before recognized, Marx’s most memorable insight about intersubjectivity and social relations: “[the commodity-form] is nothing but the definite social relation between men themselves which assumes here, for them, the fantastic form of a relation between things.” If Marx enters the “misty realm of religion” to explain the secret of the commodity, then that realm is indelibly a Hegelian one.

Keywords:   Marx, commodity fetish, fetishism, theory of value, eucharist, capital, sacraments, ideology, Theodor Adorno, Slavoj Žižek

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