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The Birth of Theory$
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Andrew Cole

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226135397

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226135564.001.0001

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The Eucharist and the Commodity

The Eucharist and the Commodity

(p.86) 4 The Eucharist and the Commodity
The Birth of Theory

Andrew Cole

University of Chicago Press

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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