The Commodity and Its Other


This article seeks to explore the depths of a Marxian critique of the commodity, building on both older and newer discussions. The starting point of this inquiry is the empirical status quo of ‘postmodern capitalism’, which is often interpreted in a culturalistic way, criticizing its consumerist, imaginary appearance. Against this, a renewed reading of Marx’s own writings is upheld. Further elaborating on this, the respective neo-Marxist accounts of the Frankfurt School and the Situationists are discussed, pointing to their common omission of the dimension of the commodity’s Other. It is argued that these errors can only be corrected with reference to feminist conceptions, which likewise do not offer solutions, but help to understand the deeper contradictoriness of the capitalist totality. Conclusively, the ‘value diremption’ (Wert-Abspaltung) is propounded as a contemporary (German) materialist and negative dialectical approach, which might help to elucidate the problematic.

(Elmar Flatschart)

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