1. What does Marx mean when he explains the two factors of commodities and money? Where do we see Marx’s ideas of fetishism in today’s society and how do they relate to capitalism?
Commodity is a social phenomenon and how we measure it is a social paradigm. Not every commodity is worth the same to a person. Prescription drugs are cheaper in Mexico, than they are in the United States. People in those countries both need them to cure ailments, yet one puts more value on them than the other one. The value of a commodity is determined by human behavior and maybe even how long it took to make the product itself. This explains why high-end boutiques sell handcrafted items for more money than for a product that is mass produced in a factory. Commodities are bought and sold or exchanged in a market for capital. This capital enters these markets in the form of money.
C-M-C is commodities transformed into money and transformed back into commodities. People sell commodities for money to buy more commodities. In C-M-C, the final product is a use-value. The use-value of the commodity is the utility of the product. It is what makes the product useful. The money gets spent on the product bought. The use-value of a pair of shoes is that it protects your feet when you are walking. It is tied to the physical properties of the product and the human needs that it fulfills. M-C-M transforms money into a commodity, and then transforms the commodity back into money. In this commodity trade, the seller gets the money back again. The money is not spent, but it is merely advanced. The purpose of M-C-M is exchange-value; to accumulate money. This represents how modern capitalism works today. A capitalist will take their money and buy a commodity with the intent to resell for profit. The capitalist invests their money to gain more money. The exchange value for a pair of shoes depends on certain characteristics. A $20 pair of shoes from Payless will not be the same as a $120 pair of Air Jordan shoes from Nike. The object that becomes a commodity counts for more in the relation than outside it, because of the social status attached to it. This is the fetishism of commodity.
They all relate to capitalism through the exchange of money. Profit only comes from the exchange itself. Through the exchange of money, there is social relation between men and accumulated things. We relate an abundance of valuable items to our self-worth and our identity. Fetishism will continue to drive modern society. Social networks and marketing have and will continue to target the younger generation into what it is that they want and value as status symbols. Money, commodities and capital represent what true social value is.