The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America

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By Michael T. Taussig

During this vintage e-book, Michael Taussig explores the social importance of the satan within the folklore of latest plantation employees and miners in South the USA. Grounding his research in Marxist thought, Taussig reveals that the fetishization of evil, within the picture of the satan, mediates the clash among precapitalist and capitalist modes of objectifying the human situation. He hyperlinks conventional narratives of the devil-pact, during which the soul is bartered for illusory or transitory energy, with the way construction in capitalist economies reasons staff to develop into alienated from the commodities they produce. a brand new bankruptcy for this anniversary variation contains a dialogue of Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille that extends Taussig's rules concerning the devil-pact metaphor.

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He argues that this thought of human equality is mostly dominant in a subgroup to the level that that staff is denied social equality by way of the broader society or by way of its dominant category. however, he supplies us the equality derived from the concept that of equality of rights and possibilities, as analyzed through Alexis de Tocqueville in his dialogue of egalitarianism within the usa. this concept of equality ignores the full man or woman and concentrates as a substitute on one aspect of a person's life; hence, equality may be measured quantitatively. As Jayawardena notes, an identical element used to be made through Marx in his "Cri- 118 satan and Commodity Fetishism in South the United States tique of the Gotha Programme," during which he attacked the primary of "equal wages for equivalent paintings" followed by way of the German socialists simply because this evaluated the employee by means of just one point of his life. due to differing person capacities and stipulations, Marx thought of this precept a bourgeois formulation for perpetuating inequality. Inequality will be conquer provided that equality have been established completely on human wishes (Jayawardena, 1968). the adaptation among those methods of comparing equality stems from the adaptation among use-value and exchange-value. purely with the exchange-value paradigm can the standards of equality be decreased to costs and funds, on the price of reification. In a state of affairs during which a use-value economic climate like peasant householding coexists with and is felt to be imperiled through an exchangevalue approach, those modes of comparing equality are at loggerheads. accordingly the contradiction signified through "filth" is not just a subject matter relating inequality: grime additionally places at factor the industry paradigm of equivalence. the most important precept of oeconomia—the householding mode of production—is to supply for the desires of the loved ones. The sale of surpluses needn't smash self-sufficiency nor imperil the integrity of the primary of creation to be used. In denouncing creation for achieve as unnatural, Aristotle made this important element: capitalist-oriented (chrematistic) construction threatens the very foundation of society. The fundaments of human organization shouldn't be subjected to the uncooked financial cause of achieve in and for itself. the same fiscal philosophy are available within the development of motifs awarded via the southern Cauca Valley this day. The peasant vegetation supply little, but they offer regularly and frequently inside of a social and ecological nexus that continuously refurbishes its personal roots. besides the fact that, for plantation employees the archetypal alternate constitution as symbolized via the proletarian satan agreement is noticeably diversified. the employee makes some huge cash by means of promoting his soul to the satan, yet this can be reciprocated by means of nonrepetitive and ultimate occasions: a untimely and agonizing dying and the barrenness of soil and wages. instead of an alternate that boosts and perpetuates a collection of perennial reciprocal exchanges just like the peasant's relation to the tree plants, the satan agreement is the trade that ends all exchange—the agreement with funds which absolves the social agreement and the soul of guy.

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