Stuck into my literature review where I am trying to construct some workable typologies for different interpretations of fetishism. So far I have: fetishism as false consciousness, fetishism as reification, fetishism as alienation and value-form interpretations of fetishism.
In the course of writing I have added a new pet peeve to my constant source of annoyance– people who treat fetishism, reification and alienation as interchangeable. This pet peeve consists in people who make the claim that Lukacs somehow ‘discovered’ Marx’s theory of alienation in his theory of reification. This claim can be found in statements like the following:
“At the time, Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts with their emphasis on the category of alienation had not been discovered yet, and when Lukacs wrote History and Class Consciousness, he was not familiar with Marx’s earlier critique of political economy in terms of alienation. Yet he was able to reconstruct Marx’s critique of alienation as the foundation for the critique of commodity fetishism.”
In my view not only does this statement sound absurd it also: (1) shows they don’t grasp the important differences between reification and alienation Lukacs lays out in the 1960s preface to History and Class Consciousness (2) shows they have an inadequate conception of the differences between the theory of alienation in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and the theory of fetishism he puts forward in his mature critique of political economy. The 60’s are over maaaaan, can we please stop reading everything Marx wrote through a few paragraphs he jotted in some of his notebooks?