Now I’m re-writing my Lukacs chapter. I’m trying to stress the discontinuity between Lukacs’ conception of reification and Marx’s theory of fetishism. To be sure there are thematic parallels. Lukacs’s analysis was also certainly historically important and includes some conceptual foci Marx did not. But I see two major differences:
(1) Conceptual differences. Whereas Marx conceives of a chiasmus between the reification of persons and the personification of things in which the personification of things as fetish characteristic forms of value play an essential part in the social constitution of capital, Lukacs merely focuses on a conception of reification centered on the transformation of social activity into things In my view this undercuts his explanation of why and how reification is constituted.
(2) Methodological differences. Best put by Ingo Elbe via the translation over at Communism.
In the “founding document” of Western Marxism, Lukács’ “History and Class Consciousness” – which at least for the first time refers to the character of capitalist rule as understood by Marx: anonymous, objectively mediated, and having a life of its own – a reconstruction of Marx’s theory of capitalism is avoided. Instead of an analysis of Marx’s dialectic of the form of value up to the form of capital, which in the theory of real subsumption offers an explanation of the connection – so decisive for Lukács – between commodification and the alienated structure of the labor process, one finds merely an analogizing combination of a value theory reduced to the “quantifying” value-form (due to an orientation towards Simmel’s cultural critique of money) and a diagnosis, oriented towards Max Weber, of the formal-rational tendency of the objectification of the labor process and modern law.
These methodological differences undercut why and how Lukacs sees commodification and reification as constitutive of capitalist totality.