The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America

By Michael T. Taussig

During this vintage booklet, Michael Taussig explores the social value of the satan within the folklore of up to date plantation staff and miners in South the United States. Grounding his research in Marxist idea, Taussig reveals that the fetishization of evil, within the photograph of the satan, mediates the clash among precapitalist and capitalist modes of objectifying the human . He hyperlinks conventional narratives of the devil-pact, within which the soul is bartered for illusory or transitory strength, with the way creation in capitalist economies motives employees to develop into alienated from the commodities they produce. a brand new bankruptcy for this anniversary variation incorporates a dialogue of Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille that extends Taussig's rules in regards to the devil-pact metaphor.

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In its industry shape society engenders this fictional fact, and it's with those abstractions or symbols that we're pressured to function and understand the area. but, to beat the reifictions imposed on idea by way of the industry association of truth, it isn't sufficient to achieve that the reified visual appeal of social items is symbolic of social family. For in this sort of society symbols gather atypical homes, and the social kinfolk signified are faraway from being obvious. except we additionally discover that the social kinfolk symbolized in issues are themselves distorted and self-concealing ideological constructs, all we are going to have completed is the substitution of a naive mechanical materialism through an both naive goal idealism ("symbolic analysis"), which reifies symbols in preference to social kinfolk. The social family that the analyst reads within the symbols, the collective representations, and the items that fill our lifestyle are typically conventions approximately social kinfolk and human nature that society parades as its real self. i believe this is often rather transparent with Emile Durkheim and neo-Durkheimians comparable to Mary Douglas who study symbols and collective representations as emanations of anything they name "social structure," reify constitution, and in so doing uncritically settle for society's distorted projection of itself. the purpose is that we will abandon mechanical materialism and develop into acutely aware that evidence and issues stand not directly as indicators for social relatives. We then search for the that means of those indicators during this approach. yet until we detect that the social family members therefore signified are themselves indicators and social constructs outlined through different types of inspiration which are additionally the made from society and background, we stay sufferers of and apologists for the semiotic that we're trying to comprehend. To peel off the disguised and fictional caliber of our social fact, the analyst has the some distance tougher activity of operating in the course of the visual appeal that phenomena gather, no longer loads as symbols, yet because the consequence in their interplay with the traditionally produced different types of proposal which were imposed on them. Karl Marx directs our cognizance to this the place he writes that the indicators or "characters that stamp items as commodities, and whose institution is an important initial to the stream of commodities, have already bought the soundness of normal self-understood varieties of social existence, io satan and Commodity Fetishism in South the United States ahead of guy seeks to decipher, no longer their ancient personality, for in his eyes they're immutable, yet their which means" (1967, 1:75). Artfully mediating the self-validating different types in their epoch, the political economists gave voice and strength to a symbolic procedure within the guise of an financial research. The that means of worth, symbolized via cash, presupposed for them the common and average validity of the indicators and abstractions engendered by way of the industry mechanism. They presupposed a commoditized global and this presupposition persists this present day because the common manner of viewing social existence.

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