Jan 23 2012

Karl Marx Consumerism

Published by at 12:44 am under Reflection Blog

What I gathered from reading from Karl Marx is mainly that value is determined by the labor put into it, and the rarity of the object. Humans make something valuable or not based on the perceived effort put into it, not necessarily the actual effort. Regarding the “magnitudes of value” mentioned in the article, I found that rarity is a huge factor in defining something as “valuable”. For example, we value an ounce of gold so much more than a pound of iron, even though you can do more with iron.
Marx states, “the determination of the magnitude of value by labor-time is therefore a secret hidden under the apparent movements in the relative values of commodities”. In short, if the ‘thing’ makes life easier for people, it is worth more to them. It’s worth can completely disregard the labor-time or quantity of the object, in order for its convenience to namely be the ‘value’. People will spend more on a labor intensive item than an easier to make item. For example, people will pay $20 for a knit wool sweater and $3 on a can opener, without thinking about the resources being used.
Something that is valuable is not necessarily useful, therefore, not necessarily a means to riches. This article really makes the reader think about how society defines so much of what we run our lives around, with probably the best example being the economics of “value”.

One response so far

One Response to “Karl Marx Consumerism”

  1. Sophia Pipon 11 Mar 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Hello, I’m a junior in high school and I’m in the process of writing a paper for my AP English class. And during my semi-directed research I stumbled upon your article. My paper is going to be about the nature of consumerism and I need to incorporate a modern philosopher (and many other things) and I know Karl Marx has a very opinionated view on it. So I was wondering what you read by Karl Marx that you indicated in your entry.

    Thanks!
    Sophia Pip

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