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View Diary: Book review: Anat Shenker-Osorio's 'Don't Buy It' (136 comments)

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  •  I've seen a lot of that thinking here (2+ / 0-)
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    johanus, Calamity Jean

    not just about economics, but about law, public opinion, and in general just about every type of social reality.

    Humans create economies. We can change them.
    Humans create laws. We can change them.
    No one is born with opinions; humans create those, too.

    Marx was the most famous to describe this phenomenon, when talks about the rise of the commodity fetish in the first volume of Capital.

    We make things.
    We make them together.
    It takes a lot of negotiation, work, and cooperation.
    We make them to serve us.

    But once they are made, we tend to sit back and imagine the things to be the real, stable, ideal, unchanging part of the world, and the humans amidst the things we've created to be ephemeral, temporary, nameless, powerless. The economy is real, the players come and go, rather than economies come and go but the players remain the same (i.e. human participants).

    For Marx, the turn of phrase was that we fetishize those things that we create, mistaking the very real relationships between and power amongst the humans of the world for relationships between and power amongst the things of the world—whether those things are consumer goods, corporations, governments, or even "The Law" and "The Economy."

    This fetishization serves the powerful, because we become reliant on those that own and control these things (even though we made them, whether we're talking about goods or economies), forgetting that it was only all of us together that had the power to make them (not the elite who "owns" them according to the rules that we—once again—made ourselves), forgetting just as importantly that we also have the power to unmake both the things and the rules that we've made together through the very same methods.

    -9.63, 0.00
    I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

    by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 07:37:12 PM PDT

    •  I should add that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      this doesn't just apply to recent things (the USA, the iPhone) but also to things that many posters imagine to be eternal (private property as a concept, human freedom as a right, time as a concept).

      We created private property.
      We created freedom and democracy.
      We created the idea of human rights.
      We created time zones, hours, minutes, seconds, and history.

      Contrary to the rhetoric, these things aren't eternal. In each case, there was a time when no human had them. They were ideas that became real through wide-spread adoption and humans acting together as if they were real, by agreement.

      This is what sociologists mean when they refer to "social reality." There are things that become real only by consensus and practice, and only in collectivities.

      Perhaps we wish we could make some of them eternal. But in the end we made them, and continue to maintain (or not) them, and we (or other humans if we're not careful in some cases) can also change them.

      -9.63, 0.00
      I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

      by nobody at all on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 08:16:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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