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Commodity fetishism

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In his [[attribution]] of the discovery of [[symptom]] to [[Marx]], [[Lacan]] is, however, more distinct: he locates this discovery in the way Marx conceived the passage from feudalism to [[capitalism]]: 'One has to look for the origins of the [[notion]] of symptom not in Hippocrates but in Marx, in the connection he was first to establish between capitalism and what? -- the [[good]] old [[times]], what we call the feudal times.' 13 To grasp the [[logic]] of this passage from feudalism to capitalism we have first to elucidate its [[theoretical]] background, the Marxian notion of [[commodity]] [[fetishism]].
In a first approach, [[Commodity Fetishism|commodity fetishism ]] is 'a definite [[social]] relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic [[form]] of a relation between things'. 14 The [[value]] of a certain commodity, which is effectively an insignia of a network of social relations between producers of diverse commodities, assumes the form of a quasi'[[natural]]' property of [[another]] [[thing]]-commodity, [[money]]: we say that the value of a certain commodity is such-and-such amount of money. Consequently, the essential feature of commodity fetishism does not consist of the famous replacement of men with things ('a relation between men assumes the form of a relation between things'); rather, it consists of a certain [[misrecognition]] which concerns the relation between a [[structured]] network and one of its elements: what is really a [[structural]] effect, an effect of the network of relations between elements, appears as an immediate property of one of the elements, as if this property also belongs to it [[outside]] its relation with [[other]] elements.
Such a misrecognition can take [[place]] in a 'relation between things' as well as in a 'relation between men' -- Marx states this explicitly apropos of the simple form of the value-expression. Commodity A can express its value only by referring itself to another commodity, B, which thus becomes its equivalent: in the value [[relationship]], the natural form of commodity B (its [[use value]], its positive, empirical properties) functions as a form of value of commodity A; in other [[words]], the [[body]] of B becomes for A the [[mirror]] of its value. To these reflections, Marx added the following note:
The two forms of fetishism are thus incompatible: in societies in which commodity fetishism reigns, the 'relations between men' are totally de-fetishized, while in societies in which there is fetishism in 'relations between men' -- in pre-capitalist societies -- commodity fetishism is not yet developed, because it is 'natural' production, not production for the market, which predominates. This fetishism in relations between men has to be called by its proper [[name]]: what we have here are, as Marx points out, 'relations of domination and servitude' -- that is to say, precisely the relation of Lordship and Bondage in a [[Hegelian]] [[sense]]; 17 and it is as if the retreat of the Master in capitalism was only a [[displacement]]: as if the de-fetishization in the 'relations between men' was paid for by the emergence of fetishism in the 'relations between things' -- by commodity fetishism. The place of fetishism has just shifted from [[intersubjective]] relations to relations 'between things': the crucial social relations, those of production, are no longer immediately [[transparent]] in the form of the interpersonal relations of domination and servitude (of the Lord and his serfs, and so on); they disguise themselves -- to use Marx's accurate [[formula]] -- 'under the shape of social relations between things, between the products of labour'.
This is why one has to look for the discovery of [[The Symptom|the symptom ]] in the way Marx conceived the passage from feudalism to capitalism. With the establishment of bourgeois [[society]], the relations of domination and servitude are [[repressed]]: formally, we are apparently concerned with free subjects whose interpersonal relations are [[discharged]] of all fetishism; the repressed [[truth]] -- that of the persistence of domination and servitude -- emerges in a symptom which subverts the [[ideological]] appearance of equality, [[freedom]], and so on. This symptom, the point of emergence of the truth [[about]] social relations, is precisely the 'social relations between things'. 'Instead of appearing at all events as their own mutual relations, the social relations between individuals are disguised under the shape of social relations between things' -- here we have a precise definition of the [[hysterical]] symptom, of the '[[hysteria]] of conversion' proper to capitalism.
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