I've occasionally been asked by friends, comrades, and various kindergarten classes to try to explain terms which Marx used in relatively easy-to-digest ways -- one of the things that I've been called upon to explain from time to time is Marx's use in Capital of "the fetishism of commodities" -- usually this has me grappling for my copy of Tom Bottomore's "Marxist Dictionary" to look up the dozen-or-so rather dry paragraphs contained therein.

 

However, yesterday I ran across a copy of a play by Wallace Shawn (who also did "My Dinner With Andre") called "The Fever" that provides a much better explanation than I ever have -- I've enclosed it for the enjoyment of all...

 

 - Tony Tracy

 

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On The Fetishism of Commodities (Wallace Shawn)

 

One day there was an anonymous present sitting on my doorstep -- Volume One of *Capital* by Karl Marx, in a brown paper bag. A joke? Serious? And who had sent it? I never found out. Late that night, naked in bed, I leafed through it. The beginning was impenetrable, I couldn't understand it, but when I came to the part about the lives of the workers -- the coal miners, the child laborers -- I could feel myself suddenly breathing more slowly. How angry he was. Page after page. Then I turned back to an earlier section, and I came to a phrase that I'd heard before, a stra