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#14700079
Hi, and thanks for any responses to my question.

I'm reading Marx's Critique of Political Economy, and I'm having trouble understanding exactly what he's saying. In the first chapter he writes,

"Only by being alienated as use-value - which depends upon whether it proves to be in the process of exchange the object of a certain want - does the commodity actually transform its existence as coffee into the existence as linen and thus takes on the form of a universal equivalent and becomes, indeed, an exchange value for all other commodities."

What does he mean by "alienated"? Is he saying that by commodifying the products of labor, the balance between their utility and their expense (labor-time cost) is upset?

Thanks for any insight/guidance!
#14700080
What does he mean by "alienated"? Is he saying that by commodifying the products of labor, the balance between their utility and their expense (labor-time cost) is upset?

He just means that, when goods are converted into commodities, their use-value becomes unimportant and is ignored. In capitalism, if a given amount of coffee is worth, say, £500 and a given amount of linen is also worth £500, then as commodities they are equivalent. The usefulness of the coffee as coffee or the usefulness of the linen as linen is unimportant and is forgotten, or 'alienated'. Yet it is their use-value which is what gives them any real value to human beings at all. Their real value, their use-value, becomes unreal and their exchange-value, which is an abstraction, becomes their only existent value in the capitalist market.

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