The Display Window

Janet Ward

in Weimar Surfaces

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780520222984
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924734 | DOI:
The Display Window

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Marx's analysis of the “fetishism of commodities” in Capital refers to how, under capitalism, commodities are made mysterious and their use value or origins of production are obscured by their exchange value. The surface cult of commodities thus distorts the way people understand social relations and working conditions behind the production of objects. The commodity aesthetics are by nature a fraud, or con; mass consumption is a front created to cover up the pitfall of overproduction. The strictly Marxist viewpoint does not wish to appreciate how the late nineteenth century, the first era that celebrated industrial display, also effectively brought about a proletarization of commodity desire. All first timers, all classes were encouraged to enter the department store, to attend the world trade fair, to gaze at the display windows. For Marx, this would amount to no more than a surface freedom in the authentic culture generated by capitalism, since all consumers are passive before the cannibalesque spectacle.

Keywords: Marx; capitalism; proletarization; Marxist; spectacle

Chapter.  17952 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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