Two Economics Tropes of Commodity and Capital Fetishism: Sensationalism and Monotony (1700–1900)
Marx’s concept of fetishism expresses a market ideology of capitalist society representing the social world as commodities being exchanged according to immutable laws of the market and being quantifiably produced by machinery. The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century bourgeois economists articulated this market ideology in different forms. Two antinomic tropes are the sensationalist trope, dating from pre-modern times, defining the discursive codes of luxury and technological inventions displayed in the consumer markets; and the trope of monotony, expressing the qualities of industrial production regarding the repetition of unpleasant but necessary work and the regularity of machinery. In the eighteenth century, the trope of sensationalism pertained exclusively to luxury goods traded by merchant capital. In the nineteenth century, the sensationalist trope was intimately tied to commodity and capital fetishism when industrial capital represented itself in the consumerist sphere of merchant capital providing innovative commodities to the popular strata of society. At the same time, political economists grappled with the economic significance of industrial production as they produced the trope of monotonous machinery and industrial work that expressed the ideological essence of commodity and capital fetishism.