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Chapter Twelve - Value and the Articulation of Modes of Re-Production

from Part IV - Marxian And Post-Colonial Approaches as well as World System Theory in Relation to Gift Exchange and MacroRegional Exchange

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 August 2022

Johan Ling
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Richard Chacon
Winhrop University, South Carolina
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In this chapter, I will argue that trade and exchange, whether civilised or uncivilised, have to be understood by developing a theory of value. Marx’s well-known distinction between use value and exchange value was predicated on whether the product of alienated labour confronted the producer as ‘something alien, as a power independent of the producers’ (Marx and Engels 1970: 16). In the passages on commodity fetishism in The German Ideology, the laws of the commodity market are compared to the superstition of the savage who fashions a fetish with his own hand and then falls down and worships it (Arthur 1970: 17). Extrapolating to the remote past that the product of our labour continues to confront us as something alien has a certain relevance for understanding long-term histories of inequality.

Trade before Civilization
Long Distance Exchange and the Rise of Social Complexity
, pp. 289 - 308
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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