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By Beverley Best (auth.)

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Extra resources for Marx and the Dynamic of the Capital Formation: An Aesthetics of Political Economy

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3 Phenomenal, ideological appearances, as we know, are the forms of expression by which capitalist relations represent themselves in the perception of capitalism’s agents. Through their reproduction over time, these ideological forms achieve what Marx calls “the stability of natural, self-understood forms of social life” (Marx in Sayer 1979, 9) and come to be perceived as simple “fact” or common sense. , essential production relations) and material consequences in market society. According to Lukács, “the semblance of independence [of the various elements of the social world] is no mere ‘error’ simply to be ‘corrected’ .

The Discrepancy between Essence and Appearance We can situate capitalism’s self-mystifying process in the discrepancy between the essential mechanism of an exchange economy and the distorted appearances which that set of social relationships necessarily generates. We have observed how the interconnectedness and inseparability of the moments of the capitalist mode of production nonetheless appear as discrete and autonomous entities, such as an independent civil society, the state, an institutionalized set of art and cultural practices, and so on.

As Derek Sayer argues, “[s]uch divergence of [phenomenal] forms and [essential] relations provides the basis for Marx’s conception of ideology and at the same time defines the project of his science. 3 Phenomenal, ideological appearances, as we know, are the forms of expression by which capitalist relations represent themselves in the perception of capitalism’s agents. Through their reproduction over time, these ideological forms achieve what Marx calls “the stability of natural, self-understood forms of social life” (Marx in Sayer 1979, 9) and come to be perceived as simple “fact” or common sense.

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