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DescriptionRose Smith
Professor Soyang Park
Modernities: Criticial Perspectives
6 September 2012
Week 3 Reading Response: Marx and the Industrial World
“It is however precisely this finished form of the world of commodities – the money form –
which conceals the social character of private labour and the social relations between the individual
workers, by making those relations appear as relations between material objects, instead of revealing
them plainly.” Marx, “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof,” in Capital(1887),
pp.168-169
In “The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof” Karl Marx explains how capitalist
society has transformed the relationships between product and worker, and therefore also between the
worker and the rest of the world. To Marx, as the industrial revolution took hold in Europe and people
began to become but one digit in a much larger equation of mass production, people also began to lose
their sense of self. As people assigned market value (value based on the product’s comparison to other
products) to the objects that they create as opposed to use value or labour value, the social relationships
between people were ignored. With the emphasis on the value of an object, ultimately its monetary
value, instead of the amount of time, labour, or emotion put into the product by the worker, the worker
becomes alienated from both his/her work and society. For Marx, this loss of connection between the
worker and the product he/she creates is hugely detrimental to society as a whole. A society focused on
individual gain instead of collective is headed for disaster.
“By seeking inner harmony men cut themselves off from society’s struggle. Such ‘harmony’ is illusory
and superficial; it vanishes at any serious contact with reality.”(1938)
Lukacs, The Ideal of the Harmonious Man in Bourgeois Asethetics(1938), p. 89 (ADD :full citation of
the book: ref. Course Pack)
George Lukacs, in “The Ideal of the Harmonious Man in Bourgeois Asethetics,” derives his
ideas from those of Marx. Lukacs, like Marx, believes that capitalist society prevents any man or art
from being harmonious. Lukacs asserts that although many men have been considered to be
harmonious, such as the ancient Greeks or perhaps men of the Renaissance, when that notion comes in
contact with reality, it disintegrates. The truth for Lukacs is that any society based on the slavery of
others (in the case of the ancient Greeks) or the alienation and fragmentation of men within work and
society (as with people in the present and even during the Renaissance) cannot be harmonious. He also
says that any “great thinker” or “great realist” is able to see how impossible harmony is in capitalist
society because “creative expression is being ruthlessly crushed” (Lukacs 96) by the “reality” of the
world – the reality that he refers to in this primary quotation. Therefore, the harmonious man for
Lukacs is an illusion and so superficial that the illusion will crumble when considered within the
context of “reality” (e.g. capitalism).
Please write one reading response (1 page max, font size 12: 1.5 space),
Please see response example in attachment titled RR-Model-Week 3-Marx and Lukacs
The quote should be thesis statement and add page number for each quote.
Required text
Felix Guattari, “Regimes, Pathways, Subjects,” from Gary Genosko (ed.), The
Guattari Reader (Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 95-108
(8 pages)
(M)
“Future Literacy” (UNESCO), Student’s free and self-directed online research, search
it on google
Note on RR: Take one quote from Guattari OR one from the research notes on
the meaning/significance of Future Literacy (UNESCO). (a 1/2 page in total)
Reading response requirements
1. Take original quotations from the assigned readings or clips/films that contain the key
ideas and arguments of the readings (i.e. thesis sentences) or the clips.
2. Then provide your focused unpacking/interpretation of a chosen quotation within the
context of the original text. The RR for this course is NOT a summary of the entire text. As
noted above, it is a focused unpacking/interpretation of a chosen quotation, which should be
the thesis sentence of the assigned text.
3. The chosen quotes thus will immediately demonstrate to the instructor if the student has
closely read the assigned texts and gained a good understanding of their key ideas and
arguments. If chosen a right thesis sentence, your “focused unpacking of the chosen
quotations” then naturally becomes a statement that echoes the key ideas/arguments of the
texts.
4. . RR completed in this manner must not be superficial responses that are completely
isolated from the context of the original texts.
RR – The format guidelines for the best result
A
The Quote
1.
Put the text’s “thesis sentence” in quotation marks (“ “) and separate it from
your response.
2.
If 2 essays are assigned, 2 separate quotations should be provided with
matching responses. Don’t bundle all quotes up together and write a vague RR that is
not specific to any.)
3.
Underline the keywords contained in the chosen quotes.
4.
Provide a full citation for each chosen quote as noted, including the page
numbers.
B
Your Response (underneath each quote)
1.
Get to the point from the first sentence: State what the chosen quotation is
about. No more than 6 lines (or less than 13 lines including the chosen quote).
2.
Unpack the chosen quotation closely while echoing the key points.
3.
Your response itself must contain the keywords that you have underlined
in the chosen quote. Underline these keywords in your response.
C.
Patterns of Wrong RRs
1.
Summary of the entire text (ref. “RR is not a summary…” noted above)
2.
The response unmatched with the chosen quotation.
3.
Not showing any evidence of a close engagement with thetext but relaying
some related facts and information outsourced (no evidence that student actually
read the assignments)

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