Comodity Fedish

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By:Samailagi Poteki
Production and Consumption in the Raw
Substitution is present in our everyday lives, and maybe much more than we once thought. Marx's idea of commodity fetishism is loosely defined by substitutions, stand-ins, and clones of real objects and real labor. These commodities tape off and block out the public form the truth. In this essay I will peel back the label on some of these products and companies that have sold us lies time and time again. We are the martyr to the capitalist war. The book Tangled Routes will give examples that pertain to big companies and exploitation of workers in the capitalist movement. The films No Logo and Food Inc. will show how we relinquish to outside forces and let companies control our lives daily. Tangled Routes introduced me to Marx's notion of commodity fetishism. Marx's ideas brought to light the invisibility between the worlds of production and consumption. As consumers we are blind to the labor and the humanity, or lack thereof, behind the products we use every single day. Deborah Barndt takes us on a journey of discovery where we see the tomato's cycle from the international companies' point of view to the agricultural workers in the fields. We also see how capitalism dehumanizes our fellow man (or woman, in this case) and how people are exploited in the name of surplus value. In chapter three I learned about George Ritzer's analysis of “McDonadization.” There are five key characteristics to this process that showcase the power and control of McDonald's. The first step is efficiency. McDonald's has turned the classic drive-in to something that resembles and assembly line process, and all in the name of capitalism. Most of the food McDonald's is serving now is prepackaged and processed to the point that it's now turned to a mere idea of food. All this fast food restaurant does and other of the sort is freeze and refrigerate the “fully-cooked” food and then warm up, or microwave these concoctions. The fast food process has changed and gotten much quicker and simpler to make it more convenient, not so much for us as consumers, but for themselves and their workforce. The streamlining of this process also serves to make fast food even faster, which leads to the second step. Calculability at McDonald's has reduced both food and work to a mere number. McDonald's focuses on the quantity of food, the speed of service, and portion sizes. In ninety seconds, a McDonald's crew member is expected to complete the process of order taking, food preparation, and the order's delivery. McDonald's doesn't want to waste time, as wasted time is wasted money. To put this in perspective, McDonald's once gave paper and plastic recycling a try in their stores, but this practice was discontinued because when the numbers were added up, it became much cheaper to simply dispose of these materials. The third step in the process is predictability. Like most fast food chains, McDonald's employees are required to dress in uniform. Uniformity is also expected in the crew's behavior. McDonald's does the complete opposite of promoting diversity and creativity. The process of order taking even dehumanizes the employees, as they are expected to recite the same line car after car and customer after customer. If there is anything that McDonald's promotes to it's workers it is robotic conformity. It was ridiculous to me that workers were even trained to say “Would that be a Coke?” to cut two seconds from the ordering process. The fourth step to this cycle is control. Machines at McDonald's have replaced humans in certain circumstances because they give the company greater control. McDonald's rewards it's employees for machine-like repetition and discourages them from any creative behavior. The last step in McDonaldization is the irrationality of rationality. This step describes how fast food and TV dinners have almost wiped out traditions like the family meal. Ritzer has given some credit to McDonald's...
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