Mu Garden

Doing Nothing Gardening

The last of my notes from my review of chapter 2

the technological developments that objectively tend to eliminate work must at the same time preserve labor as a commodity, because labor is the only creator of commodities. The only way to prevent automation (or any other less extreme method of increasing labor productivity) from reducing society's total necessary labor time is to create new jobs. To this end the reserve army of the unemployed is enlisted into the tertiary or “service” sector, reinforcing the troops responsible for distributing and glorifying the latest commodities at a time when increasingly extensive campaigns are necessary to convince people to buy increasingly unnecessary commodities.

the vast majority of people are still forced to take part as wage workers in the unending pursuit of the system's ends and each of them knows that they must submit or die. The reality of this blackmail—the fact that even in its most impoverished forms (food, shelter) use value now has no existence outside the illusory riches of augmented survival—accounts for the general acceptance of the illusions of modern commodity consumption. The real consumer has become a consumer of illusions. The commodity is this materialized illusion and the spectacle is its general expression.

I finally looked at the end notes today and wondered why the text didn't reference any of them, but they read like it's ok to check in before/after I read the chapter. I welcome comments without spoilers, here if possible or at my Mastodon (Hometown) account, (

The spectacle is the stage at which the commodity has succeeded in totally colonizing social life. we no longer see anything else; the world we see is the world of the commodity.

The commodity’s independence has spread to the entire economy it now dominates. This economy has transformed the world... into a world dominated by the economy.

So this is how the “commodity” is “independent”. We don’t even know whom to blame anymore because everywhere in the world, the problem is an anonymous market that requires selling oneself on the corresponding labor market.

The pseudo-nature within which human labor has become alienated demands that such labor remain forever in its service....

That’s one thing I was always taught: to choose how I would serve the economy.

since this demand is formulated by and answerable only to itself, it in fact ends up channeling all socially permitted projects and endeavors into its own reinforcement.

The “commodity has ... [turned] the whole planet into a single world market.” (15)

Within natural economies, the emergence of a commodity sector represented a surplus survival. Commodity production ... implies the exchange of varied products between independent producers.... [W]herever it encountered the social conditions of large-scale commerce and capital accumulation, it took total control of the economy. [A] constant expansion of economic power in the form of commodities ... ultimately produced a level of abundance sufficient to solve the initial problem of survival—but only in such a way that the same problem is continually regenerated at a higher level. Economic growth has liberated societies from the natural pressures that forced them into an immediate struggle for survival; but they have not yet been liberated from their liberator.

“the world of the commodity dominating all living experience. its development is identical to people's estrangement from each other and from everything they produce.” (14)

“The spectacle was born from the world’s loss of unity…. In the spectacle, a part of the world represents itself to the world and is superior to it. The spectacle is simply the common language of this separation. Spectators are linked solely by their one-way relationship to the very center that keeps them isolated from each other. The spectacle thus reunites the separated, but it reunites them only in their separateness.” (10)

“Workers do not produce themselves, they produce a power independent of themselves. The success of this production, the abundance it generates, is experienced by the producers as an abundance of dispossession. As their alienated products accumulate, all time and space become foreign to them. The spectacle is the map of this new world, a map that is identical to the territory it represents. The forces that have escaped us display themselves to us in all their power.” (11)