How the Commodity Relation Infects Our Language

Baby Money

An absolutely fantastic article taken from a fantastic new website called The Classless Classroom. 

Every time you tell a child, “Good job!” you are reinforcing the capitalist commodity relation as the fundamental relation in our society.  Our language polices us — we do not express ourselves freely.  Here are further examples:

  • We buy ourselves time, we save time, we invest our time wisely — meaning productively — and we spend our time, and must account for it.  After a long and taxing day slaving away on our work, we’re spentTime is money, and that’s how we treat it.
  • We are accountable.  We own our mistakes, and own up to our faults.  To overcome them, we must capitalize on our strengths.
  • We ask to be given some credit when not believed, and are discredited when proved wrong.  We prove we have been to school when we earn credit.
  • We want to be trusted.  We must earn trust. We earn a reputation, good or bad.
  • When unconvinced, we’re just not buying it.  We need to be sold on a new idea.
  • We can have a lot of class, or be classy.  It’s better than being low class.  No woman wants to look cheap, though we may sometimes like cheap thrills or a cheap laugh at someone else’s expense.  What we’d really like is a rich experience, a rich dessert, writing that is rich in detail.
  • We can pay attention, or lose interest.  We can change our minds.  Barely hanging in there?  We’ll manage.  Let’s act professional about it.  Deal with it.
  • We wage war.  Sin has wages, which are death.  But when you’re great, you’re money.  Others are in your debt.  They owe you, big-time.
  • Slaughter is wholesale — why pay retail?  Don’t get short-changed.  We can put paid to that idea.
  • We take stock of a situation, and stock up on supplies.
  • Pregnancy begins with oviproduction and ends in labor.  When relationships end, we’re back on the market.
  • You did a poor jobpoor you.  You did very poor work on your assignment.  But it will all work out, especially if you go to the gym like you’re supposed to and have a good work out.
  • Anything missing from this list?  It’s not a deal-breaker.  We may need to coin a phrase for it.
  • What if money really were no object?

, , ,

  1. #1 by mirkinfirkin on October 24, 2013 - 6:45 PM

    Вставай, проклятьем заклеймённый,
    Весь мир голодных и рабов!
    Кипит наш разум возмущённый
    И в смертный бой вести готов.
    Весь мир насилья мы разрушим
    До основанья, а затем
    Мы наш, мы новый мир построим, —
    Кто был ничем, тот станет всем.


    Это есть наш последний
    И решительный бой;
    С Интернационалом
    Воспрянет род людской!

  2. #2 by John Nelson on October 25, 2013 - 7:40 AM

    This sums up 90% of what passes for philosophy these days.

  3. #3 by victoriagrimalkin on October 25, 2013 - 6:27 PM

    What happened to “earn your keep”? Don’t bank on the value of honest labor. We are all victims of the Conspiracy Theory of Everything.

  4. #4 by Jim Wheeler on October 29, 2013 - 9:15 AM

    Excellent, Keith. I’m glad I didn’t miss this one. This is confirmation to me that language is an essential component of abstract thought, and therefore explains why homo sapiens has it and other mammals with equal or larger brains do not. The evolution of speech was critical in making us what we are.

    • #5 by Keith Spillett on October 29, 2013 - 9:59 AM

      I agree! This article really grabbed me when I read it, mostly because I really hadn’t seen how prevalent commerce was as a theme in language. It really opened me up to finding more and more patterns in language that show insight to what our culture is thinking about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: