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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 28, Issue 3, 2018

Karl Marx: On the Occasion of the Bicentary of his Birth

Adolfo Rodríguez-Herrera
Pages 69-80
DOI: 10.5840/du201828338

Needs: Value in Command

This paper reviews one of the mechanisms with which capital weaves a new type of subjection of the human being, the production of needs. Unlike other living beings, whose needs are determined by their biology, the human beings are the fruit of the social relations that they establish within their culture. Humans need objects, but their needs arise through the objects called to satisfy them, objects that in capitalist society are capital—value in the process of valorisation. In this way, need is itself a product of capital, and capital thus appears as a force that imposes itself on the human being from within, not only in the labour process but in the very constitution of the human needing being. The article discusses the triple human condition that gives rise to this phenomenon—the objective being (the need for the object), the being of desire (the need beyond the object) and the object's being (the need as product of object). The paper concludes that capitalist market, that civilizing force that gives rise to the modern, autonomous individual, reduces freedom to a simple means of capital valorisation.