ABSTRACT

Capitalist commodity production, as we have seen in Chapter 1, necessarily involved certain socioeconomic institutions, modes of human behavior, and human self-perceptions as well as perceptions of others. The insatiable quest for profit led to an extensive division of labor and productive specialization; specialization meant an increase in social interdependence; but this increased interdependence was not experienced as a dependence on other human beings but as a personal, individual dependence on a nonhuman social institution-the market. Those who dominated and controlled markets were motivated by the acquisition of profits; but while capitalists, taken collectively, dominated and controlled markets, they did not experience or perceive this domination and control personally or subjectively. The intense competitive struggle for profits was experienced by individual capitalists as an impersonal, social force over which they generally had little or no personal control; the forces of market competition were seen as natural, immutable laws, similar in every way to the laws of nature.