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PHILOFRIDAY — Karl Marx on Pianos and Mad People

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What’s does a piano player and a mad man have in common? Read Marx and see for yourself:

Is it not crazy, asks Mr Senior, that the piano maker is a productive worker, but not the piano player, although obviously the piano would be absurd without the piano player? But this is exactly the case. The piano maker reproduces capital, the pianist only exchanges his labour for revenue. But doesn’t the pianist produce music and satisfy our musical ear, does he not even to a certain extent produce the latter? He does indeed: his labour produces some- thing; but that does not make it productive labour in the economic sense; no more than the labour of the mad man who produces delusions is productive.

— Karl Marx in Grundrisse (1857-61)

Have a great weekend!

 

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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