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Commodity is a word designating goods produced to exchange for money, in contradistinction to goods produced for consumption by the producer or by barter for other non-monetized goods. Commodities thus have a double life, possessing both use value and exchange value. Only in modern capitalist societies does commodity production dominate economies. Before that historical period production for consumption and barter were dominant.

One problem with commodity production is that it may sacrifice basic human needs for consumption to the drive to accumulate capital through profits. Some commodiites may be overproduced and others underproduced. This is apparent across that part of palnet inhabited by the two thirds of humanity that suffer in poverty.

Another problem more common in wealthy countries is commodity fetishism, treating obejcts as if they have some mystical attraction. Witness the runaway silliness of commuting to work in a Hummer, a grossly fuel inefficient vehicle purchased to acquire social status.

Derivation and Translation

Derived from the French word commodité, the word commodity entered English usage in the 15th century. The Latin root word is commoditas, referring variously to the appropriate measure of something, a fitting state, time or condition, a good quality, efficaciousness or propriety, advantage, or benefit. The German equivalent is die Ware. The modern French equivalent is produit de base.


  • The Laws of Commodity Production for Dummies
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