A talk by Richard Lichtman
Marx's theory of social organization contains an indispensable account of the mystification of social life. This phenomenon is contained in this theories of alienation, fetishism of commodities, and ideology. The considerations help to explain why individuals and groups often act against their own best interests or do not act at all. The tendency of human activity to appear as laws of nature precludes any meaningful action. I will refer briefly at the conclusion of my talk to the use made of Lukács, and others, of what came to be known as "reification," literally, the semblance of human relations as "things." Relations among human beings appear at things, laws of nature, and it makes no sense to attempt to change laws of nature. So, reification, a total view of alienation and ideology, appear unalterable, and thereby minimize or destroy completely the tendency to revolutionary change.