Marx & Materialism

Aside from race relations never being properly resolved in Marx’s brilliant ideas I often wonder about what his take on fashion and art would possibly be. It clicked for me when I started thinking about the differences between design and art and I believe he (Marx) would agree with what follows.

Design always has functionality; someone may look at a beautiful chair by Herman Miller Co. and say, “Wow that is a lovely piece of art.” Although more and more we are seeing the blurring of the line betwixt art and design it should be clearly stated that design is always functional in some aspect. Art is pure, it does nothing other than evoke thoughts, emotions or other feelings or concepts to the people that experience it.

Design is used to sell objects with varying levels of functionality, although it should be noted the functionality can be the use to sell items alone. Shepard Fairey is on hundreds of items including skate boards. Let’s dissect this from a Marxist point of view. When one works for someone else they are whoring out their labor for that person. When one does work on an object they are literally imparting an aspect of themselves on the object. So when Mr. Fairey designs a series of skateboards for Real or Chocolate or whatever skateboard company he contracts with and they in return hand him 10,000 dollars, he has by definition produced design. The functionality here is so that it helps sell skateboards (ownership prestige) also skateboards are functional devices in that you use them to ride.

Now if we expand this to all aspects of life we can see how it may effect clothes, housing, technology; all aspects of life are touched. Can you imagine if all that humans cared about were functionalities of objects, and weren’t caught up in the design aspect (materialism)? We would be one step closer to a classless society and I would argue that social and technological advancements would take place much faster.

1984, right? Wrong, this is not what I’m talking about here. I am not talking about the state telling everyone to wear drab grey clothes and shave our heads. I am talking about a natural/innate feature that would manifest within people at their own will to strive for functionality rather than materialism. Materialism has become quite disgusting in the United States and most other western countries. Just go into any mainstream club in a major city and look around, the divide and lack of caring or involvement with social issues is very obvious by simply striking up a quick conversation with an average person. Also, speaking fashion wise for a quick second, what the hell are people doing; Tapout, Affliction….really? Ed Hardy…still?

Is it really that big of a deal? Aren’t you stereotyping people? Yes, and maybe. It is a big deal because individual fashion and materialism has run so rampant in this country certain people (cough cough, hipsters) won’t even talk to you if you don’t look a certain way. At least their predecessors were a bit more socially conscious. Not anymore, thanks Ke$ha. Stereotyping; maybe sometimes but if a female is wearing Gucci head to toe, how often to you think a man with five bucks in his pocket is going to approach this other person. The point here is to point out that class is evident by the way a person conducts their appearance. I think fashion, cars, houses, etc are all dramatic statements made by many people at varying degrees.

The conclusion is that within a truly advanced symbiotic utopian type society design should be thrown out and rebuked. Pure art should be embraced and practiced by all of those who want to take part in it. Art can be defined as something that affects any of the senses including music, sculpture, paintings, etc. Art should not be sold but should be displayed for the public to participate in.

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