Deville - The People's Marx (1893)

Section Seven: The Accumulation of Capital


The circulation of capital. —Examination of the fundamental mechanism of accumulation.

The Circulation of Capital.

The transformation of a sum of money into means of production and labor-power, which is the first phase of the movement of value that is going to function as capital, takes place on the market, within the domain of circulation.

The process of production, the second phase of this movement, is completed so soon as the means of production are transformed into commodities whose value is greater than the value of their component elements, and, therefore, includes a surplus-value in addition to the value of the money advanced.

These commodities must then be thrown into circulation. They must be sold, their value realized in money, and this money again transformed into capital, and so on.

It is this movement which constitutes the circulation of capital.

Examination of the Fundamental Mechanism of Accumulation.

The first condition of accumulation is that the capitalist must have succeeded in selling his commodities and in re-converting into capital the greater part of the money thus obtained. Capital must regularly pass through its normal circulatory movement, and we shall assume that it does so.

The capitalist who produces surplus-value—i.e., who directly extracts from the laborer unpaid labor—is the first appropriator of it, but he does not remain the sole owner of it. Surplus-value is split up into different parts, received by various categories of persons, under different forms, such as manufacturing profit, interest, mercantile profit, rent, etc. But this division changes neither the nature of surplus-value nor the conditions under which it becomes the source of accumulation. No matter what the portion the capitalist employer retains for himself, he is ever the one who in the beginning appropriates the whole of it, and who, alone, transforms it into capital. We can then treat him as the representative of all those who receive a share of the booty.

The intervening movement of circulation and the division of the surplus-value into various portions assume varying forms, and thus complicate and obscure the fundamental process of accumulation. In order to simplify its analysis we must, for the time, disregard everything which conceals the working of its essential mechanism, and study accumulation from the point of view of production.