Capital

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The geographical movement of money and commodities as capital is not the same as the movements of products and of precious metals. Capital is, after all, money used in a certain way, and is by no means identical with all money uses. ~ David Harvey

Capital is a factor of production, that is wanted for its ability to help in producing other goods. It is money or a financial asset invested for the purpose of making more money, whether in the form of profit, rent, interest, royalties, capital gain or some other kind of return.

Arranged alphabetically by author or source:
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B[edit]

H[edit]

  • Massive concentration of financial power, accompanied by the machinations of finance capital, can as easily de-stabilize as stabilize capitalism.
    • David Harvey (2006) The Limits To Capital Introduction, p. xxxii
  • The geographical movement of money and commodities as capital is not the same as the movements of products and of precious metals. Capital is, after all, money used in a certain way, and is by no means identical with all money uses.
    • David Harvey (2006) The Limits To Capital Chapter 12, Production Of Spatial Configurations, p. 376
  • When times are good, capital can extract huge profits from labor with little risk. For instance, after the last economic crisis, the S&P 500 (thanks in large part to government bailouts) not only managed to recover all of its losses by 2013, it then proceeded to almost double its value in the seven years that followed — an average rate of growth equal to about 14 percent per year. By contrast, average hourly wages for working people, which rose less than three percent per year for most of that same period, recovered much more slowly, and many workers actually saw their wages fall or remain flat when adjusted for inflation. When times are bad, however, in moments of crisis, when profits are low, or when there is little or no demand — such as we are seeing in many industries today — corporations and companies can protect themselves and their market value by simply letting workers go. Workers, on the other hand usually must continue to pay for food, rent, healthcare, and basic utilities in order to survive. As a consequence, while capital can often weather the storm of such economic crises, they can severely weaken the power of the working class by creating what Marx called a vast reserve army of labor. And since unemployment insurance compensations are rarely available to all and always only for a short period of time, workers — whether laid off or only threatened with the prospect of layoffs—will eventually be pressured to work much harder for less wages. And this is precisely why the future of worker’s power depends on how we respond to this crisis now. While capitalists and their paid politicians will scoff at these demands, claiming they are economically infeasible or impossible, this is because they only understand the language of profit and cannot imagine a world run for the benefit of all. Nonetheless, the fact remains that capital has significant resources that could and must be made available to all working people.

L[edit]

  • Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

M[edit]

In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality. ~ Karl Marx
  • In general it may be said that demand is quite as necessary to the increase of capital as the increase of capital is to demand.
  • If one fourth of the capital of a country were suddenly destroyed, or entirely transferred to a different part of the world, without any other cause occurring of a diminished demand for commodities, this scantiness of capital would certainly occasion great inconvenience to consumers, and great distress among the working classes; but it would be attended with great advantages to the remaining capitalists.
  • In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality.
    • Karl Marx (1848), The Manifesto of the Communist Party
  • Capital is money: Capital is commodities. In truth, however, value is here the active factor in a process, in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and commodities, it at the same time changes in magnitude, differentiates itself by throwing off surplus-value from itself; the original value, in other words, expands spontaneously. For the movement, in the course of which it adds surplus-value, is its own movement, its expansion, therefore, is automatic expansion. Because it is value, it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs. Value, therefore, being the active factor in such a process, and assuming at one time the form of money, at another that of commodities, but through all these changes preserving itself and expanding, it requires some independent form, by means of which its identity may at any time be established. And this form it possesses only in the shape of money. It is under the form of money that value begins and ends, and begins again, every act of its own spontaneous generation. It began by being £100, it is now £110, and so on. But the money itself is only one of the two forms of value. Unless it takes the form of some commodity, it does not become capital. There is here no antagonism, as in the case of hoarding, between the money and commodities. The capitalist knows that all commodities, however scurvy they may look, or however badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised Jews, and what is more, a wonderful means whereby out of money to make more money.
    • Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. I, pg. 107.
      • Slavoj Žižek adressed Marx's statement in his book The Parallax View (2006), p. 59: In a crisis, the underlying belief, disavowed and just practiced, in this thus directly asserted. it is crucial how, in this elevation of money to the status of the only true commoodity ("the capitalist knows that all commodities, however scurvy they may look, or however badly they may smell, are in faith and in truth money, inwardly circumcised Jews"), Marx resorts to the precise Pauline definition of Christians as "inwardly circumcised Jews": Christians do not need external actual circumcision (that is, the abandonment of ordinary commodities with use-values, dealing only with money), since they know that each of these ordinary commodities is already "inwardly circumcised," that its true substance is money.
  • Capital is money, capital is commodities. … By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.
  • Kapital ist tote Arbeit, die, vampirgleich, nur durch das Einsaugen lebendiger Arbeit lebt und die um so mehr lebt, je mehr lebendige Arbeit sie einsaugt.
    • Capital is dead labor, that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.
    • Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 1, p. 257.
  • Capitals accumulate faster than population.

R[edit]

  • The produce of the earth - all that is derived from its surface by the united application of labour, machinery, and capital, is divided among three classes of the community, namely, the proprietor of the land, the owner of the stock or capital necessary for its cultivation, and the labourers by whose industry it is cultivated.
  • Population regulates itself by the funds which are to employ it, and therefore always increases or diminishes with the increase or the diminution of capital. Every reduction of capital is therefore necessarily followed by a less effective demand for corn, by a fall in price, and by diminished cultivation.

S[edit]

No fixed capital can yield any revenue but by means of a circulating capital. ~ Adam Smith
  • People who originally have no means but are ultimately able to earn a great deal, through whatever talents they may possess, almost always come to think that these are permanent capital and that what they gain through them is interest. Accordingly, they do not put aside part of their earnings to form a permanent capital, but spend their money as fast as they earn it. But they are then often reduced to poverty because their earnings decrease or come to an end after their talent, which was of a transitory nature, is exhausted, as happens, for example, in the case of almost all the fine arts; or because it could be brought to bear only under a particular set of circumstances that has ceased to exist.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life,” Parerga und Paralipomena, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, p. 348
  • With artists and virtuosi of every kind, … what they earn should become their capital, whereas they recklessly regard it as mere interest and thus end in ruin. On the other hand, those who possess inherited wealth at least know at once and quite correctly what is capital and what is interest.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life,” Parerga und Paralipomena, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, p. 348
  • His capital is continually going from him in one shape, and returning to him in another, and it is only by means of such circulation, or successive exchanges, that it can yield him any profit. Such capitals, therefore, may very properly be called circulating capitals.
  • It would be too ridiculous to go about seriously to prove that wealth does not consist in money, or in gold and silver; but in what money purchases, and is valuable only for purchasing. Money no doubt, makes always a part of the national capital; but it has already been shown that it generally makes but a small part, and always the most unprofitable part of it.

W[edit]

  • Labor in this country is independent and proud. It has not to ask the patronage of capital, but capital solicits the aid of labor.
    • Daniel Webster, A discourse, delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1820. In commemoration of the first settlement of New-England.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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