What is Capital?

Fifth Estate history


Fifth Estate # 395, Winter 2016 - 50th Anniversary

Let us give a brief definition of the way in which Capital or capitalism is used in articles in the Fifth Estate: Capital is based on wage-labor, the production and exchange of commodities, with an agency above the working class extracting surplus value (profits) from the value of goods and services produced, and then re-investing a portion back into the enterprise.

This process originally involved an easily definable class of producers (the workers) and a parasitical class of owners and bosses who only collected profits but did no labor.

However, the development of Capital in the 20th century has allowed for forms that preclude the individual ownership of property yet maintain all the relationships of Capital except that the state acquires the functions originally attributed to individual owners or corporations.

Statification of Capital, with its most obvious manifestation in the nation states claiming to be “socialist,” continues the development of Capital all the while using the language of mystification, i.e., workers’ state, People’s Republic, etc.

Also, the blatant police-state, authoritarian rule of the Communist Party in each “socialist” nation with everything from the economy to art and the media controlled by the party elite, make a mockery of the true democracy and free association which authentic communism will be.

Capital is a world-wide system that prevails in all nations including the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Vietnam, North Korea and the rest.

We cast our lot with the workers’ movements that struggle every day to topple Capital in all of its forms, but the American epigones of Mao, Kim, Hoxha and Brezhnev line up with the forces of counter-revolution, all the while slogans of the revolution drip from their lips.

From Fifth Estate #266, September, 1975