NATURE AND GROWTH OF CAPITAL
formed, with the change and development of the material means
of production, of the forces of production. The relations of production in their totality constitute what is called the social relations, society, and, moreover, a society at a definite stage of
historic development, a society with peculiar, distinctive characteristics. Ancient society, feudal society, bourgeois (or capitalist) society, are such totalities of relations of production, each
of which denotes a particular stage of development in the history of mankind.
Capital also is a social relation of production. It is a bourgeois
relation of production, a relation of production of bourgeois society. The means of subsistence, the instruments of labour, the
raw materials, of which capital consists—have they not been produced and accumulated under given social conditions, within
definite social relations ? Are they not employed for new production, under given social conditions, within definite social relations?
And does not just this definite social character stamp the products
which serve for new production as capital?
Capital consists not only of means of subsistence, instruments
of labour, and raw materials, not only of material products; it
consists just as much of exchange values. All products of which
it consists are commodities. Capital, consequently, is not only a
sum of material products, it is a sum of commodities, of exchange
values, of social magnitudes. Capital remains the same whether
we put cotton in the place of wool, rice in the place of wheat,
steamships in the place of railroads, provided only that the cotton,
the rice, the steamships—the body of capital—have the same exchange value, the same price, as the wool, the wheat, the railroads,
in which it was previously embodied. The bodily form of capital
may transform itself continually, while capital does not suffer
the least alteration.
But though every capital is a sum of commodities, i.e., of exchange values, it does not follow that every sum of commodities,
of exchange values, is capital.
Every sum of exchange values is an exchange value. Each particular exchange value is a sum of exchange values. For example: a house worth £1,000 is an exchange value of £1,000: a
piece of paper worth one penny is a sum of exchange values of
one hundred one-hundredths of a penny. Products which are