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Capital (Das Kapital) | Glossary


alienation: the process of separating workers from the fruits of their labor. Laborers who do not own their product and have no say in what is created are subjects of alienation.

capital: the spending of money to acquire commodities, which are then sold at a profit

capitalism: a mode of production whereby the means of production are owned by a small class of capitalists; a social relation (between workers and capitalists) as much as an economic system

class: a distinct social group with its own interests and behaviors, defined by its position in relation to the means of production: capitalists own the means, workers work for capitalists

class struggle: the conflict inherent in society between owners of the means of production and laborers

commodity: a physical thing, produced to satisfy some human need, which can be exchanged for another commodity

exchange-value: the value of a commodity defined by what it can be exchanged for

fetishism: the false belief that commodities themselves (especially money) create value whereas it is only through labor that value is created

labor-power: the total sum of physical and mental ability used by a person to create a use-value

means of production: the means by which value is produced, including technology, division of labor, and knowledge

mode of production: the structure of society based on the prevailing productive forces and relations of production. A mode of production is defined by what it produces and how it is produced.

money-form: a commodity used as a universal means of exchange for other commodities

relations of production: relations within society that define what is produced and for what reasons

surplus-value: the value created beyond that which is necessary for human survival; profit

use-value: the degree to which something has value because it fulfills a need and is useful

wage labor: the exchange of a laborer's time for a cash payment; the laborers' earnings (wages) are divorced from the products of their labor, which can be anything

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