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The idea of capital as a social relation can be seen to symbolize the relationship between those who own capital and between those who must work in order to secure the income stream of capital - it is a relation of both property and power Ideas of class conflict alienation and exploitation are thus central to this approach The aim of this essay is to explain the social relations of capital and how these fit into the pattern of Marxs thought I will conclude with an assessment of the relevance of these ideas today Marx pointed out that capital is not a thing but a social relation in Capital v1 and similarly argued in Labour and Capital that Capital is a social relation of production It is a historical relation of production My interpretation of this is that capital can take many forms but throughout it symbolizes economic relationships between people whether individually or in groups it is the result of social labour achieved in the creation of goods and services ie it is the social relations surrounding commodities or money that make them capital Nothing is intrinsically capital not even gold - it has to be used in certain ways under certain social conditions and at a certain period of societys development to acquire this form Classical economists argued that part of capital consists of consumers goods used to sustain the workers engaged in producing items for future consumption and part consists of producers goods channeled into further production for the sake of expected future returns But Marx regarded as capital only the productive goods that yield income independently of the exertions of the owner An artisans tools and a small farmers land holding are not capital in this sense In this respect it seems that capital only comes into being as a determining force in society when a small body of people the capitalists owns most of the means of production
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