Do Markets have unique relations with capitalism?
By Lebohang Ntuli & Athenkosi Daniso
The dialectical relation between capitalism and markets is in the form of the dualistic power possessed by these two concepts. In essence, both Capitalism and markets are systems that promote the movement of produced goods from one entity to another. Nevertheless the contradiction arises because the content of these two concepts differs as capitalism is a mode of production, a political and economic system where means of production are privately owned whereas markets are variety of systems that involves exchange informed by demand and supply. Hence, it poses two fundamental questions as to whether is there a unique relationship between markets and capitalism? Secondly can markets exist without capitalism vis-à-vis can capitalism exist without markets? This paper seeks to respond to the above mentioned questions.
Markets have always been in existence in all modes of production even though markets were modified from one mode of production to the next . To give substance to our response to the questions above we draw our analysis from the French revolution. Let us look at a system that once utilised the markets, Feudalism. In feudalism, as a mode of production, markets existed between the Lord and a serf. A serf who belonged to the land and obligations of the lord. However, the lord never hired the serf, never paid him a wage but there were markets in serfdom. “Everything that exists, exist out of necessity once it has reached the point of its existence it will either perish or transform Into something new.”-Marx Towards the end of the feudal state to the transition of capitalism during the French revolution Markets transformed into market commodities .
Even during the first industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th century where industrialization took a shift to mass production through factories and the use of machinery with improved communication, transportation and banking systems, Markets grew as varieties of commodities were introduced to respond to the growth in demand and supply. Markets are indeed an important phenomenon, but they don’t have any unique relationship with capitalism. For instance, during slavery, there was a dualistic market approach; there was a market for goods produced by slaves and market for slaves.
Contrary to that, the uniqueness of capitalism is not informed by whether it has relations to markets or not. But it is the relationship in production,the private ownership of means of production. It is portrayed in how goods and services are produced. It is a relationship that is not master-slave, that is not lord-serf. It is a moxie arrangement, employer and employee. And in that relationship, lies a fundamental conflict, tension, exasperation, antagonism. The fundamental question that will follow is WHY? The answer is simple, it is because the working class does all the work ,and produce goods and services that they cannot afford nonetheless,it is expected of them to ensure that they generate surplus value or profit for capitalists within the markets utility.
In essence, markets have always existed, they will continue to exist even in a socialist and communist state with a different market utilities . The relations that exist between capitalism and markets are commodities of which have to be bought and sold in a market as commodities have use for value and exchange for value. Others may argue that it is impossible for markets to exist without capitalism however historically social production agrees with us that it is capitalism that cannot exist without markets.
We need to not overlook at the development of society and class relations, markets are now characteristic of imperialism capitalism just like finance aristocracy and parasitism and the shift to finance capitalism may be the unique relationship. However, the reproduction under parasitism may be minimal but finance capitalism is complex.
to conclude we borrow the words of Marx from one of his works capital (1867) “The wealth of societies in which a capitalistic mode of production prevails, appears as a ‘gigantic collection of commodities’ and the singular commodity appears as theelementary formof wealth. Our investigation begins accordingly with the analysis of the commodity.” The unique relations between markets and capitalisms are commodities of which have they have to be sold,bought or exchanged in markets.
Written by Lebohang Ntuli SASCO NEC/NWC member & Athenkosi Daniso EC PEC member