Part of a series on Surplus Value
To understand how capital accumulation is accomplished, we must address the origin of surplus value.
Capital and value are not simply added sums, but rather exist at a social level. Thus surplus value is not a physical form in which an added sum is produced. Capital is interested solely in increasing its quantity of value; the objects of capital (goods, money) are irrelevant, mere means to an end. The movement of capital is essentially the constant growth of a monetary quantity, a developed form of circulation of money.
What capital pursues is that constant growth. For example, Apple periodically issues new versions of its iPhone. Though Apple may advertise its goal as making its customers happy through product improvement, its only actual interest and reason for existence is the constant accumulation of value.
Surplus value can’t be produced in mercantile circulation, including any specific operations of mercantilism. Nor can it be produced in any specific operations of finance capital. Even while these forms generalized by capitalism are essential to its functioning, they do not produce value. Rather, at the level of the social formation as a whole, mercantile and money circulation are both endemically governed by the rules of exchange between equivalent values, which are imposed on every individual act of exchange. In all exchanges in the spheres of circulation and finance, no new value is or can be created. Surplus value requires the creation of new value.