But the most important means of checking the decrease of the rate of profit, and of thus escaping ruin, consists in the unceasing increase of capital. If economic progress causes the rate of profit to decrease from 20 to 10%, it is, it is true, impossible to prevent 100 capital from yielding henceforth but 10 surplus-value. But the individual capitalist can make good his loss by doubling the amount of his capital. As he now applies everywhere 200 instead of 100, the amount of his profit remains the same. He can even increase his profit, should he still further augment his capital.
The constant increase and accumulation of capital plays, therefore, an important part. We will now turn our attention to this phenomenon.
THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL
(Extracted from vol. II, ch. 23.)
A SOCIETY can no more cease to produce than it can cease to consume. No society can continually produce, unless it constantly reconverts a part of its products into means of production. All other circumstances remaining the same, the only mode by which it can reproduce its wealth, and maintain it at one level, is by replacing the means of production--i. e. the instruments of labour, the raw material, and the auxiliary substances--consumed in the course of the year by an equal quantity of the same kind of articles; these must be separated from the mass of the yearly products, and thrown afresh into the process of production, and must be applicable for this purpose.
In a capitalist society all means of production serve as capital, for they all enable their proprietor to reap surplus-value by employing wage-labour. As a matter of fact the capitalist