Back at the start, the surplus value has to be reinvested. Only through expansion can each company gain a competitive edge over all the others. For capitalism as a whole to function in a reasonably stable way, and for everyone to stay ahead of their interest payments, it must grow about 3% annually. So the cycle goes around again, but bigger. In the next turn, they must extract more raw materials, exploit more labor, manufacture more products, generate more waste, make more profits. Growth is not just linear, because each turn of the cycle is on top of a greater quantity than the time before.
Continuous growth isn’t easy. We see economists and politicians on the news all the time trying to figure out how to keep it going. But as economies become saturated, there’s less opportunity for profitable investment. So they have to invent ways to turn more things into profit-generators, invading us through privatization and assigning monetary value to every aspect of our lives, from our emotions to genetic material.
So, next let’s define what a commodity is, and how surplus value is produced.