Many activists don’t know how capitalism actually functions. We have to understand why it’s structurally impossible to reform, so that we can deal with the necessity—and our responsibility—not to fix it (because oppression is built into it from the start) but to do away with it, and to figure out all that will entail. We may in fact be the last generation with the opportunity to do this.
Capitalism is an economic system characterized by commodity production and private appropriation, in which one section of people monopolizes the means of production (which includes the means of subsistence), and the others are forced to sell their labor to survive.
Economic class divisions emerged about 10,000 years ago roughly in tandem with agriculture. From the beginning, class-divided economies have been organized around the private appropriation of accumulated (or “surplus”) wealth, accomplished through the production of storable, exchangeable goods—salt, coffee, iPads, cars, grains, and so on.