If we take a close look at the economy as it has developed under the domination of capitalism, we see commodities as the main point. Someone might ask us: What is special about this? The particular thing is that the merchandise is not just any product, but rather a product destined for the market.
A product is not a commodity when it is produced for own consumption. When the farmer sows the grain, mows it, takes it to the threshing floor, grinds it and then cooks the bread for himself and his family, this bread is not a commodity, but simply bread.
It becomes merchandise when it is sold and bought; that is, when it is produced for the market, to be owned by the buyer. In the capitalist regime all products are destined for the market, therefore becoming all merchandise.
Generally each factory, each hacienda and each workshop produces a single thing, and everyone will understand that this merchandise cannot be destined for personal consumption. The owner of a funeral parlor that runs a mortuary box office, certainly does not produce these boxes for himself and his family, but for the market. The castor oil manufacturer, even if he suffered gastric disturbances daily, could only consume a very small part of the oil he produces. The same is true of all other products in capitalist society.
The millions of buttons produced in a factory of this specialty are not destined for the owner’s pants, but for the market. Everything that is produced in capitalist society is destined for the market, where gloves and sausages, books and boot laces, machines and liquors, breads, rifles flow, in a word, everything that is produced.
The precondition of the mercantile economy is necessarily private property.
The craftsman and the workshop master who produces merchandise owns his laboratory and his utensils; the industrialist and the office owner, his factory and office with all the belongings, machines and other objects. Private property and the commercial economy are always accompanied by the fight for the buyer, the competition between sellers. When there were still no industrialists, workshop owners and big capitalists, but only working artisans, they also fought among themselves for the buyer, and that artisan who was stronger and more skillful, who owned
Better tools, and above all, that he had saved a small capital, made a career, conquered the clientele, ruined the other artisans and made a fortune. The small producing property and the mercantile economy based on it contained in themselves the germ of the great property, and were the cause of the ruin of many.
The first characteristic of the capitalist social order is the mercantile economy, that is, an economy that produces things for the market.