Marx argued that this alienation of human work (and resulting commodity fetishism) is precisely the defining feature of . Prior to capitalism, markets existed in Europe where producers and merchants bought and sold commodities. According to Marx, a developed in Europe when labor itself became a commodity — when peasants became free to sell their own labor-power, and needed to do so because they no longer possessed their own land. People sell their labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work they do in a given period of time (in other words, they are not selling the product of their labor, but their capacity to work). In return for selling their labor power they receive money, which allows them to survive. Those who must sell their labor power are "." The person who buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a "capitalist" or "." The proletarians inevitably outnumber the capitalists.


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