In Das Kapital (1867), Marx proposes that the motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of labor, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value. The owner of the means of production is able to claim the right to this surplus value because he is legally protected by the ruling regime through property rights and the legally established distribution of shares which are by law distributed only to company owners and their board members. The historical section shows how these rights were acquired in the first place chiefly through plunder and conquest and the activity of the merchant and "middle-man". In producing capital (produced goods), the workers continually reproduce the economic conditions by which they labour. Das Kapital proposes an explanation of the "laws of motion" of the capitalist economic system from its origins to its future by describing the dynamics of the accumulation of capital, the growth of wage labour, the transformation of the workplace, the concentration of capital, commercial competition, the banking system, the decline of the profit rate, land-rents, et cetera. The critique of the political economy of capitalism proposes:
Positive reception also cited the soundness of the methodology used in producing the book, which is called immanent critique. This approach, which starts from simple category and gradually unfolds into complex categories, employed "internal" criticism that finds contradiction within and between categories while discovering aspects of reality that the categories cannot explain. This meant that Marx had to build his arguments on historical narratives and empirical evidence rather than the arbitrary application of his ideas in his evaluation of capitalism.
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On the other hand, Das Kapital has also received criticism. For instance, there are theorists who claimed that this text was unable to reconcile capitalist exploitation with prices dependent upon subjective wants in exchange relations. Marxists generally reply that only socially necessary labor time, that is, labor which is spent on commodities for which there is market-demand, can be considered productive labour and therefore exploited on Marx's account. There are also those who argued that Marx's so-called immiseration thesis is presumed to mean that the proletariat is absolutely immiserated.[failed verification], although the existing scholarly consensus tends towards the opposite view that Marx believed that only relative immiseration would occur, that is, a fall in labor's share of output. Marx himself frequently polemicized against the view "that the amount of real wages ... is a fixed amount".