Bout Sums It Up…

The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive accumulation. As
with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand, it endows unproductive money with the power of
creation and thus turns it into capital, without the risks inseparable from its employment
in industry or even in usury. The state’s creditors actually give nothing away, for the sum
lent is transformed into public bonds, easily negotiable, which go on functioning in their
hands just as so much hard cash would. But furthermore, and quite apart from the class
of idle rentiers thus created, the improvised wealth of the financiers who play the role
of middlemen between the government and the nation, and the tax-farmers, merchants
and private manufacturers, for whom a good part of every national loan performs the
service of a capital fallen from heaven, apart from all of these people, the national debt
has given rise to joint-stock companies, to dealings in negotiable effects of all kinds, and
to speculation: in a word, it has given rise to stock-exchange gambling and the modern

Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 1


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