Even after 150 years of evolution through Neo-Marxist schools, Marxist theory as a whole, is somehow, still framed around the idea of a mercantilist, feudal society, where there is zero wealth outflow from the ruling Political gentry. We’ve had over 150 years of advancement in economic theory since, and the Marxist worldview really has not adapted to the tides of history, and is in fact, becoming even more out of touch than it ever has been before.
An early economist would tell you that a country would be most prosperous invading other countries and plundering any wealth they can find. By “Capitalism”, most Marxists actually mean forced, indentured servitude, and imperialist “mercantilism”. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations outlined a theory of Absolute Advantage advocating mercantilism, which was later discarded by economists in favor of the Law of Comparative Advantages.
If you aren’t familiar with Comparative Advantage, I will try to convey the idea in a simplified fashion:
Comparative advantage is an economic law referring to the ability of any given economic actor to produce goods and services at a lower opportunity cost than other economic actors. The law of comparative advantage is popularly attributed to English political economist David Ricardo and his book “Principles of Political Economy and Taxation” in 1817.
Hypothetical situation: You are an industrialized colonial power (Nation A), and you stumble upon a country good at producing say, mangos (Nation B). Subscribers to imperialist mercantilism would have you immediately subjugate the country and establish an occupying force, having Nation B farm mangos at gunpoint to send to your home country.
Sounds peachy for Nation A huh? Well, no. At some point, we realized that instead of being utter jackasses about it, it’s a lot more beneficial for an industrial society to trade machines that make farming mangos much more efficient and easier rather than subjugating cities and taking all the cool stuff you can find.
This also translates on a micro level, where a guy who’s putting together a business will form deals and partnerships with people better at a certain activity than him, while he focuses on the things he’s better at.
In short, modern capitalism as practiced in any civilized country is about the exchange of goods and services to minimize opportunity costs. The free market is hilariously bad at pricing in the cost of human suffering, but that’s why we love a well-regulated Social Democracy on this page.
To summarize: If you had a lot of land and wealth before the Industrial era (1800s), it was because you were handed this wealth by birth, or it was taken through spoils of conquest and slaughter.
Society doesn’t work like that anymore, and as long as Marxists fail to realize we’ve moved on from the society Marx and Engels lived in, Marxism will forever flop on its own shaky axioms.