Any great work of the human mind inevitably suffers from its time. This is true also of Capital, a monument of the human mind that loses neither power nor topicality – indeed essentially gains in both – with the passage of time. For anyone approaching it today cannot but hear, especially in its form of exposition, the echo of scientific and cultural disputes from the midnineteenth century. I am not mainly referring to the writing style, which such an astute student of Marx as Rosa Luxemburg well and truly slated in a letter of March 1917: ‘The famous first volume of Marx’s Capital, with its profuse rococo ornamentation in the Hegelian style, now seems an abomination to me’ (Bronner 1978: 185). What I have in mind, rather, is the structure or sequence in which the material is presented – or, to be more specific, the way in which it is organized and presented in Volume One. Let me be as clear as I can. Why does Marx begin with the immense array of commodities – that is, with the already formed capitalist mode of production, with commodity capital as the result of the development of capitalist social relations – and not with so-called primitive accumulation as the historical starting point of the capitalist mode of production? What obliged him to make this choice?