This chapter shows the general or defining characteristics of capitalism that have been identified by the Marxist tradition of analysis. It discusses the built-in drive for accumulation and growth inherent in capitalism. The chapter also discusses the extent to which specific urban phenomena can be explained by reference to the accumulation process and to general features of capitalism. It presents the basic features of the Marxist definition of capitalism. The first element of capitalism is the domination of the economy by a ruling class through the control of capital. The role of the State or government may also vary considerably among capitalist countries. But certain criteria must be met for capitalism to exist. To restate the point more theoretically: urban phenomena, and other details of a capitalist system, are created historically, with working-class organization, consciousness and pressures affecting which alternatives are chosen. Specific outcomes must be consistent with accumulation, unless the working class is mature enough to overthrow capitalism.