Under merchant capitalism production in agriculture and manufacture tended to be subordinated to the control of merchants. Control of means of manufacturing production was more informal than real. Capitalists back then, as now, pocketed the surplus value created by the producers and realized as profit, which was then reinvested and allowed the further expansion of capital and the development of new means of production. During the long historical period that followed the beginning of civilization the aim of the upper class was to enlarge its access to economic surplus in order to increase its consumption. The primary goal of the profit-seeking class was no longer consumption but the accumulation of capital–indeed, the accumulation of capital for its own sake. Consumption of wealth became entirely subordinate to its accumulation, the necessity of which was intrinsic to the new mode of production. That is why the debut of the capitalist mode of production in the sixteenth century represented a qualitative historical breakthrough.