[OPE-L:4789] rent and the working class

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 06:35:34 EST

In [OPE-L:4787], Rakesh wrote:

> In a word, I am arguing that the formula for the determination of
> value cannot be cost price + surplus value.
> (1) k + s = V
> It is simply obvious that there are many cases in which the cost
> price could rise without any change in the value of a commodity. For
> example, wage goods could become more expensive due to rising ground
> rent payments; the cost price of commodities would thus rise but this
> does not ipso facto raise the value of the produced output (we must
> simply remember that Marx's theory of surplus value originates out of
> Ricardo's critique of Smith's adding up theory of price).

If "wage goods become more expensive due to rising ground rent
payments",  won't this cause, ceteris paribus,  a "reduction of wages
below their value"?

While Marx notes that there is empirical evidence for periods where one
can observe reductions in wages below their value and while it *is*
"one of the most important factors in stemming the tendency for the rate
of profit to fall", "it has nothing to do with the general analysis of
but has its place in an account of competition, which is not dealt with in
this work" (_Capital_, Volume III, Ch. 14, Sub-section 2, Penguin ed.,
p. 342).

This important issue does not seem to be dealt with in the section on
rent in Volume 3 either. This suggests that the inclusion of  Part Six
in *Capital*  can not, by itself, be seen as evidence that Marx abandoned
his plans for Book II on "Landed Property" or Book III on "Wage-Labour".
Indeed, one might have expected Marx to explicitly deal with the theoretical
(and important political) issue of the effect of  rising rents on the
standard of
living of the working class at that time and in those (unwritten) works.

So, while *in _Capital_*  Marx  considers the cost of workers' housing to be
a "given", he was well aware that this is not in fact the case.

Perhaps since Marx never got around to writing about these issues at length,
perhaps we can?

In solidarity, Jerry

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