[OPE-L:4891] Re: ceteris paribus

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 20:56:16 EST

Hi Jerry,

As to the excuse, there's only one: misunderstanding Marx! -:)

I have seen so many Marxist papers where people interpret the value of
labor power as the wage. Yet *every* reference of one to the other that I
have found in Marx's own writings refers to the value of labor power as the
*minimum* wage. He was therefore contemplating some dialectical dynamics
for the wage where the value of labor-power would define its mimumum
(except, I expect, in times of revolutionary crisis).

I argue that this explains his Ch. 25 growth cycle model, which is
otherwise quite unlike everything else in Vol. 1. My own interpretation of
this is based on my use-value/exchange-value reading of Marx, and the
higher dialectics which spring from it. The very first such higher
dialectic is between the commodity and non-commodity aspects of
labor-power. If the wage equalled the value of labor-power, then workers
would be treated purely as commodities--which denies their non-commodity
aspects. Hence their is a dialectic tension, which manifests itself in a
struggle for a share of the surplus by workers. You therefore get the type
of income distribution dynamics you find in Ch 25.

At 06:12 PM 2/11/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Steve K quoted the following passage from Marx in  [OPE-L:4873]:
>> "For the time being, necessary labor supposed as such;
>> i.e. that the worker  always obtains only the minimum of > wages. This
>supposition is necessary, of
>> course, so as to establish the laws of profit in so far as > they are not
>determined by the rise and fall of wages or > by the influence of landed
>property. All these fixed
>> suppositions themselves become fluid in the
>> further course of development." (Marx 1857, p. 817.)
>_One_ interpretation of the above is that he planned on getting to this ("in
>the further course of development") in Book III on "Wage-Labour"  and Book
>II on  "Landed Property".
>This is an entirely legitimate procedure *provided* one gets around to this
>at a later stage of the analysis (whereas neo-neo-classical analysis has the
>nasty habit of habitually making the ceteris paribus assumption and then
>"forgetting" about all of the variables that they have held constant and how
>the conclusions that they have reached are dependent on the c.p.
>assumption).  Marx's health, alas, wasn't quite up to his plans for future
>What excuse do we have?
>In solidarity, Jerry
Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
Campbelltown, Building 11 Room 30,
School of Economics and Finance
s.keen@uws.edu.au 61 2 4620-3016 Fax 61 2 4626-6683
Home 02 9558-8018 Mobile 0409 716 088
Home Page: http://bus.macarthur.uws.edu.au/steve-keen/

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