[OPE-L:8112] Re: 'Testing Marx or why the law of value holds'

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Dec 04 2002 - 07:47:55 EST

Re Paul C's [8111]:

Thanks for your stimulating post. A couple of short comments:

> Why is the ratio of wages to national product close to
> the ratio of necessary to total labour time?
> Basically because of regression to the mean.

We have to look at  data over a longer period of time -- and
internationally -- to be able to come to a conclusion regarding
cause.  If, for example, we look at only a single time period how
can we tell whether or not there has been a  reduction of wages
below their value?  Over a longer period,  there is also the possibility
of a reduction in the value of  labour-power itself.   The first possibility
is related to the cycle and Marx asserted that it, as a 'counteracting
factor', was "one of the most important factors in stemming the
tendency for the rate of profit to fall" (_Capital_, Volume 3, Penguin
ed., p. 342).  The second possibility is likely, I think, after a
relatively long-term historic defeat of the working-class (e.g. the
ascendancy of fascism driving down the customary living standards
of the working class).  One might argue that this latter possibility
also has occasionally manifested itself during (imperialist) war-time
(e.g. in the UK during WW2).

> Michael is of course quite right when he points out that
> scientific investigation always takes place within a problematic,
> and that the questions one asks are one of the preconditions
> of the results one obtains. They are not however the sole
> precondition, brute reality is the other.

Yes, but that brute reality can be comprehended through more
means than just regression analysis.  E.g. historical and class
studies form part of our comprehension of the empirical
concrete even when those studies don't contain a formal
statistical analysis.

In solidarity, Jerry

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