[OPE-L:8507] Re: A possible reason why profit rates do not equalise--belated comment

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Tue Feb 25 2003 - 08:36:45 EST

Re [8504]:

Hi Mike. I hope you are having a good time in Cuba.

'Free labor' notwithstanding,  the movements of wage-labourers among
sectors or within sectors are constrained by the demand for labour-power.
In periods of time when the demand for labour-power is growing and the
industrial reserve army is minimal,  workers have more of  a possibility
to successfully hunt for other jobs than they do when the demand for
labour-power is declining and the IRA is expanding.  A corollary might
be that during the expansionary phase of the business cycle we might expect
less disparity in rates of surplus value than during the contractionary
phase of the business cycle.  Whether this hypothesis about  the
equalization of rates of surplus value is actualized in this manner
requires empirical verification, of course.

Skills also limit the mobility of wage-laborers.  Even when workers are able
to 're-tool' with new skills, there is typically a significant time lag.
The time required for re-training might also constitute a temporary 'barrier
to entry and exit' for different sections of the working-class.

In solidarity, Jerry

> Thus, the movements of
> wage-labourers as such would be based on their search for a 'fair day's
> wages for a fair day's work'. Logically, then, insofar as workers move
> from
> sectors where wages are low and the workday high, this would be a basis
> for
> a tendency for equalisation of rates of surplus value. On the other hand,
> for rates of surplus value (rather than only wages and workdays) to be
> equalised, it appears necessary that the organised worker in a sector of
> high productivity not only 'measures his demands against the capitalist's
> profit and demands a certain share of the surplus value created by
> him'  but is also successful in having wages move in accordance with
> productivity.
>          Now, if these are the theoretical requirements for a 'law' of the
> equalisation of the rate of surplus value, what is the likelihood that
> they
> will be realised in practice? Even in the best case scenario, we must
> acknowledge that movements of workers from sector to sector, given the
> particular skills and training fixated in particular workers, are likely
> to
> be more rigid than the movements of capital; i.e., (in the absence of the
> homogenisation of workers) it will be especially the new generations of
> workers who will migrate to sectors of high wages, etc. Thus, even if this
> were the only rigidity, the tendency would operate mainly in the long
> term.
> Yet, add to this, among other things, the difficulty of workers moving
> from
> community to community--- not to mention across national boundaries in an
> age of global capital, the availability of new reserve armies (eg.
> peasants
> for whom low wages available represent substantial increases in income),
> the difficulties not only in organising trade unions in new workplaces but
> also in keeping wages moving in accordance with productivity in sectors
> already organised.

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