Re: Meillassoux on population and wages

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Date: Mon Jun 09 2003 - 15:13:26 EDT

Hi Rakesh, I do not read those chapters (manufacture, modern industry) quite
the same way you do.
Using the Intl Publishers for references. On the one hand Marx suggests that
diskilling of the labor force (pp.420, 421,,422) would decrease the value of
labor power. How could diskilling reduce the value (not the price below
value!) of labor power? A colleague of mine has suggested to me that this
could be due to the fact that less money is necessary to rear the next
generation of workers. In this case the concept of value of L.P. as a family
value related to the reproduction of the of workers as a class is relevant,
contrarily  to Michael Lebowitz suggestion that the capitalist class does
not need to worry about a new generation to rise 20 years hence.
On the other hand, machinery increases the mass of exploitable labor force.
Here diskilling (and dis-strenghtening=muscular force not being necessary)
increases the Industrial reservy army (p. 394) and this would depreciate the
price of labor power below its value.
What struck me in the interview is that there is nothing in Marx, to my
knowkedge, suggesting that wages could not stay below the value of labor
power for a long period of time. Periphery is a very nice place to
understand why thia is so!
rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU wrote:

> Quoting Francisco Paulo Cipolla <cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR>:
> > Very interesting interview Rakesh. It strikes me however how wrong
> > he
> > can be about Marx´s theory of wages and at the same time thinking
> > for
> > himself in ways that Marx would find very interesting (for instance
> > on
> > the question of those imigrant workers serving the pourpose of
> > enriching
> > a rich country without representing absolutely any costs as far as
> > the
> > formation of the labor force is concerned). One can certainly being
> > brilliant without geting Marx right, but one should try to avoid
> > representing him incorrectly with such certainty!
> > Paulo
> Yes, I think you are right, Paulo.
> Not only did Marx not think that the male bread winner would tend to win
> a family wage in the developed capitalist system, Marx explicitly showed
> how with the development of technology capital was able to and forced by
> the threat of moral depreciation to raise the rate of exploitation by
> hiring hitherto dependent women and children and thereby displacing the
> family wage earning male head of the household. Marx's point was that
> capital would bring the whole family under its heel:  a closed
> capitalism can, did and would break the power of the family wage earner.
> Meillassoux is thus wrong to suggest that Marx believed that a closed
> capitalism would tend to pay wages to heads of households which by
> themselves allowed for the reproduction of the family unit.
> I am not sure why you think Meillassoux is wrong about KM. If reason
> different than mine above, I would love to hear it.
> A couple of situtations in the US: in the NY Times a few years back
> Somini Sengupta reported that women working in Chinatown sweatshops were
> forced to send their children to elders in China because they could not
> support them on their American wages. UC Irvine Prof Leo Chavez has
> argued that attempts to cut off benefits to "illegal immigrants" may be
> motivated in part by the attempt to restrict immigration only to the
> head of household; that way US based capital does not have to pay for
> the reproduction of the entire family in the US. That is,  wages can be
> lower if part of the family is reproduced back "home".  If memory
> serves, Chavez draws explicitly on Meillassoux.
> Yo

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