Re: indirect labor, the real wage, and the production of surplus value

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Tue Nov 25 2003 - 09:33:06 EST

```At 22:27 23/11/2003 -0800, ajit wrote:

>  from the
>begining I have been saying that your argument or the
>problem is running in a circle. Once you say that the
>real wage is determined by the class struggle or the
>degree of separation of the workers, then you cannot
>say that now I want to see how the real wages would
>behave when the degree of separation remains constant
>and some other variable changes. Because if the real
>wage was only the function of the degree of separation
>of the workers then once it is held constant then
>there is no theoretical reason for it to change.

Ajit,
I don't think I have ever said that the real wage 'was ONLY a
function of the degree of separation of the workers'. If I had, then of
course your point would be valid. But, if this were my position, why would
I constantly be proposing that if productivity rises (and thus the values
of wage goods falls), then IF the degree of separation of workers is
constant, real wages will rise? The argument is basically summed up on pp.
216 as follows:

U= Bq/X, where U, B, q and X are the real wage(U), a constant (B),
productivity(q) and the degree of separation of workers (X).

The condition for a constant real wage, then, is that the degree
of separation rises at the same rate as productivity. The condition for ANY
relative surplus value is that the degree of separation (which impacts the
money wage inversely) rise. While one can make a case for relative surplus
value where there is substitution of machinery for workers, I would suggest
it is rather difficult to do so if productivity rises drop from the sky
(ie., are not accompanied by the rise in the technical composition); in
short, an essential premise for relative surplus value is obscured by the
ASSUMPTION of a given real wage. You can see the argument in the book.
Also, I just discovered with joy that Vol. 34 of MECW is on-line at
marxists.org (one less book to carry with me as I travel about!), so you
can see Marx's points on pp. 65-6.
I hope I've clarified my argument now, and that my argument no
longer looks circular.
cheers,
michael

>  Thus
>when you say that you want to see how the real wages
>would change when some other variable, in this case
>labor productivity, changes, you are in effect saying
>that the real wages are determined by two factors (1)
>the degree of separation of the workers, and the other
>variable, in this case the productivity of the labor.
>Now given this, when you read out the changes in the
>real wage due to changes in the productivity of labor,
>given the separation of workers constant, you are in
>effect drawing a relationship between the real wages
>and the labor productivity. So your theory simply says
>that labor productivity has positive impact on real
>wages, it is not drawing any implication of what
>happens if the degree of separation remains constant,
>it is not throwing any light on the question of degree
>of separation of the workers and its relation to real
>wages.
>
>Now let me try to make a case for you: I think you
>need to argue that labor productivity affects degree
>of separation, and for your kind of hypothesis,
>positively. So when labor productivity rises, the
>degree of separation increases, which in turn raises
>the real wage. In this case your degree of separation
>is not given by the rate of surplus value. So you have
>a job cut our for you. First of all you will have to
>develop some way of measuring or quantifying the
>degree of separation of workers (s/v will not do, can
>only create circularity in your argument). Then you
>will have to develop a theory that shows how labor
>productivity affects the degree of separation, and
>then develop a theory of real wages that shows how
>real wages are determined by degree of separation. So
>the dominant causality runs from labor productivity to
>degree of separation to real wages. I hope this is of
>some help. Cheers, ajit sinha
> > ---------------------
> > Michael A. Lebowitz
> > Professor Emeritus
> > Economics Department
> > Simon Fraser University
> > Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
> > Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
> > Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510
>
>
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---------------------
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510
```

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