Re: (OPE-L) [Jurriaan on] Unproductive consumption

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Fri Apr 30 2004 - 22:30:27 EDT

At 18:20 30/04/2004, Paul C wrote in response to my comment

> >
> >          Doesn't the set of necessaries underlying the value of
> > labour-power have something to do with historically developed social needs,
> > which become second nature?
>I suspect that given time and mobility of capital,
>some historically developed social necessities might
>be found by the ruling class to be not so necessary
>after all.

Yes, I'm certain of that--- in fact they already have found that. The
question is whether the particular working class (in a given time and
place) is prepared to surrender to capital's view.

>I accept your argument that the actual wage is determined
>by conditions of class struggle, but this allows it to be
>raised above what is strictly necessary for reproduction.

I think your 'strictly necessary for reproduction' has a hint of a standard
based upon physiological requirements. Once we treat that standard,
however, as variable, then it can rise with victories of the working class.

> >
> > >It is only a commitment to the working class interest that
> > >inhibits Marxists from admiting this.
> >
> > You mean we are dishonest?
>We want to defend the actual real wage from being reduced
>so we say that it is no more than the value of labour power.
>I suspect that it is well above the value of labour power, but
>of course workers are still exploited.

Again, I think Marx recognised that the set of necessaries that underlie
the value of labour could rise. As long as productivity rises more rapidly,
though, the value of labour-power would fall (and the social gulf-- the
rate of exploitation-- would rise).
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at

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