Re: [OPE-L] Theoretical issues concerning variable capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Oct 05 2006 - 19:30:06 EDT

>--- Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL> wrote:
>>  I haven't got POCBMOC handy here to check chapter
>>  and verse, but I think
>>  Fred put it quite well:
>>  "The real wage in Sraffian theory is a specific
>>  bundle of goods, determined
>>  ex-ante (prior to prices and money wages), and
>>  determined independently of
>>  workers' consumption choices.  Moreover, it is
>>  assumed that each worker
>>  consumes the same bundle of goods.
>This is wrong! ajit sinha

Right. But for Sraffa there is a distributional struggle over the net
product while for Marx
capital allots out of the product rightfully appropriated only the
means of life to the defacto slaves who have produced them. This
relation of defacto slavery cannot be changed by what within a
Sraffian perspective would be a more favorable distribution to the
working class.

Someone somewhere argued that Sraffa explicitly and consciously
rejected the putative rigidity in Marx's wage theory--allowing for
the wage to appear as the result of a distributional struggle, rather
than as an allotment by capital to wage workers for their survival as
defacto slaves.

Sraffa's theory may prove superior for just this reason, but it would
be nice to clarify the difference.

>Since Lassalle's death, there has asserted itself in our party the
>scientific understanding that wages are not what they appear to be --
>namely, the _value_, or _price_, of _labor_ -- but only a masked form
>for the _value_, or _price_, of _labor power_.  Thereby, the whole
>bourgeois conception of wages hitherto, as well as all the criticism
>hitherto directed against this conception, was thrown overboard once and
>for all.  It was made clear that the wage worker has permission to work
>for his own subsistence -- that is, _to live_, only insofar as he works
>for a certain time gratis for the capitalist (and hence also for the
>latter's co-consumers of surplus value); that the whole capitalist
>system of production turns on the increase of this gratis labor by
>extending the working day, or by developing the productivity -- that is,
>increasing the intensity or labor power, etc.; that, consequently, the
>system of wage labor is a system of slavery, and indeed of a slavery
>which becomes more severe in proportion as the social productive forces
>of labor develop, whether the worker receives better or worse payment.
>And after this understanding has gained more and more ground in our
>party, some return to Lassalle's dogma although they must have known
>that Lassalle _did not know_ what wages were, but, following in the wake
>of the bourgeois economists, took the appearance for the essence of the
>It is as if, among slaves who have at last got behind the secret of
>slavery and broken out in rebellion, a slave still in thrall to obsolete
>notions were to inscribe on the program of the rebellion: Slavery must
>be abolished because the feeding of slaves in the system of slavery
>cannot exceed a certain low maximum!

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