Re: [OPE-L] Marxians on Sraffa; Sraffians on Marxians

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Oct 09 2006 - 14:52:50 EDT

> As I see it, the issue is not whether there is wage slavery or not, but
> whether the distributional conflict is determined by relations of
> production
> or not, i.e. whether the distribution of gross product is determined by
> the
> ownership of productive assets and products, or not. Seems to me that Marx
> is saying you cannot analyse *distributional* conflicts in separation from
> the conditions under which output is *produced*, you need one theoretical
> framework for this, encompassing both production and distribution. His
> substantive argument being, that the employer already owns the surplus,
> prior to its distribution.
> Jurriaan

I think this is a fabulous formulation, and it seems to me that here is
the basis of as an important debate between Sraffians and Marxians as the
hoary value debate.

That capital already owns the worker-produced gross product, including the
very means to the workers' lives, and that this ownership allows capital
to resist any redetermination of workers' subsistence allotment that would
undermine the basis of its own power and its own growing consumption needs
are exactly the features of slavery.

This of course does not mean that Marx ruled out the possibility of a
rising real wage as Ajit seemed to suggest in a recent message.

As long as capital can reproduce itself and meet its luxury demands there
is always the basis for material improvments in the condition of the
working class.

"But just as little as better clothing, food, and treatment, and a larger
peculium, do away with the exploitation of the slave, so little do they
set aside that of the wage-worker."


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