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

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Oct 10 2006 - 08:51:17 EDT

Hi Ajit:

You asked a lot of questions so I will respond briefly to each.

> > Some other parts of the story become clearer when
> > you also consider what was written in the "Resultate des
> > unmittelbaren Produktionsprozesses" and the
> > _Grundrisse_.
>  For example? What is the 17/18th of the story?

Since we're talking about Marx, I think the 19th Century is
more relevant.   I was thinking about the sections in the
_Grundrisse_ on  the creation and expansion of needs and
what he wrote in the "Resultate" on the role of trade unions.

> Why would you take cycles into consideration when you
> are dealing with long term trajectory?

Marx wrote about long-run trajectory, it's true.  He also
wrote about more short- and medium-term developments.
The question is how/if cycles modify the operation of what
is claimed to happen over the long-term historical process of

> > Furthermore, the Volume I simple story has to be put
> > in the context of wage-laborers being able to within limits
> > raise their  customary standard of living their own
> > self-activity.
> > Furthermore, the Volume I story has to be put in the
> > context of how the state can intervene to change at least
> > part of that story.
> I don't understand what is the point of all these
> comments. Do you agree with my interpretation of Marx
> or you disagree?

My point is that there is a "simple story" that emerges from one
part of _Capital_.  There is a more complex story that emerges
when one puts that story within the context of  both capital as
a whole and "Economics", which encompasses the study of
class activity, the state, foreign trade, and the world market.

> The question is whether he
> expected the real wages to move up or down on a long
> term trajectory.

OK.  But, that question has to be put in context: e.g.
did he expect wages on the world market or in just
the more advanced capitalist nations to go up or down?
In his later years, he tried to make it clear that references
to 'historical inevitability' in _Capital_ were restricted to
the nations of Western Europe (e.g. see 3/8/81 reply
to Zasulich and letter to the Editorial Board of Otechestvennye

> Jerry, I really don't understand most of what you
> write. What is your point?

Explained above.

> Are you saying that Marx
> had a theory of wages that "grasped" it in all these
> "contexts"? Or you are suggesting that we have to do
> that? Or you are suggesting that you have an
> understanding of Marx's theory of wages that "grasps"
> it in all these contexts?

I don't think that Marx ever really completely flushed out his
perspectives on wages in writing.  Basically, I would say
that _we_ need a theory of wages which puts that subject
in the context of a larger theory and considers the ways
in which subjects which arise at more concrete levels of
abstraction (e.g. the state, trade, the world market)
modify wage determination.

In solidarity, Jerry

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