Re: [OPE-L] empirical measurement of changes in the value of labour-power

From: GERALD LEVY (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Dec 14 2007 - 15:25:57 EST

> You write:> > If we follow your alternative, then surplus value can increase for no> > other reason than capitalists increase the prices> > of commodities sold to workers.> Yes, that is precisely my point. It means that the capitalists are> capable of effectively reducing the real wage of the workers. All other> things being equal, the workers' standard of living has fallen and> capitalists have received greater profits and can enjoy a greater> standard of living: The division of the net product has changed and> correspondingly the division of the total social labour time.> Why don't you think so? Where do you disagree? I think any meaningful> analysis must conclude that the rate of exploitation has risen in this> example.
Hi Dave:
An alternative explanation would be:  if the price of food sold to 
workers has risen then that represents a gain, *not for the capitalist
class as a whole*, but for *one segment of capitalists and/or landowners*.
One could think of this as a 'rent' paid by workers to a segment of the
capitalist class or landowners because of their monopoly power.
The majority of the capitalist class would most likely not benefit by this 
change.  Indeed, it could well be that the reduction in real wages
occasioned by the increase in food prices leads over time to intensified class
struggle by workers as they seek to preserve their standard of 
living.  If workers are successful, then most capitalists could end-
up loosing even while agribusiness gains.
> A note regarding Paul C's post: I have always read Marx's "value" as> "labour-value" and "socially necessary labour time" as "social labour> time necessary [to reproduce something]". They may be subtle differences> but they are more precise and lead to less theoretical confusions.
The "something" is commodities: this is an important distinction.
In solidarity, Jerry
> >  If workers> > have to pay a higher amount for food, then one might conceive> > of this as a short-term transfer of value from workers to food-> > producing capitalists or landowners.

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