[OPE-L:219] another answer for duncan foley

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Sun, 8 Oct 1995 17:29:00 -0700

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From: Duncan K Foley <dkf2@columbia.edu>

> prospectus as drafted seems to me exactly the wrong way to approach the
> issues of pushing Marxist insights further.

> To put my 2 cents in, I'd like to know from a Marxist/Classical point of
> view why the real wage in capitalist economies tends to rise roughly at
> the same rate as the productivity of labor, so that the labor share
> remains roughly constant.

As I've noted before, if we drop Marx's CAPITAL assumption that the
standard of necessity is given for a given country, period, etc and permit
it to vary, then all other things equal the real wage will rise with
increases in productivity (directly and indirectly) in the production of
those items entering into the worker's consumption basket. So the problem
appears not to be a problem at all--- when we take this approach to pushing
Marxist insights further. 8-)
Of course, insofar as the question is not simply
one of increasing productivity as such but the mechanism is through the
substitution of machinery, the displacement of workers, etc, then the
increased separation of workers, that weakness resulting from an increased
reserve army, will keep real wages from rising as rapidly as productivity
(as we see at present)---unless workers through their struggles are able to
counter this. This is the point that Jim D makes about the importance of the
organisation and consciousness of workers.
in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 255-0382
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e-mail: mlebowit@sfu.ca