[OPE-L:576] Re: International value.

Steve.Keen@unsw.edu.au (Steve.Keen@unsw.edu.au)
Mon, 27 Nov 1995 16:16:52 -0800

[ show plain text ]

Thanks to Paul for his observation on my post. Just a
quick addendum to:
The notion of the `vleof labour power' is a necessary
theoretical fiction for a particular form of critique, but it
does little to tell us why real wages rise and fall.

One thing I have been struck by in reading Marx is that,
whenever he makes a comparison of the value of labor-power
to the real wage, he uses the phrase "wage minimum", or
something similar. Thus he saw the value of labor power
as defining not the average wage, but the minimum wage,
and it is my belief that the "mechanics" of the relation
between the actual wage and the value of labor-power would
have been the substance of the proposed book on Wage Labor.

That Marx was quite comfortable with the proposition that the wage might exceed the value of labor-power can be seen in the section of Ch. 25 which became the inspiration for Goodwin's limit cycle analysis:

"accumulation slackens in consequence of the rise in the price of labor, because the stimulus of gain is blunted. The rate of accumulation lessens; but with its lessening, the primary cause of that lessening vanishes, i.e. the disproportion between capital and exploitable labor power. The mechanism of the process of capitalist production removes the very obstacles that it temporarily creates. The price of labor falls again to a level corresponding with the needs of the self-expansion of capital, whether the level be below, the same as, or above the one which was normal before the rise in wages took place... To put it mathematically, the rate of accumulation is the independent, not the dependent variable; the rate of wages the dependent, not the independent variable." (Progress Press edition, pp. 580-581.)

Cheers, Steve Keen