[OPE-L:2843] Value of labour power and real wage

Allin Cottrell (cottrell@f1n3fddi.sp2net.wfu.edu)
Mon, 26 Aug 1996 06:42:02 -0700 (PDT)

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I'd like to respond on one point that came up in Duncan's recent
three-part reply to Andrew on Okishio and all that.

Okishio builds in the assumption of a given real commodity wage, and the
theorem falls under the alternative assumption of a given value of
labour power; and Duncan says that he prefers the latter assumption.

I agree that the latter assumption is quite reasonable, but as a history
of thought point, I find it hard to accept that this was what Marx had
in mind. His analysis of relative surplus value builds in the
assumption that the thrust of technological change under capitalism is
to reduce the value of the workers' means of consumption, and hence to
reduce the value of labour power. Conversely, if the value of the means
of consumption is continually reduced but the value of labour power
remains constant, that implies a progressive increase in the real
commodity wage -- and it's pretty clear that this was not what Marx
envisaged, although it may be what has happened in the advanced
capitalist economies.

Allin Cottrell
Department of Economics
Wake Forest University