[OPE-L:2846] Re: Value of labour power and real wage

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 26 Aug 1996 10:28:31 -0700 (PDT)

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Duncan wrote in [OPE-L:2845]:

> I think this political inhibition against
> discussing rising real wages lies behind a number of the difficult and
> puzzling problems in understanding Marx's economic analysis, including the
> transformation problem, the theory of the falling rate of profit, and the
> theory of wages.

It should be noted that Marx did, I think, recognize the *probability* of
rising real wages. On the one hand, this is implicit in his understanding
that actual wages have a certain "moral" component determined by "custom"
(in contrast to Lasalle's Iron Law of Wages). On the other hand, I think
he makes makes it clear (for example in the _Resultate_) that "custom" is
determined by class struggle (see Vol 1, Penguin edition, pp. 1068-1070 on
the role of *trade unions*). In this connection, I should also add that
Marx's explicit recognition that actual wages can and _do_ rise _above
*or* below_ the value of labor power is significant both theoretically and
politically. For instance, one could argue that neoliberal austerity
policies aim precisely to redefine "custom" and depress wages below the
value of labor power in an attempt to restore profitability.

Regarding the "thesis of the immiserisation of the proletariat", do you
think there are any essential subsequent parts of the theory that depend
on that "thesis"?

In OPE-L Solidarity,