[OPE-L:2847] Re: Value of labour power and real wage

Hans Ehrba (ehrbar@marx.econ.utah.edu)
Mon, 26 Aug 1996 11:13:02 -0700 (PDT)

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Here is a shot in the dark, since I don't know the preceding
discussion. About the issue of rising real wages addressed by Duncan
in [OPE-L:2845] I propose the following theses:

(1) The capitalist class cannot afford to cream off all the benefits
of rising technology for themselves because capitalism depends
on the system appearing fair in some way to the workers, and this
would be considered patently unfair. (Remember, the workers think
they are paid for their labor, not their labor power).

A related situation was pointed out I think first by Burawoy: The
capitalist production process has not embraced Taylorism as Marx had
predicted because Taylorism makes it too obvious to the workers
that they sell their labor power and not their labor.

But this need to maintain rising real wages with rising technology
clashes with the immiseration tendency, which I am not willing
to throw overboard.

I would try to generalize it in this way: the more capitalism
develops, the more openly will its true nature reveal itself on the
surface -- and capitalism is forced to hide its face, i.e., depart
from its true nature and try to look like the illusions about it on
which it depends. This can explain a number of phenomena, from racial
discrimination (although it is more profitable to exploit all labor
equally) to the labor aristocracy in imperialist nations. I also
think that the welfare state phase which we are just leaving behind us
was one such attempt, with the Soviet Union as catalyst.

These departures from capitalism's inner nature can however only be
temporary, and the necessary adjustments, although deferred in time,
can be extremely dangerous to the system. Witness the present
precipitous decline of the USA from a high wage country to one of the
worse sweatshops in the world, and the polticial upheaval which this
is starting to engender.

Hans Ehrbar.

By the way, Jerry, when you introduced me, you failed to mention,
because you probably did not know about it, my participation in spoon's
bhaskar list. I am really excited to be with you all. H.E.