[OPE-L:2874] Re: Value of labour power and real wage

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 09:03:22 -0700 (PDT)

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Costas, responding to Duncan, wrote in [OPE-L:2873]:

> It seems to me that the nature of the commodity labour-power is also at
> stake. Marx followed an essentially Ricardian path: the value of
> labour-power is necessarily related to the value of the wage bundle,
> hence to production of values in the process of accumulation.
> Alternatively, one can argue either that
> the value of labour-power is somehow determined through the largely
> non-capitalist processes of upbringing and education, or that the value of
> labour-power is determined through an institutional/historical/political
> division of the working day, which I understand Duncan`s thesis to be.
> In either case the commodity character of labour-power appears to me
> somewhat compromised.

While Marx viewed labor-power as a commodity, he also viewed it as a
*unique* commodity in the sense that it is an expression of alienated
labor and that the owner of that commodity, the proletarian, can through
different "institutional/historical/political" ways (e.g. trade union
organization) cause the value of labor power to alter over time. In this
sense, Marx's [revolutionary working class] path was quite distinct from
the "Ricardian path." Consequently, I don't view the three arguments
above as mutually exclusive. What is needed is not only a explanation for
how the value of labor-power is related to the process of accumulation,
but also an explanation for the various ways in which the value of LP can
be changed by other social-historical-political forces and developments. I
think this is one of the characteristics that distinguishes Marx's
perspective from that of Lassallle.

In OPE-L Solidarity,