[OPE-L:2960] Re: Value of labour power and real wage

Paul Zarembka (ecopaulz@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu)
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 10:22:58 -0700 (PDT)

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On Tue, 3 Sep 1996, Paul Cockshott wrote:

> Paul Z wrote:
> >Prod. of relative surplus value is an attempt by capital to increase its
> >surplus value by decreasing the value of labor power. The resulting
> >technological developments affect the value composition of capital
> >(organic composition, if you will).
> Paul C:
> This is a teleological interpretation which confuses cause with effect.
> The motivation of cost saving innovations ( saving direct or indirect
> labour inputs ) is to be able to produce commodities at below the
> prevailing market value. This increases the relative profits of the
> inovators, but this increase need not involve any additional production
> of surplus value. Consider the case of cost saving innovations in
> the production of military goods.
> The production of relative surplus value is an effect of this process
> insofar as it occurs in the production of wage goods or basic
> industries. But the production of relative surplus value is not
> an attempt by some abstract entity 'capital' to do anything. It
> is a side effect of cost saving innovations by individual firms.

Paul, If I were to rephrase my statement to the following would you
still have a problem: "Prod. of relative surplus value is the theoretical
expression of the attempt by capital to devalue the value of labor
power. The resulting technological developments of the attempt to
develue labor power affect the value composition of capital."

If this formulation is acceptable, we are home free.

> >Paul Z.:
> >Workers don't simply sit back and take their own devaluation but organize
> >and struggle to raise v (by fighting to increase real wages). To extent
> >they are successful s/v may be restored to what it was before, but at the
> >higher level of real wages. But is the rate of profit where it was
> >before? The law of the falling tendency answers "no".
> >
> I think that this basic mechanism has plausibility, in that 0ncreases
> in profits versus 0ncreases in wages are likely to be a factor
> entering into union negotiations.

Struggles go much beyond unionization issues. Anyway, I was just suggesting
the end result, not how it happens.

> It is also possible that higher
> profits encourage more accumulation with a consequent rise in the
> demand for labour power. I suspect, however that these effects are
> both relatively slow to operate, and are only relevant over the
> long term ( several decades ).
> Whether the rate of profit will be higher or lower depends upon
> the overall rate of accumulation over the period. If the rate of
> accumulation exceeds the rate of growth of the workforce, then,
> it is likely to lead to a fall in the rate of profit, both because
> this creates a bouyant labour market, and because it necessarily
> implies a higher capital stock per worker.
> It is however, futile to discuss this further without a theory of
> the determinants of the rate of accumulation. What determines the
> percentage of surplus value accumulated versus the percentage consumed?
> Possible factors:
> 1. Long term interest rates.
> 2. Rates of profit relative to the above.
> 3. First derivatives of the above.
> 4. Rates of change of total money sales.
> 5. Polarisation of capital in rentier and entrepreneurial strata.
> 6. State unproductive expenditure levels.
> 7. Unproductive overheads of capital in the circulation process.

Well, you are back to the issue of several months ago (which I don't need
to repeat) of what is the "accumulation of capital" in Marx. Without
agreement on that, discussion of the above will probably not get very
far, even if I agree that the factors listed above are important.

Paul Z.