[OPE-L:3352] Forms of Technical Change

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 04:01:30 -0700 (PDT)

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Re: John's [OPE-L:3349]:

It seems to me that this whole "dialog" is unnecessarily complicated.

Let's look at the micro level first (since the macro level is more
complicated in many ways, e.g. in terms of the changing quantity of
branches of production):

o assume constant wages from one period to the next.

o consider the case of what John many moons ago called "BETTER"

o if "BETTER' machinery (more advanced forms of constant fixed
capital: process innovations) are introduced, this can have one of
three consequences:

a) if the labor input and v remain the same, then better machines
mean that the same workforce can create additional output;

b) if the output level remains the same, then the increase in labor
productivity made possible by the better machinery means that
less workers and v are required to produce that output.

[*both* a) and b) are instances of labor-saving technological
change. In both cases the labor required per unit of output goes
down and capitalists, thereby, have either reduced v (absolutely)
or reduced v/unit of output].

c) Some forms of better machinery may mean that the constant
circulating capital required per unit of output goes down. If v
and output stay the same, then advances in this type of constant
fixed capital (e.g. new machinery that requires less electricity)
will mean decreases in c since the firm sees savings in terms of
constant circulating c.

In practice, it is easier enough to identify examples of each of the above
in different branches of production during different periods of time.

Does incorporating any of the above cause problems for different
interpretations of Marx re technical change?

In Solidarity,