[OPE-L:3448] RE: Assumptions, Assumptions, etc.

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 05:23:54 -0700 (PDT)

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John wrote in [OPE-L:3441]:

> I'm
> willing to postpone any judgment concerning how one
> treats the labor of prison guards and the like as I still
> am unclear about the accumulation process on a fairly
> basic level.

The question of how we define c is more basic than our understanding of
the accumulation process.

> With regard to questions of method, given my
> remaining unclarity concerning that process, I do not
> feel I am in any position to worry about levels of
> abstraction as that would mean I've got something together
> that I do not.

The question of Marx's method is more basic than the topic of the
valuation of c and related matters.

> To argue that v > 0 is important, one should show that it
> is and not simply assert that it is.

I have not "simply assert[ed]" that v > 0 is important. I have shown that
is in countless posts.

> So what about v > 0. In those one commodity examples,
> if we consider that case and wages are actually advanced,
> does v, like c, get revalued after the production process?

In the one-commodity corn model case, technological change in corn
production would imply reductions in corn prices, ceteris paribus. As
corn is the means of subsistence that workers purchase, real wages would
increase, ceteris paribus. However, there is no reason to believe that
capitalists will change the "wage bargain" as a result of this process.

Of course, whether v and wages change is more complicated than this. To
begin with, there is no reason to believe that capitalists will either
automatically increase or decrease wages as a result of technical change.
Clearly, living labor has a capacity to bargain for increased wages that
dead labor does not have.

In the case of labor-saving technical change and stable output, we would
expect to see decreased v and wages. Wages in that case could be expected
to decrease since the size of the industrial reserve army could be
expected to increase. If the composition of capital remained the same, we
might expect a different result in terms of wages.

Does that answer your question?

In Solidarity,