[OPE-L:4455] Books 2-6 and determination of real wages

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 07:19:11 -0800 (PST)

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Ajit wrote in [OPE-L:4453]:

> The reader should note that this quotation is written in the context of how
> is the real wages determined. I have quoted this paragraph not only to
> highlight the "given" aspect of it, but more importantly to imphasize that
> it is given for an "epoch". And of course, we all know what epoch means-- it
> definetely does not mean such a small period as a period for wage contract
> or a business cycles etc.

What determines the "level of civilization" characteristic of an epoch? In
your reading I see no role for the ability of workers through
self-activity and organization to change the "level of civilization."

As for real wages being a "given", this _by itself_ suggests the need to
develop this subject more fully, i.e. that which is taken as a "given" at
one level of abstraction must be systematically investigated at more
concrete levels of abstraction.

Also, we don't all know what an epoch is or what are the forces that drive
capitalism from one epoch to another since those subjects as well are
underdeveloped in the text.

> Now, as I explained above, the rise and fall of market price of labor-power
> is explained in capital as well as 1865 Lecture on the basis of business
> cycle fluctuations.

How does a _general_ increase in educational levels among workers due to
increased literacy and public education affect real wages?

How does the changing nature of the working-class family and changes in
reproductive costs affect real wages?

How do trade union affect real wages? (this was a subject addressed
briefly in the "Results of the Immediate Process of Production").

How does foreign trade and the world market affect wage differentials?
How would international working-class solidarity affect real wages?

How can the state affect real wages?

etc. etc. etc.

> Here, as well as in other places he links real
> wages directly to intensity and length of the working day in a manner that
> gives credence to the idea that his wages are 'subsistence wage'.

Marx explicitly rejected the concept of the "Iron Law of Wages." Also:
the intensity and length of the working day is a subject of *struggle*
between capital and labor as are wages, especially in the presence of
trade unions.

> But for
> our purpose here, it sufices to say that nowere around the passage that Mike
> has quoted, Marx gives even a hint that these 'needs' vary in accordance to
> the class struggle or the strenght of the trade unions.

This, by itself, supports Mike's interprestation. We know that the subject
of the creation of needs was discussed in the _Grundrisse_. The mere fact
that this important subject is not discussed at length in _Capital_ should
be a very big "hint" that it is an underdeveloped category that requires
greater explanation at a more concrete level of abstraction.

Moreover, *who* determines the needs of workers? Is it _only_ based on the
requirements of capital or can workers themselves through their own
self-activity and organization change their own and the social
understanding of needs appropriate for a particular "level of

> [...] Second, if you wanna get into
> this speculative business, then let me ask you: Why the Resultate was not
> included in CAPITAL?

That's an interesting speculative question. My sense is that it was
excluded since it relates more to the subjects of Book III.

> Why the 'Introduction' in Grundrisse, which was written
> for A Contribution to a Critique not included in it?

I can't answer that question, but note that Marx began the "Preface"
instead with:

"I examine the system of bourgeois economy in the following order:
*capital*, *landed property*, *wage-labour*; *the State*, *foreign
trade*, *world market*."

Interestingly, he writes next:

"The economic conditions of existence of the three great classes
into which modern bourgeois society is divided are analysed under
the first three headings; the interconnection of the other three
headings is self-evident."

The first part of the above sentence I read as a confirmation of the
interpretation I suggested last week re the last chapter in VIII on
"Classes." As Marx wrote: "The question to be answered next is: 'What
makes a class?', ...."

> In your six book plan,
> where would Theories of Surplus Value fit?

At the conclusion of Book I?

> In your six book plan, the first
> three books are straight away one book on each 'neoclassical' type factor of
> production. Is it so unreasonable to think that Marx had moved away from
> thinking in terms of capital, land, and labor being separate factors of
> production?

Book I deals with capital in general and introduces the subject of many
capitals in VIII. Books 2-3 deal with the other two major social classes
-- landowners and wage-labourers. Although these subjects were raised in
_Capital_, the archiotronics of _Capital_ suggest that they had to be more
concretely developed and explained (see my recent posts re Book II).

> The questions can just keep on multiplying.

On that point, we agree. IMHO, the reason the questions keep multiplying
is because what has traditionally been interpreted as a "complete" work is
rather only the [unfinished] first book out of a projected 6 volume work.

In solidarity, Jerry