[OPE-L:4641] real wages and the rate of surplus value

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 2 Apr 1997 05:56:42 -0800 (PST)

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Ajit wrote in [OPE-L:4638]:

> I think given real wages in Marx is very important.

I don't recall any place where Marx stated that he believed that _actual_
real wages were given. I.e. even where he _assumed_ constant real wages,
this can not be taken as evidence that he accepted the _very strong_
assertion that real wages are in fact constant. Let's recall that he
explicitly rejected the Lassallean "Iron Law of Wages" and left room for
a "cultural and moral" component to alter *both* nominal and real wages.

But, putting aside for the moment what Marx did or did not write, what
would be the _logical_ reason(s) for believing in given real wages? Do you
view this as a simplifying assumption appropriate for a particular level
of abstraction or a reflection of an actual historical process? If the
former, then at what level of analysis would this simplifying assumption
be dropped? If the latter, could you explain what are the social forces
which bring about and maintain a given real wage?

> His rate of exploitation is an objective measure and not a
> monetary measure.

Marx's *rate of surplus value* (s/v), is the ratio of surplus value to
variable capital. Don't both s and v _necessarily_ take the _form_ of
money under capitalism?

It seems to me that by claiming that the rate of exploitation is not a
"monetary measure", you are abstracting from the commodity-form itself.
How can one abstract from the commodity-form if the subject of analysis is
the bourgeois mode of production where workers are paid in *money* and
where surplus value (and c) must necessarily take a *monetary form* for
there to be the reproduction of capital? Isn't this evident when we
consider the "first transformation problem", i.e. the transformation of
surplus value into capital?

In solidarity, Jerry