[OPE-L:4749] Re: the determination of real wages---- and a puzzle

Michael Perelma (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Sat, 12 Apr 1997 14:48:39 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

Michael A. Lebowitz wrote:

My position (which
> I think was Marx's) is that wages are determined by class struggle, which
> means they can go up or down even with the existence of trade unions (and,
> of course, are constrained at the top by the requirements for the
> reproduction of capitalist relations of production).

I would usually defer to Mike L. in such matters. I wonder if anyone
would like to comment on the following passage?:

Writing of the Preston strike in 1853, he took note of the demand by the
London Times that the workers behave more respectfully, Marx
responded: Now, what did the strikes prove, if not that the workmen
preferred applying a mode of their own of testing the proportion of the
supply to the demand rather than to trust to the interested assurances
of their employers? Under certain circumstances, there is for the
workman no other measure of
ascertaining whether he is or is not paid the actual market value of his
labour, but to strike or to threaten to do so. The constant success of
these strikes [earlier in 1853] while it generalized them all over the
country, was the best proof of their legitimacy, and their rapid
succession in the same branch of trade, by the same 'hands', claiming
fresh advances, fully proved that according to supply and demand the
work-people had long been entitled to a rise of wages which was merely
kept from them on account of their being ignorant of the state of the
labor market. [Marx 1853d, pp. 332-33; also cited in Dutton and King

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929
Tel. 916-898-5321
E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu