[OPE-L:4755] Re: the determination of real wages---- and a puzzle

Ajit Sinh (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 02:39:03 -0700 (PDT)

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At 09:41 PM 4/11/97 -0700, Mike Lebowitz wrote:

>No, no quotations, please. This is a simple proposition. What *exactly* is
>the mechanism which is operative? And, by what mechanism will real wages be
>constant (ie., money wages fall at the same rate as the values of wage
>goods)? This is a question addressed not only to you, Ajit.

In the real world situation the general price level usually rises by 3-4%,
or more, annually and productivity for the whole economy never rises by 50%
at once. If productivity in one sector is rising, in other sectors it may be
stagnating or even deteriorating. Thus both prices and productivity rise,
but slowlely and gradually. That's why money wages do not have to be reduced
in real world situation to adjust to the real wages, even when there is a
rise in productivity.
>> The workers ability to raise real wages crucially, at least in Marx's
>> opinion, depends upon the unemployment situation. If the tendency of the
>> rate of unemployment is to rise, then workers won't be able to raise real
>> wages even if the rate of surplus value is rising. Thus, one has to put
>> the problem in a dynamic context, where the three main variables one
>> needs to look at are the rate of growth, the nature and the speed of
>> technical change, and the rate of growth of population; now a days the
>> policy of the welfare state should also be added to the equation.
>You are consistent in not identifying questions related to class
>struggle--eg., the degree of organisation of workers--- as a variable.

What I'm trying to do is to theorise the class struggle itself, and not take
it as fallen from heaven, or as a slogan, like dialectics, that solves all
the problem. Unemployment was the most important variable that Marx
considered which worked on wages in the long run, however, not always on the
length of the working day. For present day Western capitalism, I would
introduce the question of race, gender, and the nature of the government,
etc. as well. Moreover, one important aspect is also the tradition or
culture of struggles. The one reason today the French workers come out in
the street much too often and not the US workers is that The French have the
tradition of French Revolution. The US independence movement was different
in nature than the French Revolution. Cheers, ajit sinha