[OPE-L:4758] Re: the determination of real wages---- and a puzzle

Ajit Sinh (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 04:37:31 -0700 (PDT)

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At 02:29 PM 4/12/97 -0700, Paul Zarembka wrote:
>How can you disagree with the final sentence Michael writes below? You
>deeply respect Althusser. Althusser asserts that class struggle is at
>the center of Marx's thought.

Never denied that. All my work tries to emphasise this point. This
particular debate is actually going all over the place, and that's the big
problem. First, there are two concepts in marxist literature, dialectics and
class-struggle, that are used as mantra for solving all the problems, and I
resist that tendency. They are also code words by which some scholars
recognize each other. The slogan that wages are determined by
"class-struggle" usually means that wages are determined by a bargaining
process over the net output between the workers and the capitalists. This
completely does away with the historical and cultural aspect of wages and
its prior determination in the context of production of surplus as
streatching of the labor-time beyond the necessary labor-time. All these
ideas are extremely important to Marx. You will find that people who raise
the slogan that wages are determined in the "class-struggle" are always in
favour of the *given* money wages over the idea of *given* real wages. So
that the workers share in the net output comes out as a solution to the
pricing problem for all the commodities. These are the theoretical reasons
why I'm opposing Mike's position. It has nothing to do with whether Mike is
for class struggle and I'm against it. Class-struggle is a central concept
for Marx, and on that basis I have already produced a strong critique of the
orthodox Marxist literature on the question of value, as you know. Cheers,
ajit sinha
>Paul Zarembka, supporting the RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY Web site at
>http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka, and using OS/2 Warp.
>On Sat, 12 Apr 1997, Michael A. Lebowitz wrote:
>> In message Fri, 11 Apr 1997 01:29:49 -0700 (PDT),
>> Ajit Sinha <ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au> writes:
>> > The question is this: did Marx think that the trade union struggles would
>> > lead to a rising real wages in the future? Michael Lebowitz's position is
>> > that yes, Marx did think that, but did not discuss this issue in his
>> > published or even his unpublished writings because he had planned to
>> > write a whole book on this issue, which he never got around to writing.
>> Actually, it was Engels' position that trade unions "tend to keep up and
>> raise the standard of life" and that in "trades without organization of the
>> work-people," the result is that "the work-people gradually get accustomed
>> to a lower and lower standard of life. While the length of working day more
>> and more approaches the possible maximum, the wages come nearer and nearer
>> to their absolute minimum...." [Both quotes are from 1881 articles
>> reproduced in W.O. Henderson, Engels: Selected Writings.] 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).
>> in solidarity,
>> mike
>> ---------------------------
>> Michael A. Lebowitz