[OPE-L:4780] Re: the determination of real wages---- and a puzzle

Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Mon, 14 Apr 1997 20:24:38 -0700 (PDT)

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On Mon, 14 Apr 1997, Ajit Sinha wrote:

> At 07:39 AM 4/11/97 -0700, Paul Zarembka wrote:
> >You forget the accumulation of capital. Accumulation of capital draws in
> >workers expelled from results of technological change. Under your
> >approach, produced VALUE is diminishing as unemployment rises. Yet,
> >capitalists in fact have a drive for VALUE and SURPLUS VALUE.
> ___________________
> Not really! You are forgetting population growth. Marx assumed a positive
> population growth.

You miss my point. I'm saying accumulation of capital can reabsorb
workers expelled by technological change, and also can absorb those from
penetration of pre-capitalist forms of production by capital and those
from population growth. Capital is greedy (if you like a quaint
expression better than, say, hunger for value and surplus value).

> The trends I'm talking about are all in terms of rate of
> growth. The total value in production would be rising as long as total
> *number* of workers employed is rising with given length of the working day.
> However, the rate of unemployment could be rising along with it, as long as
> the increase in the demand for labor is not rising as fast as the rate of
> growth of population.

Ajit, you know that the class struggle is much more complex than such


> >On wages, yes, there is a struggle by capital to reduce variable capital.
> >But capital is only one of two major social classes and the other is not
> >simply a set of mules.
> ___________________
> People who argue that labor-power *is* a commodity are the people who reduce
> workers to mules, I don't. My position is that the result of Marx's theory
> is that labor-power is not a commodity (for general public: see my paper in
> RIPE vol. 15). But we should not mix up too many things in one debate. In
> any case, Marx's position was that the stregth of the working class vis a
> vis the capitalist class depended crucially on the rate of unemployment, and
> if the rate of unemployment is rising over time then workers 'bargaining'
> strength vis a vis the capitalists would be declining too.

Some of the strongest movements against capital in the United States
occurred when the reserve army of labor was high (I don't really like your
use of "unemployment"; the reserve army is much broader), not low.
Marx was never so reductionist as you write above.

> >Finally, I do not read Chapter 25 as you do. You read it very linearly.
> >I read it as analyzing the contradictory nature of the capitalist mode of
> >production.
> ________________
> Chapter 25, section 5 is devoted to empirical tendency of wages. It's just a
> statement of empirical facts collected from various sources. So there is no
> question of linear or non-linear reading of it. Cheers, ajit sinha

Section 5 is part of Chapter 25 and you seem to miss the forest by looking
at the trees.

Cheers, Paul