[OPE-L:4786] Re: the determination of real wages---- and a

Ajit Sinha (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Tue, 15 Apr 1997 02:26:40 -0700 (PDT)

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At 07:35 AM 4/14/97 -0700, Patrick Mason wrote:

>> 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.
>I'm confused here. Workers bargain over money wages. And, bargaining over
>wages, hours, working conditions, entry requirements, exit criteria, etc are
>one element of the process of class struggle. The "real wage," or standard
>of living is set during a given timeperiod. And, it is precisely this
>standard of living which is most strongly connected to the historical and
>cultural conditions of a given society.
>Where do we agree? disagree?

Mostly agree. My point is that in the long term perspective money wages
adjust to real wages. Even when the class-struggle has influence (ie. upward
influence), it must be on real wages and not just money wages. When you take
real wages as determined in a socio-historical process, ie. independent of
the determination of the prices of other commodities, then you can work out
an objective measure of exploitation. Because the necessary labor is given,
and any amount of labor beyond that is surplus labor, which is the
streaching of labor-time beyond the necessary labor. So you can define
exploitation at the level of production. When you take money wages as given
(which basically means workers have money illusion), then the workers share
in the total net output comes out as a result of the market process of the
determination of prices of commodities. In this case exploitation is defined
in terms of distribution, and not at the level of production. Ironically,
this is the neo-Ricardian position, which most of the anti-Sraffian Marxists
have adopted with all the fan fare and rhetoric against Sraffa. My position
is the position which Marx held. And I can prove it by relevant quotation,
if anybody wants me to do so. Cheers, ajit sinha
>peace, patrick l mason