[OPE-L:4852] Re: determination of real wages

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 12:42:13 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

In message Sat, 19 Apr 1997 21:05:05 -0700 (PDT),
dkf2@columbia.edu (Duncan K. Foley) writes:

> There seem to me to be at least three broad theories of the real wage
> in Marx:
> a) the idea that real wages and the value of labor-power adjust to the
> reproduction requirements of workers (for example in ch 4-6 of Volume I of
> Capital);
> b) the idea that wages and the value of labor-power are regulated by
> reserve armies of labor in the latter half of Volume I of Capital;
> c) the idea that real wages and the value of labor-power are the outcome
> of class struggle (especially in works like Wage Labor and Capital).
> There are perhaps some ways to see these three as aspects of the same
> theory: for example, the reproduction requirements of workers could be
> linked to the state of the latent reserve army in some way, and both
> workers' reproduction and the reserve army phenomenon might be regarded as
> moments of class struggle. Still, these different points of view, each
> developed at some length, need reconciliation.

The question is *how* to reconcile them. Both (b) and (c) relate directly
to the determination of market wages (which are affected by the
characteristics of supply and demand, which includes class struggle). How do
we move, however, from this determination of market wages to the standard of
necessity? The argument I made before to Ajit (and in my book) is that the
level of necessary needs (which underlies the value of labour-power)
adjusts--- as the needs which people are able to satisfy as the result of
increases or decreases in market wages change. Ie., the historical or
social element entering into the reproduction requirements of workers (a)
--- assumed given in Capital---expands or contracts.
Do you see any other way to reconcile those 3 theories?
in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax: (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810
e-mail: mlebowit@sfu.ca