[OPE-L:5260] Re: trpf/extra profits vs. extra surplus value?

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 14 Jun 1997 02:27:19 -0700 (PDT)

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Rakesh wrote in [OPE-L:5259]:

> [...] Marx's whole argument in this chapter is to show that individual
> capitalists cannot gain surplus labor merely by reducing the wage
> below the value of the labor power (in part he is simply assuming away
> this possibility via Gil's favorite assumption of the so-called law of
> value) [...]
> Rather the production of relative surplus value depends on a reduction in
> the value of labor power, and this is not in the hands of any one
> capitalist to effect, nor is it the intention of any one capitalist to
> effect the reduction in the value of the goods which enter into the
> workers' consumption so as to make possible the production of relative
> surplus value. This cheapening of the workers--upon which all capitalists
> depend--is brought about in and through their mutual competition.

There is, though, not only competition among individual capitalists, but
also competition between capitalists and the working-class.

Thus, the capitalist class as a whole in confrontation with the
working-class can attempt to, and succeed in, reducing wages below the
value of labour-power. This (a "reduction of wages below their
value") is explicitly recognized in V3, Ch. 14 as "one of the most
important factors in stemming the tendency for the rate of profit to
fall" (Penguin ed., p. 342), although, "it has nothing to do with the
general analysis of capital, but has its place in an account of
competition, which is not dealt with in this work" (Ibid).

It seems to me that this strategy of attempting to reduce wages below
the value of labour-power is conjuncturally important in terms of
capital's attempt to overcome crises. Don't you think that individual
capitalists, capitalists as a whole, and the state all attempted to
accomplish this in the 1980's with the "concessions movement"? Indeed,
isn't this one of the pillars of Neo-Liberalist strategy?

In solidarity, Jerry