[OPE-L:5387] RE: Luxury goods and profit rate

Duncan K. Foley (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Sun, 31 Aug 1997 06:46:29 -0700 (PDT)

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A comment on Ajit's OPE-L:5367:

Ajit wrote:
>Now, on exploitation: if you take the total output as given, then in a two
>class society it has to be shared by the two classes only (as long as we
>assume that whatever is produced is used and not wasted). This you cannot
>deny. Now, I say that, in this case, the rate of exploitation should be
>determined by the ratio of labor time it takes to produce what capitalists
>appropriate (both as private consumption and constant capital goods) and
>what workers appropriate (consume) of the total net output. I said in this
>case because you are suggesting a case where total output is given. My
>general position is that given the real wages, the rate of exploitation is
>determined in the struggle over the length of the working day (and this I
>think was Marx's position as well). Given real wages and the technology in
>use determines the necessary labor-time. The difference between the length
>of the working day and the necessary labor-time determines the surplus
>value. It doesn't matter what commodities workers are forced to produce
>during this aggregate surplus labor-time. So this is no longer an ex-post
>determination. And it is an objective measure in the sense that it can be
>determined, in principle, by observation. I, up till now, have not heard
>why the monetary measure of exploitation should be considered a superior
>measure of exploitation over this objective structural relation of the

Duncan comments:

I'm curious as to exactly how one can measure these labor times "in
principle, by observation". What method would you use to calculate the rate
of exploitation for a real economy, say the UK in 1997?


Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Barnard College
New York, NY 10027
fax: (212)-854-8947
e-mail: dkf2@columbia.edu