[OPE-L:1500] Re: Lapides and Marx's wage theory

Tue, 19 Oct 1999 11:35:08

Mike, I have read carefully your initial posting on this subject, with
Lapides' book on my lap. Frankly, I just don't find your objections so
earth-shaking; rather, it looks to me like you have a point of view and he
has a point of view and the only big thing you have against him is that he
did not respond to your 1993 S&S article. In fact, I could get through
most of your comments without putting down asteriks and only have the
following three observations:

On 10/18/99 at 12:59 PM, "michael a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@sfu.ca> said: ...
>However, he does cite (224-5) letters from this period where Marx talks
>about his need to have "the whole thing" in front of him as "proof" that
>he had abandoned his earlier plan.

Yes, and what you don't quote here is the portion of that 1865 letter from
Marx to Engels which precedes "the whole thing": "Now, regarding my work,
I will tell you the plain truth about it. There are 3 more chapters to be
written to complete the theoretical part (the first 3 books). Then there
is still the 4th book, the historical-literary one, to be written..." In
other words, by 1865 Marx makes no mention of any planned book on wages.

>...[In 1993 S&S article] After
>commenting on what I identified as "theoretical lapses" in Lapides'
>article, in a section headed "A Pertinent Question" I stated the
>following: "There is a simple question that must be answered by all those
>who view the analysis in Capital as complete. _Where did Marx remove the
>assumption that the standard of necessity for workers is constant?_"

This is the sentence which led me to first identify your interpretation of
Marx (as he wrote) as close to Luxemburg's. I think you are saying that
explicit removal of such a constancy assumption cannot be found in Marx's
writings. Am I understanding you correctly? (but, if so, then why the
support for Lenin's lecture outline #4?)

> Having traced almost all of the evidence above--- including the passage
>from the 1861-63 Mss cited above which Lapides conveniently forgot (!), I
>then raised a number of questions about the implications of no longer
>assuming a fixed standard of necessity. One (which members of the list
>may wish to think about) was that "productivity increases in the
>production of necessaries in themselves will not lead to a reduction in
>necessary labor and the value of labor-power. Instead, the effect of the
>falling value of necessaries will be to increase what workers can
>purchase with their money-wages and, thus, the level of the necessaries
>of life which become second nature to them" (70) The question I posed,
>then, was another challenge to Lapides: "there is an obvious question for
>those who view the analysis in Capital as complete: what does it mean for
>Marx's discussion of relative surplus value if productivity increases
>produce corresponding increases in the standard of necessity?"(70).
> I think that Lapides' failure to respond and, indeed, his attempt to
>bury the fact that these questions were even directed to him says quite a
>bit about his integrity as a scholar. ...

I don't follow you, Mike. Why is he required to answer these particular
questions of yours? And in what sense does Lapides assert that "Capital
is complete" even if there is no "missing book" on wages? Speaking for
myself now, I argue in my own paper that Marx's concept of "accumulation
of capital" is ambiguous; therefore, Capital is NOT complete for me, but
does not motivate or fail to motivate anything about a "missing book" on


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