[OPE-L:1515] Re: Lapides and Marx's wage theory

Wed, 20 Oct 1999 16:23:57


Thanks for answering my "what is at stake" question on the issue of the
"missing book", namely, that class struggle would be "de-emphasized" if
one does not recognize the "missing book". But, haven't there been
thousands upon thousands of revolutionaries (I don't at all mean famous
people now, altho I also include many of them) who could not be accused of
"de-emphasizing" class struggle, yet who did not find something "missing"
in Marx; i.e., they got the point?
Regarding your "critical" issue of the degree of separation among workers,
you state that there are two propositions implicit in Capital: 1) " *any
co-operation and combination of labor in production generates a combined,
social productivity of labor which exceeds the sum of individual isolated
productivities* " and 2) "in any society, *separation and division in
social relations among producers allow those who* mediate *among the
producers to capture the fruits of co-operation in production* " (pp. 67
and 69, * for italics). The former is, as you say, quite similar to Adam
Smith (who Steve Marglin criticized sometime in the 1970s).

For both propositions, you cite a lot of what Marx wrote (every single one
of the 20 footnotes for the 4 pages are to Marx, except one to Smith and
onenote of your own) and you don't indicate anything "missing", at least
not in these pages (pp.67-71).

Could I ask my question another way? If you want to develop theory of
wage-labor from a Marxist perceptive, why worry about whether there is a
"missing" book and just go about the job of presenting the theory? By the
way, when you refer to "missing", I read you as emphasizing missing
*theory*, not so much missing *historical* exigences.

I'm not sure about Lapides: I didn't come away from his book with the same
"much at stake" impression that you quote from him in 1992. The last
paragraph of his present book wonders about the "significance" of this
debate and perhaps lacks that type of declarative sentence which gets to
the precise point. He does write, however, in that paragraph: "There are
few elements of his [Marx's] analysis that are as crucial therefore as his
theory of wages, yet there is none that has been more neglected or more
misunderstood" (p.235). This suggests to me that Lapides does not believe
we have to look OUTSIDE of what Marx wrote (to a "missing book") but
INSIDE to what we have in front of us (which is exactly what you did on
your pp.67-71).


Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY at
******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka
[extract of what appears most relevant to me. P.Z.]

On 10/20/99 at 02:32 AM, "michael a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@sfu.ca> said:
>...you will not find in Capital this discussion
>of the worker engaged in a struggle to increase wages. The assumption is
>that the standard of necessity is given. So, I ask the simple question---
>what are the implications if we relax this assumption, one which we know
>Marx repeatedly said would be done in the study of wage-labour? Now, I
>find many implications and to list them or to try to select pages would
>have me setting out the whole book (it's really a short book, though). As
>I indicated in my previous post, though, one variable that for me emerges
>as critical is the concept of the degree of separation among workers
>(cf., pp. 67-71).
> As you'll see from my S&S article, Lapides seemed to think a lot was at
>stake when he wrote his original article--- he in fact stated explicitly
>that "there is much at stake in this debate" and asked, where are we
>politically if we accept the position that there is truly a missing book
>on wage labour? ... I do see important implications. I argue that one of
>the central effects of not recognising that Capital had a critical but
>limited object is the de-emphasis of class struggle, including the
>process of struggle itself as a process of production (ie., revolutionary
>practice)--- and that, limited to Capital, we are left with mechanical
>laws of capital, a structure without subjects, a one-sided Marxism.

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