[OPE-L:1709] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: technical change and real wages

Subject: [OPE-L:1709] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: technical change and real wages
From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Mon Nov 22 1999 - 02:51:51 EST

Michael, this is not fare! You cut out the most important parts of my post. I hope we
are not trying to score debating points here, but rather attempting to come to grips
with the issue. My basic point has been this: What is the 'Marx's theory of wages' in
your opinion? Because unless you have a theory that tells you how wages are determined
in the first place, how would you know what kind of effect a change in some variable
will have on it? You are claiming that real wages would rise due to rise in labor
productivity because of technical changes. My point is that to uphold this proposition
you have to have a theory of wages that makes real wages a positive function of labor
productivity due to technical changes. Now, where do you find any such suggestion in

You seem to think that a fall in the value of wage goods automatically imply a rise in
real wages. But why can't you think that this could be accompanied by a proportional
fall in the money wages? By which law you hold that money wages must remain constant?
One could also imagine that there is technical change going on in the money commodity
industry (say silver or gold). In this case if the fall in the value of money
commodity is larger than the wage goods, then most likely one would need a rise in
money wages to keep the real wages constant, and a constant money wages would imply a
fall in real wages. I feel that you have not thought through these possibilities.
Cheers, ajit sinha

michael a. lebowitz wrote:

> At 01:46 PM 11/8/1999 +0530, Ajit wrote:
> >As you had suggested
> >earlier, your starting point was given by the wages equal to the value of
> >labor-power. In other words, you accepted Marx's proposition that real
> wages are
> >determined by the amount of goods and services it takes to reproduce the
> worker so
> >that s/he is able to come to work from one day to another, and has enough
> to raise
> >children to replace their parents. The strict requirement of this does not
> only
> >depend on the minimum physical subsistence but also an historical and
> moral element
> >is added to it.
> I chose this as the starting point because it was clear it was one you
> would accept. However, the central issue is how we reason from that
> starting point in the case where we drop the assumption that this "amount
> of goods and services..." is given--- ie., where we begin from the
> recognition that "the level of the necessaries of life whose total value
> constitutes the value of labour power can itself rise or fall".
> >> As I had suggested in ope-l #1628, first we should clarify the
> case where
> >> productivity increases drop from the sky--- ie., there is no displacement
> >> of workers. So, in this case, why exactly do you think money wages can not
> >> be assumed constant when the money prices of wage goods fall?
> >
> >_________________
> >
> >Simply because Marx's theory of wages work in real terms and not nominal
> terms. Since
> >real wages were determined by the requirement of the reproduction of
> labor-power, and
> >since nothing has changed on that account due to this fall of new
> technology from
> >sky, there is no reason to think that the real wages would change in his
> theoretical
> >model. Cheers, ajit sinha
> >
> Real terms ex post or ex ante? I assume we agree that the increase in
> social productivity would have the effect of lowering the values of wage
> goods. So, in this situation, how could real wages *not* increase? And, if
> this condition does not change, why would the new use-values now accessible
> to workers not become part of the standard of necessity? This would be a
> case where the historical/moral/social element expands.
> Again, I stress this in order to underline my earlier point that, *once we
> drop the assumption that the standard of necessity is given*, the mere
> increase in social productivity (such as is described in Capital) is not
> sufficient for the generation of relative surplus value; rather, the effect
> of machinery upon the labour market (ie.,in increasing the degree of
> separation of workers) is the necessary and sufficient condition for
> relative surplus value.
> in solidarity,
> mike
> Michael A. Lebowitz
> Economics Department
> Simon Fraser University
> Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
> Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
> Fax (604) 291-5944
> Home: Phone (604) 872-0494
> Fax (604) 872-0485
> Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810

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