[OPE-L:1857] Re: Re: Re: A Review of Lapides' Marx's Wage theory

Subject: [OPE-L:1857] Re: Re: Re: A Review of Lapides' Marx's Wage theory
From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Wed Dec 08 1999 - 06:17:58 EST

Patrick L. Mason wrote:

> The immiseration thesis has always been something of a curiosity to me,
> also. The only thing that I recall seing by Marx that could close occurs in
> "Wages, Prices, and Profit." In that tract, Marx does seem to be arguing
> for an increasing rate of exploitation. But, in the volume one of capital
> Marx also points out that the countries with the highest rate of
> exploitation also have the highest wage rates. So, I think Lapides is
> correct is saying that there is no immiseration thesis in Marx.


Patrick, see my response to Paul Z on the question of the so-called immiseration
thesis. I think you are jumping too quickly on to a wrong conclusion by
associating Marx's statement about high exploitation and high wages. All Marx is
saying is that s/v is generally higher in more advanced capitalist countries
compared to poor countries (s/v is lower in poor countries simply because of the
low level of productivity of labor). He, however, in no sense relating higher
wages to higher productivity. Cheers, ajit sinha

> Writing
> simplistily, I would characteristized Marx macro and micro theory as follows:
> wage = f(ability to pay, ability to make pay),
> where the job is the unit of analysis.
> ability to pay = g(competitive characteristics of the firm, characteristics
> of the workforce),
> ability to make pay = h(relative power of labor v. capital).
> So, class struggle matters but it's not all that matters. There are
> competitive limits of wages.
> Nevertheless, identical workers may receive differential pay for doing the
> same work because they make be employed at jobs that are differentiated by
> the ability of firms to pay and the ability of workers to make firms pay.
> Also, at the aggregate level, if both the ability to pay is rising over
> time and the ability to make pay is not falling then the average wage will
> rise. There is no necessity of immiseration.
> peace, patrick l mason
> At 08:48 AM 12/5/99, Paul Zarembka wrote:
> >Ajit,
> >
> >I now have time to turn to wage theory and note a criticism in 1112 you
> >posted of Kenneth Lapides' book "Marx's Wage Theory in Historical
> >Perspective" (see below). Lapides replied to you in 1303:
> >
> >"It really seems as though Sinha only glanced through my book, because if
> >he had actually read it he would know that I show that there is no such
> >thing as 'Marx's immiseration thesis,' that it only exists in the minds of
> >writers like himself. Thus I cannot 'misunderstand the logic' of
> >something that I demonstrate does not exist (or exists only as an
> >imaginary entity). What I do show is that many followers and critics of
> >Marx have mistakenly 'identified' his economic doctrine with Lassalle's
> >'iron law of wages,'..."
> >
> >What I would like to know is 1) where you find an "immiseration" thesis in
> >Marx and 2) how do you respond to Lapides' denial that he had joined an
> >Iron Law of Wages to immiseration (i.e., where do you find him in his book
> >joining an Iron Law with immiseration)? Note Lapides': "The
> >misrepresentation of Marx's wage theory that is the most far-reaching in
> >its implications and widespread in its dissemination is the allegation
> >that it rests on a thesis of 'increasing misery' of the working class" (p.
> >238).
> >
> >Thanks, as I think these issues are important, Paul
> >
> >***********************************************************************
> >Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, web site
> >******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka
> >
> >
> >On 09/05/99 at 01:41 PM, Ajit Sinha <ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in> said:
> >
> >>The fundamental problem with Lapides s position stems from his complete
> >>misunderstanding of the logic of Marx s immiseration thesis. He
> >>identifies Marx s increasing immiseration thesis with Iron Law of Wages
> >>, which is simply absurd. An increasing immiseration thesis must assume
> >>that real wages for most of the historical period under consideration
> >>must be considerably above the minimum subsistence , otherwise how could
> >>one talk about a secular tendency for the real wages to decline? The
> >>Iron Law of Wages , on the other hand, maintains that real wages cannot
> >>be higher than the minimum subsistence for any considerable period of
> >>time. Thus the two theses mutually exclude each other, and their
> >>identification on Lapides s part is evidence to his poor understanding of
> >>this issue.
> >
> >

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