Subject: [OPE-L:1859] Re: real wages in Marx
From: Ajit Sinha (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Dec 08 1999 - 06:30:49 EST
The time reference on which one is arguing this issue is not a business cycle,
Jerry. It is the secular time path and secular trend that is under the
question. Cheers, ajit sinha
Gerald Levy wrote:
> In [OPE-L:1855], Ajit wrote:
> > The fact of the matter
> > is that nowhere he tries to explain the simple fact that the technical
> > change, which according to him, creates a possibility or causes the rise
> > in real wages also causes an increase in unemployment. How come a
> > rising rate of unemployment be accompanied with a rise in real wages
> > within a Marxist framework?
> Without reference to Lapides, I want to respond to this issue.
> Marx attempted to show in _Capital_ that capitalism was capable of both
> expansion (growth) and decline (crisis). Actually, "capable" is too weak a
> word above. Rather, he wanted to show that the accumulation of capital
> *of necessity* led to crisis. The underlying mechanism behind
> both growth and crisis was an increase in the social productivity of
> labor that came about as a result of technical change (and the pursuit of
> relative surplus value).
> If we look at this subject in terms of different moments in the trade
> cycle, we can see that during the expansionary period of the cycle, the
> size of the industrial reserve army is declining and the rate of profit
> and the demand for labour-power are increasing. All of these conditions
> create the possibility (although, not the necessity) of increasing real
> wages. During the decline that follows (the "glut", the "crisis" or, to
> use a more modern term, the "depression"), what occurs?
> Well, to begin with - from Marx's perspective - the same mechanism
> (technical change) that brings about growth also brings about crisis. As
> the rate of profit falls, the demand for labour-power decreases and the
> size of the IRA increases, and this increases the likelihood that the real
> wage will diminish.
> What happens *during the crisis* to allow for the possibility of continued
> expansion is another subject. While Marx notes that a "reduction of wages
> below their value" is a way that the fall in the rate of profit can be
> stemmed, there are other ways as well (see Vol 3, Ch. 14). Additionally,
> there is the whole question of what happens to constant fixed capital
> during the crisis (the forcible destruction of capital values) and how this
> helps to create the conditions for the expansion (and the subsequent
> You probably don't agree with the above logic, but you probably also
> recognize that one can find sections of Marx's writings in _Capital_ and
> elsewhere where he asserted the above.
> In solidarity, Jerry
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