[OPE-L:1878] Reply to Ajit on Marx's Wage Theory

Subject: [OPE-L:1878] Reply to Ajit on Marx's Wage Theory
From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Thu Dec 09 1999 - 16:56:30 EST

>...Fact of the matter, however, is that i at least have some
>textual reference as well as theoretical argument (i.e. technical change
>in marx's scheme leads to secular increase in unemployment) to show that
>there is a tendency for secular decline in the real wages in marx's
>scheme. People who deny this, including Lapides, don't have an iota of
>textual evidence (let alone any theoretical argument, and i wonder why
>aren't you surprised by that?) to show that marx expected real wages to
>rise on a secular time path.


I'd like to know your textual references at least. Anyway, you seem to
misconstrue many of the people opposing either "increasing misery" or
"iron law of wages"--such as Baumol, Dobb, Kuhne, Lapdies, Mandel,
Rosdolsky. Most are NOT arguing that Marx PREDICTED RISING real wages,
but rather that the level of wages, up or down, is a result of the
strengths of the social class in contention, not reducible to simple
economics. In any case, the text you yourself prefer for this discussion

"Profits [or wages] is only settled by the continuous struggle between
capital and labor, the capitalist constantly tending to reduce wages to
their physical minimum, and to extend the working day to its physical
maximum, while the working man constantly presses in the opposite
direction. The matter resolves itself into a question of the respective
powers of the combatants." (Marx, VPP, Progress, 1947, pp. 51-52).

>....no sane person is *basing* Marx's theory of wages on this supposedly
>autonomous 'immiseration thesis'. Moreover, as the quotation above
>shows, he thinks that people like us "mistakenly identify" Marx's
>economic doctrine (read theory of wages) with Lassalle's iron law of

Many confuse Marx with Lassalle (Toynbee is an important case), but you
don't need to take it personally as necessarily referring to anyone on
this list.

>But as i have explained
>earlier, it is absurd. Increasing immiseration thesis and iron law of
>wages are two contradictory propositions. Lapides does not understand it,
>and that is the proof of his theoretical bankruptcy.

I detect an inverse correlation between your tone of language and the
cogency of your "proof".

>...You obviously find his book very impressive. So we basically disagree
>in our judgment on his book.

I find Marx's CAPITAL "very impressive". I have not yet been convinced
that Lapides' book is other than "very good". I would continue to
recommend it to others. Indeed I have yet to find another book covering
Marx's Wage Theory comprehensively, even if your concerns with technical
change and unemployment are not also covered in the manner you would wish.

>May be it would be more fruitful to discuss Marx's theory of wages
>directly rather than going via Lapides.

I'm preparing some material on VPP. I will put in "brackets" the few
references to Lapides so that you will be able to skip them and avoid an
"unending waste of time". I hope it will be more fruitful for all


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