Subject: [OPE-L:1897] Re: productivity increases and rising real wages
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Sat Dec 11 1999 - 20:00:39 EST
In [OPE-L:1894] Patrick wrote:
> I thought my postings had fallen into
> bottomless pit of nonresponse.
I thought I'd take a day off from posting, but a comment like that tugs at
my heart and, therefore, I have a short response (really, a question):
> You [Mike L, JL] are also correct - and it is helpful for the discussion
> - to point that
> there is a relationship between the aggregate or macro level of analysis
> and micro issue of wage differentials.
Right, so the question becomes how we relate the macro and micro levels of
analysis and make them, as you add later, consistent with each other.
> What of the geniuses of Marx's analysis is that value theory
> provides a unified theory, a way of consistently aggregating up from micro
> units (the job when we are discussing the labor market) to capital as a
> whole. The simplistic or popularized version of Marx's wage that I proposed:
> Wage = f(ability to pay, ability to make pay)
As you explain in the above, you are aggregating "up" from micro units to
capital as a whole (macro).
But, then, you go on to add:
> Marx's value theory allows movement between the macro and the micro.
> Indeed, I strongly believe that it is most appropriate to start with the
> analysis of capital as a whole to derive the general relationship between
> labor and capital, that is, to derive the aggregate relationship between
> productivity, class struggle, the real wage, and joblessness.
This sounds like you are saying that you are moving "down" from the
analysis of capital as a whole to "micro". Indeed, you add that you
"strongly believe" that it is appropriate to "start" with capital as a
How do you (further) explain this relation of moving from the macro to
the micro while also moving (aggregating) from the micro to the macro?
> For example, the
> existence of OPE-L allows Marxists in Western Canada, Southern US, and
> Europe to simultaneously communicate and thus considerably reduce social
> and intellectual isolation and transmit ideas, knowledge, etc.
Yeah, that's cool, isn't it? It's very difficult to develop knowledge in
intellectual and physical isolation. And, unfortunately, Marxist
economists (and other Marxists who work in the field of political
economy) are -- almost universally -- working in relative isolation
nowadays. This is even true for those of us in major capitalist cities
and/or sites of major political struggles. And, of course, it is even
more true elsewhere. Indeed, if there is more than one Marxist in a
economics department it is pretty rare nowadays. btw, I dropped-up by the
New School Economics Department earlier today to look at the bulletin
boards and noticed their Spring, 2000 schedule (in which Duncan and Anu
are teaching). I was rather taken aback and saddened by the paucity of
classes. How things have changed! I remember when I first started at the
New School in the Fall of 1976. Back then the overwhelming majority of
faculty considered themselves to be Marxists and close to 100% of the
students (well, at least 90%) were Marxists who had gathered from all
parts of the world to study political economy. What a glorious
collaborative, comradely and intellectually stimulating atmosphere! An
important part of that atmosphere was the existence of student "study
groups". In some ways, *we* are similar to a study group -- where there
are no teachers and we are all students and equals (comrades). And
given the nature of our relative isolation, this medium provides us with
an important, stimulating tool that can benefit us all. That's not to say
that we don't have disagreements -- indeed the whole history of OPE-L is a
history of disagreement! -- but even when we don't agree (which is just
about always) we learn more about other perspectives and our own. And I
would add that we are *far ahead* of any other group of economists in
using this medium as a forum for communication and self-development.
In solidarity, Jerry
PS: you may be isolated, but they have a pretty good football team at FSU
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