[OPE-L:1947] Re: Reply to Ajit on Marx's Wage Theory

Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Sun, 19 Dec 1999 19:22:46 +0530

Paul, I the moment I barely have time to breathe, that's why I'm unable to
attend to e-mail discussions. Moreover, we had a massive system failure for a
few days. In anycase, I will try to respond to your criticisms albeit very

Paul Zarembka wrote:

> >...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.
> Ajit,
> 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
> reads:


I gave you the textual references, but still you keep asking for it, so i
don't really know what is going on here. In anycase, I'm not misinterpreting
anyone. If you look at Lapides's book (and for that matter Rosdolsky etc. I
don't know where you got the idea that I'm opposing Baumol, Dobb, etc. I think
you are confusing issues here, and so it would be better if we keep to Lapides
who you are arguing for primarily) you will find it litter with the idea that
marx was predicting something called a 'relative immiseration thesis' as
opposed to 'absolute immiseration thesis'. Now, what does this relative
immiseration thesis could mean? It means that workers absolute condition would
improve (in terms of real wages) but relative to the capitalist class the
distance between the two classes would have risen. Now, in terms of a secular
theory of wages, this so-called 'relative immiseration thesis' is at best a
pathetic opposition to the 'absolute immiseration thesis'. The relative
immiseration can only be thought of in terms of differences in wealth of the
two classes, and so it is not concerned with a theory of wages. If one tries
to interpret it in terms of inverse relationship between wages and the rate of
profits, then i would like to remind Lapides and others that Marx thought that
the secular trend of the rate of profit was to fall. So don't they owe us an
explanation to how does the workers relative condition deteriorate vis-a vis
the capitalists when the real wages of the workers are supposedly rising and
the rate of profit is supposedly falling? But I have never come across any
explanation for it. Why? As far as your charge of misinterpretation on my part
is concerned, why don't you just give me an answer to a simple question I'm
asking repeatedly. How does the relative strength of the working class improve
(or does not deteriorate) in the face of rising rate of unemployment? Cheers,
ajit sinha

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