Re: (OPE-L) indirect labor, the real wage, and the production of surplus value

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sat Nov 08 2003 - 18:00:56 EST

At 10:22 07/11/2003 +0000,
>Paul C wrote:
>Are you assuming that real wages can only change when there has
>been a change in labor productivity?
>In solidarity, Jerry
>Clearly not. They can rise due to class struggle as well. But
>from the standpoint of the theory of relative surplus value, one
>assumes real wages are constant and looks at the effect on aggregate
>surplus value of improvements in technology.

Paul accurately describes Marx's assumption in CAPITAL and what Marx was
able to do by making this assumption. A separate question (which I explore
in a new chapter, 'Wages', in the revised edition of my 'Beyond CAPITAL')
is how plausible is this assumption, what are the conditions necessary for
it to hold, and what the implications of treating the standard of necessity
variable. In his Economic Manuscript of 1861-63, Marx (MECW, Vol. 34: 65-6)
clearly identified 3 options when productivity increases. One of these is
where real wages and productivity rise at the same rate in which case there
is no development of relative surplus value. The question I asked, then, is
why should we assume the case of constant real wage (and thus relative
surplus value) or the case of real wages rising but less than productivity
(in which case there is both rising real wage and relative surplus value---
a possibility entertained in CAPITAL)--- rather than this 3rd case in which
workers are the beneficiaries of productivity gain? What prevents workers
from obtaining the gains from the rise in social productivity? My answer is
in the book, but I'll be interested in what others think.
         in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Nov 11 2003 - 00:00:00 EST