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

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Nov 09 2003 - 08:50:33 EST

Mike L asked:

>  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?

The assumption that there is a constant real wage or that wages rise
less steeply than productivity might be explained on two grounds:

1)  within a layered (systematic dialectical) presentation of  the subject
matter of capitalism,  these assumptions are justified on the grounds that
the third possibility relates to a subject matter which is (or more
accurately, was _intended to be_) introduced in a deeper, fuller way at a
later stage in the presentation.

2)  one could argue that the assumption of a real wage which rises less
steeply than productivity  mirrors an actual historical experience under

I think that 1) is more convincing that 2) in the sense that it is more
consistent with Marx's logical method -- although Marx did seem to
make claims at various points of his analysis that assumptions could
also be justified if they were reflections of actual historical processes
that are tendencially exhibited under capitalism.

While it doesn't answer your question, I think that the historical
experience has been that real wages tend to increase less sharply than
productivity gain under capitalism.   This, though, begs the question:
why has this been the case, if it has indeed been the case?

> What prevents workers
> from obtaining the gains from the rise in social productivity?

Their relative strength, or lack thereof, against capital, including their
level of organization and non-organization,  inter-class  and
international solidarity and divisions, and militancy or class

More generally, while capital and the state are 'external'  forces which
help to prevent this possibility from occurring and while there are
tendencial  developments mitigating against this possibility (e.g. the
creation and  reproduction of the relative surplus population, i.e. the
industrial reserve army), the remaining factors are 'internal' to the
working class.

This reminds me of our recent "secret" discussion ....

In solidarity, Jerry

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