Re: indirect labor, the real wage, and the production of surplus value

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Fri Nov 14 2003 - 01:03:36 EST

--- "michael a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@SFU.CA> wrote:
> At 21:23 11/11/2003 -0800, Ajit wrote:
> >  In Marx's theory real wages are
> >taken as given at any point of time, as the real
> wages
> >are supposed to be determined in a long term
> >socio-historical context (and not just class
> >struggle).
>          It is not clear why that determination
> would support the
> assumption of given wages, but in any event it is
> not Marx's point. Marx
> repeatedly indicated that he was making the
> assumption of constant real
> wages (an assumption to be removed under 'wage
> labour') in order not to
> confound everything. The logic behind the assumption
> is best explained in
> the 1861-63 Economic Manuscript, where he noted that
> the question of wage
> movements 'do not belong here, where the general
> capital-relation is to be
> developed, but in the doctrine of the wages of
> labour.'
I think after all these years of debate we will have
to agree to disagree on the correct interpretation of
Marx's theory of wages.
> >Given this real wages, the methods of
> >production, and the length of the working day, Marx
> >derives from these data the rate of surplus value
> or
> >the rate of exploitation s/v. Now, by calling s/v
> the
> >relative strength of the two classes and keeping it
> >constant to determine the real wage in turn is
> simply
> >theoretically illegitimate. You cannot get s/v
> unless
> >you take w as given. Therefore, you cannot take s/v
> as
> >given to derive w. Cheers, ajit sinha
> Let w= U/q, where w, U and q are necessary labour,
> the real wage and
> productivity respectively. Then, assuming U given,
> Marx explored the effect
> of changes in q on necessary labour. If we let
> s=d-w, where s and d are
> surplus labour and the workday respectively, then
> (assuming the length and
> intensity of the workday constant), then (the rate
> of exploitation) s/w  =
> (dq/U)-1, and increases in q with a given U clearly
> imply a rising rate of
> exploitation. But, what is the logic behind the
> assumption of a given U?
> What gives it plausibility? What makes it any more
> plausible, eg, than
> assuming the balance of class forces (and thus s/w)
> given at a given point
> of time---

Mike, you have not said anything new through these
equations. The answer to your question was given
earlier. The rate of surplus value is a purely derived
number from the given real wages, methods of
production, and the length of the working day. The
theory gives legitimate reasons for taking these three
variables as given from outside in deriving the rate
of surplus value at any given point of time. After
this exercise the theory cannot turn around and take
the derived rate of surplus value as given from
outside and work out an impact of a change in the
methods of production on another given of the theory,
that is the real wages. This will amount to a circular
reasoning. To say what you want to say you will need a
theory that gives you the rate of surplus value at any
given point of time independently of the real wages.
The fact of the matter is that mathematical equations
do not give you the direction of causality. It is the
role of the theory to provide the causal direction. So
the manipulation of mathematical equations or
identities are no guide to the causal inferences of
the theory. Cheers, ajit sinha
which, after all, is the opening
> assumption in Marx's falling
> rate of profit discussion (Vol. III, Ch. 13)? In
> this case, increases in q
> imply real wages rise at the same rate as
> productivity--- which, all other
> things equal, would tend to occur in a commodity
> money economy (as Rakesh
> noted) with constant money wages.
>          We come back, then, to the question I posed
> earlier-- what happens
> to the theory of relative surplus value once we no
> longer assume the real
> wage given?
>          in solidarity,
>          michael
> ---------------------
> 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

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