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

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Tue Nov 18 2003 - 22:52:21 EST

Rakesh wrote:

> > >>  Confused here. I thought you were chiding
> > Michael L
> > >>  for not having
> > >>  a causal theory but then you seem to suggest
> > that
> > >>  attribution of
> > >>  causes is superstitious?
> > >_________________

And Ajit responded:

> > >
> > >How can I chid Michael L! What I was humbly
> > pointing
> > >out was that he is developing a causal explanation,
> > >but his explanation turns out to be circular--a no!
> > >no! for any causal theory.

Now, I'm confused. I simply posed the proposition--- let us assume the rate
of exploitation given (as Marx assumed in Vol3, Ch. 13 and as he discussed
in the 1861-63 Economic Manuscript) and I suggested that we justify this by
assuming that the balance of class forces is given at a given point of
time. (In my chapter, 'Wages', I introduce the degree of separation among
workers as a variable and assume that given at a given point of time.)
Then, I asked, what are the implications of rising productivity (and what
happens to the theory of relative surplus value when we no longer assume
the real wage given)? Methodologically, how is this any different from what
Ajit is doing? Ajit accepts that the real wage is determined by class
struggle; he presumably also agrees that the workday is set as a result of
class struggle. In this, he would be simply accepting that capitalist and
worker push in opposite directions on these fronts and that the respective
power of the combatants (ie., the balance of class forces) sets both. Ajit
(following Marx's provisional assumption) then assumes the real wage given
for a given country at a given time and then would consider the effect of
rising productivity on the rate of exploitation. How is one argument
circular and the other not?
         More significant, though, are the unanswered questions--- what is
the logic behind assuming the real wage constant, what are the conditions
necessary for this assumption to hold and what is its implication?
         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

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