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

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Wed Nov 19 2003 - 18:48:47 EST

At 10:22 19/11/2003 -0500, Jerry wrote:
>Mike L asked:
> >          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?
>When the real wage is held constant by assumption it is for the purpose
>of  presenting the theory of surplus value in its simplest and least complex
>form.  The implication of this assumption is that, at a later stage in the
>presentation, it must be dropped.  I.e. any category that is essential to
>the subject matter of capitalism which is  'given'  by assumption at one
>stage of the presentation must be explained more concretely at a later
>stage (this is the point that I made previously about the "role of givens
>in Marx's theory" when addressing Fred's interpretation of _Capital_).

Yes, the assumption of the given real wage must be dropped, and Marx
clearly intended to do so. But, why treat real wages that are variable as
'more concrete'? (Ie., this is not like moving from a discussion of capital
in general to many capitals.) In his own explanation, he simply said that
it wasn't necessary to consider changes in wages when the subject at hand
was the understanding of capital. My question, though, is whether a problem
in our understanding of capital is introduced as the result of this
assumption--- which is why I'm nagging about the real conditions that would
generate constant real wages given productivity increases.
         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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