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

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Thu Nov 20 2003 - 10:04:43 EST

At 23:10 19/11/2003 -0800, Ajit wrote:

>Let's first of all clarify that what are there in
>Marx's theory and what other possibilities one can
>think of are two separate things. Taking the first
>issue first, what you are proposing is not there in
>Marx's theory.

Ajit, I hope you will look at the 1861-63 Economic Manuscript (MECW, vol.
34, pp. 65-6).

>Secondly, Marx is consistent throughout on the
>question of what determines real wages and what causes
>determine its long-term trends.
>Now to your repeated question: why cannot we keep s/v
>constant and read out the impact of a rise in
>productivity on w? The answer to this question is that
>s/v is a number. It is a derived number from given w,
>length of the working day, and the level of

Remember, though, it is the given real wage that I am questioning, though.
My repeated question is-- what are the real conditions that would generate
this if productivity is increasing?

>  It has no independent existence from
>these three variables. Even if we assume that your
>proposition that real w and the length of the working
>day are determined by the relative strengths of the
>two classes is true, what you are doing is not

The proposition is Marx's (Value, Price and Profit). I thought you accepted
it. Do you not?

>As you have already used this relative
>strength to determine w, so how can now a change in
>productivity change the w when the relative strength
>of the two classes have remained the same? I think
>your mistake is similar to the mistake of trying to
>determine two unknowns with one equation. I hope my
>point is clearer this time. Cheers, ajit sinha

No, you have misunderstood me. I am not using relative strength (or, as in
the book, the degree of separation of workers) to determine first real
wages and then the rate of surplus value. That would indeed be
questionable. Rather, I asked what happens to the former if the latter is
given as the result of a given balance of class forces (degree of
separation of workers) and productivity rises. But the same point can be
approached in many ways: if we treat real wages as variable, what happens
to real wages in a commodity money economy if productivity in the
production of wage goods increases? What if that productivity increase
drops from the sky (i.e., we are not considering the effect of an increase
in the technical composition of capital)?
         in solidarity,
ps. nice to have you back on OPE-L, Ajit. Hope all goes well with you.
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 : Sat Nov 22 2003 - 00:00:01 EST