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

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sat Nov 22 2003 - 15:50:31 EST

At 22:13 21/11/2003 -0800, Ajit wrote:
> >
> > The key is-- 'everything else being constant'. I
> > don't think that is true
> > if productivity increases as the result of the
> > substitution of means of
> > production for direct living labour. In that case,
> > all other things equal,
> > unemployment increases and the degree of separation
> > among workers
> > increases. (The condition for a constant real wage,
> > then, is that the
> > degree of separation rises at the same rate as
> > productivity.) However, if
> > productivity increases drop from the sky....
>Not necessarily. increase in the rate of accumulation
>of capital due to increase in productivity may absorb
>the redundant labor or may even increase the total

I agree that there are many contingencies. Without specifying everyone of
them, I'm trying to capture them all in the concept of the balance of class
forces or the degree of separation of workers. Eg., even if the effect of
capital's activities may be to increase unemployment, the 'planned
cooperation' of employed and unemployed could negate that effect.

>But Marx also brings the natural rate of
>growth of population here and argues that the net
>effect would be a rise in relative unemployment. This
>does not mean that the real wages must immediately
>drop. But a persistence of this force in the long run
>would bring the real wages down. So there is no need
>to assume that real wages would be fixed for ever. But
>for a short term analysis, it may be a good practical

Your case here is raising new aspects--- it is looking at the effect, all
other things equal,  of what I would describe as increases in the degree of
separation of workers. The case I've been posing, though, is the effect of
productivity increases in the absence of an increase in the degree of
separation (arguing that the latter is the condition for relative surplus

>I don't understand what you mean by your last
>proposition. But I doubt we can get anywhere unless
>you specify your theory of wages. Do you think that
>real wages are determined by the degree of separation
>between the working class or you think that it is a
>function of labor productivity or something else? This
>is the most crucial point in making sense of your
>problem. Cheers, ajit sinha

I think the real wage is determined by class struggle. I represent it as
depending upon the degree of separation of workers (with both capital and
workers attempting to act on this variable), and I propose that if the
degree of separation is constant, then a fall in the values of wage-goods
as the result of productivity increases will mean that real wages rise.
That increase in real wages will be the result of successful class struggle
by workers since only this will keep money wages constant (in the commodity
money case).
         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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