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

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sat Nov 22 2003 - 15:25:14 EST

At 15:39 21/11/2003 -0500, jerry wrote:
>Mike L wrote:
> > But, Jerry, yesterday you wrote the following:
> > >Assuming that commodities are sold at their value and assuming
> > >competitive  conditions,  productivity increases should result in
> > > declining
> > >commodity prices, including declining prices for means of consumption
> > >for workers. A given real wage, under these circumstances,  requires
> > >*declining money wages*.
>Right.  My (implicit) point was that the assumption of a given real wage
>when  productivity was increasing produced an *absurd* result:  falling
>money wages.
> > Under these conditions (ie., falling commodity prices), won't real wages
> > grow with productivity--- unless something has produced a fall in money
> > wages?
>I don't think this is a meaningful result as it is entirely dependent
>on the assumption that the composition of capital remains constant.

         I'm not certain that I understand this. What does the composition
of capital have to do with Marx's discussion of the theory of relative
surplus value in Vol. I, Ch. 13?

>One need only contrast the 'picture' in   Chapter 25, Section 1  of
>Volume 1 of _Capital_ to the 'picture' that emerges (beginning in
>Section 2) in the rest of that chapter to see how critical this
>assumption becomes.  If we want to explain changing wages within a
>*dynamic* context then I don't think that the TCC, the VCC, and
>the OCC can remain constant.  Even before the degree of separation
>of workers becomes a variable, the theory must explain the
>general movement of wages where the composition of capital

         I have no difficulty in seeing the relevance of changes in TCC.
That, in fact, is my point in asking people to distinguish between the case
of productivity increases that drop from the sky (Vol I, Ch13) and those
that occur through the displacement of workers by machines. Specifically,
what I have argued in the book is: 'The basis, in short, for relative
surplus value is not the growth in productivity.... Only an increased
degree of separation among workers initiated by the introduction of
machinery ensures that productivity will rise relative to the real wage '
         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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