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

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 10:04:38 EST

At 09:43 23/11/2003 -0500, jerry wrote:

>What do you think of the following proposition?  When there isn't a given
>real wage, relative surplus value  becomes _relative_ in the following
>if real wages increase at a rate equal to the rate of growth of
>productivity then
>(additional) relative surplus value doesn't emerge since necessary labour
>as a proportion of the total working day has grown and there is thus no
>in surplus labour time and hence no (additional) relative surplus value.
>(this was
>the meaning of a somewhat cryptic 1-line post I sent on 11/12).

What do I think of that proposition? I think you understand Marx's position
(although I'm sure you meant to write 'has NOT grown'). Here's a quote from
pp. 114-5 in my chapter, "Wages" in the new edition. The quotes from Marx
are from MECW, vol 34 and Capital I:

>         'Finally the third CASE', where productivity (q) and the standard
> of necessity (U) rise at the same rate:
>The worker continues to receive the same value--- or the objectification
>of the same part of the working day--- as before. In this case, because
>the productivity of labour has risen, the quantity of use values he
>receives, his real wage, has risen, but its value has remained constant,
>since it continues to represent the same quantity of realised labour time
>as before. In this case, however, the surplus value too remains unchanged,
>there is no change in the ratio between the wage and the surplus value,
>hence the proportion [of surplus value] to the wage remains unchanged
>(Marx, 1994:65-6).
>In short, in this case, 'there would be no CHANGE in surplus value,
>although the latter would represent, just as wages would, a greater
>quantity of use values than before' (Marx, 1994: 66).
>         In Capital, this third case in which both capitalist and worker
> may obtain more use-values without any change in surplus value is
> introduced as follows:
>Now, if the productivity of labour were to be doubled without any
>alteration in the ratio between necessary labour and surplus labour, there
>would be no change in the magnitude either of the surplus-value or of the
>price of labour-power. The only result would be that each of these would
>represent twice as many use-values as before, and that each use-value
>would be twice as cheap as it was before (Marx, 1977: 659).
>Thus, remove the assumption of fixity in the standard of necessity and the
>possibility of a quite different story emerges--- an increase in
>productivity with no change in surplus value.

         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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Nov 24 2003 - 00:00:01 EST