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

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Thu Nov 27 2003 - 02:24:24 EST

--- "michael a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@SFU.CA> wrote:
> At 22:27 23/11/2003 -0800, ajit wrote:
> >  from the
> >begining I have been saying that your argument or
> the
> >problem is running in a circle. Once you say that
> the
> >real wage is determined by the class struggle or
> the
> >degree of separation of the workers, then you
> cannot
> >say that now I want to see how the real wages would
> >behave when the degree of separation remains
> constant
> >and some other variable changes. Because if the
> real
> >wage was only the function of the degree of
> separation
> >of the workers then once it is held constant then
> >there is no theoretical reason for it to change.
> Ajit,
>          I don't think I have ever said that the
> real wage 'was ONLY a
> function of the degree of separation of the
> workers'. If I had, then of
> course your point would be valid. But, if this were
> my position, why would
> I constantly be proposing that if productivity rises
> (and thus the values
> of wage goods falls), then IF the degree of
> separation of workers is
> constant, real wages will rise? The argument is
> basically summed up on pp.
> 216 as follows:
> U= Bq/X, where U, B, q and X are the real wage(U), a
> constant (B),
> productivity(q) and the degree of separation of
> workers (X).
>          The condition for a constant real wage,
> then, is that the degree
> of separation rises at the same rate as
> productivity.

But isn't this the point I have been labouring for so
long and have been reapeting all along? For you, real
wages are a direct function of productivity (q). My
point has been that for Marx the real wages are not a
function of productivity. So the problem you are
posing to Marx is not Marx's problem. To say that
given U = Bq/X, U will be constant only if q/X must
remain constant, given B being constant, is elementary
mathematics. What insight one can get from such
elementary mathematics? So, to repeat, the problem
with what you are saying is that for your theory a
rise in labor productivity, leaving other variables
constant, must lead to a rise in real wages. This is
not in Marx. Secondly, it is not clear how do you
calculate X, if your X is Marx's S/V, then you have a
circularity problem. Because in Marx's theory S/V is a
function of your U, and not the other way around as
you are implying. Unfortunately, since your book is
already out, I don't know what good my arguments are
for now? Cheers, ajit sinha

p.s. I personally think that labor productivity has
direct impact on wages. But I cannot incert this in
Marx's theory and create a problem for him. AS
The condition for ANY
> relative surplus value is that the degree of
> separation (which impacts the
> money wage inversely) rise. While one can make a
> case for relative surplus
> value where there is substitution of machinery for
> workers, I would suggest
> it is rather difficult to do so if productivity
> rises drop from the sky
> (ie., are not accompanied by the rise in the
> technical composition); in
> short, an essential premise for relative surplus
> value is obscured by the
> ASSUMPTION of a given real wage. You can see the
> argument in the book.
> Also, I just discovered with joy that Vol. 34 of
> MECW is on-line at
> (one less book to carry with me as I
> travel about!), so you
> can see Marx's points on pp. 65-6.
>          I hope I've clarified my argument now, and
> that my argument no
> longer looks circular.
>          cheers,
>          michael
> >  Thus
> >when you say that you want to see how the real
> wages
> >would change when some other variable, in this case
> >labor productivity, changes, you are in effect
> saying
> >that the real wages are determined by two factors
> (1)
> >the degree of separation of the workers, and the
> other
> >variable, in this case the productivity of the
> labor.
> >Now given this, when you read out the changes in
> the
> >real wage due to changes in the productivity of
> labor,
> >given the separation of workers constant, you are
> in
> >effect drawing a relationship between the real
> wages
> >and the labor productivity. So your theory simply
> says
> >that labor productivity has positive impact on real
> >wages, it is not drawing any implication of what
> >happens if the degree of separation remains
> constant,
> >it is not throwing any light on the question of
> degree
> >of separation of the workers and its relation to
> real
> >wages.
> >
> >Now let me try to make a case for you: I think you
> >need to argue that labor productivity affects
> degree
> >of separation, and for your kind of hypothesis,
> >positively. So when labor productivity rises, the
> >degree of separation increases, which in turn
> raises
> >the real wage. In this case your degree of
> separation
> >is not given by the rate of surplus value. So you
> have
> >a job cut our for you. First of all you will have
> to
> >develop some way of measuring or quantifying the
> >degree of separation of workers (s/v will not do,
> can
> >only create circularity in your argument). Then you
> >will have to develop a theory that shows how labor
> >productivity affects the degree of separation, and
> >then develop a theory of real wages that shows how
> >real wages are determined by degree of separation.
> So
> >the dominant causality runs from labor productivity
> to
> >degree of separation to real wages. I hope this is
> of
> >some help. Cheers, ajit sinha
> > > ---------------------
> > > 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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> ---------------------
> 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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