[OPE-L:7577] [OPE-L:1127] Re: Re: A Review of Lapides' Marx's Wage theory

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Mon Sep 06 1999 - 14:43:22 EDT

zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu wrote:

> On 09/05/99 at 01:41 PM, Ajit Sinha <ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in> said:
> >All one can say according to Lapides is that the
> >value of labor-power will decline because of increasing labor
> >productivity due to the technological changes. He, however, conveniently
> >forgets that Marx s position was that the nature of technical changes
> >would be such that it would increase the relative size of the reserve
> >army in relation to the working population. In other words, the technical
> >change that causes the fall in the value of labor-power is also
> >responsible for tilting the demand and supply forces more and more
> >against the working people and in favor of the capitalists.
> Reviewing Lapides is very useful as his is a book that deserves serious
> attention and I, for one, very much enjoyed reading it. But, Ajit, your
> review doesn't separate Marx himself from what I think Lapides is trying
> accomplish. Lapides is trying to say that one can incorporate raising
> real wages within Marxism. And he is saying that there is even sufficient
> justification for this in Marx himself. You dispute the latter, as I
> understand you, but implicitly leave the former open.


This is correct. I think that there is no evidence in Marx's writing to
suggest that he expected a secular upward trend in real wages. However, a
theoretical possibility of such development is there in Marx's theory, as I
have explained in the last part of the review.

> P.Z:
> For an example from my take on Lapides, Luxemburg in "Accumulation of
> Capital" finds a substantive weakness in Marx's theory and that correcting
> it would remove the "tilt" toward excess supply you mention above (even as
> Luxemburg does NOT argue that real wages are rising). So, we would have
> to move on to whether Luxemburg is correct.
> So, to turn the question back to you, do you think Marxism as a theory
> CANNOT incorporate raising real wages?


As I said above, it can. All you need is a rise in labor productivity and some
labor-supply constraint.

> P.Z:
> Incidentally, I am not at all convinced that wages have risen at the world
> level, as a superset of the "first world", in the long run. A declining
> death rate isn't quite enough of evidence for me, and right where Ajit
> lives there is extreme poverty for masses of people.
> Paul


Paul, I think the defense of immiseration at the world level does not do
justice to Marx's argument because for him it was the nature of the technical
change that was critical in bringing about the immiseration. One needs to see
to what extent thirld world poverty can be attributed to a particular kind of
technical change. Colonial or imperialist exploitation, in my opinion, is too
broad a category in this respect. Cheers, ajit sinha

> P.S. I would love to get into the important unproductive-labor thread that
> Jurriaan started, but I have limited time.
> ***********************************************************************
> Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY at
> ******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

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