[OPE-L:7586] [OPE-L:1140] Re: Re: A Review of Lapides' Marx's Wage theory

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Tue Sep 07 1999 - 15:08:22 EDT

zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu wrote:

> On 09/06/99, Ajit Sinha <ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in> said:
> >Paul, on page 243 Lapides writes: "We have only to substitute
> >'immiseration thesis' for 'iron law of wages' to see with what contempt >Marx would have reacted had he lived to see how his theory was reduced >to caricature."
> >Again, on page 244 he wtites: "Is there anything in Marx's writings that
> >might mislead someone to thinking that he subscribed to a wage theory
> >*based on* 'increasing misery'?" (emphasis mine)
> >This is quite revealing. If one understands increasing misery thesis
> >correctly, one would know that a theory of wages cannot be *based on* >it.
> In fact, you and Lapides are making the SAME point but only in different
> words. He is making his point, by drawing out the hypothetical IF one were
> have wage theory "based on" immiseration.


Paul, My point is that the hypothetical "if" will have no meaning unless the immiseration thesis is interpreted as something like iron law of wages. Since immiseration is a prediction of a theory, the hypothetical 'if' the theory was based on its prediction has no meaning.

> >It is a result of an analysis, a prediction of the theory. A theory >cannot be based on its predictions. On the other hand a theory of wages >can be based on a *law*, in this case the iron law of wages. Lapides >makes the blunder of confusing the two in his mind. Cheers, ajit sinha
> Lapides is not confused, just writes/analyzes differently than yourself.
> The cited chapter is the last chapter in Lapides' book and doesn't
> represent his theoretical conclusion, but an APPLICATION of his
> conclusions to the immiseration debate. "In previous chapters we have
> followed the development of Marx's theory in detail, and though it was
> combed for every significant feature, once the transition was made from
> its first formulation to its final mature expression, no prediction of
> falling real wages was found, nor was one implied. Only a fall in the
> *value* of labor power, due to risinng productivity (which could lead to
> higher material consumption), can be ascribed to Marx." (p. 238)
> If you disagree with Lapides it should be around this issue, not
> immiseration which "has been a herring in the interpretation of Marx's
> work" (Lapides, p. 257, citing Kuehne).


Paul, The above quotation also shows his misunderstanding of the immiseration thesis. As he says, "once the transition was made from its first formulation to its final mature expression, no prediction of
falling real wages was found, nor was one implied." According to him, in the earlier phase Marx believed that value of labor-power was determined at the minimum subsistence level and the real wages fluctuated around this value. Lapides is identifying this position with immiseration
thesis, which actually is more compatible with iron law of wages. In my opinion, Lapides's position on this score is very week. He throughout wants to suggest that Marx believed in relative immiseration and not absolute immiseration. A thesis he singularly fails to establish. Then he
confuses immiseration thesis with iron law of wages, and in the end wastes his last few pages on talking about the debate on this issue rather than arguing his own thesis. The problem with the whole book is that he does not argue any thesis properly. The book is just chock full of
quotations. Cheers, ajit sinha

> As far as I read your review you don't fault Lapides much on his prior
> eleven chapters (and applaude him on the issue of whether there is a
> 'missing book' on wage labor--Lapides' Chapter 11).
> Paul
> ***********************************************************************
> Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY at
> ******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

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