[OPE-L:1168] Re: Re: A Review of Lapides' Marx's Wage theory

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Fri Sep 10 1999 - 03:00:32 EDT

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> An increasing immiseration thesis must
> >assume that real wages for most of the historical period under
> >consideration must be considerably above the ‘minimum subsistence’,
> >otherwise how could one talk about a secular tendency for the real wages
> >to decline? The ‘Iron Law of Wages’, on the other hand, maintains that
> >real wages cannot be higher than the ‘minimum subsistence’ for any
> >considerable period of time. Thus the two theses mutually exclude each
> >other, and their identification on Lapides’s part is evidence to his
> >poor understanding of this issue.
> Ajit,
> Let us leave aside for now Marx's indebtedness to Ricardo's concept of the
> relative wage in the development of his theory of the increasing social
> misery of the working class. Note for now that Lapides does indicate
> implicitly how the physical misery of the working class could increase
> without a fall or even an increase in the real wage (i.e., an increasing
> misery thesis is no more logically dependent upon falling real wages than,
> say, natural selection is on a competitive exclusion principle). Note e.g.
> p. 193:
> "Examining the results of an intensification of the labor process, Marx
> finds that when greater than normal demands are placed on the worker to
> achieve a greater output, the vlaue of his or her labor pwoer has risen. A
> greater sum of necessaries will be required to maintain this heightened
> level of work. If however this enhanced value of labor power does not
> receive higher wages, or even if higher wages are paid but not by a
> commensurate amount, the price of labor power will fall below its value.
> "This occurs whenever the rise in the price of labor power does not
> compensate for its increased wear and tear." (CW35, 525).


Rakesh, this quotation does not much help Lapides. Such statements by Marx are
problematic because it one way or the other suggests that the wages are at the
physical minimum that's why you cannot get more mileage unless you put more
gas. Moreover, one also needs to keep in mind that Marx thinks that there is a
trend for the length of the working day to decline. Some of the increased
intensification of labor may go to compensate the fall in the working hours.
Increased misery, in my opinion, mainly refers to fall in the standard of
living as a whole. Cheers, ajit sinha

> Lapides (p. 197) goes on to quote Marx about how in the case of overtime
> the additional hours are paid better but "often in a proportion
> ridiculously small." (CW35, 546)
> Yours, Rakesh

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