Wages and Panic Buttons

Jim heartfield jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Fri Aug 6 03:17:49 PDT 1999

In message <JNIJGFLOOGIBAAAA at angelfire.com>, Fabian Balardini <balardini at angelfire.com> writes
>Everybody on this thread seems to agree that inflation is the result of the
>fight between capital and labor so I have a couple of questions:
>1) if inflation is the result of unions vs capitalists intitutions fighting for
>a larger piece of the pie this implies that unions can be as strong and stronger
>that these capitalist institutions on the aggregate so then why they don't just
>overthrow the whole system

As I remember it there was a big row between orthodox Marxists (David Yaffe) and 'profit-squeeze' theorists like John Harrison and Tony Cliff over wages and inflation in the seventies. The latter saw wages as cutting into profits, and repeated the conventional wisdom that inflation was the effect of the contest over the social product between capital and labour.

The orthodox marxists rejected the argument that wage rises could account for inflation. As they said then - a wage rise is just one kind of price rise, so it is just a tautology to say that price rises cause price rises. The argument ran that the underlying cause of inflation was the declining profitability of capital, which led capitalists to artificially hike prices in an attempt to realise profits on the market that they had not earned through increased productivity.

-- Jim heartfield

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