A number of us at Redline were involved at various times in the Marxist magazine revolution, which was produced between 1997 and 2006. A total of 26 issues were produced during that time. We’re slowly getting up on Redline features from the magazine that are still of relevance. Here we reproduce two closely-related pieces that appeared several years apart on wages, profits, crisis.
The piece below appeared in issue #15, June/July 2001, as part of the magazine’s restatement section, which dealt with various fundamentals of Marxism.
by Linda Kearns and Keith Tompson
In the first year of the Labour/Alliance coalition government, real wages in New Zealand have fallen. No wonder business is happier with the current regime than they were in the final years of the previous National (and NZ First) government. This is the first time real wages have fallen in five years. Given that wage indexes include some very highly-paid people, like politicians, whose incomes expanded, the fall in the real wages of most working people is particularly pronounced.
The last Labour government (1984-1990) oversaw a substantial decline in real wages; indeed it drove wages down immensely in order to help business. In the 1970s and 1980s Labour and National politicians attacked ‘greedy workers’ for causing inflation and undermining NZ’s competitiveness in the world market. And, despite the overall decline in real wages since 1984, businesspeople and politicians from the two major parties often still argue that wage claims represent a ‘threat’ to the ‘recovery’.
But what do wages actually represent? Do wage claims cause inflation? What is the relationship between wages, profits and economic crisis?
Capitalist production rests on two fundamentally antagonistic classes. Capitalists own the means of production. Workers own merely their ability to work, that is their labour-power.
In capitalist society, labour-power has become a Read the rest of this entry »