Averaging Up or Averaging Down, But Always Averaging

Averaging Up or Averaging Down, But Always Averaging


That an average rate of profit exists, which is to say that capitals of equal size will reap equal profit, is taken so much for granted that the task Marx set himself in Volume 3 of Capital was to show why this is so. The short of it is that the capitalist class exists as a class, and as such they run the world economy much as they run any factory. The warehousing department of the factory doesn’t make more or less profit than the production line of the same factory, instead the profits are taken in by the factory as a whole and portioned out to the shareholders on the basis of their investments. Having said this, the why is much less important than the how for the purposes of this article, and the how is really quite simple. Say you have a million dollars to invest and after doing your research you determine that there is a particular business with a quite high return on investment. You, naturally, invest your money here, but so does everybody else until the market becomes oversaturated with whatever it is this business does. This goes on until this business is no more profitable than other businesses. If, by chance, this business becomes less profitable than other businesses, you will wisely pull your money from this business and invest it elsewhere, until the market is undersaturated with whatever it is this business does, thus driving their profits back up, or until they go bankrupt rendering the point moot. The point that I hope I have made is that the average rate of profit which everyone takes for granted is not a static thing, but a movement towards an average.

Wages function in, more or less, the exact same fashion. We grow up hearing that engineers and computer programmers make a lot of money, so everyone wants to be an engineer and computer programmer, so now there’s too many engineers and computer programmers, so now engineers and programmers make much less, so now kids growing up won’t hear about the money engineers and programmers make, and instead be encouraged to get some different job. It takes a whole lot longer for an average wage to be established given the lack of fluidity that labor has in contrast to the fluidity of capital, but the average wage does exist in the exact same sense that the average profit exists. Workers will gravitate towards higher paying jobs and away from lower paying jobs just as an investor will send money in to higher ROI businesses and away from lower ROI businesses.

When viewed from this angle, the question of wage differentials becomes quite clear. Keeping higher paid workers jealously guarding their trade skills from the lower paid workers who, in turn, learn to see the higher paid workers as the enemy to tear down pulls everyone’s eyes away from the true enemy. Sometimes, a lot of times, there aren’t even trade skills that separate higher wage workers from low wage workers, race and gender play a profound role as well. Simply creating tension between members of the working-class goes a long way to deflecting attention away from the capitalists who can then use the divisions in the working-class to drive everyone’s wages even lower.

Given that the average wage already exists in the sense mentioned above, The Communist Strategy for One Big Wage to unite the working-class as a whole naturally follows.

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