Léon Walras's Thoughts on Labour in His Trilogy:

Motohiro Okada
2016 The History of Economic Thought  
This study critically examines Léon Walras s thoughts on labour in terms of pure applied and social economics In his theory of pure economics Walras incorporated labour exchange into his general equilibrium system He disregarded worker subjectivity towards labour performance and the resulting variability in the substance of labour This neoclassicist bias emasculating the human traits of labour caused him to negate the distinctiveness of labour exchange and argue for its market determination
more » ... t determination Thus Walras assumed labour exchange to be moral-free In addition Walras denied the influence of moral factors in the scope of applied economics treating industries and contended that production activities including the labour-management relationship generally should be subject to free competition However Walras recognised a need for the state regulation of labour time Nevertheless he opposed the minimum wage system and denounced strikes for wage increases Consequently Walras adhered to his theory of labour exchange incurring serious inconsistencies in his own arguments Walras stressed that social economics dealing with distributional issues in light of justice represents moral study Under the profound influence of his father Auguste Walras Walras defended labour-based property rights and proposed land nationalisation However he justified the acquisition of capital profit as well as wages determined in a competitive market economy and denied a conflict between labour and capital Hence he substantially excluded labour exchange and the labour-capital relationship from the topics of social economics In this manner Walras advocated the market determination of labour exchange embracing its subsumption of production and distribution and labour-management and labour-capital harmony Therefore Walras s arguments in his trilogy allowed a moulding of the neoclassical principle of labour exchange However like his contemporary economists who advanced the same line of ideas Walras enforced this step by playing down his own fair observations of the realities of industrial relations that were at variance with his theory Thus Walras s trilogy reveals features of the formation of neoclassical thought on labour exchange JEL classification numbers: B 13 J 01
doi:10.5362/jshet.57.2_25 fatcat:ybidee6ef5axdod2rx2ambcizy