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PostSubject: Division of labour Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:46 am

I studied some Sociology years ago and what always stuck with me was this "Division of Labour".

I stumbled on it again in Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" (I will quote from wikipedia in the following) and I share Thoreau's critique. I think the standpoint on this is crucial. "What do you think of Labour Division?" The rest falls into place from there. So I will post some citations here. And comment on them below:

Quote :

Plato

In Plato's Republic, the origin of the state lies in the natural inequality of humanity, which is embodied in the division of labour.

Well then, how will our state supply these needs? It will need a farmer, a builder, and a weaver, and also, I think, a shoemaker and one or two others to provide for our bodily needs. So that the minimum state would consist of four or five men.... (The Republic, Page 103, Penguin Classics edition.)


Plato - The father of communism?

What follows are all supporters of the idea for one or the other reason until (the whole article is favorable of the Division of Labour):

Quote :

Adam Smith

[first there are quotes by him supporting the idea]
[...]
However, in a further chapter of the same book Smith criticizes the division of labour saying it leads to a 'mental mutilation' in workers; they become ignorant and insular as their working lives are confined to a single repetitive task.[7] The contradiction has led to some debate over Smith's opinion of the division of labour.[8] Alexis de Tocqueville agreed with Smith: "Nothing tends to materialize man, and to deprive his work of the faintest trace of mind, more than extreme division of labour."[9] Adam Ferguson shared similar views to Smith, though was generally more negative.
[10]

Quote :

Karl Marx

Marx argued that increasing the specialization may also lead to workers with poorer overall skills and a lack of enthusiasm for their work. He described the process as alienation: workers become more and more specialized and work becomes repetitive, eventually leading to complete alienation from the process of production. The worker then becomes "depressed spiritually and physically to the condition of a machine".[11]

Marx's most important theoretical contribution is his sharp distinction between the economic and the social division of labor.[12] That is, some forms of labour co-operation are purely due to "technical necessity", but others are a result of a "social control" function related to a class and status hierarchy. If these two divisions are conflated, it might appear as though the existing division of labour is technically inevitable and immutable, rather than (in good part) socially constructed and influenced by power relationships. He also argues that in a communist society, the division of labour is transcended, meaning that balanced human development occurs where people fully express their nature in the variety of creative work that they do.
[13]

This is interesting. I agree with Marx (the first part of the quote). However there is a loophole that devalues his whole "revolutionary" opinion... Do you see it? It's: "That is, some forms of labour co-operation are purely due to "technical necessity", but others are a result of a "social control" function related to a class and status hierarchy."
Marxists could thereby justify any Division of Labor by "technical necessity", since technical progress occurs.

Quote :

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau criticized the division of labour in Walden (published in 1854), on the basis that it removes people from a sense of connectedness with society and with the world at large, including nature. He claimed that the average man in a civilized society is less wealthy, in practice, than one in a "savage" society. The answer he gave was that self-sufficiency was enough to cover one's basic needs.[citation needed]

Thoreau's friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, criticized the division of labour in "The American Scholar"; a widely-informed, holistic citizenry is vital for the spiritual and physical health of the country.[citation needed]


Quote :

Ludwig von Mises

Marx's theories, including the negative claims regarding the division of labour have been criticized by the Austrian economists such as Ludwig von Mises.

The main argument here is the economic gains accruing from the division of labour far outweigh the costs. It is argued that it is fully possible to achieve balanced human development within capitalism, and alienation is downplayed as more a romantic fiction.


So this is the false (libertarian) opposition to Marx. The Marxism on the Right is even more outright communism, than even Marx promoted it.
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PostSubject: Re: Division of labour Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:25 am

Light-hearted

The classic libertarian angle is about stuff. People want more stuff is their focal point.

More freedoms are granted because it's cheaper to maintain order and especially property rights that way - all about efficiency to have, get, keep more stuff.
Their theories try to incorporate and curb humans and their behaviour with all one single goal, to maximize stuff.
The drive to possess things (material and other) is ingrained in humans and that material one is satiated (in excess). It has to be excess because other drives have to be subdued in civilizations.
Like someone may eat and eat without end to fill a void which he cannot fill because it's not in his stomach.

Capitalism has less lofty goals than Marxism. It at least incorporates the observation that humans are looking out for themselves and their kin. That life isn't fair. Yet it only acknowledges that on a limited scope - tries to force it into a small corset like the 'free' market rules. It's not a thing to last forever though.
The reason why it was quite a success story for some time, I believe to be rooted in both WWs. Massive destruction, obliberation of intitutions of government in Europe provided a less sheltering environment for a period of time. The more destruction happened in a country the more 'traditional ways' had taken root again for those years thereafter. Why do you think that Germania is the engine which keeps large parts of europe still operating on lifesupport? I think they are just a bit behind the curve of decay because hardship revitalized them - their social structures - somewhat in the post WW2 years.

Division of labor occurs in every society. People specialize and up to a certain point* the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Then a time when material wealth accelerates and there is no advantage in doing any kind of work besides your specialized one.
That phase makes people really less intelligent (we have passed that phase already, people only use small amounts of their potential for intelligence). Then comes the phase where things are starting to become expensive again because people were sheltered for too long and demands for services and goods can't be provided by the less and less capable workforce. Not only capable in the sense of skills but also in terms of motivation - depressions and such things are on the rise. Technology can only compensate for a time. Doing other things by yourself, besides your specialized work, gets more interesting again because of rising taxes - which determine the amount of hours you have to work to pay for an hour of someone else's work.

*Dunbar's number gives a hint - when structures get too big, nobody gives a shit about anything. No accountability and people aren't even demanding accountability from each other.

The cells of the super-organism don't feel very well. Most of them either subconsciously or they can't really put the finger on it - getting more distracted instead of examining themselves and their ways.


There are a myriad of problems on the horizon.
We are on a ship and we ran out of coal.
So we are now demolishing it, burn parts of it to keep it running.
There is no harbour though.
The captain and most of the passangers are mad.
We'll have to swim eventually.
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PostSubject: Re: Division of labour Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:36 pm

Laconian wrote:
I studied some Sociology years ago and what always stuck with me was this "Division of Labour".

I stumbled on it again in Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" (I will quote from wikipedia in the following) and I share Thoreau's critique. I think the standpoint on this is crucial. "What do you think of Labour Division?" The rest falls into place from there. So I will post some citations here. And comment on them below:

Quote :

Plato

In Plato's Republic, the origin of the state lies in the natural inequality of humanity, which is embodied in the division of labour.

Well then, how will our state supply these needs? It will need a farmer, a builder, and a weaver, and also, I think, a shoemaker and one or two others to provide for our bodily needs. So that the minimum state would consist of four or five men.... (The Republic, Page 103, Penguin Classics edition.)


Plato - The father of communism?


The Tri-partite caste system is a common feature in all the major I.E. cultures. Dumezil is best, although not authority because of new historical/mythological information which tweaks his caste functional model. The Pyramid was One unit.
Natures/Temperaments : Innate ability : Function : Max. Freedom
The caste structure ideally was a fluid mechanism that could be exploited for max. freedom of being on the basis of one's innate nature. I do not see it as oppressive; an efficient organization in terms of genes, memes, and economic redistribution.




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PostSubject: Re: Division of labour Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:47 pm

I talked to an Economist today and he pointed me to an interesting idea. Why this division of labour seems so painfull, the "Three Sector Hypothesis":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-sector_hypothesis

Fits in with Spengler, but exceeds him from this global point of view. The article however regards time cycles (like Spengler does too). One could also look at these three sectors from a national perspective. There are nations that base their economy purely on the extraction of raw materials (primary), then there are manufacturing (secondary) nations, and nations that are purely based on services (tertiary) and selling of goods.

Countries should have borders and their own sustainable economies. This is not the case today. Why everything looks so uniformly unnatural. And all nations are enslaved by this division of the sectors.
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PostSubject: Re: Division of labour Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:35 pm

I like Timocracy.

Maybe the real problem here, is our current definitions of luxury and wealth.

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PostSubject: Re: Division of labour Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:13 pm

An old post of mine on ILP:

"I am currently reading an interesting book by Victor Davis Hanson "The Other Greeks" which explains the roots of the Hellenic greatness and the agrarian roots of western civilization in general.

I believe the juxtaposition of modern Democratic states with ancient Greek Polis [city-states] and their Timocratic system, where citizens participated in the political system if and only if they owned a certain amount of farmed land , reveals why western civilization has become decadent and spoiled in comparison and exposes all that is wrong with modern western democracy.

Here is a brief outline of my conclusions thus far:

1.
There was a minimum amount of land ownership which ensured full citizenship and also a maximum amount above which it was not permitted to go.
This ensured that the citizen farmer had a vested direct interest in the survival and well-being of the state and kept him interested in the political circumstances, kept him informed and kept him participating. Also the upper limit ensured that no single individual would corrupt the whole through wealth and overt influence.

Living today with the lobbying powers of certain groups, the apathy and ignorance of entire populations and the non-participation of a large percentage of the citizenry we can see the benefits of Timocracy here.


2.
The individual was self-sufficient and self-reliant, growing his own food, constructing his own tools, and living by the sweat of his own brow by toiling the earth rather than by using others.
This honest and autonomous subsistence which cooperated with others in common goals creating the city-state ensured a citizenry of hard working, dignified, down-to-earth individuals that knew the value of things.

Today with the vast amounts of pampered, lazy individuals reliant on governmental or citizenry handouts, knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing and seeking the easy route in all areas of interest we can, again, see the benefits of Timocracy.


3.
The obligation for military service of the citizen/farmer/hoplite created men taking responsibility for their own defense and the actions of their own
government.
Military service also embedded a sense of honor, pride and discipline within each man.

Today we can witness the results of undisciplined minds that do not comprehend the concept of limits and the creation of classes that rely,
for their own defensive needs, on the manipulation and coercion of underprivileged masses that are asked to kill and die on their behalf while they and their own sit comfortably miles away in relative safety.
This absence of a direct accountability or the escape from the consequences and the cost for the decisions taken creates foolhardy citizens who enter risky endeavors with little thought or concern since they will not directly pay the price for their own opinions.
If it were only the upper or middle-class children that were forced to go to battle in Iraq, for example, would it have taken place?


4.
The practice of working the land created a certain kind of psychology.
Being one that has experienced farm work I can state with certainty that it forces a balanced, conservative, careful disposition that accepts his fate but fights against it and disciplines him to a strict life regiment which negates lethargy and laziness.
This battle of man against the forces of nature, humbles him, makes him cunning and patient and forces him to become creative and constructive.
Furthermore the benefits of physical labor ensures a fitness of body- a necessary part for the creation of healthy mind, as the Greeks themselves believed as a consequence of their agrarian roots {Healthy mind in a healthy body}- and hardens a man to the toils and tribulations of life in general.

Today the lethargic, laziness devoid of any sense of meter or balance has created obese, flawed weaklings expecting everything, demanding all,
resisting nothing disciplined to nobody but only to the needs of their
instincts.
External phenomena are often the manifestations of internal health or sickness. We can see today how the aesthetic exteriors of individuals represent and internal unhealthiness of mind and then compounds the problem by inflating it.

It is necessary to mention that Timocracy was related to Democracy but had elitist leanings which made it a cross between a Democratic and Oligarchic system and was, for this reason, a precursor for the later development of Democracy in ancient Athens.
This exclusion of the majority of a states population because of a lack of land ownership, in my view, filtered out individuals without the basic ability or intelligence to own a small piece of land and farm it successfully thusly denying access to all without a certain mental standard or a psychological disposition, made
the act of participation in political life a privilege not a right to be disrespected and taken lightly, as today, and imposed a sense of responsibility in the citizenry.
Also the limitation of land ownership ensured that each citizen, whether wealthy or middle-class, had to work the land, earn his living by toiling and minimized the amount of civil servants and other supporting classes, such as artists, teachers, governmental officials, bureaucrats of all kinds, merchants and yes even philosophers etc."

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