What did Marx think on specialization and division of labor?

Was Marx totally against the division of labor in society?

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  • Adrien Folly
    commented 2017-09-18 18:31:01 -0400
    I’m not sure about Marx, but most interestingly, at least I think, is what did people who are said to be for division of labor actually think about it.

    So take Adam Smith, whose first chapters about division of labor are cited over and over by fanatics. Now take him again, a few hundreds of pages ahead:

    “The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.”

    And that “in every improved and civilized society, this is the state into which the laboring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless governments takes some pains to prevent it.”

    (Adam Smith, Wealth of the Nations, Book V/Chapter I/Part Third/Article II).

    And btw, this is not the only misinterpretation of Smith… so take, among others, the term “invisible hand”, which appears once, in Book IV/Chapter II, called “Of Restraints upon the importation of Foreign Countries of such Goods as can be produced at Home”, in which Smith basically makes an argument against “neo-liberal” politics (indeed a very poor argument [basically a sentimental one, in that merchants and manufacturers won’t import what they can produce at home, because “led by an invisible hand” (basically, love for his Homeland), they wouldn’t do it even if it would be profitable]).

    Don’t get me wrong, Smith did have some funky ideas. But he was an 18th century humanist, indeed with funky ideas, but humanist nevertheless.

    I know I’m getting out of the scope of your question, but read this as a part of a broader question: “image and realities of 18th and 19th century philosophers and economists”.
  • dara ghz
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-09-14 03:51:16 -0400