Marx’s Economic Manuscripts of 1861-63
Part 3) Relative Surplus Value

Volume 30, MECW, p. 264

b) Division of Labour[192]

Volume 30, MECW, p. 264-306

[IV-149] The division of labour is a particular, differentiated, further developed form of cooperation, a powerful means of heightening the productive power of labour, performing the same work in less labour time, hence reducing the labour time necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity and extending surplus labour time.

Simple cooperation involves many people working together to perform the same work. In the division of labour many workers cooperate under the command of capital to produce different parts of the same commodities, each particular part requiring a specific kind of labour, a specific operation, and each worker or definite multiple quantity of workers performing one specific operation only, with the others performing others and so forth; the totality of these operations, however, producing a single commodity, a particular specific commodity; the latter therefore representing the totality of these specific forms of labour.

We say commodity from a twofold point of view. Firstly, a commodity produced under the division of labour can itself be a semi-manufacture, a raw material, a material of labour for another sphere of production. A product of this kind therefore by no means needs to be a use value which has taken on its final form, the form in which it ultimately enters consumption.

If different production processes are required for the manufacture of a use value, e.g. printed calico-spinning, weaving, printing — the printed calico is the result of these different production processes and of the totality of the specific modes of labour, spinning, weaving, printing. No division of labour in the sense we are now considering has yet taken place on that account. If the spun yarn is a commodity, the woven cloth a commodity, and the printed calico a specific commodity alongside the other two commodities — those use values which are the product of processes which must precede the printing of calico — no division of labour in the sense we are now considering takes place, although there is a social division of labour, because the yarn is the product of spinners, the cloth is the product of weavers and the calico is the product of printers. The labour necessary for the production of printed calico is divided into spinning, weaving and printing and each of these branches forms the occupation of a particular section of workers, each of whom performs only the one particular operation of spinning or weaving or printing. Here, then, what is needed is firstly a totality of particular kinds of labour, in order to produce the printed calico; and secondly the subsumption of different workers under each of these particular labour operations. But it cannot be said that they cooperate in producing the same commodity. They rather produce commodities independent of each other. The yarn is on our assumption as much a commodity as the printed calico. The existence of a use value as a commodity does not depend on the nature of that use value, hence it does not depend, either, on its distance from or nearness to the shape in which it finally enters consumption, whether as means of labour or means of subsistence. It depends solely on this, that a definite quantity of labour time is represented in the product and that it forms the material for the satisfaction of certain needs, whether these are the needs of a further production process or those of the consumption process. On the other hand, if the printed calico first came onto the market as a commodity after having passed through the processes of spinning, weaving and printing, it would have been produced by division of labour.

We have seen that the product only becomes a commodity at all, and the exchange of commodities as a condition of production only takes place at all, given a social division of labour, [IV-150] or a division of social labour. The specific commodities are the repositories of specific modes of labour, and the producer or owner of the individual commodity only takes possession of his aliquot part of social production, i.e. of the products of all the other branches of labour, through exchange, namely the sale of his product, through the conversion of his commodity into money. That he produces a commodity at all implies that his labour is one-sided and does not directly produce his means of subsistence, that these are rather obtained only by the exchange of his labour for the products of other branches of labour. This social division of labour, which is presupposed in the existence of the product as a commodity and of the exchange of commodities, differs essentially from the division of labour we are investigating here. The latter presupposes the former as its point of departure and basis.

A division of labour occurs in the former case in so far as every commodity represents the other commodity, hence every commodity owner or producer represents a specific branch of labour vis-à-vis the other one; and the totality of these specific branches of labour, their existence as the whole gamut of social labour, is mediated through the exchange of commodities, or, more closely defined, the circulation of commodities, which as we have seen includes the circulation of money. A considerable division of labour in this sense may take place without there being any division of labour in the other sense. But the second type cannot occur without the first under conditions of commodity production, although it can occur where products are not produced as commodities at all, where production does not, in general, take place on the basis of the exchange of commodities. The first division of labour shows itself in the fact that the product of a specific branch of labour confronts as a specific commodity the producers of all other branches of labour as independent commodities differing from it. The second division of labour, in contrast, takes place when a specific use value is produced before it comes onto the market, enters into circulation, as a specific, independent commodity. In the first case the different kinds of labour complement each other through the exchange of commodities. In the second there is direct, cooperative action by the different kinds of labour, not mediated through the exchange of commodities, with the aim of manufacturing the same use value under the command of capital. In the first division of labour the producers meet as independent commodity owners and representatives of specific branches of labour. In the second they appear rather as dependent, since they only produce a complete commodity, indeed only produce a commodity at all, through their cooperation, and each of them represents not a specific piece of work, but rather the individual operations which are combined, which meet, in a specific piece of work, while the commodity owner, the producer of the complete commodity, confronts the dependent workers as capitalist.

Adam Smith constantly confuses these very different senses of the division of labour, which admittedly complement each other, but are also in certain respects mutually opposed. In order to avoid confusion, more recent English writers call the first type division of labour and the second subdivision of labour, although this fails to bring out the conceptual distinction.[193]

Pins and twist are two specific commodities; each of them represent a specific branch of labour and their producers confront each other as commodity owners. They represent a division of social labour, each section of which confronts the other as a specific sphere of production. In contrast to this, the different operations required for the production of a pin constitute a division of labour in the second sense if they represent just as many modes of labour under which particular workers are subsumed — it being presupposed, namely, that the particular parts of the pin do not emerge as specific commodities. Characteristic of this kind of division of labour is the differentiation of the operations within the sphere of production which belongs to a particular commodity, and the distribution of each of these operations among particular workers, whose cooperation creates the whole product, the commodity, but whose representative is not the worker but the capitalist. [IV-151] Even this form of the division of labour, which we are considering here, by no means exhausts the subject of the division of labour, which is in a certain respect the category of categories of political economy. But here we have only to consider it as a particular productive power of capital.

It is clear, 1) that this division of labour presupposes the social division of labour. First the exchange of commodities develops the differentiation of social labour, and then the branches of labour become so widely separated that each specific branch is traced back to a specialised kind of labour, and the division of labour, its analysis, can take place within this specialised labour. It is equally clear, 2) that the second division of labour must, in its turn, extend the first — reacting back upon it. Firstly in so far as it, like all other productive forces, reduces the amount of labour required for a particular use value, therefore sets labour free to take part in a new branch of social labour. Secondly, and this is specific to it, in so far as it is able In its analysis to split up a speciality in such a way, that the different components of the same use value are now produced as different commodities, independent of each other, or also that the different varieties of the same use value, which previously all fell to the share of the same sphere of production, are now allotted to different spheres of production through the analysis of the individual varieties.

The one is division of social labour into different branches of labour, the other is division of labour in the manufacture of a commodity, hence not division of labour in society but social division of labour within one and the same workshop. Division of labour in the latter sense presupposes manufacture, as a specific mode of production.

Adam Smith does not distinguish these two senses of the division of labour. The second division of labour therefore does not appear with him as something specific to capitalist production.

The chapter on the division of labour with which he opens his work (book I, chapter I) (On the Division of Labour) begins like this:

“The effects of the division of labour, in the general industry of society, will be more easily understood by considering in what manner these effects operate in some particular manufactures — [Garnier, p. 11] [Vol. I, p. 15].[194]

The division of labour within the atelier (which really means workshop, factory, mine, or farm here, the only assumption being that the individuals employed in the production of a particular commodity cooperate under the command of capital), the capitalist division of labour, is only of interest to him, and he only discusses it in particular, as being a more easily comprehensible, more tangible and clearer example of the effects of the division of labour within society in general and upon the “general industry of society”. The following passage proves this:

“It is commonly supposed that this division is carried furthest in some manufactures which produce articles of little value; not perhaps that it really is carried further in them than in others of more importance: but in those trifling manufactures which are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number of people, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in even different branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator. In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen that it is impossible to collect them all [IV-152] into the same workhouse. We can seldom see more, at one time, than those employed in one single branch of the work. Though in such manufactures, therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts than in those of the first kind, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much less observed” [l.c., pp. 11-12].

Firstly, this passage demonstrates the small scale on which industrial enterprises still operated in Adam Smith’s time.

Secondly, the division of labour in a workshop and the division of a branch of labour within society into distinct, mutually independent branches, are only subjectively different matters for him, not objectively. In the first case one sees the division at a glance, in the second case one does not. The change is not in the real situation but only in the way the observer sees it. For example, if one looks at the whole of the iron-producing industry, starting from the production of pig iron and going through all the different types of product into which the industry is divided, each of which forms an independent branch of production, an independent commodity, whose connection with its preceding or subsequent stages is mediated by the exchange of commodities, the social division of this branch of industry probably involves more subdivisions than we meet with inside a pin factory.

Hence Adam Smith does not grasp the division of labour as a particular, specifically distinct form characteristic of the capitalist mode of production.

The division of labour, as we regard it here, presupposes firstly that the social division of labour has already attained a considerable level of development, that the various spheres of production are separated from each other, and that within each sphere there are further divisions into independent subspecies; indeed, capital can only develop on the basis of a circulation of commodities which is already relatively extensive, and is identical with a relatively extensive development of the division (autonomisation) of branches of business within society as a whole. Once this is presupposed, hence e.g. once the production of cotton yarn exists as an independent, autonomous branch of business (hence is no longer e.g. a subsidiary occupation of the countryside), the second prerequisite for the division of labour, which precedes this one and exists before it, is that many workers in this branch should be associated in a workshop under the command of capital. This association, the agglomeration of workers under the command of capital, which is the condition for capitalist cooperation, comes about for two reasons. Firstly, surplus value does not depend only on its rate; its absolute amount, magnitude, depends at the same time on the number of workers who are simultaneously being exploited by the same capital. Capital functions as capital in proportion to the number of workers it simultaneously employs. The independence of the workers in their production is thereby at an end. They work under the supervision and command of capital. In so far as they work together and are interconnected, this interconnection exists in capital, or, this interconnection itself is for them merely external, a mode of capital’s existence. Their labour becomes compulsory labour because once they enter into the labour process it belongs not to them but already to capital, is already incorporated in capital. The workers are subjected to the discipline of capital and placed in completely changed conditions of life. The first manufactories in Holland, and in all countries where they developed independently and were not imported ready-made from abroad, were little more than conglomerations of workers who produced the same commodity, with the means of labour being concentrated in the same workshop under the command of the same capital. A developed division of labour was not a feature of those places, the development rather took place first within them as its natural basis. In the medieval guilds the master [IV-153] was prevented from becoming a capitalist by the guild regulations, which restricted to a very low maximum the number of workers he was permitted to employ at any one time.

Secondly, the economic advantages which arose from the common utilisation of the buildings, of furnaces, etc., and soon gave these manufactories such an advantage in productivity over the patriarchal or guild-based enterprises — apart from any effect of the division of labour — do not belong to our subject here, as we have only to consider, not the economy made on the conditions of labour,[189] but the more productive application of variable capital; the extent to which these means directly raise the productivity of the labour employed in a particular sphere of production.

Even where a particular branch of business — see e.g. Blanqui is very subdivided, but patriarchal, so that the product of each part exists as a specific commodity independently of the others, or is only mediated by the exchange of commodities, association in a single workshop is by no means merely formal. In these circumstances the work almost always takes the form of domestic-rural subsidiary labour, there thus being no absolute subsumption of the worker under an entirely one-sided and simple operation. It is not his exclusive task. But then the main feature is lacking. These workers work with their own means of labour. The mode of production itself is in fact not capitalist, instead, the capitalist merely steps between these independent workers and the definitive purchaser of their commodities as middleman, as merchant. This form, in which capital has not yet taken control of production itself, still predominates over much of the Continent; it always constitutes the transition from the subsidiary industries of the countryside to the capitalist mode of production proper. Here the worker himself appears as commodity owner, producer and seller, and the capitalist still confronts him as buyer of commodities, not of labour. The basis of capitalist production is therefore still absent.

Where, as in Blanqui’s example, the division of labour exists in the form of independent branches of production, a multiplicity of time-consuming and unproductive intermediate processes takes place, conditioned by the existence of the different stages of the commodity as commodities in their own right, and by the fact that their interconnection in the overall production of the commodity has first to be mediated through the exchange of commodities, through sale and purchase. Working for each other in the different branches is subject to all kinds of accidents, irregularities and so on, for it is the compulsion of the workshop which first introduces simultaneity, regularity and proportionality into the mechanism of these different operations, in fact first combines them together into a uniformly operating mechanism.

If the division of labour — once it proceeds, now on the basis of the existing workshops, to a further subdivision of the operations and subsumption under them of definite multiple numbers of workers — if the division of labour carries itself further, it is also its opposite. For in so far as the disjecta membra poetae were previously autonomous, existing side by side as an equal number of independent commodities, and hence as the products of an equal number of independent commodity owners, the division of labour is also their combination in one mechanism; an aspect entirely overlooked by Adam.

Later on We shall investigate in more detail why the division of labour within society, a division which through the exchange of commodities emerges as the totality of production and only has an impact on its individual representatives through competition, the law of supply and demand, develops further at the same pace as, goes hand in hand with, the division of labour within the workshop, the division of labour characteristic of capitalist production, in which the independence of the workers is completely annihilated and they become parts of a social mechanism standing under the command of capital.[55]

[IV-154] This much is clear. Adam Smith did not grasp the division of labour as something peculiar to the capitalist mode of production; something whereby, in addition to machinery and simple cooperation, labour is transformed not only formally, but in its reality — through subsumption under capital. He conceives it in the same way as Petty and others of his predecessors after Petty. (See the East Indian pamphlet.)

Like his predecessors, Smith in fact still views the division of labour from the standpoint of antiquity, in so far as they lump it together with the division of labour within society. They only differ from the conception held by the classical world in their view of the result and purpose of the division of labour. They conceive it as from the outset a productive force of capital, in so far as they stress and almost exclusively discuss the fact that the division of labour cheapens commodities, reduces the amount of necessary labour time required to produce a particular commodity, or increases the quantity of commodities that can be produced in the same necessary labour time, thereby lessening the exchange value of the individual commodities. They lay all their emphasis on this aspect — exchange value — and the modernity of their point of view consists in this. And this is of course the decisive point if the division of labour is conceived as a productive force of capital, for it is such a force only in so far as it cheapens the means of subsistence required for the reproduction of labour capacity, reduces the amount of labour time needed for their reproduction. The ancients, on the other hand, had their eyes fixed exclusively on use value, in so far as they made any attempt at all to reflect upon and understand the division of labour. The consequence of the division of labour for them was that the products of the individual branches of production attained a better quality, whereas the quantitative point of view predominates among the moderns. The ancients, therefore, consider the division of labour not in relation to the commodity but in relation to the product as such. What interests the commodity owners who have become capitalists is the influence of the division of labour on the commodity; its influence on the product as such only has a bearing on the commodity in so far as it is a matter of the satisfaction of human needs in general, a matter of use value as such. The historical background of the Greeks’ views is always Egypt, which they regarded as the model of an industrial country, in just the same way as Holland and later England were regarded by the moderns. The division of labour therefore occurs with them, as we shall see later, in relation to the hereditary division of labour and the caste system deriving from it, as it existed in Egypt.

Adam Smith confuses the two forms of the division of labour later on too. Thus he says further in the same book I, chapter I:

“The division of labour, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour. The separation of different trades and employments from one another seems to have taken place in consequence of this advantage. This separation, too, is generally carried furthest in those countries which enjoy the highest degree of industry and improvement; what is the work of one man in a rude state of society being generally that of several in an improved one” [Garnier, p. 15] [Vol. I, p. 181.

Adam Smith explicitly picks out the quantitative point of view, i.e. the curtailment of the labour time needed for the production of a commodity, as the exclusive consideration, in the passage where he is enumerating the advantages of the division of labour:

This great increase in the quantity of work which, in consequence of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owing to three different circumstances ([Garnier,] Book I, Chapter I [p. 18]) [Vol. 1, p. 21].

According to him these advantages consist in 1) the dexterity the worker attains in his one-sided branch [IV-155] of labour:

“First, the improvement of the dexterity of the workman necessarily increases the quantity of the work he can perform; and the division of labour, by reducing every man’s business to some one simple operation, and by making this operation the sole employment of his life, necessarily increases very much the dexterity of the workman.” (Hence rapidity of the operations.)

Secondly: saving of the time which gets lost in moving from one task to another. In that connection both “change of place” and “different tools” are required.

“When the two trades can be carried on in the same workhouse, the loss of time is no doubt much less. It is even in this case, however, very considerable. A man commonly saunters a little in turning his hand from one sort of employment to another” [Garnier, pp. 20, 21] [Vol. I, p. 23].

Finally Smith mentions

“that the invention of all those machines by which labour is so much facilitated and abridged seems to have been originally owing to the division of labour” [Garnier, p. 22] [Vol. I, p. 24]

(invented by the workers themselves, the whole of whose attention is exclusively directed towards a simple object). And even the influence exerted on the invention of machinery by philosophers or men of speculation is due to the social division of labour, for it is through it that

“philosophy or speculation becomes, like every other employment, the principal or sole trade occupation of a particular class of citizens — [Garnier, p. 24] [Vol. I, p. 25].

Adam Smith remarks that if on the one hand the division of labour is the product, the result, of the natural diversity of human talents, the latter are to a much greater degree the result of the development of the division of labour. In this he follows his teacher Ferguson.

“The difference of natural talents, in different men is, in reality, much less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity, is not so much the cause as the effect of the division of labour.... All must have had the same duties to perform — (without the division of labour and without exchange, which he makes into the basis of the division of labour), “and the same work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment as could alone give occasion to an), great difference of talents”. “By nature a philosopher is not in genius and disposition half so different from a street porter, as a mastiff is from a greyhound” [Garnier, pp. 33-35] [Vol. I, pp. 33-35].

Smith explains the very existence of the division of labour by referring to

men’s inclination to trade and exchange”, without which “every man must have procured to himself every necessary and conveniency of life” ([Garnier,] Book I, Chapter II, [p. 34]) [Vol. I, p. 34].

Thus he assumes exchange in order to explain the division of labour, and assumes the division of labour in order that there be something to exchange.

The naturally evolved division of labour precedes exchange, and the exchange of products as commodities first develops between different communities, not within the some community. (The division of labour rests in part not only on the naturally evolved differences between human beings themselves, but on natural elements of production found available by these different communities. [195]) Of course, the development of the product into a commodity and the exchange of commodities react back onto the division of labour, so that exchange and division enter into a relation of interaction.

[IV-156] Smith’s main merit in dealing with the division of labour is that he stresses it and puts it in the forefront, indeed views it directly as a productive power of labour (i.e. capital). In his conception of it, however, he is dependent on the contemporary level of development of manufacture, which was still far removed from the modern factory. Hence also the relative preponderance conceded to the division of labour over machinery, which still appears merely as its appendage.

In the whole section on the division of labour Adam Smith essentially follows his teacher Adam Ferguson, often to the extent of copying from him ([A. Ferguson,] Essai sur l'histoire de la société civile, translated by M. Bergier, Paris, 1783). Under conditions of barbarism the human being inclines to sloth:

“He is, perhaps, by the diversity of his wants, discouraged from industry; or, by his divided attention, prevented from acquiring skill in any kind of labour” ([A. Ferguson, l.c.,] Vol. II, p. 128).

Among the different circumstances which gradually lead men “to subdivide their professions without any conscious end in mind”, Ferguson similarly indicates “the prospect of being able to exchange one commodity for another”, although he does not imitate Smith’s one-sidedness in giving it as the sole reason. He goes on to say:

“The artist finds, that the more he can confine his attention to a particular part of any work, his productions are the more perfect, and grow under his hands in the greater quantities. Every undertaker in manufacture finds, that the more he can subdivide the tasks of his workmen, and the more hands he can employ on separate articles, the more are his expenses diminished, and his profits increased.... The progress of commerce is but a continued subdivision of the mechanical arts([p.] 129).

Adam Smith asserts that originally the workers invented the machine, because, owing to the division of labour,

“when the whole of every man’s attention is directed towards some one object”, they devised “all those machines by which labour is so much facilitated and abridged — ([Garnier,] Book 1, Chapter 1 [p. 22]) [Vol. I, p. 24].

Adam Ferguson speaks of

“the methods, the means, the devices ... which the artist, attentive to his own affair, has invented, to abridge or to facilitate his separate task” (p. 133).

Adam Smith says:

“In the progress of society, philosophy or speculation becomes, like every employment, the principal or sole occupation of a particular class of citizens” ([Garnier,] Book I, Chapter I [pp. 23-24]) [Vol. I, p. 25].

Adam Ferguson:

“This method, which yields such great advantages in regard of industry, can be applied with equal success to more important things, in the various departments of policy and war ... in this age of separations, [thinking] itself may become a peculiar craft” (pp. 131, 136).

Ferguson, like Adam Smith, makes special mention of the application of science to industrial practice (p. 136).

What distinguishes him from Adam Smith is the fact that he brings out more sharply and emphatically the negative aspects of the division of labour (and with Ferguson the quality of the commodity still plays a role, while Adam Smith, from the capitalist point of view correctly, leaves it aside as a mere ACCIDENT).

“It may even be doubted, whether the measure of national capacity increases with the advancement of arts. Many mechanical arts require no capacity; they succeed perfectly without recourse to sentiment and reason; and ignorance is the mother of industry as well as of superstition. Reflection and fancy are subject to err; but a habit of moving the hand, or the foot, is independent of either. One might therefore say that perfection, in regard of manufactures, consists in the ability to proceed without consulting the mind” (especially, and this is an important point with regard to the workshop) “in such a manner that the workshop may [IV-157], without any great effort of imagination, be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men” (pp. 134, 135).

The concept of manufacture comes out much more clearly here than in Adam Smith. Furthermore, Ferguson emphasises the change in the relationship between manufacturer and worker which occurs as a result of the division of labour.

“Even in manufacture, the genius of the master, perhaps, is cultivated, while that of the inferior workman lies waste.... The general officer may be a great proficient in the knowledge of war, while the soldier is confined to a few motions of the hand and the foot. The former may have gained what the latter has lost” (pp. 135, 136).

What he says of the general in relation to the ordinary soldier is true of the capitalist or his MANAGER in relation to the army of workers. The intelligence and independent development which were applied on a small scale in autonomous work are now applied on a large scale for the whole workshop, and monopolised by the boss; the workers are thereby robbed of these attributes.

“He [the general] may practise on a larger scale all the arts of preservation, of deception and of stratagem, which the savage exerts in leading a small party, or merely in defending himself” (p. 136).

Hence Ferguson also expressly treats of the “subordination” consequent on the “separation of arts and professions” (l.c., p. 138). Here the antagonism of capital, etc.

With regard to entire nations, Ferguson has this to say:

“Nations of tradesmen come to consist of members who, beyond their own particular trade, are ignorant of all human affairs” (p. 130). “We make a nation of helots, and have no free citizens” (l.c., p. 144).

He contrasts this with classical antiquity, although he points out at the same time that slavery was the foundation for the more complete all-round development of the free citizens. (See the Frenchman, [196] who indulges in more speechifying on the whole of this Fergusonian theme, but wittily.)

Thus if one takes Ferguson, who was Smith’s teacher directly, and Petty, whose example of watchmaking was replaced by Smith with the one of the pin factory,[197] Smith’s originality consists only in his putting the division of labour in the limelight and his one-sided (hence economically correct) estimation of it as a means for increasing the productive power of labour.

It says in A. Potter, Political Economy, New York, 1841 (Part 2 of which is almost exclusively a reprint of Scrope’s Political Economy, London, 1833):

* “The first essential towards production is labour. To play its part efficiently in this great business, the labour of individuals must be combined; or, in other words, the labour required for producing certain results must be distributed among several individuals, and those individuals thus be enabled to cooperate” * (Scrope, p. 76).

Potter remarks on this, in a note on the same page:

* “The principle here referred to is usually called the division of labour. The phrase is objectionable, since the fundamental idea is that of concert and cooperation, not of division. The term of division applies only to the process; this being subdivided into several operations, and these being distributed or parcelled out among a number of operatives. It is thus a combination of labourers effected through a subdivision of processes."* It is: Combination of labour.

The title of Ferguson’s book is: Essay on the History of Civil Society.

[IV-158] Dugald Stewart, Collected Works, Ed. by Sir W. Hamilton, Edinburgh. I cite from Vol. VIII of the Collected Works, which is Vol. I (published in 1855) of the Lectures on Political Economy.

On the way in which the division of labour increases the productivity of labour, he says among other things:

* “The effects of the division of labour, and of the use of machines ... both derive their value from the same circumstance, their tendency, to enable one man to perform the work of many"* (p. 317).

* “It produces also an economy of time, by separating the work into its different branches, all of which may be carried into execution at the same moment ... by carrying on all the different processes at once, which an individual must have executed separately, it becomes possible to produce a multitude of pins for instance completely finished in the same time as a single pin might have been either cut or pointed"* ([p.] 3 19).

This goes beyond Adam Smith’s second argument above, that the single worker who passes through the whole circuit of the different operations loses time in the transition from one operation to another.

The different operations performed successively by a worker in a patriarchal or craft-based business in order to make his product, which are mutually intertwined as different modes of his activity, and follow each other in chronological sequence; the different phases through which his work passes, and in which it undergoes variation, are separated from each other, isolated, as independent operations or processes. This independence becomes solidified, personified, when each simple and monosyllabic process of this kind becomes the exclusive function of a particular worker or a definite number of workers. They are subsumed under these isolated functions. This work is not divided among them; they are divided among the various processes, each of which becomes the exclusive life-process of one of them — in so far as they function as productive labour capacity. The heightened productivity and complexity of the production process as a whole, its enrichment, is therefore purchased at the cost of the reduction of labour capacity in each of its specific functions to nothing but a dry abstraction — a simple quality, which appears in the eternal uniformity of an identical function, and for which the whole of the worker’s productive capacity, the multiplicity of his capabilities, has been confiscated. The processes separated out in this way, and performed as functions of these living automatons, allow combination precisely through their division and autonomy; allow these different processes to be carried out simultaneously in the same workshop. Here division and combination condition each other. The overall production process of a single commodity appears now as a combined operation, a complex of many operations, all of which complement each other independently, and can be carried out simultaneously alongside each other. The complementarity of the different processes is here transferred from the future to the present, whereby a commodity which is begun at one side is finished at the other. At the same time, since these different operations are performed with virtuosity, because they have been educed to simple functions, there is added to this simultaneity, which is in general characteristic of cooperation, a reduction in labour time, which is attained in each of the simultaneous and mutually complementary functions which are combined together into a single whole; so that within a given time not only more whole commodities, more commodities finished and ready for use are in general delivered, but also more finished commodities. Through this combination the workshop becomes a mechanism of which the individual workers form the different elements.

But the combination — cooperation, as it appears in the division of labour, no longer as the parallel existence of the same functions or their temporary subdivision, but as the separation of a totality of functions into their constituent elements, and the unification of these different components — now has a twofold existence: it exists on the one hand, if we look at the production process itself, in the workshop as a whole, which, as a total mechanism of this kind (although in fact it is nothing other than the manifestation of the workers’ cooperation, their social mode of action in the production process) confronts the workers as [IV-159] an external power, dominating and enveloping them, in fact as the power of capital itself and a form of its existence, under which they are individually subsumed, and to which their social relation of production belongs. On the other hand, it exists in the finished product, which is in turn a commodity belonging to the capitalist.

For the worker himself no combination of activities takes place. The combination is rather a combination of the one-sided functions under which every worker or number of workers is subsumed, group by group. His function is one-sided, abstract, partial. The totality which is formed from this is based precisely on his merely partial existence and isolation in his separate function. It is therefore a combination of which he forms a part, but it depends on the fact that his labour is not combined. The workers form the building blocks of this combination. However, the combination is not a relation that belongs to them, nor is it subsumed under them as a united group. This point is also directed against Mr. Potter’s pretty phrases about combination and concert as opposed to division.

Here the capitalist mode of production has already seized upon the substance of labour and transformed it. The subsumption of the worker under capital is no longer merely formal: the fact that he works for someone else, under alien command and alien supervision. Nor is the situation any longer merely as it was in the case of simple cooperation, where the worker cooperates with many others, performing the same work with them at the same time, while his work as such remains unchanged and a merely temporary connection is created, a contiguity, which by the nature of things may easily be dissolved and which in most cases of simple cooperation takes place only for specific, limited periods, to satisfy exceptional requirements, as with harvesting, road-building, etc. Nor is it like manufacture in its simplest form, where the main thing is the simultaneous exploitation of many workers and a saving on fixed capital, etc., and where the worker only formally becomes a part of a whole, whose head is the capitalist, but in which he is not further affected — as a producer — by the fact that many other workers are doing the same thing alongside him, also making boots, etc. With the transformation of his labour capacity into what is merely a function of part of the complete mechanism, the whole of which forms the workshop, he has altogether ceased to be the producer of a commodity. He is only the producer of a one-sided operation, which in general produces something solely in connection with the whole of the mechanism that forms the workshop. He is thus a living constituent of the workshop, and has himself become an accessory to capital through the manner of his work, since his skill can only be exercised in a workshop, only as a link in a mechanism which confronts him as the presence of capital. Originally he had to sell to the capitalist, instead of the commodity, the labour that produced the commodity, because he was not in possession of the objective conditions for the realisation of his labour capacity. Now he has to sell it because his labour capacity only continues to be labour capacity in so far as it is sold to capital. Thus he is now subsumed under capitalist production, has now fallen under the control of capital, no longer just because he lacks the means of labour, but because of his very labour capacity, the nature and manner of his labour; now capital has in its hands no longer just the objective conditions, but the social conditions of subjective labour, the conditions under which his labour continues to be labour at all.[55]

The increase of productive power which arises from the division of labour, this social mode of existence of labour, is therefore not only capital’s, instead of the worker’s, productive power. The social form of the workers’ combined labours is the existence of capital over against the worker; combination confronts him as a paramount destiny to which he has fallen victim through the reduction of his labour capacity to an entirely one-sided function, which is nothing apart from the mechanism as a whole, [IV-160] and therefore depends entirely upon it. He has himself become a mere detail.

Dugald Stewart, l.c., calls the workers subordinated to the division of labour

* — living automatons ... employed in the details of the work”,* while the “employer will be always on the stretch to economize time and labour” * (p. 318).

Dugald Stewart cites maxims from classical antiquity relating to the division of labour within society.

Cuncta nihilque sumus.” “In omnibus aliquid, in toto nihil.
[We are everything and nothing. We can do something of everything, but nothing as a whole]
"poll hpistato erga, kakws d’ hpistato panta.”
[He knew many crafts, but he knew all of them badly] [198]

(this from the Margites, cited in the Second Alcibiades, one of the spurious dialogues of Plato).

Thus, in the Odyssey, XIV, 228:

allos gar t alloisin anhr epiterpetai ergois”,
[For different men take joy in different works]

and the statement by Archilochus, quoted in Sextus Empiricus

allos allj ep ergj kardihn iainetai”.
[Men differ as to what things cheer their hearts]

Thucydides makes Pericles contrast the agriculturalists of Sparta, where consumption was not mediated through the exchange of commodities, hence no division of labour took place either, with the Athenians, describing the Spartans as “autourgoi[working for themselves] (working not for gain but for subsistence).

This is what Pericles says about nautical matters in the same speech (Thucydides, Book I, Chapter 142):

“Seamanship, like any other skill, is a matter of art, and practice in it may not be left to odd times, as a sideline; on the contrary, no other pursuit may be carried on as a subsidiary occupation” [199]

We shall come to Plato directly, although he actually belongs before Xenophon. The latter, who possesses a considerable amount of bourgeois instinct, and is therefore often reminiscent of both bourgeois morality and bourgeois political economy, looks more closely than Plato at the division of labour, in so far as it takes place in the individual workshop as well as on a broad scale. The following account by Xenophon is interesting, 1) because he shows the dependence of the division of labour upon the size of the market; and 2) because in contrast to Plato he does not confine himself to the division of occupations, but rather stresses the reduction of labour to simple labour brought about by the division of labour, and the skill which can more easily be attained under that system. Although as a result he is much closer to the modern conception, he still retains the attitude which is characteristic of the ancients: he is concerned only with use value, with the improvement of quality. He is not interested in the curtailment of labour time any more than is Plato, even in the one passage where, exceptionally and in passing, the latter indicates that more use values are provided. Even here it is only a matter of an increased quantity of use values; not of the effect of the division of labour on the product as commodity.

Xenophon relates that it is not only an honour to receive food from the table of the King of Persia, but a joy as well (because the food tastes better).

“But the food that is sent from the king’s board really is much superior in the pleasure it gives to the palate as well. That this should be so, however, is no marvel. For just as all other arts are developed to superior excellence in large cities, in the same way the food at the king’s palace is also elaborately prepared with superior excellence. For in small towns the same workman makes dining couches and doors and ploughs and tables and often this same artisan builds houses, and even so he is thankful if he can only find [IV-161] enough employers to allow him to make a living. And it is of course impossible for a man of so many trades to be proficient in all of them. In large cities, on the other hand, where every workman finds many customers, one trade alone, and often even less than a whole trade, is enough to support a man: one man, for instance, makes shoes for men, another. for women. It happens that one man earns a living by only stitching shoes, another by cutting them out, another by cutting the uppers to shape, while there is another who performs none of these operations but only assembles the parts. It follows therefore that he who performs the simplest Work must needs to the thing best (he is compelled to provide the best work). Exactly the same thing holds true with the art of cooking. He for whom one and the same man arranges the dining couches, lays the table, bakes the bread, prepares now one sort of dish and now another, he must take things as they come. But where it is all one man can do to stew meats and another to roast them, for one man to boil fish and another to bake them, for another to bake bread, and not every sort at that, but where it suffices if he makes one kind that has a high reputation — everything that is prepared in this manner will, 1 think, necessarily be worked out with superior excellence. Thus Cyrus by far exceeded everyone when, as a sign of attention, he sent someone food prepared in this way.” (With this kind of preparation, the food at Cyrus’ table surpassed all others in its excellence.) (Xenophon, Cyropoedia, ed. E. Poppo, Lipsiae, 1821, Book VIII, Ch. Il.) 199

Plato’s discussion in the Republic forms the direct basis and point of departure for a group of English writers who wrote about the division of labour after Petty and before Adam Smith. See e.g. James Harris (later Earl of Malmesbury), the 3rd Treatise of Three Treatises etc., 3rd ed., London, 1772, in which however he presents the Division of Employments as the Natural foundation of society (pp. 148-55). He himself says in a footnote that he drew the whole argument from Plato.

In the 2nd book of the Republic, which we cite from the edition by Bailer, Orelli etc., Zurich, 1839, Plato starts with the origin of the polis; (city and state coincide here).

“The polis ... comes into existence ... once each of us is no longer self-sufficient, but has need of many.” [IV-162] “It” [the polis] “is founded b). our needs.” [199]

Now the most immediate requirements are enumerated: food, a dwelling-place, clothing:

“The first and most important requirement is the procurement of food in order to be able to exist and live.... The second is the construction of a dwelling-place, the third the making of clothes and the like.”

How should the polis satisfy these different needs? One man becomes a farmer, another a house-builder, others become weavers, cobblers, etc. Should each of them divide his labour time, cultivating the land in one part of it, building in the second, weaving in the third, etc., in order to satisfy his different requirements himself, or should he devote the whole of his labour time exclusively to one single occupation, so that he, e.g., produces corn, weaves, etc., not only for himself but also for the others? The second plan is better. For, in the first place, people differ in their natural aptitudes, which means that their capacity to perform different kinds of work differs. //To the range of different needs there corresponds a range of different aptitudes, enabling the individuals to perform the different kinds of work necessary for the satisfaction of those needs.// Someone practising one single skilled craft will perform his task better than one who exercises many skills. If something is carried on merely as a subsidiary occupation, the appropriate time for production will often be allowed to slip by. The work cannot wait for the leisure of the person who has to perform it; rather must the person doing the work be guided by the conditions of his production, etc. Therefore he should not do it as a sideline. Hence if one person exclusively does one particular kind of work (in accordance with the nature of the thing, and at the right time) and does not concern himself with other work, everything will be produced in greater quantity, better, and more easily.

The main emphasis lies on the better: the quality. The word pleiw [more] only occurs in the passage we are about to quote; otherwise it is always kallion [better],

How will our polis be able to supply all these demands? Will one man have to be a farmer, another a builder, and a third a weaver?” etc .... .. Is each one of them to bring the product of his work into a common stock? Should our one farmer, for example, provide food enough for four people and spend the whole of his time and industry in producing corn, so as to share with the rest; or should he take no notice of them and grow just a quarter of this corn, for himself, in a quarter of the time, and divide the other three quarters between building his house, weaving his clothes, and making his shoes, so as to save the trouble of sharing with others and attend himself to all his own concerns, ... The first plan is easier, of course.... Firstly, no two people are born exactly alike. They have different aptitudes, which fit them for different occupations.... And will a man do better working at many trades, or keeping to one only? Keeping to one.... Also, work may be ruined, if you let the right time go by.... For the workman must wait upon the work; it will not wait upon his leisure and allow itself to be done in a spare moment — Yes, he must. — So the conclusion is that more will be produced of every thing and the work will be more easily and better done, when every man is set free from all other occupations to do, at the right time, the one thing for which he is naturally fitted.”

Plato goes on to show how a further division [IV-163] of labour or the setting up of different branches of business becomes necessary. E.g.

“if the farmer is to have a good plough and hoe and other farming tools, he will not make them himself. Nor will the house-builder, or the weaver” etc. “Now how does the individual gain a share in the excess product of the other producers, and how do the others participate in the excess of the first individual’s product? Through exchange, through selling and buying.” [199]

Plato then examines different kinds of trade and therefore different kinds of trader. Wage labourers are also mentioned, as a particular kind of human being owing their existence to the division of labour.

“There are also the services of yet another class, who have the physical strength for heavy work, though on intellectual grounds they are hardly worth including in our society — wage labourers, as we call them, because they sell the use of their strength for wages.”

After he has indicated a large number of different occupations made necessary by the further refinement of city life, etc., he comes to the separation of the craft of war from other crafts, and therefore to the formation of a special warrior estate.

“We agreed ... that no one man can practise many trades satisfactorily .... . Well, how do things stand now? Is not the conduct of war an art?... — But we would not allow our shoemaker to try to be also a farmer or weaver or builder, because we wanted our shoes well made. We gave each man one trade, for which he was naturally fitted; he would do good work, if he confined himself to that all his life, free from other occupations and never letting the right moment slip by. Now in no form of work is efficiency so important as in war.... So it is our business ... to select those men who are by nature fitted to be guardians of the polis” (l.c., pp. 439-41 passim).

Different activities are required to satisfy the different needs there are in a community; different gifts enable people of different natures to perform one activity better than another. Hence the division of labour and the different social estates corresponding to it. What Plato always emphasises as the main point of the system is that it allows each piece of work to be done better. Quality, use value, is for him, as for all other writers of antiquity, the decisive point, and the exclusive way of looking at things. For the rest, the basis of his whole conception is an Athenian idealisation of the Egyptian caste system.

The writers of antiquity in general ascribed the remarkable level of industrial development attained by the Egyptians to their hereditary division of labour and the caste system which was based on it.

“In Egypt ... the arts, too, have ... reached the requisite degree of perfection. For it is the only country where craftsmen may not in any way interfere in the affairs of other classes of citizens, but must follow that calling alone which by law is hereditary in their clan.... Among other peoples it is found that tradesmen divided their attention between too many objects.... At one time they try agriculture, at another they take to commerce, at another again they busy themselves with 2 or 3 occupations at once. In free countries they mostly frequent the popular assemblies.... In Egypt, on the contrary, a craftsman is severely punished if he meddles with affairs of state, or carries on several trades at once. Thus,” says Diodorus, “there is nothing to disturb their application to their calling.... In addition to having inherited from their forefathers ... numerous rules of their trade, they are [IV-164] eager to discover still more advantageous ways of practising it” (Diodorus, Historische Bibliothek b. I, ch. 74).

With Plato the division of labour is presented as the economic foundation of a community in which each member is dependent on the others, and does not satisfy the whole range of his needs himself, independently, without any connection with other people. The division of labour within the community develops out of the many-sidedness of needs and the one-sidedness of aptitudes, which differ with different people, who therefore perform more successfully in one occupation than in another. The main point for him is that if one person makes a craft into his exclusive vocation, he does it better, and adapts his activity completely to the requirements, the conditions, of the work he has to perform, whereas if he engages in it as a sideline, the work has to wait for the opportunities left to him by his involvement in other matters. This point of view, that the teknh [skill] cannot be carried on as a parergon, subsidiary occupation, also appears in the passage from Thucydides, cited earlier.

Xenophon goes further, in that he firstly emphasises the reduction of labour to the simplest possible activity, and secondly makes the degree to which the division of labour can be implemented dependent on the extension of the market.

For comparison.

Blanqui distinguishes, in the passage we referred to earlier, between the “regulated and in some degree forced labour of workers under the system of large-scale manufacture — and the industries of the countryside, carried on as handicrafts or as subsidiary domestic work.

“The disadvantage of manufacture ... is that it subjugates the worker, placing him ... and his family, at the discretion of the work.... Compare, for example, the industry of Rouen or Mulhouse with that of Lyons or Nîmes. Both have as their aim the spinning and weaving of two yarns: one of cotton, the other of silk; and yet they do not resemble each other at all. The former only takes place in giant establishments, with much expenditure of capital ... and with the aid of veritable armies of workers, confined in their hundreds, nay their thousands, in gigantic barrack-like factories, as high as towers, and studded with windows resembling loopholes. The latter, in contrast, is entirely patriarchal; it employs a large number of women and children, but without exhausting or ruining them; it allows them to stay in their beautiful valleys of the Drôme, the Var, the Isère, the Vaucluse, cultivating their silkworms and unwinding their cocoons; it never becomes a true factory industry. However, although. it is applied to as high a degree in this industry as in the first one, the principle of the division of labour takes on a special character here. There do indeed exist winders, throwsters, dyers, sizers, and finally weavers; but they are not assembled in the same workshop, nor are they dependent on a single master; they are all independent. Their capital, which is made up of their tools, their looms, and their braziers, is not large, but it is sufficient to put them on a certain footing of equality with their employer. Here there are no factory regulations, no conditions to submit to; everyone makes his own stipulations, in complete freedom” (A. Blanqui ainé, Cours d'économie industrielle, ed. etc. by A. Blaise, Paris, 1838-39, pp. 44-80 passim).

On the basis of modern industry an out of doors factory system is growing up once again which shares all the disadvantages of the original system without enjoying any of its advantages. But this does not belong here, and will be dealt with later.[200]

[IV-165] “Everyone knows from experience that if the hands and the intelligence are always applied to the same kind of work and the same products, these will be produced more easily, in greater abundance, and in higher quality, than if each individual makes for himself all the things he needs.... In this way, men are divided up into various classes and conditions, to their own advantage and to that of the commodity” (Cesare Beccaria, Elementi di economia pubblica, Custodi, Parte Moderna, Vol. XI, [p.] 28).

“For in so vast a city” (as London) “manufactures will beget one another, and each manufacture will be divided into as many parts as possible, whereby the work of each worker will be simple and easy. As for example in the making of a watch: if one man shall make the wheels, another the spring, another shall engrave the dialplate, and another shall make the cases, then the watch will be better and cheaper, than if the whole work be put upon one man” (W. Petty, An Essay Concerning the Multiplication of Mankind etc., 3rd ed., [London,] 1698, [p. 35]).

He then goes on to explain how the division of labour brings it about that specific manufactures are concentrated in specific towns, or streets of great towns.

Here “the commodity peculiar to those places is made better and cheaper than elsewhere” (l.c.).

Lastly he goes into the commercial advantages, such as the saving on unnecessary incidental expenses, like carriage charges, etc., whereby in consequence of this distribution of interrelated manufactures in one place the prices of their products are reduced and the profit from foreign trade is increased (l.c., [p.] 36).

What from the outset distinguishes Petty’s conception of the division of labour from that of classical antiquity is his grasp of its influence on the exchange value of the product, on the product as commodity — its cheapening.

The same point of view is put forward, but expressed more emphatically, as the curtailment of the labour time necessary for the production of a commodity, in The Advantages of the East-India Trade to England Considered etc., London, 1720. [201]

What is important is to make each commodity with “The least and easiest labour”. If a thing is made with “less labour”, it is made “consequently with labour of less price”. Thus the commodity is cheapened, and then competition will make it a universal law to reduce labour time to the minimum necessary for its production.

* “If my neighbour, by doing much with little labour, can sell cheap, I must contrive to sell as cheap as he"* [p. 67].

He lays particular stress on the following aspect of the division of labour:

* “The more variety of artists to every manufacture, the less is left to the skill of single persons” * [p. 68].

Later writers such as Harris (see above b) merely develop Plato’s arguments. Then Ferguson. What distinguishes Adam Smith — who in some respects lags behind his predecessors — is that he employs the phrase “ increase of the productive powers of labour”. Adam Smith’s conceptions still remain located in the epoch of large-scale industry’s infancy. How much this is the case is shown by his view of machinery as merely the corollary to the division of labour; with him, the workers still make mechanical inventions in order to case and shorten their labour.

Division of labour through simplification facilitates learning a trade; therefore lessens the overall production costs of labour capacity.

[IV-166] The workshop, which is based on the division of labour, always involves a certain hierarchy of skills, since some operations are more complex than others, some require more physical strength, some a more delicate touch or greater dexterity. In the workshop, as Ure says,

“a workman is assigned to each operation, his wage corresponding to his skill.... It is still the adaptation of the labours to the different individual capacities ... the division of labour in manifold gradations ... the division of labour according to different degrees of skill”.

The dexterity of the individual continues to be important.

It is in fact an analysis of the process into operations which can each be performed by an individual worker; each operation is separated from the one that accompanies it, but the fundamental principle remains that of viewing it as a function of the worker, so that in analysis it is distributed among different workers and groups of workers according to their level of skill, physical development, etc. The process is not yet analysed as such, independently of the worker who performs it, whereas in the automatic factory, the system

“decomposes a process into its basic constituents, and embodies each part in the operation of an automatic machine”, whereupon one can ,entrust a person of ordinary capacity with any of the said elementary parts after a short probation” [p. 32].

“The master manufacturer, by dividing the work to be executed into different operations, each requiring different degrees of skill or of force, can purchase exactly that precise quantity of both which is necessary for each operation; whereas, if the whole work were executed by one worker, that person must possess sufficient skill to perform the most delicate, and sufficient strength to execute the most laborious, of the operations” (Ch. Babbage, On the Economy of Machinery etc., London, 1832, Ch. XIX).

“When — according to the particular nature of the products of each kind of manufacture — the most advantageous method of dividing the manufacturing process into partial operations and the number of workers to be employed in them have been ascertained by experience, then all factories the number of whose workers is not a direct multiple of that number will produce with less economy(Babbage, l.c., Ch. XXII).

If e.g. 10 workers are needed for various operations, the number of persons employed must be a multiple of 10.

“If that is not the case, the workers cannot each of them constantly be used to perform the same operation in the manufacturing process.... That is one cause of the colossal size of industrial establishments” (l.c.).

Here, as with simple cooperation, we again have the principle of multiples. But now in proportions that are determined in their proportionality by the division of labour itself. In general, it is clear that the larger the scale on which the work is done, the further the division of labour can be carried. In the first place, the correct multiple can be applied in that way. Secondly, the extent to which the operations are subdivided and to which the whole of an individual worker’s time can be absorbed by one operation naturally depends on the magnitude of the scale.

If, therefore, the division of labour requires a greater capital, because more raw material is worked up over the same period of time, whether it is implemented at all depends on the scale on which the work is done, hence on the number of workers who can be simultaneously employed. A greater capital — i.e. its concentration in one hand — is necessary for the development of the division of labour, which in turn uses the productive power attained thereby [IV-167] to work up a greater amount of material, thus increasing the size of this component of capital.

“He who was reduced to doing a very simple operation in a manufactory entered into dependence upon the man who wished to employ him. He no longer produced a complete piece of work, but only part of one, and to do this he had as much need for the assistance of the labour of others as he did for raw materials, machinery, etc .... He was always in a subordinate position over against the head of the workshop ... he confined his demands to what was strictly necessary to make possible the continuation of the labour he offered, while the head of the workshop alone profited from the whole of the increase of the powers of production which was brought about by the division of labour” (Sismondi, Nouveaux principes etc., Vol. 1, pp. 91-92).

* “Division of labour shortens the period required for learning an operation"* (F. Wayland, The Elements of Political Economy, Boston, 1843, p. 76).

*In establishing a manufactory, it is important so to adjust the number and kind of workmen, that, when the different operations of a process have been assigned to different persons, these persons may be in such proportions as exactly and fully to employ each other. The more perfectly this is accomplished, the greater will be the economy and, this having been once ascertained, it is also evident that the establishment cannot be successfully enlarged, unless it employ multiples of this number of workmen* (l.c., p. 83).

At the end of his section on the division of labour Adam Smith once again slips back into the assumption that the various workers among whom the labour is divided are the owners and producers of commodities (we shall see that he abandons this illusion later).

“Every workman has a great quantity of his own work to dispose of beyond what he himself has occasion for; and every other workman being exactly in the same situation, he is enabled to exchange a great quantity of goods of his own production for a great quantity, or, what comes to the same thing, for the price of a great quantity of theirs” [Garnier, pp. 24-25] [Vol.. I, p. 26].

The transmission of skill from generation to generation is always important. This aspect is decisive in the case of the caste system, as later with guilds.

*"Easy labour is only transmitted skill"* (Th. Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy, London, [Edinburgh,] 1827, p. 48).

“For dividing labour, and distributing the powers of men and machinery, to the greatest advantage, it is in most cases necessary to operate upon a large scale; in other words, to produce wealth in great masses. It is this advantage which gives existence to the great manufactories — (J. Mill, Elémens d'économie politique. Traduit par J. T. Parisot, Paris, 1823 [p. 11]).

The division of labour — or rather the workshop based on the division of labour — merely increases the surplus value received by the capitalist (at least this is its only direct effect, and the direct effect is the only thing we are concerned with here). Or, in other words, this increase in the productive power of labour only stands the test as a productive force of capital in so far as it is applied to use values which are consumed by the workers, hence curtails the labour time necessary for the reproduction of labour capacity. From precisely this circumstance, that the division of labour on a large scale is chiefly applied just to object of common use, Parson Wayland draws the opposite conclusion, that it is the poor, and not the rich, who benefit from its advantages. The parson is in one sense correct, with regard to the middling class. But here we are not concerned at all with the non-conceptual relation between poor [IV-168] and rich, but with the relation of wage labour and capital. The passage from the parson runs as follows:

*"The greater the cost of the product, the smaller will be the number of persons who are able to purchase it. Hence, the less will be the demand; and hence, also, the less opportunity will there be for division of labour. And, besides, the greater the cost of the article, the greater amount of capital is required in order to produce it by division of labour.... Hence it is, that division of labour is but sparingly used in the manufacture of rich jewellery, and in articles of expensive luxury; while it is so universally used in the production of all articles of common use. Hence we see, that the benefits of the use of natural agents and of division of labour, are vastly greater and more important to the middling and lower classes than to the rich. These means of increased production, reduce the cost of the necessaries and of the essential conveniences of life to the lowest rate, and, of course, bring them, as far as possible, within the reach of all” * (F. Wayland, The Elements of Political Economy, Boston, 1843, [pp.] 86-87).

In addition to an increase in the amount of capital, the division of labour requires for its application, as a basic prerequisite, the cooperation, agglomeration, of workers, which will in any case only occur where the population has reached a certain density. // It is required at the same time that the population should be taken from its scattered dwellings in the countryside and collected together in the centres of production. On this see Steuart.[156] This to be discussed in more detail in the section on accumulation. [150]//

* “There is a certain density of population which is convenient, both for social intercourse, and for that combination of powers by which the produce of labour is increased” * (James Mill, Elements of Political Economy, London, 1821, [p.] 50).

The development of the division of labour leads to the disappearance of every individual product of labour — although such a product is still entirely possible when the subsumption of labour under capital is purely formal. The finished commodity is the product of the workshop, which is itself a mode of existence of capital. The fact that the exchange value of labour itself — labour, not its product — becomes the only thing the worker is able to sell, is due not only to the nature of the contract between capital and labour but also to the mode of production itself. Labour becomes in fact the worker’s sole commodity, and the commodity altogether becomes the general category under which production is subsumed. Our starting-point was the commodity as the most general category of bourgeois production. It first becomes a general category of this kind through the transformation which the mode of production has itself been subjected to by capital.[60]

* “There is no longer any thing which we can call the natural reward of individual labour. Each labourer produces only some part of a whole, and each part, having no value or utility of itself, there is nothing on which the labourer can seize, and say: it is my product, this I will keep for myself"* ([Th. Hodgskin,] Labour defended against the claims of Capital etc., London, 1825, p. 25).

“The progress of wealth has brought about the division of conditions and that of trades; what is exchanged is no longer each person’s superfluous product but subsistence itself... In this new situation, the life of each man who works and produces depends not on the completion and success of his labour, but on its sale” (Sismondi, Etudes, Vol. 1, p. 82).

*The greater productiveness of human industry, and the diminished price of the necessaries of life, conspire to swell productive capital in modern times * (S. P. Newman, Elements of Political Economy, Andover and New York, 1835, [pp. 88-] 89).

In so far as in the division of labour one aspect of the worker’s natural individuality, as a natural basis, is further developed, it is put in place of his overall capacity for production and trained up to a specific skill, which can only prove itself useful by being exercised in the context of the workshop as a whole; exercised as a particular function of the workshop.

[IV-169] Storch, like Adam Smith, conflates the two types of division of labour, except that with him one type appears as the most extreme development of the other; one appears as the point of departure for the other, which is a step forward.

“The division of labour proceeds from the separation of the most widely different professions to the point where several workers divide between them the preparation of one and the same product, as in manufacture” (This should read not product but commodity. Different people work on the same product in the other division of labour too.) (H. Storch, Cours d'économie politique, avec des notes etc. par J.-B. Say, Paris, 1823, Vol. 1, p. 173).

“It is not sufficient that the capital required for the subdivision of trades should be in readiness in society; it must also be accumulated in the hands of the entrepreneurs in sufficiently large quantities to enable them to work on a large scale.... The more the division of trades increases the greater an outlay of capital in tools, raw material, etc., is required for the constant employment of a given number of workers. Increase of the number of workers with the division of labour. Increased amount of capital in buildings and means of subsistence” (Storch, 1. c., pp. 250, 251).

* “Labour is united ... whenever employments are divided.... The greatest division of labour takes place amongst those exceedingly barbarous savages who never help each other, who work separately from each other; and division of employment, with all its great results, depends altogether on combination of labour, cooperation"* (Wakefield, note to his edition of A. Smith, Wealth of Nations, London, 1835, Vol. 1, p. 24).

This distinction between the separation of employments and the division of labour” is Wakefield’s hobbyhorse. What he vaguely feels is precisely the distinction, not emphasised by Adam Smith, between the division of labour within society and that within the workshop. Adam Smith has the employments cooperate with one another by means of exchange, and not only knows — which is a matter of course — but says expressly that the division of labour within the individual manufactory automatically implies its combination. What is a real step forward in Wakefield — and we shall come to this later — is his feeling that the latter division of labour, based on free bourgeois labour, is a form peculiar to the capitalist mode of production and therefore only occurring under definite social conditions.[67]

Adam Smith makes exchange the foundation of the division of labour, whereas it is (but does not have to be) the opposite, its result. Hodgskin remarks correctly that a division of employments, hence of social labour, takes place in all countries and under all political institutions. It exists originally in the family, where it emerges spontaneously from physiological differences, differences of sex and age. Variations in individual organisation, in physical and mental capacities, form a fresh source for the division of employments. But then, owing to the diversity of natural conditions, differences in the soil, in the distribution of water and land, mountain and plain, climate, situation, the presence of minerals in the earth and peculiarities of its own spontaneous creations, there is added the difference in the naturally available instruments of labour, which divides the employments of different tribes, and it is in the exchange between them that we have, in general, to look for the original transformation of product into commodity [195] (see Th. Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy etc., London, 1827, Chs IV, V and VI). Where the population is stagnant, as in [IV-170] Asia, the division of labour is stagnant too.

* “Improved methods of conveyance, like railroads, steam vessels, canals, all means of facilitating intercourse between distant countries act upon the division of labour in the same way as an actual increase in the number of people; they bring more labourers into communication etc.” [p. 119].

Population and the progress of the same is the chief basis for the division of labour.

* “As the number of labourers increases, the productive power of society augments in the compound ratio of that increase, multiplied by the effects of the division of labour and the increase of knowledge"* (l.c., p. 120).

“It is by means of an additional capital only, that the undertaker of any work can ... make a more proper division of labour among his workmen. When the work to be done consists of a number of parts, to keep every man constantly employed in one way, requires a much greater capital than where every man is occasionally employed in every different part of the work” (A. Smith, [Garnier,] Book II, Ch. III [pp. 338-39]) [Vol. II, pp. 115-16].

“The productive powers of the same number of labourers cannot be increased, but in consequence either of some addition and improvement to those machines and instruments which facilitate and abridge labour; or of a more proper division and distribution of labour” (1. c.).

“The owner of capital which employs a great number of labourers, necessarily endeavours, for his own advantage, to make such a proper division and distribution of tasks, that the labourers may be enabled to produce the greatest quantity of work possible. For the same reason, he endeavours to supply them with the best machinery which either he or they can think of. What takes place among the labourers in a particular workhouse, takes place, for the same reason, among those of a great society. The greater their number, the more they naturally divide themselves into different classes and subdivisions of employment. More heads are occupied in inventing the most proper machinery for executing the work of each, and, it is, therefore, more likely to be invented” (A. Smith, [Garnier,] Book I, Ch. VIII [pp. 177-78]) [Vol. I, pp. 145-46].

In the beginning of the present century Lemontev (Oeuvres complètes, Vol. I, Paris, 1840, pp. 245 sq.) wittily reworked Ferguson’s discussion of the subject (“Sur l'influence morale de la division du travail”).[202]

“Society as a whole has this in common with the interior of a workshop, that it too has its division of labour. If one took as a model the division of labour in a modern workshop, in order to apply it to a whole society, the society best organised for the production of wealth would undoubtedly be that which had a single chief employer, distributing tasks to the different members of the community according to a previously fixed rule. But this is by no means the case. While inside the modern workshop the division of labour is meticulously regulated by the authority of the employer, modern society has no other rule, no other authority for the distribution of labour than free [IV-171] competition” (Misère de la philosophie, Paris, 1847, p. 130).

“Under the patriarchal system, under the caste system, under the feudal and guild system, there was division of labour in the whole of society according to fixed rules.... As for the division of labour in the workshop, it was very little developed in all these forms of society. It can even be laid down as a general rule that the less authority presides over the division of labour inside society, the more the division of labour develops inside the workshop, and the more it is subjected there to the authority of a single person. Thus authority in the workshop and authority in society, in relation to the division of labour, are in inverse ratio to each other” (l.c., pp. 130, 131).

“The accumulation and concentration of instruments and workers preceded the development of the division of labour inside the workshop.... The development of the division of labour supposes the assemblage of workers in a workshop.... Once the men and the instruments had been brought together, the division of labour, such as it had existed in the form of the guilds, was reproduced, necessarily reflected inside the workshop” (l.c., [pp.] 132, 133).

“The concentration of the instruments of production and the division of labour are as inseparable one from the other as are, in the political sphere, the concentration of public powers and the division of private interests” (l.c., p. 134).

The prerequisites for adopting the division of labour are therefore:

1) Conglomeration of workers, for which a certain density of population is necessary. Means of communication can replace density to a certain degree. Depopulation of the country (see the 18th century). In a thinly populated country this conglomeration could only take place at a few points. However, conglomeration is also brought about if agriculture only requires a sparse population, and the mass of the population, separated from the land, can therefore conglomerate around the available means of production, the centres of capital. Relative concentration on the one side can be brought forth by relative rarefaction on the other, even with a given population, the existence of which originally remains rooted in the non-capitalist mode of production.

What is needed first, therefore, is not an increase in the population, but an increase in the purely industrial population, or a different distribution of the population. The first condition for this is that the population directly employed in the production of the means of subsistence, in agriculture, be diminished, that people be separated from the land, from mother earth, and that they be thereby set free (free hands, as Steuart says 156), mobilised. The separation from agriculture of the kinds of work bound up with it, and the — progressive — limitation of agriculture to fewer hands, is the main condition for the division of labour and for manufacture in general, if it is to emerge not in individual cases, at isolated points, but playing a predominant role. //All this belongs to accumulation.//[150] The same population, distributed differently, does not need a greater supply of the means. of life, but only a different apportionment, distribution, of them. The capitalist who applies the division of labour, hence employs a greater number of workers agglomerated at one point, pays larger amounts in wages than the master craftsman, requires more variable capital, which is ultimately reduced to means of subsistence; but for this it is necessary that the same wage that was previously paid to the workers by 100 people [IV-172] should now be paid by one. All we have here, then, is a greater concentration of variable capital in fewer hands, and the same thing goes for the means of subsistence for which these wages are exchanged. What is required here is not an increase in this part of capital but only its concentration; just as we have, not a bigger population, but a greater agglomeration of the population under the command of one and the same capital.

2) Concentration of the instruments of labour.

The division of labour leads to a differentiation and accordingly a simplification of the instruments which serve as means of labour; and therefore to their improvement. But under the division of labour the means of labour remains an implement of labour, an instrument which can only be employed thanks to the personal dexterity of the individual worker. It is the conductor of his own skill; in reality it is an artificial organ added on to his natural organs. The same number of workers requires a greater variety of instruments, not more of them. In so far as the workshop is a conglomeration of workers it also presupposes an agglomeration of instruments. And in any case this part of constant capital grows only in the same proportion as does the variable capital, which is laid out in wages, or the number of workers employed simultaneously by the same capital.

The other conditions of labour, particularly accommodation, factory buildings, can be regarded as a new addition to constant capital, since in the days before manufacture the workshop did not yet exist separately from the private house.

With this exception, a greater concentration takes place of the part of capital which consists of the means of labour; not necessarily a growth in capital and by no means a relative growth in capital as compared with the component laid out in wages.

3) Increase in raw material. The part of capital laid out in raw material grows absolutely against the part laid out in wages, since the same quantity of raw material absorbs a smaller quantity of labour time, or the same quantity of labour time realises itself in a greater quantity of raw material. Nevertheless, this can also have occurred originally, without an absolute increase in the raw material in a country. The same amount of raw material available in a country may absorb less labour, i.e. a smaller number of workers over the whole country may be employed in working it up, in transforming it into new product, although this number of workers is now concentrated in larger groups at various points under the command of individual capitalists, instead of being scattered over a wide area, as previously.

In absolute terms, therefore, nothing is required for manufacture, i.e. for the workshop based on the division of labour, but a change in the distribution of the different constituents of capital, concentration instead of dispersal. As long as they are dispersed, these conditions of labour do not yet exist as capital, although they do exist as the material constituents of capital, in the same way as the working part of the population exists, although not yet in the quality of wage labourers or proletarians.

Manufacture (as distinguished from the mechanical workshop or the factory) is the mode of production or form of industry which specifically corresponds to the division of labour. It emerges independently, as the most developed form of the capitalist mode of production, before the invention of machinery proper (although machines and particularly fixed capital are already being employed).

[IV-173] With Petty and the apologist for the East India Trade, cited earlier (with the moderns, therefore)a it is from the outset a characteristic feature of their discussion of the division of labour that the cheapening of the commodity — the diminution of the labour socially necessary for the production of a particular commodity — is the main aspect considered. With Petty this is mentioned in connection with foreign trade. With the East Indian it is presented directly as a means of underselling competitors on the world market, just as he presents world trade as itself a means for attaining the same result in less labour time.

In Book I, Chapter I, where he treats the division of labour ex professo, Adam Smith discusses at the end of the chapter the extraordinary multiplicity of the kinds of work , either derived from different countries or present in their many-sidedness in a single “civilised country”, i.e. a country where the product universally assumes the commodity form, which contribute to provide e.g. the furniture, the clothing, the tools of an ordinary day labourer.

“Observe,” begins this conclusion, “the accommodation of the most common artificer or day labourer in a civilised and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of. a great multitude of workmen” and so on [Garnier, p. 25] [Vol. I, p. 26].

And Adam Smith concludes his reflections with these words:

“Perhaps the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of some African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages” [Garnier, p. 28] [Vol. I, pp. 28-29].

The whole of this passage as well as this way of viewing the matter is copied from de Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, first published in 1705 as a poem, with the 2nd part, which consists of a series of six dialogues (prose), having been published in 1729. In 1714 he added the prose notes which make the bulk of the first volume of the work as we have it now. It says there, among other things:

* “If we trace the most flourishing nations in their origin, we shall find, that, in the remote beginnings of every society, the richest and most considerable men among them were a great while destitute of a great many comforts of life that are now enjoyed by the meanest and most humble wretches; so that many things which were once looked upon as the inventions of luxury are now allowed even to those that are so miserably poor as to become the objects of public charity.... A man would be laughed at that should discover luxury in the plain dress of a poor creature that walks along in a thick parish gown, and a coarse shirt underneath it; and yet what a number of people, how many different trades, and what a variety of skill and tools must be employed to have the most ordinary Yorkshire cloth?” * etc. (Remark P., Vol. I, pp. 181-83 of 1724 ed.).

“What a bustle is there to be made in several parts of the world before a fine scarlet or crimson cloth can be produced; what multiplicity of trades and artificers must be employed! Not only such as are obvious, as woolcombers, spinners, the weaver, the cloth-worker, the scourer, the dyer, the setter, the drawer, and the packer; but others that are more remote, and might seem foreign to it, — as the mill-wright, the pewterer, and the chemist, which yet all are necessary, as well as a great number of handicrafts, to have the [IV-174] tools, utensils, and other implements belonging to the trades already named.” * He then goes over the contribution to this of shipping, foreign countries, in a word the world market (Search into the Nature of Society (Appended to the Second Edition), pp. 411-13).

The content of all this enumeration is merely this: Once the commodity becomes the general form of the product, or production takes place on the basis of exchange value and therefore of the exchange of commodities, the production of each individual, first of all, becomes one-sided, whereas his needs are many-sided. Innumerable independent branches of labour must therefore contribute to satisfy the needs, even the simplest needs, of the individual. Secondly: The whole range of the objective conditions which are required for the production of a single commodity, such as the raw materials, instruments, matières instrumentales, enter into the production of that commodity as commodities, are conditioned by the sale and purchase of these elementary constituents of the commodity, which have been produced independently of each other. This takes place to the extent that the individual elements which are required for the production of a commodity exist as commodities outside it, hence originally enter into this individual branch of production as commodities from outside, through the agency of circulation. That is to say, this takes place the more the commodity becomes the general elementary form of wealth, i.e. the more production ceases to be for the individual the direct creation of his own means of subsistence, and becomes trade, as Steuart says, [203] with the commodity therefore ceasing to be the form of the part of the individual’s production which goes beyond the individual’s needs, i.e. the part which is superfluous and therefore saleable for the individual. Here the product as such is still the basis and production is for subsistence. Here the production of commodities still rests on the foundation of a production the main product of which does not become a commodity. It is not yet a situation where subsistence itself depends on sale; where the producer, unless he produces a commodity, produces nothing at all; where to be a commodity is therefore the general, elementary, necessary form of his product, which alone makes it into an element of bourgeois wealth W This distinction is strikingly demonstrated when one compares large-scale modern agriculture with the agriculture in which production for the individual’s own subsistence still forms the basis, and which itself creates most of the conditions for its production; so that these conditions do not enter it as quantities of commodities, through the agency of circulation.

In reality, therefore, the views expressed by de Mandeville and others mean nothing more than that the commodity is the general elementary form of bourgeois wealth; that what is decisive for the producer is no longer the use value of the product but its exchange value alone, the use value being only the vehicle of the exchange value for him; that he must in fact produce not merely a particular product, but money. This prerequisite, that the product is universally produced as a commodity, hence is mediated by the conditions of its own production as commodities, by circulation, into which they enter, implies an all-embracing division of social labour, or, in other words, the separation of the various mutually conditioning and complementing labours into independent branches of labour only brought into contact with each other through the circulation of commodities, through sale and purchase. Or, it is identical with this situation, since for products to confront each other generally as commodities presupposes a mutual confronting of the activities producing them [...] This way of viewing things is therefore historically important [...]

[V-179] [204] At this stage of the development of society it is more interesting to examine the contrast with the situation where the individual family itself directly satisfies almost all its needs, as we see in e.g. Dugald Stewart, l.c., p. 327[-28]:

* “In some parts of the Highlands of Scotland, not many years ago, every peasant, according to the Statistical Accounts, made his own shoes of leather tanned by himself. Many a shepherd and cottar too, with his wife and children, appeared at church in clothes which had been touched by no hands but their own, since they were shorn from their sheep and sown in their flaxfields. In the preparation of these, it is added, scarcely a single article had been purchased, except the awl, needle, thimble, and a very few parts of the iron work employed in the weaving. The dyes, too, were chiefly extracted by the women from trees, shrubs, and herbs"* (Lectures on Political Economy, Vol. 1, 1.c.). [V-179]

[V-175] In contrast to this, at a more advanced stage of the development of bourgeois society, of the kind that already faced Adam Smith, the simple reproduction of these Mandevillian, Harrisian, etc., reflections does not appear without an admixture of pedantic childishness; and in particular the churning out of such remarks by Smith has the effect that he fails to grasp the division of labour clearly and definitely as a specifically capitalist mode of production; while, on the other hand, the extraordinary importance he attaches to the division of labour in manufacture shows that in his time the modern factory system was only in its origins. Ure remarks on this, correctly:

“When Adam Smith wrote his immortal work on the elements of political economy, automatic machinery being hardly known, he was properly led to regard the division of labour as the grand principle of manufacturing improvement.... But what was in Dr. Smith’s time a topic of useful illustration, cannot now be used without risk of misleading the public as to the real principle of modern industry.... The scholastic dogma of the division of labour into degrees of skill has been exploited[205] by our enlightened manufacturers” (Andrew Ure, Philosophie des manufactures etc., Vol. I, Ch. 1) (first appeared in 1835).

This strikingly demonstrates that the division of labour dealt with here — and, in fact, by Adam Smith too — is not a general category common to most states of society, and the most varied ones, but a particular historical mode of production, corresponding to a particular historical stage of development of capital; indeed a mode of production which belonged, in the all-embracing and predominant form in which one sees it in Adam Smith, to the stage of development of capitalist production reached by his own epoch and since then already overcome and passed.

In the passage we have just cited, Ure says,

1) “He” (Adam Smith) — therefore concludes that to each of these operations a workman can naturally, be appropriated, with a wage corresponding to his skill. This appropriation forms the very essence of the division of labour.”

So we have firstly the appropriation of the worker to a particular operation, his subsumption under it. From now on he belongs to this operation, which becomes the exclusive function of his labour capacity now reduced to an abstraction.

Firstly, then, labour capacity is appropriated to this specific operation. Secondly, however, since the basis of the operation itself remains the human frame, it happens that this appropriation is at the same time, as Ure says,

“a distribution, or rather adaptation of labour to the different individual abilities”.

That is, the operations themselves are adapted in the course of division to the natural and acquired abilities of the workers. This is not a dissolution of a process into its mechanical components, [V-176] but a dissolution that takes into account the fact that these individual processes have to be performed as functions of human labour capacities.

In the volume of notes he added to his translation of Adam Smith, Germain Garnier, in Note 1 to Smith’s chapter on the division of labour, pronounced himself opposed to popular education. Garnier says it is contrary to the division of labour, and with it

“our whole social system would be proscribed” (l.c., Vol. V, p. 2).

Some of his comments are worth noting here.

“The labour which feeds, dresses and houses all the inhabitants of a country is a burden which lies on society as a whole, but which it necessarily transfers to one part of its members alone” (l.c., p. 2).

And the greater the industrial progress of society, the more do its material demands grow,

“and consequently the more labour will be employed in producing them, preparing them” (the means of subsistence in general) “and bringing them to the consumers. At the same time, however, and as a consequence of the same progress, the class of people released from this manual labour increases in size relatively to the other class. The latter, therefore, has at once more people to provide for and more abundant and elaborate provisions to furnish for each of them. Thus, the more society prospers, i.e. the more its industry, its commerce, its population grows, etc. ... the less time does the man destined to a mechanical trade have to spare. The richer society becomes, the more valuable” (this should rather be “the greater the value of”) “the time of the worker “Thus, the more society advances towards a state of splendour and power, the less time the working class will have to give to studying and to intellectual and speculative work” (pp. 2-4).

That is to say, the free time of society is based on the absorption of the worker’s time by compulsory labour 154 ; thus he loses room for intellectual development, for that is time.[153]

“From another angle, the less time the working class has to exploit the domain of knowledge, the more time remains for the other class. If the men of this latter class can devote themselves consistently and assiduously to philosophical observations or literary compositions, it is because they are free from all concern for the production, manufacture or transportation of the objects of their daily subsistence, and because other people have undertaken the burden of these mechanical operations for them. Like all other divisions of labour, that between mechanical and intellectual labour becomes more pronounced and more clear-cut in proportion as society advances towards a wealthier condition. This division, like every other, is an effect of past and a cause of future progress.... Ought the government then to work to counteract this division of [V-177] labour and hinder its natural course? Ought it to expend a part of the public money in the attempt to confound and blend together two classes of labour which are themselves striving towards separation?” (l.c., pp. 4, 5).

The amount of production grows when the efficiency of labour and at the same time the extent and intensity of labour time is increased, the number of workers remaining the same. On this presupposition, the further growth of production is conditioned by a growth or increase in the number of wage labourers facing capital. This number is in part directly increased by capital, when previously independent craftsmen, etc., are subjected to the capitalist mode of production and thereby converted into wage labourers; and similarly when the introduction of machinery, etc., effects the conversion of women and children into wage labourers. Thus the number of workers undergoes a relative increase even though the total population remains the same. But capital also produces an absolute increase in the number of people, above all of the working class. The population can only grow absolutely, leaving aside the operations we have just mentioned, if not only more children are born but more children grow up, can be nourished until they are old enough to work. The development of the productive forces under the régime of capital increases the quantity of means of subsistence annually produced and cheapens them to such an extent that the average wage can be calculated to allow the reproduction of the workers on a larger scale, even though the wage itself falls in value, represents a smaller quantity of materialised labour time. The wage level may even sink, if only the magnitude of the wage’s value does not fall in exactly the same proportion as the productive power of labour rises. On the other hand, the life-situation in which capital places the working class, its conglomeration, its deprivation of all the other pleasures of life, the utter impossibility of attaining a higher social standing and maintaining a certain decorum, the vacuity of their lives, the mixing of the sexes in the workshop, the isolation of the worker himself, all these things impel marriage at an early age. The curtailment and practically the abolition of the necessary period of apprenticeship, the early age at which children can themselves step forward as producers, the shortening therefore of the period during which they must be provided for, increases the stimulus to a more rapid production of human beings. If the average age of working-class generations declines, there is always available on the market a superfluous and constantly increasing mass of short-lived generations, and that is all capitalist production needs.

On the one hand, therefore, it can be said (see Colins, etc.) that a country is the richer, the more proletarians it has, and that the growth of wealth is displayed in the increase of poverty. On the other hand, there is a relative growth in the number of people not dependent on manual labour, and although the mass of workers grows, the population of the social strata they have to provide for materially through their labour grows in the same proportion. (Colins, Sismondi, etc.) The rising productivity of capital is directly expressed in the rising quantity of surplus labour appropriated by capital, or the rising amount of profit, which is an amount of value. Not only is this amount of value growing: the same magnitude of value is represented in an incomparably greater amount of use values. The revenue of society (we disregard wages), the part of the revenue which is not [V-178] re-converted back into capital, therefore grows, and thereby also the substance on which lives the stratum of society not directly involved in material production. This applies, in particular, to the part of society which concerns itself with the sciences; just as to the part concerned with the business of circulation (trade, the money business), and to the idlers, who only consume; as well as to the serving part of the population. This section of society amounts e.g. in England to 1 million people, more than all the workers directly employed in weaving and spinning in the factories. With the separation of bourgeois from feudal society this part of the population is very much reduced. At a more developed stage this voluntary serfdom (see Quesnay on servants[206]) undergoes an extraordinary increase along with luxury, wealth and the display of wealth. The working class has to feed, and to work for, this gang — who have become separated from the working class — since they themselves are not directly involved in material production. (The same goes for armies.) [V-178]

[V-179] [207] Although the number of workers grows absolutely, it declines relatively, not only in proportion to the constant capital which absorbs their labour, but also in proportion to the part of society not directly involved in material production or indeed engaged in no kind of production whatsoever.

* “In every stage of society, as increased numbers and better contrivances add to each man’s power of production, the number of those who labour is gradually diminished.... Property grows from the improvement of the means of production; its sole business is the encouragement of idleness. When each man’s labour is barely sufficient for his own subsistence, as there can be no property” //capital//, “there will be no idle men. When one man’s labour can maintain five, there will be four idle men for one employed in production: in no other way can the produce be consumed ... the object of society is to magnify the idle at the expense of the industrious, to create power out of plenty.... The industry which produces is the parent of property; that which aids consumption is its child.... It is the growth of property, this greater ability to maintain idle men, and unproductive industry, that in political economy is called capital” * (Piercy Ravenstone, M.A., Thoughts on the Funding System, and Its Effects, London, 1824, pp. 11-13).

“The less numerous the exploiting population, the less of a burden it is to those it exploits” (Colins, L'économie politique. Source des révolutions et des utopies prétendues socialistes, Vol. 1, Paris, 1856, [p.] 69).

“If one understands by social progress, in a harmful direction, the increase of poverty resulting from a rise in the numbers of the exploiting class and a fall in the numbers of the exploited class, then there has been, from the 15th to the 19th century, social progress, in a harmful direction” (l.c., [pp.] 70-71). [V-179]

[V-178] The separation of science from labour, in so far as it concerns labour itself — the separation of science from the industrial and agricultural workers to become, in its application, the industries and agriculture, is a subject which belongs to the section on machinery. [208]

(Otherwise all these reflections belong to the concluding chapter on capital and labour.[30])

The mediaeval master is a craftsman as well, and works himself. He is a master of his craft. With manufacture-based as it is on the division of labour — this comes to an end. Apart from the commercial business he conducts as a buyer and seller of commodities, the activity of the capitalist consists in applying all possible methods of exploiting labour, i.e. making it productive, to the maximum.

* “The class of capitalists are from the first partially, and then become ultimately completely discharged from the necessity of manual labour. Their interest is that the productive powers of the labourers they employ should be the greatest possible. On promoting that power their attention is fixed, and almost exclusively fixed. More thought is brought to bear on the best means of effecting all the purposes of human industry; knowledge extends, multiplies its fields of action, and assists industry"* (Richard Jones, Text-book of Lectures on the Political Economy of Nations, Hertford, 1852) (Lecture III).

* “The employer will be always on the stretch to economize time and labour” (Dugald Stewart, l.c., p. 318).

“These speculators, who are so economical of the labour of workers they would have to pay” (J. N. Bidaut, Du Monopole qui s'établit dans les arts industriels et le commerce, Paris, 1828, p. 13 ).

* “The numerical increase of labourers has been great, through the growing substitution of female for male, and above all childish for adult labour. Three girls at 13, at wages of 6 to 8 sh. a week, have” * (in a large number of cases) *"replaced the one man of mature age, at wages varying from 18 to 45 sh."* (Thomas [de] Quincey, The Logic of Political Economy, Edinburgh, 1844, [p.] 147, footnote).

“Economies in the cost of production can only be economies in the quantity of labour employed in production” (Sismondi, Etudes etc., Vol. 1, p. 22).

[V-180] Adam Smith remarks as follows on the growth of capital, which is a prerequisite of the division of labour, since the division of labour simultaneously increases the number of workers employed:

The quantity of materials which the same number of people can work up, increases in a great proportion as labour comes to be more and more subdivided; and as the operations of each workman are gradually reduced to a greater degree of simplicity, a variety of new machines come to he invented for facilitating and abridging these operations.”

(This is peculiar logic — because labour is reduced to an ever greater degree of simplicity, machines are invented to facilitate and abridge it. Hence because labour is facilitated and abridged by the division of labour! He ought to have said, the tools which when combined later give rise to the machine are simplified and subdivided.)

“As the division of labour advances, therefore, in order to give constant employment to an equal number of workmen, an equal stock of provisions, and a greater stock of materials and tools than what would have been necessary in a ruder state of things, must be accumulated beforehand. But the number of workmen in every branch of business generally increases with the division of labour in that branch, or rather it is the increase of their number which enables them to class and subdivide themselves in this manner” (A. Smith, [Garnier,] Vol. II, introduction to Book II, pp. 193-94) [Vol. II, pp. 2-3].

In the same place, Adam Smith presents the capitalist to us as always on the watch for ways of raising the productive power of labour. Here the accumulation of capital is a prerequisite for the division of labour and machinery (since this appears as a capitalist mode of production), and, inversely, accumulation is the result of this raising of the productive forces. We read in the same place:

“As the accumulation of stock is previously necessary for bringing about this great increase in the productive powers of labour, so that accumulation naturally leads to this increase. The person who employs his stock in maintaining labour, necessarily wishes to employ it in such a manner as to produce as great a quantity of work as possible. He endeavours, therefore, both to make among his workmen the most proper distribution of employment, and to furnish them with the best machines which he can either invent or afford to purchase. His abilities, in both these respects, are generally in proportion to the extent of his stock, or to the number of people whom it can employ. The quantity of industry, therefore, not only increases in every country with the increase of the stock which employs it, but, in consequence of that increase, the same quantity of industry produces a much greater quantity of work” ([Garnier,] pp. 194-95) [Vol. II, p. 3].

[V-181] * “Not beyond a fourth part of our whole population provides everything which is consumed by all” * (Th. Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy, London, [Edinburgh,] 1827, [p.] 14).

“The base and petty management, which follows him” (the day-labourer) “with wary eyes, overwhelms him with reproaches when he grants himself the slightest relaxation, and claims he is stealing from it when he allows himself an instant of rest” (S. N. Linguet, Théorie des loix civiles, Vol. II, London, 1767, p. 466).

In Book I, Chapter 1, where Adam Smith treats the division of labour ex professo, he only touches lightly on its (evil) consequences, but in Book V, in contrast, which deals with the revenue of the state, he follows Ferguson in speaking out directly on this subject. We read there Book V (Ch. I, Article II):

“In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. 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 developing or exercising these faculties, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his moral faculties ... the uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind .... It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expense of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilised society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall.... It is otherwise in the barbarous societies as they are commonly called, of hunters, of shepherds, and even of husbandmen in that rude state of husbandry which precedes the improvement of manufactures and the extension of foreign commerce. In such societies the varied occupations of every man oblige every man to exert his capacity by continual efforts, etc.... Though [V-182] in a rude society there is a good deal of variety in the occupations of every individual, there is not a great deal in those of the whole society.... In the civilised state, on the contrary, though there is little variety in the occupations of the greater part of individuals, there is an almost infinite variety in those of the whole society” [Garnier, pp. 181-84] [Vol. III, pp. 295-98].

Volume 30, MECW, p. 306