- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Stoller and the logic of the division of labour

Posted by: Darcy Carter ( UK ) on January 18, 19100 at 16:08:51:

You said that the fact that few people were involved in science or entertainment and were therefore statistically irrlevant meant that arguments related to these peolple were also irrlevant.

What is irrlevant is the number of people involved in "exceptional" activities. What is relevant is that, when you have admitted that there are some (exceptional) things only some people can do, then you have admitted that we are not all equal in every way. It therefore becomes a case of drawing a line in the sand, somewhere below "exceptional" occupations, that everyone does actually become able to perform on the same level. In logical terms, I would say that this is a problem.

You also ignored my points about the environment in which Smith was writing (ie- much more rigid social divisions than today and the ruling classes' need to dismiss the lower orders as almost sub-human in order to salve consciences at their evident misery) when responding to my last post. He may have been refuting the categorising of people at birth as lower, middle or upper (as every sane person would); that is a long way from saying all our attributes are entirely environmental. Explaining widely diverging personalities and abilities purely on the basis of environment is now more outlandish than ever given that the experiences of people are comparitively (compared to 1700s that is) similar due to mass media and compulsory educuation.

In the UK, we are forced into education until 16, and every person has the right to free, full time education until they are 18. I suspect the system is not vastly different in the US. The great majority of people who want to go to university (until 21) can do so based on merit, not recources. How long do you plan to force people to stay at school for? I'm all for access to education for all, but you can't seriously expect everyone to stay in education well into their 20s. Many peole would refuse (ie - the 60 % who currently show no wish to stay beyond 18). Opportunity is one thing, but to get the higher education take up figures much higher, you will be in the realms of compulsion. SOME PEOPLE DON'T LIKE SCHOOL OR STUDYING. Shocking, but there it is.

Finally, you said that if I was right "smart people wouldn't need to go to college". That's a very silly comment indeed. There is an enormous difference between ability and knowledge. A bright person will still need to study to become a doctor; he may have the ability to understand medicine but medical knowledge is obviously not inherited and will have to be acquired through college education. Similarly, an entirely ignorant person due to lack of education could be, naturally, very bright. There's no necessary connection though, of course, intelligent and itellectually curious people will tend to glean more from a given education.

I also expressly pointed out that we were not "determined" by our biology, but that modern genetic science is indicating ever more strongly that we are affected by it. Obviously, we make of out genetic inheritance what we will, and 2 "genetic twins" could of course become radically different adults due to their environment. The truth is though, nature and nurture each has an affect. We are not all the same and (elitist comment on its way - left wingers, brace you sensibilities) not all of us are very bright, or athletic, or artistic, or eloquent, or dextrous. I think we have all met people who have had every advantage in life and the best educuation money can buy, but are none the less "thick".

Social division of labour is needed, in horribly simple terms, to get the people who can do the difficult things best doing those things, and keepinh peole who can't do them from making a huge balls up of everything.

As for division of labour in manufacture, I didn't say contact with customers etc was skilled, but that this kind of interaction with other humans, common in the service industry, would prevent people becoming insensate morons to the degree that solitary manual labour would (if indeed this is the effect that it has). In any event, people who who work dull jobs are generally not morons.

Unless you are going to state that every McD's worker has degenerated to the point of loosing his sentience and humanity due to his work?

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