Small Element, Big Difference: A comparison of Adam Smith and Karl Marx's view on labor in a capitalist society.

1723 Words Feb 17th, 2005 7 Pages
Adam Smith and Karl Marx are both considered few of the most influential giants in social and economical history. When viewing their economical standpoints, it is not difficult to recognize the difference in ideas that they have regarding society. Adam Smith is an advocator for capitalism and the wealth that can be accumulated in it, while Karl Marx critiques on the flaws of capitalism and praises communism that will overthrow the capitalist society. However, both of them base their theories on the characteristic of labor. Even though Marx and Smith both point to the significance of one's labor in a capitalist society, Smith views labor as having the potential, in conjunction with the division of labor, to stimulate the public wealth and …show more content…
He claims that "The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the great part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is any where directed, or applied, see to have been the effects of the division of labour" Smith gives the example of a small pin factory with ten workings employed in it. He states that if the ten workers make pins by themselves, they would only product twenty pins or less per person each day. If the workers divide up the task and each specialize in one or two simple procedure, the factory can produce the equivalent of 4800 pins per person everyday. Further more, since it takes less labor to produce more, commodities will become more affordable. "The wages of labour would have augmented with every improvement in its productive powers, to which the division of labour gives occasion. All things would gradually have become cheaper. They would have been produced by a smaller quantity of labour." With the increase in productivity and decrease in price from the division of labor, society will accumulate enough wealth and welfare for everyone.

Despite the many benefits of the division of labor stated by Smith, Marx claims that the division of labor diminishes the laborers share in production and skill, leading to a lower standard of living for the working class. Marx believes that humans should not be limited to a