The Role Of Labor And Its Effects On A Capitalist System

Decent Essays

Two men, two novels separated by nearly a century, both examine the importance of labor and its effects on a capitalist system. Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776 in which he details his concept of the division of labor; a concept that he believed would further the productivity of the labor market. In Capital, Volume 1, published in 1867, Karl Marx took a much different stance on the division of labor. Writing nearly a century after the publication of Wealth of Nations, Marx was in the position of the critiquing Smith’s revolutionary theory of division of labor. Instead of praising Smith, Marx saw the current state of labor and the capitalist model of society as degrading to the laborer. Through analysis of these two novels, one can see that there exists two very polarizing views on the potential of the division of labor. For Smith, the division of labor presented an entirely novel, almost experimental way to improve the efficacy of the market. As such, Smith praised the potential of the division of labor. Marx, writing one hundred years later, witnessed the reality that was the division of labor. His perspective on how the division of labor was that the practice was in fact damaging to the society. One factor in particular that divided Smith and Marx on the premise of labor was technology. As the technology of their respective times was vastly different, as was their respective views of machinery. For one, technology only ameliorated the division of

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