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CHAPTER XV.

ORGANIZATION OF LABOR-CONTINUED.

171. Disadvantages of division of labor.-That form of the organization of labor which we have discussed under the name of "the division of labor," and which, as we have seen, has proved so powerful in its productive energies, has also its evils and disadvantages. These evils come chiefly from the reactions of the system upon the health, and mental and moral condition of the laborer. They belong therefore, properly, to Social Economy, except so far as they may affect the productiveness of labor.

The disadvantages of the system may be stated as follows: 1. The injury to the general strength and health of the laborer, resulting from his confinement to a single movement or set of movements, which must necessarily leave many muscles unused. Full health and vigor demand that all the powers of the body shall be exercised proportionately.

2. The performance of a single operation continuously tends to narrow the intelligence. The skill acquired is partial and one-sided, and soon becomes so nearly automatic as to make the man a machine. It thus sacrifices the man to his work. Whatever lessens the demand made upon the intelligence of any man, to that extent lessens the growth and lowers the destiny of the man.

3. It tends to destroy the interest of the laborer in his work. The single mechanic, working alone, sets before his mind the image of the article which he proposes to construct. Piece by

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piece he works out its separate parts, and brings them together, with a growing interest, as his work approaches completion; and at last, when he folds his arms and gazes upon the completed fabric, it is with a sweet consciousness of power—a joy of triumph-a feeling of pride in his work. But to the worker under a division of labor no such feeling comes. He shapes a single part of some fabric-a wheel, a bolt, a screw; or he cuts mortices, or makes tenons. He never completes an article and says to himself, this is my workmanship, the proof and product of my skill. If he works with a machine so much the worse. The man and the machine stand before each other all day long, like two parts of the same thing-the man, for the time, almost as much a machine as the thing of iron and wood which he tends. All the proper inspiration of labor is gone. The nobler motives for work are wanting. Men who have learned trades usually work with reluctance in this confined way.

4. The man who has learned only one operation has merely the twentieth, or fiftieth, part of a trade. He can do nothing away from his associates who have the other parts of the trade. He must seek his employment in an establishment like that in which he acquired his skill.

All these disadvantages, doubtless, tend to cripple production; but they must not be overestimated. They are compensated with many advantages, of cheaper goods, and better living-with social advantages of the larger society brought together, and with all the opportunities of education which it favors. Labor is not the whole of life, and if the factory operative lives the other parts of his life well, he may escape much, if not all, of the threatened evils of his narrow employment.

172. Large and small establishments.-The evil of the overgrowth of large establishments, at the expense of the small ones, the larger swallowing up the less, seems at present more formidable, and awakens alarm. The movement may be conceived as going on till two or three great merchants shall

control all the trade of our great cities—a few gigantic manufactories shall supply the markets with goods-two or three railroad kings shall hold the mastery of the railway system of the country, and a few Rothschilds or Barring Brothers shall hold the money power of the country in their hands. It was said that Stewart, the merchant prince of New York, had in his employment, as foremen, scores of small traders whom he had caused to fail, and whose skill he made subsidiary to his own more rapid advancement, while he paid them, as salaries, more than they could ordinarily make as profits.

The question is partly a social and political one, but its economic bearings are important. Leaving out of sight, for the present, all unfair and unjust use that these men may sometimes make of their means to uphold or increase their power, it must be admitted that their success depends, finally, on their serving the public better than it was served before. Men buy of the great merchants or manufacturers because they get better or cheaper goods than they can find elsewhere. As soon as they shall fail to do better for the public than the small traders and manufacturers can do, these will spring up again, and will gain the public patronage.

The competition between the large establishments must continue, and this will not only control their dealings with the public, but will compel each to use all its accumulated power and wealth to advance still further the inventions and improvements on which they were founded.

The large establishments do not diminish the demand for labor, but rather increase it, by reason of the wider scope they attempt to give to the business in which they are engaged. As they are less liable to failures than smaller and weaker establishments, laborers are, therefore, less liable to lose their wages by the bankruptcy of their employers, and the business interests of the country are safer from shocks.

The abuse of power, by great capitalists and traders, belongs, like all other violations of the public peace and well-being, to

another department of science to discuss, and to the political power to remedy. The great economic laws and the intelligence of mankind have been found able to solve more difficult problems than this as they have arisen in the course of the history of labor.

173. Limits of division of labor.-The division of labor has natural limits, beyond which it can not go:

1. In the number of processes in any manufacture; for it is not an extension of the division of labor to set two men to perform one operation.

2. In the demand for the goods; for, if ten men can produce all the goods required, no more can be profitably employed, though the operations may number twenty or more.

3. In the capital of the enterprise; since no man can employ a hundred men if he has not the means to provide machinery, buy material, and pay wages for more than twenty.

The division is evidently more limited in some employments than in others. In agriculture the operations are comparatively few, and are not cotemporaneous. Seed sowing and harvesting can only be done in their seasons. In house-keeping some division is practiced in large households, and more is possible if baking, laundry work, and some other work is sent outside the house. In mining, commerce, and mercantile enterprises a wider division is possible; but the widest application of this form of organization is to be found in the manufacture of those goods which are most complex in character and which involve the largest variety of operations in the making.

174. Division of intellectual labor.-Division of labor is applicable to intellectual employments as well as physical. Dr. Wayland gives an interesting account of its use in calculating the tables made under the direction of the French government to facilitate the introduction of the metric system of weights and measures. Three grades of mathematicians were employed; the first class embraced five or six of the most eminent mathematicians, who sought the best analytical formulae

for the work; the second class comprised seven or eight of less ability, who interpreted these formulæ into numbers; and the third consisted of sixty or eighty arithmeticians who made up the tables.

A useful division of labor is made between the members of

the editorial corps of the great daily papers. A managing editor, a political editor, a commercial editor, a literary editor, a city editor, and writers on agriculture, on education, on household art, and on other topics,—all have their separate work assigned them; and the daily issue is the product of the work of all.

The modern graded school is another example of the use of division of labor in an intellectual pursuit. A superintendent or principal manages the whole and lays out the work. Then separate teachers are employed for the primary, the several intermediate, and the high school grades. This is the common form of organization. A better and more philosophical division of the labor would be to assign to one teacher the reading classes, to another the writing, to another the drawing, to another the arithmetic, to another the grammar classes, and so on through the whole course, letting each teacher teach his own branch through all the grades as far as he has time. This division already prevails in the high schools, colleges, and universities, and is indispensable to their work.

The division of labor may be used, to some extent, in the work of scientific investigation, where wide fields of experiment and observation are to be occupied. Indeed, the subdivision of science into its branches, almost daily more numerous, is a natural division of the work of investigation.

175. Nature's division of labor.-There is a sort of natural division of labor, between different countries, and different parts of the same country, produced by differences of soil, climate, and situation. Thus, China cultivates tea; the East Indies, spices; the West Indies, sugar; Brazil, coffee and cattle. The Northern States of our own country raise wheat and corn;

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