Karl Marx and Labour Division

722 Words3 Pages
It is understood that most functions in today’s society are specialized. From academia to the workplace, individuals acquire a specialization at which they become skillful. In his writings, Karl Marx ‘prophesizes’ the disappearance of such labour division (Sayers, 35). His argument is that division of labour forces people to give themselves up to one activity and therefore stunts creativity and stops people from realizing their full potential (Veugelers, September 24, 2012). However, division of labor can be practical and even necessary for society. People can chose their specialization based on their interests and skills, which in turn can produce skilled and knowledgeable workers that society can benefit from. Labour can also be combined with personal interests, making work fulfilling and even desirable. In The German Ideology, Marx praises communist societies, arguing that in such societies people can become experts at various tasks without giving themselves up for one activity (Marx and Engels, 159). For example, people can “hunt in the morning fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, without ever becoming a hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic” (Marx and Engels, 160). On the contrary, according to Marx, capitalism creates a division of labour, which forces people to undertake and specialize in one skill only (Marx and Engels, 160). He argues that such division of labour “is exterior to the worker” and the worker “does not confirm himself in his work, he denies himself, feels miserable instead of happy” and can not escape (Marx, 79). However, division of labour can be practical and engaging in ones labour can be satisfying. Many societies reached tremendous levels of advancement that Ma...

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...ying. However, people’s jobs can also be closely related to their personal interests and be enjoyable, stimulating and fulfilling. In fact, many people are anxious to work so that they can afford and enjoy certain luxuries. This can transform the dreadful and often stressful work into a desirable activity. Thus, division of labour can be fulfilling and desirable and related to individual’s personal interests. Marx argues that division of labour forces people into specialized tasks, which stunt peoples potential. However, specialization can produce skilled, knowledgeable individuals who enjoy their jobs. Such individuals surely are a benefit to society. There is no doubt that inequality persists but abolishing labour division may not be the solution, especially in complex societies. Instead, the focus should perhaps be on targeting inequality within occupations.
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