An English In Kentucky


















Saturday March 9th 2019Tim Candler9


    Another contribution by Adam Smith to Political Economics was an understanding of the Division of Labor which is an idea that goes back to those wretched Ancient Greeks. For the Early Liberals the division of labor was deemed to be a primary cause of economic growth and productivity. It was defined in terms of breaking down large tasks into smaller tasks, those engaged in smaller tasks where then able to specialize in one task with the result being an increase in their productivity. A more for less word so beloved by the profit motive. Oddly enough Kant, whose primary argument was essentially that space, time and causation were all in the head, and while there were indeed real things in the world their nature remained unknowable, wrote about the Division of Labor in his book Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. And if you think of morals as the Majority of Sentiments within a society it's easier to grasp why Kant might have addressed the Division of Labor in a book called Groundwork for a Majority of Sentiments. Where Kant went with it I've got no clue, but I think it safe to argue that a relationship between, production, productivity, economic growth and ideas around Moral Motion figured large in the Early Liberals for whom economic growth was a good thing that contributed mightily to the happiness of us people. It was down to more poetic minds to cast doubt on this assumption in the Division of Labor with the argument that in terms of widgets, the division of labor removed an individual from the totality of producing a widget, individuals became no more than cogs in the production process and as a result their collection of sentiments were divorced from the widget. In another way in the production process, widgets became means to an end, rather than an end in themselves. Tricky area, but consider that series of happiness making Sentiments that fall into the category of pride in the job, joy from the work, and stuff like "I wish I liked my job," "Back to the Grind" and it's all rather endless until you meet that regular impasse with the world as we have made it, then indeed "all people want is a job and a chance to enjoy an annual vacation."  Oh sure, as my woodbine smoking, King-Edward-Potato-Philiac  comrade assured me in his analysis,  "the trouble with you people, you're all spoiled rotten." He was a classic gardener, a man for whom nothing good every came from change.



     The gist of  Kant, in his book Critique of Pure Reason started from the idea that it was all in our head, so while in a reasonable, rational world obviously the Level you're convinced you left on the other side of the wall must be still there, you don't know it's there unless you make certain, and from bitter experience when in it comes to Levels I am under no illusions about the accuracy of Kant's critique pure reason. The gist of Freud was that he could bandage sufferers from neurosis, he could do this sometimes with great success, but he couldn't cure them because the circumstances that had caused their neurosis where outside of his control. The Early Liberals argued for improving the lot of us people by promoting our happiness, they all would have been familiar with Kant's very reasonable assertions that it's all in your head, which enabled the Early Liberals to think of our nature as fundamentally belonging to the unknowable, at the same time they understood Hobbs' "Nature Raw in Tooth and Claw" but we people do not have to be. Then you've got that element of thinking exemplified by the Mental Asylums of the Soviet Union. Along with the classic examples of insanity a new delusion was added which was an inability to see the literal truth of the ruling philosophy. Never been certain how seriously the delusion was studied, but it did briefly prevent important friends, relatives and neighbors from being sent to the work camps. Yet you can hear accusations of insanity flung across the aisle today, usually from the more tyrannical of the two sides toward the less so. And here I'd like to include a long quote from Adam Smith: "The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life... But in every improved and civilized society, this is the state into which the laboring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall unless the government takes some pains to prevent it." Fairly brutal, no holding back from a guiding light in the discipline of political economics, but maybe you get the gist.



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