of matter perform all the rest."
"In the employment of labour and machinery, it is often found that
the effects can be increased by skilful distribution, by separating all
those operations which have any tendency to impede one another, and by
bringing together all those operations which can be made in any way to
aid one another. As men in general cannot perform many different operations
with the same quickness and dexterity with which they can by practice
learn to perform a few, it is always an advantage to limit as much as
possible the number of operations imposed upon each. For dividing labour,
and distributing the powers of men and machinery, to the greatest advantage5
it is in most cases necessary to operate upon a large scale; in
other words, to produce the commodities in greater masses It is this advantage
which gives existence to the great manufactories; a few of which, placed
in the most convenient situations, frequently supply not one country,
but many countries, with as much as they desire of the commodity produced."
The whole of modern political economy
agrees, however, that division of labour and wealth of production, division
of labour and accumulation of capital, mutually determine each other;
just as it agrees that only private property which is at liberty to
follow its own course can produce the most useful and comprehensive division
Adam Smith's argument can be summarised as follows: Division of labour
bestows on labour infinite productive capacity. It stems from the propensity
to exchange and barter, a specifically human propensity which
is probably not accidental, but is conditioned by the use of reason and
speech. The motive of those who engage in exchange is not humanity
but egoism. The diversity of human talents is more the effect
than the cause of the division of labour, i.e., of exchange. Besides,
it is only the latter which makes such diversity useful. The particular
attributes of the different breeds within a species of animal are by nature
much more marked than the degrees of difference in human aptitude and
activity. But because animals are unable to engage in exchange no
individual animal benefits from the difference in the attributes of animals
of the same species but of different breeds. Animals are unable to combine
the different attributes of their
and are unable to contribute anything to the common advantage and
comfort of the species. Otherwise with men, amongst whom the most
dissimilar talents and forms of activity are of use to one another, because
they can bring their different products together into a common
stock, from which each can purchase. As the division of labour springs
from the propensity to exchange, so it grows and is limited by
the extent of exchange - by the extent of the market.
In advanced conditions, every man is a merchant and society
is a commercial society.
Say regards exchange as accidental and not fundamental. Society
could exist without it. It becomes indispensable in the advanced state
of society. Yet production cannot take place without it.
Division of labour is a convenient, useful means--a skilful deployment
of human powers for social wealth; but it reduces the ability of each
person taken individually. The last remark is a step forward
on the part of Say.
Skarbek distinguishes the individual powers inherent
in man--intelligence and the physical capacity for work--from the
powers derived from society--exchange and division of
labour, which mutually condition one another. But the necessary premise
of exchange is private property. Skarbek here expresses in an objective
form what Smith, Say, Ricardo, etc., say when they designate egoism
and self-interest as the basis of exchange, and buying and
selling as the essential and adequate form of exchange.
Mill presents trade as the consequence of the distribution
of labour. With him human activity is reduced to mechanical
motion. Division of labour and use of machinery promote wealth of
production. Each person must be entrusted with as small a sphere of operations
as possible. Division of labour and use of machinery, in their turn, imply
large-scale production of wealth, and hence of products. This is the reason
for large manufactories.