Graphic Witness: Hugo Gellert
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Hugo Gellert: Karl Marx' 'Capital' in Lithographs

page 41. DIVISION OF LABOR AND MANUFACTURE
The Capitalist Character of Manufacture


DIVISION OF LABOR AND MANUFACTURE: the capitalist character of manufacture

An increased number of workers under the control of one unit of capital is the natural starting-point alike of cooperation in the most general sense and of manufacture. . . .

. . . To begin with, the worker sells his labor power to capital because he lacks the material means requisite for the production of a commodity. But now his individual labor power actually ceases to function unless it is sold to capital. Now, it can function only in an environment which comes into existence in the capitalist's workshop after the sale of labor power has been effected. . . .

The independent peasant or handicraftsman develops knowledge, insight, and will, even though it be only to a moderate extent. The savage exercises the arts of war as manifestations of personal cunning. Under the manufacturing system these faculties are needed only by the workshop as a whole. . . .As a result of the division of labor in manufacture, the worker is confronted with the intellectual potencies of the material process of production whose property, whose slave, he has become. This process begins in simple cooperation, in which the capitalist, as against the individual workers, represents the unity and the will of the associated working organism. It goes further still in manufacture, which cripples the workers by making them into detail workers. It is completed in large-scale industry, which detaches science from labor, making of science an independent force of production and pressing it into the service of capital.

In manufacture the enrichment of the collective worker, and therefore of capital, in the matter of social productivity, is dependent upon the impoverishment of the workers in the matter of their individual powers of production. "Ignorance is the mother of industry as well as of superstition. Reflection and fancy are subject to error; but a habit of moving the hand or the foot is independent of reflection or fancy. Manufactures, accordingly, prosper most where the mind is least consulted, and where the workshop may . . . be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men." As a matter of fact, in the middle of the eighteenth century there were some manufacturers who preferred to employ semi-imbeciles to carry on certain simple operations which were trade secrets. . . .

In the manufacturing period a reduction of the amount of labor time necessary for the production of commodities soon became a deliberate principle of operation. Here and there during this period machines came into use, especially for certain simple preliminary processes capable of being performed upon a large scale and needing a great expenditure of energy. . . .

The Roman Empire handed down the elementary form of machinery in the shape of the water mill.

During the period of handicrafts there were discovered the mariner's compass, gunpowder, printing, and the automatic clock. On the whole, however, in comparison with the division of labor, machinery played the subordinate part assigned to it by Adam Smith. The scattered applications of machinery in the seventeenth century were momentous for they gave the great mathematicians of those days a practical basis and a stimulus for the creation of the modern science of mechanics.

The specific "machinery" of the manufacturing period is, however, the collective worker formed by a combination of many detail workers. . . .

Manufacture could neither get its grip upon the whole extent of social production nor revolutionize that production to the full. . . .

One of its most finished creations was the workshop for the manufacture of the very instruments of labor especially such complicated mechanical apparatuses as were then in use. . . .


The workshop, the product of the manufactory division of labor, served , in turn, to produce machines. It was the machine which made an end of hand work as the regulating principle of social production. Therewith the technical reason for the lifelong annexation of the worker to a detail function ceased to exist. Therewith, too, disappeared the restrictions which the same principle imposed upon the domination of capital.