Chapter 5 - Specialization - The Machine

 

As production progresses, the producer specializes. This specialization is itself a factor for a greater total production, requiring however less effort from each specialist.

For a long time now, some men have been cultivating the earth, some have been manufacturing materials, others worked at transportation, and others engaged in various kinds of services. But specialization increases, even on farms, and above all, in industry. Some workers make no more than a part, always the same part, of the finished product.

As far as output is concerned, this division of labour is certainly worthwhile, but it requires, for the satisfaction of the consumers' needs, much more recourse to trade. Parallel to the development of the division of labour, of specialization, we must therefore have a flexible development in the trade mechanism.

The division of labour has furthered the invention of machines. In fact, the more the division, the more it is uniformly repeated, the more automatic becomes the movement of the worker who executes his very small part in the whole production process. That is tantamount to replacing human labour by machines.

The introduction of the machine contributes to increasing production, while reducing man's work. The division of labour and the introduction of the machine are in perfect harmony with the determining principle of economic life in the field of production: the maximum effect with the minimum effort. But this division of labour and the introduction of the machine pose problems, which one has not yet been able to resolve.

If the division of labour has resulted in abridging, almost doing away with, the time necessary at apprenticeship, it has also, negatively, transformed labour into real toil. How boring and mind-destroying it must be to repeat the same movement, the same gesture, hour after hour, day after day, without having the satisfaction of thinking, devising, applying one's mind! This is now the case in many occupations. Man's creative faculties enter less and less into the worker's daily labour; he becomes hardly more than a robot, a precursor to the steel machine.

One remedy would be to reduce working hours to the bare essentials, to provide leisure to this worker so he will be able to exercise his faculties to his liking, and become a thinking man again. Another remedy is to hasten the installation of the machine which will do, in the worker's place, the repetitive movement which is already, strictly speaking, no longer a human task.

But with the present economic regulations, which require personal participation in production to get claims to production, one can imagine what happens when the worker is freed from work. Leisure is called unemployment, and the man thus released is a down-and-out.

Some people say that machines do not replace manpower in a lasting way, because new occupations, created by new needs, offer a new outlet to the unemployed, at least until the time when the machine drives them out again one day. Nevertheless, these disruptions, these continual expropriations of the worker's labour, disorganize his life more and more, banish all security, prevent him from building for the future, and force the multiplication of State interventions.

Therefore, must one agree with those who oppose the introduction of almost all new machines? Not at all. But the system of goods distribution must be adapted. Since machines increase the quantity of goods instead of decreasing them, mechanical production ought to increase production in the homes, even if man's personal labour in production decreases. This ought to be done without collisions and upheavals. It is possible, provided one dissociates to the required degree claims on production from a personal contribution in production.

This, you will see further, is what Social Credit can do, by introducing into distribution the system of dividends to EACH and EVERYONE, to the extent that the wage-earners cannot buy all of the available goods, because of their lack of purchasing power.

With production being more and more specialized and mechanized, each producer, man or machine, supplies, in line with the job, a more and more considerable quantity of goods that they, men or machines, do not themselves consume. Now, all that a producer supplies, over and above his personal needs, is for the use of the rest of the community. Thus, all of a farmer's production, over and above his family's needs, is necessarily for the use of the rest of the community. All of a blacksmith's production, save what is for his family's use, is destined only for the use of others in the community.

Not that the farmer or the blacksmith must give to his neighbours or to the State what his family does not use. What his family does not consume is produced only for the consumption of the rest of the community, and in some way must go to the rest of the community.

As for the machines, they consume nothing of what they produce. So their immense production enlarges these surpluses that, in some way, must reach the consumers for production to carry out its end.

One can set any appropriate rules so that no worker will be injured. It will be necessary however that, in some way, the consumers are able to draw upon this plentiful production, which exceeds the particular needs of the producers who have brought it into being. And the more plentiful this non-absorbed production is by its makers, the larger its flow must be, and the more generous must be the claim which gives right to it.

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