Week Three Blog Revision – Theresa

August 19th, 2011 No comments

Stephen Duck: What an exhausting day at work! I felt like Odysseus today, that’s how long I was toiling in the fields. When I’m out there, “briny Streams [of] Sweat descends” and “no intermission in [my] Works [I] know.” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 45)

John Locke: Why, congratulations! All your labor was certainly for good reason, for your labor is your own, and nobody else can claim it.

Duck: That’s not a very funny joke. I toil away all day long for my terrible landlord. He is always complaining that I don’t work hard enough, and that the neighboring lord’s workers are far more hard-working than I am. He always complains that us field workers have “idled half our Time away.” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 75)

Locke: But what you do through your own effort belongs to you. After all, if you didn’t cut the wheat and stack the hay, it would lie in the fields to rot, or for wild animals to consume. It is through your labor that the wheat becomes useful. As I like to say, “the labour of [your] body, and the work of [your] hands, we may say, are properly [yours].” (Locke, Treatise of Civil Government, 2.5.27)

Duck: That all sounds very nice, but if I didn’t thresh the fields and mill wheat into flour and till the soil, I wouldn’t have a place to live. If I didn’t work for the landlord, I wouldn’t have a house to live in!

Locke: But once a person “hath mixed his labour with” something in labor by removing it from its natural state, he will have made “it his property…for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to.” (Locke, Treatise of Civil Government, 2.5.27)

Duck: That’s not even a little bit true! I don’t own what I work on. The landlord takes everything.

Locke: Labor doesn’t need to be physically difficult. I earn money by thinking. Or writing down what I think, anyways.

Duck: You sound like you have never worked a day of hard labor in your life. And you earn money for those ridiculous ideas you have?

Locke: Wait a moment there, you do earn something for your work. Doesn’t your work earn you food for your meals and a home for your family?

Duck: I suppose, at the end of the day, “from the Pot the Dumpling’s catch’d in haste,/And homely by its side the Bacon’s plac’d/Supper and Sleep by Morn new Strength supply” (Duck, The Thresher’s Labor, 157-160).

Locke: So maybe your labor isn’t literally your property, but you are not working for nothing.

Duck: I suppose you are right, that I am not working for nothing. …but my labor is still a lot of hard work.



Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week Seven Blog Revision – Theresa

August 19th, 2011 No comments

“The division of labour offers us the first example of how, as long as man remains in natural society, that is, as long as a cleavage exists between the particular and the common interest, as long, therefore, as activity is not voluntarily, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him, instead of being controlled by him.” (160, Marx, The German Ideology)


I chose this quotation because it is key to Marx’s argument against specialization. Marx suggests that job specialization as a result of division of labor leads to people being enslaved by their careers.

I agree that if you specialize in a specific field and become very good at it, people around you (society) will expect you to continue doing that job. You will not be able to do whatever job you feel like doing on any day because somebody else will have specialized at it, and will be better than you are. Because you have to perform work in your specific field of specialization, your job controls your actions and you lose your freedom to do any jobs you want.

Marx’s argument regarding this point assumes several things: first, that people want to do whatever work they feel like doing on any given day, second, that people don’t care about becoming experts, and third, that people are content with having just enough to survive. The fact of the matter is that specialization increase efficiency. As Smith stated, “the division of labour…occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers.” (Smith, Wealth of Nations, Chp 1) If we were to return to a state of unspecialized workers, everyone could create just enough to support their own basic necessities, but not be able to create any surplus. And people love their surplus.

Also, labels are a major part of our identity. “Hi, I’m Theresa, and I’m a college student. I’d like to be a surgeon someday” is more defining than “Hi, I’m Theresa, and I do unspecialized jobs that don’t require any unique training.” Members of our society need to be specialized to have that aspect of their identity.

Overall, I disagree with Marx’s assumptions. There are just too many things that could not be done without specialization. If doctors (I use this label loosely—if there was no specialization, there would be no doctors) also had to tend their potatoes and raise chickens for food, they would not have enough time to also treat sick patients. Also, modern societies enjoy surplus too much to give it up for career freedom. We may become slaves to our jobs, and changing fields of specialization may be nearly impossible, but we would much rather stick to our single path in life than return to a state where computers and Harry Potter movies did not exist (I use these examples with the assumption that it takes specialists to make computers and special effects).

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 4 blog revision – Vivian

August 19th, 2011 No comments

 Smith’s world in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” demonstrates how society chooses to ‘go with the flow’—that is, the flow established by the wealthy. Smith says that the inferiors admire and envy the rich; instead of being mad with jealousy and trying to take down their superiors, everyone wants to serve and aid the rich in keeping their world seemingly perfect. He states that “the profligacy of a man of fashion is looked upon with much less contempt and aversion, than that of a man of meaner condition.” When the rich commit follies, the society choose to overlook those in order to keep their superiors on the high pedestal they currently view them. Yet if the poor do even one wrong thing, society looks down upon them even more.

The poor admire the wealthy, and so wish to be just like them. They imitate them in every way, from the clothes they wear, the way they live, down to the vices they commit. As Smith states, “With most men the presumption and vanity of the [wealthy] are much more admired, than the real and solid merit of the [virtuous].” Commiting the folly of the wealthy plauges their conscience, but they think that the admiration they will attain from their wealth will make up for it. However, spending money like the rich, just fuels the poor even more into poverty, thus creating this cycle of the poor staying poor and looked down upon. The poor follows the flow, the trend, the rules that the wealthy set, but where does it get them? Nowhere, just ever deeper into poverty and society’s contempt.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 2 blog revision – Vivian

August 19th, 2011 No comments

Important words from Montagu’s:

Wisdom and Merit

Wisdom is used throughout the poem. Normally, we see wisdom as a desirable trait. But here, Montagu seems to be decreasing the value of wisdom. In the beginning, the Doctor tries using his wisdom and wit to joke and charm his way to the lady but that the lady takes no notice of it. What does win the lady’s services is gold. Later she writes “With learning mad, with wisdom blind!” It seems as if she is saying that the wise think that they are always right when they’re not. However, later she clarifies her true point when she writes, “None strive to know their proper merit/But strain for wisdom, beauty, spirit,/And lose the praise that is their due/While they’ve th’impossible in view.” Merit is something that is earned. And back then, I’m assuming that merit was earned with status and money. And in men, status and money seemed to be associated with wisdom, good-looks, and religion.

However, Montagu writes that she’s telling this story “to show the wise in some things fail.” She meant to display Dr. S’s arrogance; he thought of himself as having more merit than he really had due to his ‘wisdom.’ He attempted to pay for the lady’s services with his wisdom and wit, rather than gold. She’s saying Swift views himself as an economical object—that he himself has value and because of that, he does not need to pay for the lady’s services. When she says that “none strive to know their proper merit, but strain for wisdom, beauty, spirit,” it seems like she is saying that the higher up someone is, the more they exaggerate and inflate themselves to be. Thus, they will never realize their true worth. Wisdom is thought to earn you merit, but the wise claim more merit than they’ve actually earned.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 7 Blog Post Revision – Chelsea

August 19th, 2011 No comments

“Up till now violence, war, pillage, murder and robbery, etc., have been accepted as the driving force of history. Here we must limit ourselves to the chief points and take therefore, only the most striking example-the destruction of old civilization by a barbarous people and the resulting formation of an entirely new organization of society.” (Marx 151-152)

At this part of the reading Marx is speaking about the division of labor and the separation of town and country.  He is making the point that labor results in ownership and the value of the things you are able to own is based off of the level of labor you are at. This statement on violence follows the discussion of ownership and implies that the want and need for higher levels of ownership have resorted in violence and war in the past. Many events or trends in history are noted because they were a large enough issue that they are considered an effective part history that can be learned from. Marx is saying that the countries history has been guided by negative issues, that typically came about because of the want for more valuable ownership of some type of property within society. Throughout his article, Marx makes it clear that without being the owner of some type of property that is valuable to the society, you cannot be considered a contributing member of that society, and even further a man. This is what pushes people to work to having something of their own, the need to be a man and a citizen.

Although the core driving force is having a negative impact on history, it is vital that the positive aspects of those issues are the key points that are looked upon to grow and build a substantial base for the new organization for the civilization. Violence is necessary for a society to grow and learn from their mistakes, as well as constantly build upon the security and procedures of that society. The lack of violence would mean there was a lack of drive in a civilization, so Marx is ultimately making the point that violence and war are necessary for the growth of a society.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 3 Blog Post Revision – Chelsea

August 19th, 2011 No comments

In Colliers poem, The Woman’s Labour, she argues for the fact that a woman’s work is never done. Although it’s written around the 17th century, many of the ideas revolving around a woman and working can relate to today’s time period. Jonathan Swift writes a poem around the same time titled, “The Ladies Dressing Room”, that consist of pointing out all of the unseen flaws that women have in an effort to reach perfection. I think if these two authors had a conversation on the labour issue it would consist of Collier pointing out the fact that all women do not have the resources to live a life of luxury, even when it comes to their appearance. Some, if not most, women’s daily lives consist of working just to get food to stay alive. So for Swift to create the image that all women are secretly using filthy methods to create a fake perception of beauty is inaccurate. No, he is not directly scrutinizing the lives of women working in the fields, however, it can be looked at from both points of view. For Collier, work is what makes a woman more valuable, so there is not a need for them to manage their outer appearance as much. But for Swift that is all that woman care about when they are attempting to be attractive for the opposite sex. However, there should be a balance in both situations since being happy with their outer appearance is something that most women are concerned with. Swift, might argue for the fact that women’s lives are not truly consumed with work, and if they spent less time primping for their day, they may complete some of their daily chores in a more timely fashion. Even if they are not using pounds of makeup, or trying on endless amounts of clothes, they are still spending unnecessary minutes being concerned about an image that for most is not the real them whatsoever. In the end, I do not think Collier and Swift would agree on this topic, Collier believing that women deserve to have a moment of feeling their best through their tiresome work days, even if it really is not their job to look pretty. And Swifts opinion being that their workdays would not be so bad if they were not concerned with their appearance since it ultimately doesn’t really have anything to do with their labor.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 7 Revision-Thomas: Division of Labor

August 18th, 2011 No comments

“And finally, the division of labour offers us the first example of how, as long as man remains in natural society, that is, as long as a cleavage exists between the particular and the common interest, as long, therefore, as activity is not voluntarily, but naturally, divided, man’s own deed becomes an alien power opposed to him, which enslaves him, instead of being controlled by him. For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape.”

Talking within the context of private property and division of labor, Marx explains how people can become enslaved by their lifestyle depending in what kind of division they work. While people work within the context of a larger group and that group within the community with other groups, they work under their ideology to fulfill material needs like private property. Similar to a family with hierarchical structure, each member works with the others, thus dividing labor. In the case that members of labor fall into a structure without common purpose, they will naturally be enslaved by their work as their freedom is limited by others within the structure. The more divided labor becomes, the more people depend upon one another and are restricted.

At the point that a person only knows one specific task, he or she must rely on others for support. Apart from the system, the labor has no use and therefore a person must do the work continuously. Such a restriction on the laboring individual is found today in the instance that work is found in only specific regions where the individual is forced to live. A farmer must live in a rural area where there are spaces open to harvest enough to supply his or her whole income. On the other hand, the farmer must live close enough to a shipping route or market to find means to distribute the produce. Once labor is divided, it cannot live without any of its parts and they all work involuntarily with each other for survival. The truck driver cannot live without the farmer and vice versa. Without a bureaucracy and a common goal, uncontrolled division of labor in society reduces the livelihoods of people solely to their work.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 4 Blogpost Revision – David

August 18th, 2011 No comments

Can a society flourish if it is comprised of those who do not work for their own benefits?

This kind of society would crumble as presented in “The Grumbling Hive” by Mandeville. A good society needs people who are working to benefit themselves, so that competition may bring about development. Mandeville says that “fraud, luxury and pride must live” meaning that these criteria are needed in a thriving society. With only honesty, there will be no need for competition and without competition there will be no need for businesses or growth. People will be content with what they have and only take what they need. This kind of society is weak and vulnerable, it is too simple. Simple meaning that each person need not specify in anything in particular and each bee needs only to think about the necessities of life rather than the future outcome of the hive. This leads to the collapse of their hive.

Ambition and greed will fuel innovation and build a strong society because the people will always be working their hardest to fulfill their own desires. When people are working to their fullest abilities, then their society will continue to evolve and that is why Mandeville says that “so Vice is beneficial found” and that Vice includes all things not pure and honest. There needs to be a balance between exploitation and honesty. In the modern society greed for power, prestige and property makes it possible for faster computers, cures for diseases and efficiency in everyday life. Even though there is corruption, society will not fall. To answer the question above, in order for a society to flourish there is a need for people who work for their own desires because it takes motivation to make a society thrive. Honesty and Vice are just a few pillars that hold up our fragile society. Even to this day, people are still doing things to benefit themselves and our society has benefited from it.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 3 Blogpost Revision: David

August 18th, 2011 No comments

In Defoe’s text On Trade, merit plays a big role in whether or not you succeed. How would your business grow if you did not have merit? Defoe considers merit to be important for your trade to be successful. You have to work hard, attend to the customers, and sell goods that are of good quality. Then will you form a good reputation with the people which will benefit you in the long run. This idea is part of Alain De Botton’s idea on meritocracy. Meritocracy is the idea that those who work hard will be rewarded accordingly. Business nowadays are built on merit as well just as they were in Defoe’s text. Successful companies and businesses have a good reputation that satisfies the customers which brings them back to buy more goods from them.

However, having a meritocracy may be the downfall of your business and economy. If one person fails in their endeavor to make a business, he or she may feel that they deserved to fail because in a meritocracy, those who fail deserve to be at the bottom. The hope that ones hard work will bring them just rewards keeps the worker going but that may just be an empty promise. Defoe may emphasize the importance of merit but there is always two sides of the story. To Defoe, merit is your prestige, it brings about success and Button agrees that merit is a positive aspect of economics, however with merit comes envy and envy brings on conflicts. Just know that merit is definitely important in trade and that it has bigger implications than just in the business world.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

Week 2 Blog Revised – Phillip

August 18th, 2011 No comments

I have chosen the words lie and raised in “The Lady’s Dressing Room” by Jonathan Swift.

The first word from Swift’s poem that I find important is the word “lie”. Strephon feels that the image of Celia as being sweet and cleanly is a lie after snooping through her dressing room. He expresses feelings of betrayal when he discovers that in order to maintain her appearance Celia must take so many disgusting steps. Not only does Strephon’s opinion of Celia fall, but it also appears that his outlook on female beauty in general changes. His newfound discoveries have caused him to place significantly less value on that particular trait.

The second word important word is “raised”. This word is used by the narrator to say that Strephon should marvel at the beauty that rises from filth, representing a contrasting belief from what Strephon is currently experiencing. Rather than being as revolting as their dressing rooms, women are able to escape it and overcome the disadvantages of the normal human body to appear perfect. Having this mentality appears to increase the value of female beauty.

Each of these words describes the same discovery, one expressing disappointment and anger while the other displays respect and understanding. This contrast highlights the very essence of this poem. Establishing value can be an entirely relative process, often leading to disputes of worth. Most of the time, there is no resolution to this discrepancy, and this poem is a great example of that fact. The narrator disagrees with Strephon, and it is highly unlikely that Strephon will completely change his opinion based on what he had just seen.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,