‘What Do Bosses Do?’ (Marglin, 1974) theorized that the detailed division of labour characteristic of capitalist production owed more to the advantages of control which it afforded the capitalists than to advantages of efficiency shared more or less equally by the population as a whole. One criticism has persistently been levelled at this argument: if the detailed division of labour was, as I asserted, the artificial creation of the capitalist, and the capitalist the parasite that I pictured him, what sustained capitalistic production in free and open competition with other forms of enterprise? What prevented the individual workman from setting up shop for himself, producing directly for the market rather than for the capitalist? As Paul Samuelson has put the question, recalling Adam Smith’s story of beaver and deer, ‘What hold does the capitalist have on the worker … who hunts where he pleases on superabundant acres?’ (Samuelson, 1971).
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- Knowledge and Power
Stephen A. Marglin
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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