ECONOMIC DISTURBANCE SERIES No. VIII.
ATTENTION is next asked to the second (assumed) cause for the prevailing discontent of labor, namely:
Changes in the character or nature of employments consequent upon the introduction of new methods—machinery or processes—which it is claimed have tended to lower the grade of labor, impair the independence, and restrict the mental development of the laborer.
That such changes have been in the nature of evil, can not be questioned; but they are not new in character, nor as extensive in number and effect as is popularly supposed. Subordination to routine and method is an essential element in all systematized occupations; and in not a few employments and professions—as in all military and naval life, and in navigation and railroad work—an almost complete surrender of the independence of the individual, and an unreasoning mechanical compliance with rules or orders, are the indispensable conditions for the attainment of any degree of successful effort. In very many cases also the individual finds compensation for subordination and the surrender of independence in the recognition that such conditions may be but temporary, and are the necessary antecedents for promotion; and routine and monotony are doubtless in a greater or less degree alleviated when the operative can discern the plan of his work as an entirety, and note its result in the form of finished products. But in manufacturing operations, where the division of labor has been carried to an extreme;