Yesterday, Seth Godin asked ‘Whatever happened to labor?’
It reminded me of a couple of paragraphs in John Ruskin’s ‘unto this last’, written about the same the Brooklyn bridge was being constructed:
“We have studied and much perfected, of late, the great civilized invention of the division of labour, only we give it a false name. It is not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided; but the men:- Divided into mere segments of men – broken into small fragments and crumbs of life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left in a man is not enough to make a pin, or a nail, but exhausts itself making the point of a pin or the head of a nail
we manufacture everything [in our cities] except men; we blanch cotton, and strengthen steel, and refine sugar, and shape pottery; but to brighten, to strengthen, to refine or to form a single living spirit, never enters into our estimate of advantages”
Powerful stuff, and a partial answer to Seth’s question.