Jeff Tucker on the marvelous concept of the division of labor:
The following attempts to explain the most important idea in the history of social analysis. The notion (actually, it's a description of reality that is all around us but rarely noticed) has been around for centuries. It was first observed by ancients. It was first described with rigor by late-medieval monks working in Spain. It was given scientific precision in the classical period. It is the basis of advances in social theory in the 20th century.
In fact, it is an essential part of the case for freedom. It was the basis of the belief of our ancestors that they could throw off tyrannical rule and still not have society descend into poverty and chaos. The failure to comprehend this idea is at the very root of the pervasive bias against liberty and free enterprise in our times, on the Left and the Right.
I speak of the division of labor, also known as the law of comparative advantage or the law of comparative cost, and also known as the law of association. Call it what you will, it is probably the single greatest contribution that economics has made to human understanding.
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