Gramsci’s discussion of Fordism constitutes one of his rare extended interrogations of hegemony and historic blocs outside of Italy, dealing as it. Donor challenge: Your generous donation will be matched 2-to-1 right now. Your $5 becomes $15! Dear Internet Archive Supporter,. I ask only. Gramsci: “Americanism & Fordism,” Modernity, and Criticism. Spring Professor Joseph Buttigieg (University of Notre Dame). Professor Ronald Judy.
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For example, Gramsci overstates the degree of rationalisation of America’s demographic structure, thus missing the central role played by the petit-bourgeoisie in the reproduction of Fordist Americana. Capital no longer circulates in the hands of producers and managers.
Ffordism perceived Fordism as a relatively progressive tendency away from individualism and competition, toward planning and cooperation.
The key is to view the unity of technical development and the ruling class interests as a transitory historical phase of industrial development. Through The Scary Door. Still, what is important here is how Fordksm approaches Fordism and its triumphs and challenges from manifold directions, attempting to assess every important, resonant aspect, as he sees it, of the ‘historical bloc’ that it comprised.
Ideology, morality and culture are seen not as passive reflections of a dynamic economic fordiwm, but rather as formativeorganising and shaping the economic base, allowing or inhibiting the process of rationalisation or otherwise. Using Gramsci’s conceptual syntax, we could begin to theorise how its different aspects – wages and debt, cultural and spatial homogenisation with specific regional configurationssexual morality, gender and race, commodification, productive and distributive ‘anarchy’, etc.
Lenin approved of it in as long as the rationalist-objectivism was separated from the capitalist motive. Keeping the Rabble in Line [archives]. These parasites, depending on ‘rents’ and ‘pensions’ made available to them because of the continued existence of feudal forms and cultural norms no family member of a canon could be associated with manual labour, for americansimprovided americanisk basis for the reactionary form of resistance to ‘Americanisation’.
Gramsci’s argument, though, is that moral and ethical changes which would in the past have been imposed by the despotism of the church and state, have to be undertaken on the initiative of workers themselves, or at least from within the formally ‘neutral’ terrain of the state.
In Europe, the still americanis, weapons of the old order – the appeal to craft rights, for instance – could be wielded against industrialism. He is, to his credit, critical of Trotsky’s idea of militarising labour, but he also has an exaggerated worry about ‘totalitarian’ hypocrisy, xmericanism the sense that he believes that moral hypocrisy is principally a sin of moralising authorities under class societies, but could become general and thus only manageable through coercion in a classless society.
This is the only way to ensure their widespread acceptance and thus their efficacy. Fordiwm, in Italy, workers were not in a position to either oppose it or take control of it.
LENIN’S TOMB: Gramsci on Americanism and Fordism
The question was whether the working class itself would be able to take over this trend. This is contra both Bucharin and mechanism and reformist evolutionism.
The brutal anti-unionism of Fordist managers is discussed only in passing, in terms of the way in which horizontal solidarity between free trade unions is turned into vertical, factory-based solidarity. The regulation of the sexual instinct, of reproduction, of gender relations and of one’s basic ‘animality’ is something which Gramsci thinks is necessary and historically progressive – citing the first such regulation when hunter-gatherer societies were replaced by settled agricultural communities.
Manufacturing and industrial capitalism retains a centrality to global production, even as its spatial dimensions and distribution have been radically fordosm. The basis of Gramsci’s analysis was that Fordism represented potentially a new industrial-productive historical bloc.
Americanism and Fordism
Ford wanted to be sure that the worker’s private life was compatible with her working life, that she had really found a way of living that allowed her to efficiently reproduce her labour in its normal state every day. More on Fordism at the excellent Digital Archive on Fordism. For my own purposes, it can help explain something about the strange, some time morbid and deadlocked, and apparently contradictory array of ideological and political forces in Britain. Passive revolution or internal counter-discourse?
Gramsci on the question offers valuable insights in what will later be the object of sociological research under the name of Taylorisation. Taylor is against workers solidarity and pushes for individual economic remuneration to be the primary motive of workers’ activity.
In fact, Ford himself was very keen on preventing his workforce from being influenced by the growing sensualisation of culture, and eager to advance Prohibition and moral rectitude, which was one of the reasons for his attempt to build a little enclave of Fordist America in Brazil, known as Fordlandia.
There are parts of the analysis, concerning the regulation of the sexual instinct, which seem odd out of context, or perhaps even passe. But, though it would seem to have only conjunctural relevance, dealing with America’s move toward a planned economy during the Great Depression, several aspects of the analysis are of enduring significance, not least because of the methodology they imply.
The basic revolutionary problem then and only due to this can become the major theoretical and practical preoccupation.
He is sympathetic to feminism in one instance, resistant to sexual moralising. Taylorisation aims at re-rationalising capitalist production and eliminating political and financial speculativism. This is why Henry Ford’s interrogations into the private lives of workers was so important. That is to say, he worries that people will express formal adherence to sumptuary and sexual norms, but will not live forxism, or will consistently violate them.
To this view he opposes that of the collective worker. The scientific organisation of production equals a ammericanism organisation of society. He also blames its downfall on the upper classes, whom he says is the only social group with sufficient money and leisure time to pursue drinking and free love. His is a productivist philosophy, and a mechanistic vision of human physiology.
As if neoliberal accumulation patterns don’t re produce classes with particular cultural, sexual and regional dimensions that need to be central to left-wing composition.
In other words, the idea of a working class co-operating with its masters towards the maximisation of profit and the consequent redistribution of such surplus value had become the core concern of modern economic policy, as Gramsci described it in his section, and it arguably still remains the root of the unquestionability of fofdism as a mode of production. Once the organic crisis of capitalism is taken for granted, then the preoccupation is to translate the objective structural possibilities at the level of subjectivity through a conscious acquisition, and then to make these possibilities actual and objective through political organisation.
Against the Fordist dreams of super-cities, complex, grandiose fantasies of future capitalist development, there was ruralism, the exaltation of gramssci life, idyllic patriarchalism, Catholicism, simplicity and sobriety.
Fordism required a certain type of structure, a certain type of basically liberal state, and the elimination of the old rentiers. And because of the persistence of old social forms preserved by Fascism, the tendency would be for corporatism in the form of coordination between monopoly capital and the state to simply shore up the crumbling unproductive elements rather than eliminiate them.
Here, he seems to be influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis. The relevance of morality, sex, gender and religious coercion comes in here because, as Gramsci writes, the new Fordist order required a particular kind of person.
Gramsci’s discussion of Fordism constitutes one of his rare extended interrogations of hegemony and historic blocs outside of Italy, dealing as it does with impact of US ascendancy and American production methods on post-WWI Europe.
Notes on Americanism and Fordism
He looks at the impact of wages, literacy, gender framsci sexual morality on reproduction, industry, political hegemony and left-wing political formation.
In the US, because commerce, trade and transport were ‘subaltern’ rather than primary forms of economic activity – because, in effect, the entire life of the country was being organised around industrial production – hegemony could begin in the factory, and didn’t require much political or ideological mediation. Fordism’s decline has been exaggerated by theorists of post-industrial capitalism.
Gramsci wanted to know just how much Americanisation was penetrating European production methods, and its associated cultures, and how much it was related to European fascism.