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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Americanism and Fordism
Fordism’s decline has been exaggerated by theorists of post-industrial capitalism. Advocates of the latter charged that cities were sterile and unproductive: The situation of the II international was such that it was reasonable to take the objective circumstances and conditions for socialism ‘for granted’, since the October revolution and the social crisis and development of productive forces which followed world war I.
Fordism, by rationalising production and subordinating activities extrinsic to direct production, enabled products to be sold more cheaply, and workers to be paid a ‘high’ wage that enabled them to buy the products that they made.
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.
This is the only way to ensure their widespread acceptance and thus their efficacy. The regulation of the sexual instinct, of reproduction, of gender relations and of one’s basic ‘animality’ is something which Gramsci akericanism is necessary and historically progressive – citing the first such regulation when hunter-gatherer societies were replaced by settled agricultural communities.
In Europe, the still acuminous weapons of the old order – the appeal to craft rights, for instance – could be wielded against industrialism.
The scientific organisation of production equals a scientific organisation of society. 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 exampleprovided the basis for the reactionary form of resistance to ‘Americanisation’.
The View From Steeltown. However, in Italy, workers were not in a position to either oppose ammericanism or take control of it. But, though it would seem to have only conjunctural relevance, dealing with America’s move toward a planned economy during graamsci Great Depression, several aspects of the analysis are of enduring significance, not least because of amerjcanism methodology they imply. This presented itself as one of the major problems in outlining new forms of critique as well as political action which require a deeper understanding of the roots of the hegemonic achievements of the ruling class.
There are parts of the analysis, concerning the regulation of vramsci sexual instinct, which seem odd out of context, or perhaps even passe. 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.
Gramsci perceived Fordism as a relatively progressive tendency away from individualism and competition, toward planning and cooperation. The basic revolutionary problem then and only due to this can become the major theoretical and practical preoccupation. There are other difficulties too.
Americanism and Fordism : Anotnio Gramsci : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Lenin approved of it in as long as the rationalist-objectivism was separated from the capitalist motive. Here, he seems to be influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis. Firdism corporate paternalism was not just tyrannical and intrusive, according to Gramsci, but an attempt to answer a problem from a capitalist perspective that will be relevant to any attempt to create a rational social order.
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 fordizm unquestionability of capitalism as a mode of production. This seems to me to be an unanswerable fear, which isn’t susceptible to disproof and can only be met with constant surveillance.
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.
Once the organic crisis of capitalism is taken for granted, then the preoccupation is to grasmci 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. Again, geographic variations and uneven development play a key role here, determining the pace of development and the morphology of the political terrain.
But here he tends to contradict himself. More on Fordism at the excellent Digital Archive on Fordism. He is, to his credit, critical of Trotsky’s idea of militarising labour, but he also has an exaggerated worry about ‘totalitarian’ hypocrisy, in 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.
LENIN’S TOMB: Gramsci on Americanism and Fordism
Since the shift from capital labour conflicts towards a sort of image of social solidarity, surplus-value production ceased to be put under question and became the starting point for the resolution of power conflicts within productive relations. The key is to view the unity of technical development and the ruling class interests as a transitory historical phase of industrial development. In light of some of his earlier writings, for example on socialist education, it’s fair to say that Gramsci had a small-c socially conservative aspect to his outlook, which conflicted with his small-l liberalism, and undermined his critique of the bourgeois state and the Catholic church.
Capital no longer circulates in the hands of producers and managers. Ideology, morality and culture are seen not as passive reflections of a dynamic economic base, but rather as formativeorganising and shaping the economic base, allowing or inhibiting the process of rationalisation or otherwise.
Manufacturing and industrial capitalism retains a centrality to global production, even as its spatial dimensions and distribution have been radically altered. The basis of Gramsci’s analysis was that Fordism represented potentially a new industrial-productive historical bloc.
The question was whether the working class itself would be able to take qnd this trend. It became the paradigmatic model for the organisation of capitalism for some decades thereafter.
He argued first that Fordism was possible to implement in the US chiefly inasmuch as the US lacked the “vast army of parasites”, that is classes with no economic function, the unproductive landed gentry, clerics and middle classes, who still predominated in parts of Europe.
What does it represent? 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.
He makes some heavy weather of the idea that American workers largely backed the Volstead Act Prohibition – which is a hostage to fortune as it is both not wholly ameicanism and omits the ajericanism of Christianity rather than industrial rationalism in grsmsci support for the Act.
Notes on Americanism and Fordism Arianna Bove Gramsci on the question offers valuable insights in what will later be the object of sociological research under the name of Taylorisation.