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Sunday, November 27, 2016

112. The Ford System And The Kronstadt Commune: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

The Ford System And The Kronstadt Commune 

"An anti-intellectual, a hater of individuals," is the way Richard Stites characterizes 
Taylor in Revolutionary Dreams, his book on the Utopian beginning of the Soviet Era. 
Says Stites, "His system is the basis for virtually every twisted dystopia in our century, 
from death under the Gas Bell in Zamiatin's We for the unspeakable crime of deviance, to 
the maintenance of a fictitious state-operated underground in Orwell's 1984 in order to 
draw deviants into disclosing who they are." 

Oddly enough, an actual scheme of dissident entrapment was the brainchild of J.P. 
Morgan, his unique contribution to the Cecil Rhodes-inspired "Round Table" group. 
Morgan contended that revolution could be subverted permanently by infiltrating the 
underground and subsidizing it. In this way the thinking of the opposition could be 
known as it developed and fatally compromised. Corporate, government, and foundation 
cash grants to subversives might be one way to derail the train of insurrection that 
Hegelian theory predicted would arise against every ruling class. 

As this practice matured, the insights of Fabian socialism were stirred into the mix; 
gradually a socialist leveling through practices pioneered in Bismarck's Prussia came to 
be seen as the most efficient control system for the masses, the bottom 80 percent of the 
population in advanced industrial states. For the rest, an invigorating system of laissez- 
faire market competition would keep the advanced breeding stock on its toes. 

A large portion of the intellectual Left jumped on Taylor's bandwagon, even as labor 
universally opposed it. Lenin himself was an aggressive advocate: 

The war taught us much, not only that people suffered, but especially the fact that those 
who have the best technology, organization, discipline and the best machines emerge on 
top; it is this the war has taught us. It is essential to learn that without machines, without 
discipline, it is impossible to live in modern society. It is necessary to master the highest 
technology or be crushed. 



But even in Russia, workers resisted Taylorish methods. The rebellion of the Kronstadt 
Commune in 1921 charged that Bolsheviks were "planning to introduce the sweat labor 
system of Taylor." They were right. 

Taylor distilled the essence of Bismarck's Prussian school training under whose regimen 
he had witnessed firsthand the defeat of France in 1871. His American syntheses of these 
disciplines made him the direct inspiration for Henry Ford and "Fordism." Between 1895 
and 1915, Ford radically transformed factory procedure, relying on Taylorized 
management and a mass production assembly line marked by precision, continuity, 
coordination, speed, and standardization. Ford wrote two extraordinary essays in the 
1920s, "The Meaning of Time, " and "Machinery, The New Messiah, " in which he equated 
planning, timing, precision, and the rest of the scientific management catalogue with the 
great moral meaning of life: 

A clean factory, clean tools, accurate gauges, and precise methods of manufacture 
produce a smooth working efficient machine [just as] clean thinking, clean living, and 
square dealing make for a decent home life. 

By the 1920s, the reality of the Ford system paralleled the rules of a Prussian infantry 
regiment. Both were places where workers were held under close surveillance, kept 
silent, and punished for small infractions. Ford was unmoved by labor complaints. Men 
were disposable cogs in his machine. "A great business is really too big to be human," he 
commented in 1929. Fordism and Taylorism swept the Soviet Union as they had swept 
the United States and Western Europe. By the 1920s the words fordizatsiya and 
teilorizatsiya, both appellations describing good work habits, were common across 
Russia. 

The National Press Attack On Academic Schooling 

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