TA0061: The Terror of the Machine

TA0061-TerroroftheMachineThe Terror of the Machine

WRITTEN BY:
Henry Ford

NARRATED BY:
Michael Scott

In this autobiography, the American industrialist Henry Ford wrote, ‘Repetitive labor… is a terrifying prospect to a certain kind of mind… but to other minds, perhaps I might say the majority of minds, repetitive operations hold no terrors.’ Pushing the ‘efficiency of movement’ system of Frederick Winslow Taylor to its ultimate realization, Ford tirelessly toiled to reduce factory and assembly line work to its essential operations. This, in turn, reduced factory workers to automatons, seemingly nothing more than extensions of the machines for which they labored. Ford was not bothered by the prospect of reducing people to machines, since he firmly believed that it did not bother them and that they could do no better. But, paradoxically, and like all the great American industrialists, Ford feared the prospect that these ‘mindless automatons’ might get organized and demand their rights. So along with efficiency of movement came a system of indoctrination and punishment to insure that workers obeyed orders. In short, the industrialized west was built on the systematic oppression of its working people.

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henryfordHenry Ford

Henry Ford was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and father of modern assembly lines used in mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. He was a prolific inventor and was awarded 161 U.S. patents. As sole owner of the Ford Company he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”, that is, the mass production of large numbers of inexpensive automobiles using the assembly line, coupled with high wages for his workers—notably the $5.00 a day pay scale adopted in 1914. Ford, though poorly educated, had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace.