Kevin Carson’s Brilliant Essay

Though I found myself nodding in agreement all the way through this, there are a couple of gems I found particularly noteworthy.

“No matter how insightful and resourceful they are, no matter how prudent, as human beings in dealing with actual reality, nevertheless by their very nature hierarchies insulate those at the top from the reality of what’s going on below, and force them to operate in imaginary worlds where all their intelligence becomes useless. No matter how intelligent managers are as individuals, a bureaucratic hierarchy makes their intelligence less usable. The only solution is to give discretion to those in directcontact with the situation.” – pg. 15

“Taylorism not only disempowered workers; just as importantly, it empowered managers and technicians. It was a subspecies of what Scott calls the “high modernist ideology,” and more specifically of its American branch (the Progressive movement of the early 20th century that was the direct progenitor of mid-20th century liberalism). Progressivism and its Taylorist component reflected, and served as a legitimizing instrument for, the will to power of the white collar managerial professional classes. Industry was to be governed by a set of ‘best practices,’ Weberian work rules, which were best knowable to the specialists at the top of the hierarchy. And the regime of efficiency and rationality—what Scott calls “slide rule authoritarianism”—would replace class conflict with ‘class collaboration’ by increasing production and rationally promoting the common interests of all.71” – pg. 19

“That kind of deliberate deskilling of service workers at the expense of quality, in order to shift resources upward from customer support staffing to CEO salaries and bonuses, could only occur in an industry where competition in quality of customer services has been suppressed by cartelization. When the market is controlled by a handful of giant oligopoly firms with the same dysfunctional culture, firms can afford shoddy, half-assed service.

As mentioned earlier, all of this reflects the Sloanist metrics by which senior corporate management measures cost and efficiency, which are roughly comparable to the metrics by which the folks in Gosplan tried to manage the Soviet economy.” – pg. 25

“To put this in Western economic terms, liberatory technologies now offer the potential to eliminate the necessity for this tradeoff between autonomy and standard of living. We want to render ourselves as ungovernable as the people of Zomia, without the inconvenience of living in the mountains and swamps or living mostly on root crops. The more areas of economic life that are rendered illegible to the state through liberatory technology, the less the differential in standard of living between state and nonstate areas.” – pg. 31-32

 

Just a fantastic read: http://c4ss.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/James-Scott.pdf

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