My new book project- revised

I have rewritten the introduction again, along first chapter of my new book. I think that you will find that the focus is much sharper now. Any comments would be appreciated.


2 comments so far

  1. jhc on

    Looks really quite interesting and clever title. A few areas which to me need a bit more explaining:
    1) the discussion of ‘labor discipline.’ So why is labor discipline perceived as being necessary? There obviously is a problem of incentives, long ago recognized by Marx, and picked up by the modern theory of incentives (e.g. Stiglitz and Shapiro on unemployment as a worker discipline device). Your paragraph makes it sound like there are tremendous costs to society to imposing labor discipine in the way we do, but you don’t hint at what would have to change to make it different, nor at the root cause of the problem.
    2) in your discussion of Chapter 4 you allude to ‘the extension of controls’ outside of the workplace. A brief example might help (ideology, religion?).
    3) I’ll be quite interested to read Chapter 7 on reading Smith. My first reaction however is to be somewhat more generous to Smith. He was after all writing in the 1770s, an era where he would much more clearly see (and speak out against) the historical consequences of hundreds of years of efforts to limit labor freedom and mobility than he could visualize the ‘modern’ factory system you speak about.

    As a matter or rhetorical focus I just don’t see why it is so important or wise to after Adam Smith. Yes of course he is viewed as a ideological founding father but chances are that he really was not as deceptive as you make him out to be, certainly not compared against so many other classical economists (Burke for one) who truly were intent on corraling labor and limiting their outside options for the labor discipline purposes you speak of. I fear you’ll just be drawing easy fire from your critics in ways that will obscure rather than highlight your arguments.

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a chapter on Smith, nor that you shouldn’t read his work critically, it’s just that as it presently reads, the proposal makes it sound like Smith laid out the blueprint for everything to follow and that once you dynamite this foundational work, everything else will collapse like a house of cards.

    At one point you speak of ‘disciple’ but you mean ‘discipline’.

    My two cents, from a very quick read.

    Good luck.

  2. conor on

    I like the title. I enjoyed Manufacturing Discontent and I look forward to this book.

    The title immediately reminded me of something a coworker said to me. He is married, with kids and owns a house. I have none of this. He said that the life he had was the “golden handcuffs.” He and his wife have the things they wanted and supposedly are supposed to want, yet it made them work harder than before.

    Reading the summary of Chapter three, I was led back to a blog post by Douglas Rushkoff that I read. In explaining the fallout of the credit crisis, he said:
    “We became more valuable for our borrowing power than our labor—which also meant there was no way to work off our debt.”

    I thought that this echoed the same sentiment of how workers are commodity. Our value is not derived from who we are, but we can produce, or borrow to produce for others.


    Conor Granahan, Chico State, 2002.

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