"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Old School" views on Fast Capitalism

From the reading "The New Work Order", a dilemma is brought to attention that I believe is of great importance. This dilemma deals with the workers who were trained in the ideals "old capitalism" and how they may or may not adapt to the new work order. The author paints a picture where these workers have widespread cynicism- believing fast capitalist practices "dupe" the worker into working harder and longer for less reward and with perhaps greater risk.

One of the pillars of fast capitalism is a progressive movement in how production and economic processes are organized. When I think of old school capitalism- companies like GM/Ford etc come to mind. There is an obvious hierarchy among employees and  all of the processes (think assembly line) are centralized- unlike the major motifs of fast capitalism (reduced hierarchy, decentralization, direct contact with customers). Essentially, big corporations (such as GM, Ford) would cease to exist in their current forms and would instead operate more like a local mom and pop company, as a more local and personal type of business erasing the companies long standing history, politics and economics (portrayed in the article as a "mom and pop" shop).

This type of business is the exact opposite of old school, where "standard" products were sold in LARGE quantities to people who wanted to become standardized (once again, think assembly line). The idea behind this was that all Americans desired the same goods and that companies saw standardized consumption as a good thing. Do I think that the old school outlook can continue to exist and deliver results? Absolutely not. I think the text clearly explains that customizing consumer desire > democracy and I believe that's the direction we are trending towards.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for pondering the cynicism aspect of Gee's chapter, Jason. It is likely that much of the rhetoric of fast capitalism engenders cynicism (I've experienced it first hand in the Bureau of prisons), but it is also true that critical writing like these chapters tends to foreground the insincerity and manipulations. We should also read against these texts, even when generally sympathizing with them. For example, Lindsey works for an organization that truly does good work for some of the most vulnerable and marginal members of our society. She told me she had to read against Gee to remember that, despite the "rhetoric and manipulation" that comes down from her corporate leaders, these are people charged to mobilize their employees to support their very noble mission. So, maybe critical theorists need to to stay on point to fight their uphill battles, but we will need to sort out when and how much of this to apply to our own advocacy work. Does this make sense? :)B


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