Reviving post-post-Fordism

I had an odd intellectual experience recently. A US high school student wrote to me as part of an assignment, asking for my thoughts on Brave New World, and its current relevance. I replied talking about the role of “Our Ford”, and Gramsci’s contemporary concept of Fordism.

That got me thinking about post-Fordism, and then to the idea of post-post-Fordism, referring to the information economy that has emerged since the rise of the Internet. I expected that this would be a reinvention of the intellectual wheel on my part, but when I popped the phrase into DuckDuckGo, I got a single hit, which was part of a 2015 interview with UK radical economist Robin Murray. whose ideas about the concept were very similar to mine, but whose comments were very brief.

I didn’t know of Murray, but I thought I should write to him and ask him how he had developed the idea. Sadly, I was led to Wikipedia, which reported that Murray had died in 2017, apparently without writing anything further on the topic. I’ve found a handful of citations, but of the “in passing” variety.

I’m not sure where to go next with this. I’d like to revive the idea (if indeed it died with Murray), but I’m not sure how to deal with an intellectual history like this. Perhaps some of my readers knew (or knew of) Murray or have seen the idea of post-post-Fordism?

One thought on “Reviving post-post-Fordism

  1. This is a comment off the top of my head.

    I think we are on the brink of the post-worker, post (human) labor economy. From now on much human labor will become unnecessary and most humans will become redundant, to the elites anyway, for labor purposes. This is the dystopian direction in which elite decisions and mass compliance are taking us. Less and less physical labor will required unless it is of the arts, artisan, crafts-person variety admired and sought for those very qualities of human provenance, human (apparent) creativity and unpredictability or their delighting or surprising nature.

    The other requirement for human labor, aside from arts, crafts and entertainment will for social labor meaning health, welfare and education basically. Humans thrive better with human care and attention, obviously. It’s a eusocial species reality. However, the elites are uninterested in these things for the masses, although they are very interested in these things for themselves and also interested in having military, security, policing and technical human staff but only where these are not replaceable by drones, robots and AI. For the most part, they will soon be replaceable.

    Basically, this suggests a future where the elites don’t need any masses. They will want slaves, personal servants and pet humans or human zoos and “wilds” for amusement and organ / bio-product farming but they won’t want other humans for much else. This admittedly looks like a dystopian reduction ad absurdism. However, I do think this is where we are headed without a revolutionary change in the consciousness and actions of the masses. The future that the elites want is one where the great masses of humans are redundant. This will be the easiest way, from their perspective, to get under the ecological footprint requirements and still have a wonderful life exclusively for themselves.

    This very bleak view of humans who become elite under our current system is fully justified in my opinion. There has been no empirical support to date for the “good faith” assumption which Piketty, for example, is still making: though whether he assumes it about elites, masses or both, I have not ascertained. I am not going to read another 500,000 word or larger tome on economics, economic history and what we could sensibly do if the elites ever play ball. Such exercises have become a waste of time as theory without radical praxis is force-less.

    The current elites are either psychopaths, sociopaths or people wholly corrupted once they gain access to even the hallways, let alone the offices and command rooms of oligarchic and corporate capital. There are no answers there unless social democracy is effectively recaptured by the vote or other means. Either the masses still contain some goodness and will act ethically, properly and effectively soon or else we (the masses, the 99%) are totally doomed. It’s as simple as that.

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