Andrew sent me a paper of his, which I hope will soon see publication someplace. Among other things, it’s on Ford’s cinema division.

Ford set up a section of his company to make movies. I can’t really speak to the cinema aspects of the paper as I know nothing about anything visual beyond my own (gustatory) responses to individual works.

What I got from the paper, and which I like and agree with, is the explicit criticism of the postfordism narrative in Negri and Lazzarato. Andrew quotes Debord, “The spectacular character of modern industrial society has nothing fortuitous or superficial about it; on the contrary, this society is based on the spectacle in the most fundamental way.”

Virno writes in his Grammar of the Multitude that the spectacle today serves as the industry of the means of production. If we hold to the Debord quote, though, we can say that this has been so for some time, or at least that the spectacle was one of the industries of one department of the means of production – specifically, of variable capital – prior to the shift to postfordism. Ford’s cinema division sought to further capitalize on the shopfloor – by filming the workers – and to capitalize on life outside of the shopfloor.

Andrew argues that this makes the intensive and subjective qualities – the putting to work of life – attributed to postfordism were present already during fordism. Ford’s sociology department was another piece of this ensemble (and one aimed in part at the specifically reproductive labors which occurred in autoworkers homes). As Andrew puts it, “the relation between Fordism and post-Fordism is as much one of continuity or emergence as rupture or break”. I prefer to emphasize the ‘post’-fordist qualities present within fordism already.

Andrew quotes Taylor, “What we are all looking for, however, is the ready-made, competent man; the man whom some one else has trained. It is only when we fully realize that our duty, as well as our opportunity, lies in systematically cooperating to train and to make this competent man, instead of in hunting for a man whom some one else has trained, that we shall be on the road to national efficiency.” Which is to say, for Taylor, capital must actively produce the subjectivity it needs in workers, in order to appropriate it.

(I have other notes made on a printout of Andrew’s paper but I cleaned my apartment and now I can’t find a thing. Typical. Once that turns up, more notes will placed here. There’s also much discussion in the paper of Jonathan Beller‘s work, which I’ve not read.)

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I had the thought after reading Andrew’s paper that insofar as Negri et al link the possibility of multitude to the type of production being done in postfordism, then, again, it should stand to reason that the most multitude-like aspects or sectors of the class prior to postfordism might appear in the sectors and aspects most akin to postfordism: immaterial and affective labor. It also struck me that multitude is different if conceived as the class-in-itself (a count of the class) than as the class-for-itself (a subjectification of/as multitude).