[Marxism] Character of Assembly Line Work

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Sep 26 12:58:14 MDT 2009

Néstor Gorojovsky wrote:
> I would add that the "contemplative" mood described below is of itself
> a most demanding job, because it requires full attention of the worker
> to a most boring process, and diminishes the worker´s abilities to the
> single ability of pushing buttons.

I haven't been following this thread so I don't kow how relevant the
following is.

I once, very briefly, had a job exactly as Nestor describes. In the
summer of 1955 I worked on a gear-shaver at Detroit Transmission
Division of General Motors. The job ordinarily was quite onerous; in
fact, curing the first two weeks, each morning when I got up (it was an
evening shift) I would spend about 20 minutes alternately rubbing
alcohol on my hands (until the cuts from steel shavings burned too much)
and exercising them in ice water (until they got too cold) before I
could close myf ingers around the handle of a coffee cup. Anyhow, at
that time they were installing what was to be a more automated process,
one of which was this really huge gear-shaver which, ultimately, would
not have an attendant but be 'fed' by some sort of onveyer. They were
testing it, and put me on it for a four-hour shift. All I did was pick
up a gear (about the size of a horseshoe) and place it on a track. Stand
there for what seemed for hours, pick up another gear and place it on
the track. No way of either slowing down or speeding up the process.

I nearly went out of my fucking mind by the time the evening was over. I
agree whole-heartedly with Nestor.


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