90. Human Resources Management: Social-Engineering in the 20th Century

http://www.openfilm.com/v/27189?c1=0x54abd6&c2=0x006699

35 Important takeaways from this documentary:

00:00:45 “Give me a baby, and I can make any kind of man.” –John B. Watson, founder of Behaviorism

00:01:03 “Behavior is predictable, and therefore controllable.”

00:01:50 “Fear can be conditioned.”

00:02:36 “The driving force in society is not love, but fear.”

00:07:19 “the maze is adopted as a symbol of hope that people can be controlled in a very scientific manner; that social life could be remade on the basis of scientific principles.” -Rebecca Lemov, author of World as Laboratory

00:08:10 “The science of behavior is based on the principles of operant conditioning, i.e. Behavior modification.”

00:09:07 “Behaviorism is the whole idea of behavior modification where you can use various kinds of techniques to modify people’s behaviors so that they stop doing what you don’t want them to do and that they start doing what you want them to do.” -George Ritzer, author of The McDonaldization of Society

00:10:00 “Behavorism suggests that organisms can be viewed as flesh and blood machines. Like machines, we require fuel. Like machines, we can be put to work for a specific cause. Like machines, we can be repaired, or redesigned for new purposes. And like machines, we can be compelled into performing a certain action at the push of a button.”

00:11:50 “Civilization comes with a light side and a dark side.  Every civilization believes in it’s own propaganda, so it tends to emphasize the light side.” -Morris Berman, author of The Reenchantement of the World

00:12:10Tropism – any directed response by an organism to a constant stimulus”

00:12:29Julius Sachs’ work with plants begat Jaques Loeb’s work with insects begat, who begat Ivan Pavlov’s work with animals, who begat John B. Watson’s work with human beings. Watson was always interested in control.”

00:15:15 “Alongside the rise of Jim Crow segregation…Corporations developed a much more elaborate way to justify the fact that the wealthy corporate elite to explain the reason why. That reason became the basics of the Eugenics movement, you were either born with good genes, or not good genes.” -Sharon Smith – Historian.

00:16:20 (elaborating on the Eugenics movement) “Those that have good genes should be encouraged to reproduce, and those who are ‘unfit’ should be discouraged from reproducing.” -Sharon Smith – Historian

00:16:45 “Eugenics was rooted in the idea that you can A) recognize pre-biological differences of people based on their ethnicity, and that B) you could construct a policy that favors some ethnic groups over others, both in terms of immigration policy and in terms of integration into the U.S. society based on this hierarchy of heredity… It took root in universities. It took root in the highest offices of government. We see that this belief is going to play an important role in shaping immigration policy after the passage of the immigration act of 1924 which essentially creates a national quota system that favors immigrants based on their ethnicity and based on their nationality.” -Justin Chacon,  author of No One is Illegal

00:18:58 “The Eugenics movement was created and funded by the corporate elites that ruled America coming into the 20th century. They funded these ‘research programs’…As the eugenics movement developed it went in a really horrible direction…” -Sharon Smith – Historian

00:22:40 Adam Smith warned that division of labor would create a human catastrophe for human society. Frederick Winslow Taylor, the father of Scientific Management, disagreed. Taylor believed that factories could run far more efficiently if tasks were mechanized and broken down even further.  On the surface, increased effeciency allows more products to be manufactured in a shorter amount of time.”

00:23:30 Below the surface, factory work was a highly-skilled labor, which meant that the power lied in with the workers. And workers could go on strike when they felt they were being treated unfairly. For management, this was an unacceptable bargaining chip. For Frederick Taylor, it was simply inefficient.

00:24:30 “Taylorism was certainly about de-skillling.  It was about studying about what skilled workers did to decompose those tasks into their basic elements and then teaching people to do specific aspects of it without learning the entire set of it, or array of activities that were involved, and are involved for a skilled person.  In that sense it’s a mechanism of control because it lets you dectate to people ‘well, you do this part of the entire task and you don’t do anything else and you dictate to 8,10, or 12 people various specfic aspects of the whole task rather than allowing a skilled person to decide how the entire task should be done… This takes power away from the workers and the collectivity of workers makes them less likely to be rebellious and less likely to form various kinds of movements that would operate against, broadly, the capitalist system.” -George Ritzer, author of The McDonaldization of Society

00:27:00 ” So instead of a thinking creative skilled worker, you had a kind of mindless kind of worker who repetively did the same task over and over again. That kind of worker is robot-like.” -George Ritzer, author of The McDonaldization of Society

00:27:41 “In the study ‘Where have all the robots gone’ by Herald Shepard and Neil Harrick? confirmed that people trapped in an unrewarding work life were not only more likely to be dissatisfied, but were also more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, a feeling of helplesness, alienation, and to be plagued by a variety of mental disorders. The least satisified workers were the least likely to vote or meet in any organisations.”

00:29:00 “The corporate entity is pathological because it drives towards profit regardless of the broader implications. It doesn’t matter if your drive toward profit induces pain and suffering, pollutes the environment, or literally destroys the society.  You’re forced by the nature of the social relations inside and among corporations to pursue and accumulate profit.

00:28:21 “If you work in an environment where you’re beaten up all the time, and if you work in an environment that is so fragmented and so robs you of dignity and so robs you of the expression of your own capacities, then they’ll be diminished and you’ll be bored and reduced in your potentials, and you’re not too likely to take initiative in other domains either. This is why fragmenting of work is pursued. It weakens the workers.  Not just on the job, but in their communities too. Which is what you want them to do so that they don’t take more of the income for themselves thus reducing profits for the elites.  So it’s perfectly sensible approach from those at the top who are trying to stay there. What you’d have to do is create a new kind of economy in which these situations and these conditions don’t restrict our options.” -Michael Albert, author of Parecon

00:35:20Researchers found that the very act of allowing workers to talk about their feelings reduced the possibility of aggitation and rebellion. It made workers feel as if they mattered. Even if the social relations remained fundamentally the same.”

00:35:37The Hawthorne Experiments found was that no matter what changes were made, everytime they had made a change after having discussed it with employees, production went up and employee satisfaction went up. So what came out of (the experiments from a hierarchal context) was a industrial public relations school, mostly taken as a way to control employees by trying to manipulate them ideologically.  I would say the wrong lesson was learned: put out a suggestion box so employees can feel they are being asked, but you don’t necessarily pay any attention to it… and in real teamwork organisations employees get to take each other into account.  They begin caring about each other… Employees say ‘if we’re treated better, we’ll work better’…Now the broader social impact of doing these kinds of things… is that they become more collaborative and care more about each other.” -Stephen M. Sachs, Political Scientist

00:39:27 “In participatory economics (‘in a good ecomomy’), instead of organising economic life to keep a small sector of people on top and to enrich them beyond any sensibility, and to utilize productive apparatus, even when it entails doing things that are a complete waste of time – building missiles that will never be used, or (incomprehensive garble), we produce and distribute, for purposes of human fulfillment and development”

00:40:50 “Taylorism, combined with Human Management, make up the cornerstones in the 21st century. In China, scientific management has taken on nightmare-ic proportions. So extensive is the division of labor that millions of people are forced to perform roughly the same motion thousands of times a day. In the US, workers in some assembly plants are required to be in continual motion for up to 57 seconds a minute. In Indonesia, sweatshops owned by corporations like Nike chart productivity down to a thousandth of a second. Corporations are increasingly resorting to surveilance monitoring and computerized monitoring.”

00:41:52 “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he has learned in school” -Albert Einstein

00:41:57 “A primary reason why the mass of the American population resisted compulsory schooling was a widespread belief that it’s purpose had little to do with public education, and everything to do with control. Their suspicions were well founded.”

00:48:12 ”With graduation, the community receives a new supply of young people who want a better life on the one hand, and to bear the ability to work for it on the other. Now the tax investment returns to the taxpayer.”

00:48:35 Taylorism meets public education by way of the Gary Plan?, whereby “different subjects would be taught by different departments. Students would be herded from classroom to classroom in order to digest a stream of standardized factual information. Like Pavlov’s dogs, they would do so at the ring of bell.”

00:50:02 “You will not find the doctor’s son, however ignorant he is, in a class with the marginalized kids.” – John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down

00:53:41 “(Students) tend to pick the easiest possible tasks. That’s not because their being lazy, its because their being rational.  If we tell kids we want to see a better report card, that we want to see higher grades, naturally they’ll pick the shortest book or the easiest project because that maximizes the chance of achieving that goal.” -Alfie Kohn, Education theorist

00:58:30 “Corporations claim they want kinds that can thin outside of the box, but only so far as they’re caught within a larger box that works to the advantage of the free market; which means that the market economy, based on competition, based on economic rather than human considerations, ends up controlling the system.” -Alfie Kohn, Education theorist

00:59:22 The frustration-aggression hypothesis was an attempt by behaviorists at Yale to combine their own science of behavior with that of the Freudians – When people perceive that they are prevented from receiving just rewards, their frustration is likely to turn to aggression.

01:00:25 Human beings are not rats. Armed with the necessary information, humans can come to a logical conclusion about whose to blame for our frustrations in life. Rightly or wrongly, we often point the finger back at ourselves.

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