Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Ford Lenin Hitler Chaplin


Lenin admired Ford as one of the great contributors to the twentieth century revolution and it was not unusual to see portraits of  Ford and Lenin hanging side by side in Soviet Union factories.

Adolf Hitler also revered Ford. He proclaimed, "I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany" and modeled the Volkswagen, the people's car, on the model T. In the USA, capitalists like John Rockefeller acclaimed Ford and described his production facilities as the "Industrial Marvel of the Age ." US President Woodrow Wilson asked him to run for Senate as a progressive Democrat.

Leftist artists denounced his impact on  society. Charlie Chaplin satirized mechanical labor in the movie, "Modern Times." Aldous Huxley dated the beginning of "degeneration" on "the year of our Ford."

Yet a survey of American workers found they ranked him above Franklin Roosevelt and Walter Reuther as the modern American leader "most helpful to labor."

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The above extract is from the book The Peoples Tycoon by Steven Watts.

The contrast between how intelligentsia (journalists, artists, writers) perceived him - as an idiot and a traitor - and how capitalists, politicians and workers perceived him, is striking. Today, Henry Ford is mostly ignored. Most writers and artists continue think of the car as a perverse polluting dinosaur while ungratefully and hypocritically wanting their own.

I have also been reading Henry Ford's autobiography My Life and Work. It is stunning for its insights on three different fields - engineering, economics and human psychology. I will blog on them shortly. From his autobiography, it seems that Ford was keen on making farming simpler and less brutal and wanted to make efficient machines like tractors for the job. But farmers took no interest in his efforts. It was the general public buying cars in large numbers that eventually persuaded farmers, that internal combustion engines were good for farming. It is Ford, not Diesel and Benz, therefore who should get the credit for what I call the Second Green Revolution.

Related Blogs

Henry Ford - idiot, traitor
Traffic - LMS
On Charles Parsons and turbines

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