Overworked: Postfordism; Pt: I – ‘I Am a Machine’

by Beauchamp Art

‘I am a machine’ invokes efficiency, a positive post-human acceleration beyond the mind, acknowledging the bio-chemical processes of the body, but inadvertently oversimplifies organic ontology. To be a machine, is not to be better than a man, but to designate living functions an inferiority to the perpetual production of post-Fordist mechanisms. With Media’s growing ubiquity, then Manovich’s observation that “modern media follows the logic of the factory” [Manovich, 2001: 29] thus compartmentalised activities may extend over all aspects of life, and labor never ends.

Pt: I

Overworking may result in the need for a coping mechanism, as a new research indicates “Employees who work more than 55 hours a week are 13 per cent more likely to consume “risky” levels of alcohol.” [Merrill, 2015] If work is inescapable, as it follows the individual in the “hour after hour of unpaid micro labor” [Galloway, 2012: 136]; answering emails at home and working from mobile devices, then a chemical release becomes desirable; when the damage of the escape is seen as less than the mental cost of staying perpetually plugged into the post-Fordist Panopticon [Galloway, 2012: 108] workplace.

This environment designates that working mechanically as aspirational; having to break from work to perform bodily functions shows weakness; post-Fordism demands post-Humanism, “Life beyond the ego-bound human” [Braidotti, 2013: 133]; further weaving desire and identity into the core economic base and value chain [Galloway, 2012: 120]. Therefore, the mind and body and “the global city space requires and depends upon intelligent spaces of high-technological interactivity”, extending the self through “technologically mediated communication and knowledge transfer” [Braidotti, 2013: 179, 152] to cope with the tidal waves, a vessel must be built, and mankind’s ability to build lets people go further.

Whether through alcohol, mediated interaction, or virtual reality, “immersion has since become the mantra of modern escapist fantasy, […] the total eradication of self and reality beneath a superimposed fantasy” [Walter, 2013], a person may not simply drink to relive their spirits, but to be swallowed by them. As the divining rod leads to ever deeper waters, so they may loose sight of land and ship alike in the information ocean, much as hand-held electronic devices becomes so powerful, individuals struggle to keep up with them [Braidotti, 2013: 197]. The escapist-haters are jailers; the employers longing to chain workers to their desks, but total escape voids reality, and is madness.

Ironically, the desire for a automaton work-ethic reflects a counter-Luddite attitude that throws the self into the machine, whilst the machine, destroys manual labour. Only machines are seen worthy of contemporary employment. Such as “with the collapse of the mining industry, ‘there is a need to escape’, and heroin in these areas was associated with a need to ‘get away from it all’”, which is then blame for the deprivation of these communities, thus “symptoms have been confused with causes” [Jones, 2011: 195, 216] thereby redirecting blame from the perpetrators of profitable de-industrialisation onto its victims. Whilst giving work to machines and overseas wage-slaves, free of the burdens of human rights.  Deindustrialisation begets dehumanisation.