A Contest of Ideas: Capital, Politics, and Labor by Nelson Lichtenstein

By Nelson Lichtenstein

For greater than thirty years Nelson Lichtenstein has deployed his scholarship--on hard work, politics, and social thought--to chart the historical past and customers of a innovative the USA. A Contest of Ideas collects and updates lots of Lichtenstein's so much provocative and arguable essays and reviews.

These incisive writings hyperlink the destiny of the exertions move to the modifications within the form of global capitalism, to the increase of the civil rights stream, and to the activists and intellectuals who've performed such vital roles. Tracing vast styles of political idea, Lichtenstein bargains very important views at the dating of work and the kingdom, the tensions that typically exist among a tradition of rights and the assumption of cohesion, and the increase of conservatism in politics, legislation, and highbrow lifestyles.

The quantity closes with graphics of 5 activist intellectuals whose paintings has been important to the conflicts that interact the hard work move, public coverage, and political tradition.

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Indd 28 5/24/13 8:04 AM chapter 2 Supply-Chain Tourist; or, How Globalization Has Transformed the Labor Question I’m not much of a tourist, but I’m proud to think that I have visited what are, arguably, the three most important nodes of capitalist production during the last hundred years. When I toured the huge Ford production complex at River Rouge during the winter of 1978, “Detroit,” as both organizational metaphor and industrial city, was already well past its prime. But the world of classical Fordism still cast an impressive shadow across the economic landscape and the social imagination.

Steel in their heyday. But Wal-Mart owns no factories either in the United States or East Asia; it does not even own or operate the container ships or the four-million-square-foot San Bernardino distribution center that is so crucial to the transshipment of the billions of dollars in consumer products that leave Hong Kong and Shenzhen each month, destined for sale on a million Wal-Mart shelves in more than four thousand North American discount stores. Wal-Mart is not General Motors; there are no unions, most employees are women, and the company manufacturers nothing.

The giant retailers of our day, Wal-Mart first among them, “pull” production out of their far-flung network of vendors. The manufacturers no longer “push” it onto the retailer or the consumer. Or to extend the metaphor, the nearly continuous stream of container ships that move between Shenzhen and the Long Beach/Los Angeles port complex are “pulled” across the Pacific, not “pushed” by the Chinese manufacturers who stuff their product into nearly half a million forty-foot containers each year. Moreover “pull” production requires speed, predictability, and accuracy in the delivery of goods.

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