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Forging Global FordismNazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Contest over the Industrial Order$
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Stefan J. Link

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691177540

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691177540.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The Populist Roots of Mass Production

The Populist Roots of Mass Production

(p.19) 1 The Populist Roots of Mass Production
Forging Global Fordism

Stefan J. Link

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces mass production to its beginnings in the United States, where it emerged from the distinctive ideology of Midwestern populism. Why did Detroit, of all places, pioneer the industry that would shape the twentieth century like no other? Was Detroit simply lucky, as it were, to count a Henry Ford and a Ransom Olds among its citizens — incarnations of the American genius for innovation and entrepreneurship? Figures like Ford and Olds acted within the political economy of the Midwest and shared the characteristic populist commitments that suffused the region. These two factors — political economy and political ideology — go a long way toward explaining why, at the turn of the twentieth century, southeastern Michigan was in an auspicious position to get ahead of rapid technological developments and to spread its fruits widely. Experts with machines and metal, Midwestern mechanics gave their producerism a characteristic technological spin. This kind of producer populism permeated Detroit politics. The chapter then looks at a series of very different conflicts which honed Henry Ford's conviction that automotive mass production should reflect a producer-populist orientation.

Keywords:   mass production, United States, populism, Detroit, Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, political economy, political ideology, producerism, automotive mass production

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