Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Formal Blog #4 Eric B.

Frederick Winslow Taylor’s states in his essay “The Principles of Scientific Management, “...the greatest factor tending toward increasing the output, and thereby the prosperity of the civilized world, has been the introduction of machinery to replace hand labor” (Taylor 72). This line stands as a summary of the ideas that have been presented throughout the essay, regarding the broad affect that scientific management can have upon a society that implements it.

In Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee At King Arthur’s Court, Hank Morgan describes his plans for sixth century England early in the novel. Hank states, “...I had the beginnings of all sorts of industries under way--nuclei of future vast factories, the iron and steel missionaries of my future civilization. I was training a crowd of ignorant folk into experts--experts in every sort of handiwork and scientific calling” (Twain 101). Hank’s plans are similar to the idea that Taylor leaves the reader with at the end of his essay, increase the prosperity of world with the introduction of machinery. Hank wants to take control of England, and he believes that he will accomplish his goal with ideas of scientific management.

One of the biggest obstacles that Hank must overcome is the Established Church. His goal is to remove people from the church’s education allowing them to be completely in his control. He wishes to break these “ignorant folk” free from the church and train them to be “experts.” Hank presents an option to two people while they are at their worst. A man is being tortured, his wife is about to put him out of his misery and starve to death herself, because the church will rob her of everything. After Hank speaks with the couple about the suffering that they were willing to go through for each other He goes on to say, “...well, it humbles a body to think what your sex can do when it comes to self-sacrifice. I’ll book you both for my colony; you’ll like it there; it’s a Factory where I’m going to turn groping and grubbing automata into men” (Twain 159). Hank has offered them a new life that will presumably be quite the improvement over their current situation.The church was going to strip these people of their lives and take all of their possessions, whereas; Hank will give them the ability to start new lives, with jobs, an education and therefore a means by which to care for their family.

Hank, like Taylor, has a way in which he convinces the subjects that this new life will bring extraordinary benefits that the previous life could not provide. Hank presented his option, salvation, to people that had only one other choice, to die. Taylor also takes a persuasive approach by repeating the words “high-priced man” while talking Schmidt, a pig-iron handler. Taylor viewed Schmidt as a man with the potential to accomplish much more. Taylor therefore speaks to Schmidt in a way that emphasizes how completing more work will benefit Schmidt. “This seems to be rather rough talk. And indeed it would be if applied to an educated mechanic, or even an intelligent laborer. With a man of the mentally sluggish type of Schmidt it is appropriate and not unkind, since it is effective in fixing his attention…” (Taylor 21). Hank and Taylor both rely on exploitation of the situation to succor their plan.

Hank is a very smart man regarding his methods of scientific management that he implements. Within the short time, Hank is able to construct a technological civilization that was at least a thousand years ahead of its time. The term technological civilization is used to emphasize that the social aspects of the society did not advance nearly as far as the technology, as can be seen when only fifty-four men fight alongside Hank at the battle of Sand-Belt. The fifty-four men where able to take on tens of thousands of people with the technology that Hank introduced. The reason that Hank and his men fought such a large enemy, was the church’s influence over the people that hadn’t be fully educated by Hank. They where able to scare these people away form Hank and his technology. As stated in the opening quote from Taylor, the greatest factor in the advancement of society is the implementation of machines. Hank worked hard to advance the society with his introduction of the telephone, newspaper and electric lights. In the end, from a technological standpoint, Hank did wonders for the sixth century.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

I enjoyed this post a lot, but I can't help beginning by raising a couple questions.

First, isn't it strange that Taylor emphasizes the centrality of machines, but that his actual discussions, e.g., on moving pig iron, shoveling, brick-laying, etc., have nothing to do with contemporary technological advances? Scientific management seems focused on old technologies, not new ones...

Laying that aside, what I enjoyed most here was your focus on one aspect of their management techniques: isolating individual men to attack/seduce them at their weakest moment. I genuinely liked your post, but I can also imagine an even better one more strictly focused on the rhetoric of Morgan & Taylor at these moments...