Young and Keil 2009

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Attempts to engineer efficiency are really attempts to “fix” class struggle by destroying class consciousness

Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

This productivism had at least two distinct lineages, one of them North American and the other European. An American contribution came from the influential work of Frederick Taylor, whose minute de- composition of factory labor into isolable, precise, repetitive motions had begun to revolutionize the organization of factory work.39 For the factory manager or engineer, the newly invented assembly lines per- mitted the use of unskilled labor and control over not only the pace of production but the whole labor process. The European tradition of "energetics," which focused on questions of motion, fatigue, measured rest, rational hygiene, and nutrition, also treated the worker notionally as a machine, albeit a machine that must be well fed and kept in good working order. In place of workers, there was an abstract, standard- ized worker with uniform physical capacities and needs. Seen initially as a way of increasing wartime efficiency at the front and in industry, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Arbeitsphysiologie, like Taylorism, was based on a scheme to rationalize the body.40 What is most remarkable about both traditions is, once again, how widely they were believed by educated elites who were otherwise poles apart politically. "Taylorism and technocracy were the watchwords of a three-pronged idealism: the elimination of economic and social cri- sis, the expansion of productivity through science, and the reenchant- ment of technology. The vision of society in which social conflict was eliminated in favor of technological and scientific imperatives could embrace liberal, socialist, authoritarian, and even communist and fas- cist solutions. Productivism, in short, was politically promisc~ous."~~ The appeal of one or another form of productivism across much of the right and center of the political spectrum was largely due to its promise as a technological "fix" for class struggle. If, as its advocates claimed, it could vastly increase worker output, then the politics of re- distribution could be replaced by class collaboration, in which both profits and wages could grow at once. For much of the left, produc- tivism promised the replacement of the capitalist by the engineer or by the state expert or official. It also proposed a single optimum solution, or "best practice," for any problem in the organization of work. The logical outcome was some form of slide-rule authoritarianism in the interest, presumably, of all.42

Workforce Modernization

Dragging the workforce forward links to vicious utopian social planning

Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

In this reading, high modernism ought to appeal greatly to the classes and strata who have most to gain-in status, power, and wealth-from its worldview. And indeed it is the ideology par excel- lence of the bureaucratic intelligentsia, technicians, planners, and en- g i n e e r ~ . ~ ~ The position accorded to them is not just one of rule and privilege but also one of responsibility for the great works of nation building and social transformation. Where this intelligentsia conceives of its mission as the dragging of a technically backward, unschooled, subsistence-oriented population into the twentieth century, its self- assigned cultural role as educator of its people becomes doubly gran- diose. Having a historic mission of such breadth may provide a ruling intelligentsia with high morale, solidarity, and the willingness to make (and impose) sacrifices. This vision of a great future is often in sharp contrast to the disorder, misery, and unseemly scramble for petty ad- vantage that the elites very likely see in their daily foreground. One might in fact speculate that the more intractable and resistant the real world faced by the planner, the greater the need for utopian plans to fill, as it were, the void that would otherwise invite despair. The elites who elaborate such plans implicitly represent themselves as exemplars of the learning and progressive views to which their compatriots might aspire. Given the ideological advantages of high modernism as a dis- course, it is hardly surprising that so many postcolonial elites have marched under its banner.30

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Transportations infrastructure creates a way of life the manifests itself everyday to produce capitalism as a natural structure: refusing to endorse these modes of conveyance provides low scale resistance that interrupts capitalist time

Butler 2008 (Chris, Lecturer at Griffin Law School, “Slicing Through Space…” 17 Griffth L. Rev.)

The logic of visualisation does not remain the province of experts within the spatial sciences, but also infiltrates popular consciousness as a justification for abstract space as a natural state: Abstract space … simultaneously embraces the hypertrophied analytic intellect; the state and bureaucratic raison d’etat; ‘pure’ knowledge and the discourse of power. Implying a ‘logic’ which misrepresents it and masks its own contradictions, this space, which is that of bureaucracy, embodies a successful integration of spectacle and violence …58 For the commuter, orienting oneself around abstract space is dependent on the ability to comprehend plans, interpret codes and obey signals. The driver of a motor vehicle passing through the fragmented zones of the deconcentrated suburban city requires, above all else, ‘the capacity to read the symbols of the highway code, and with a sole organ — the eye — placed in the service of his (sic) movement within the visual field’.59 The freeway and the expressway exacerbate this effect, by reducing the space of the road to a homogeneous plane to be read according to well-understood norms and repetitious signals. Maintaining this homogeneity is inevitably linked to the elimination of blockages and delays to the circulation of traffic, and this returns us to the importance of time in the governance of mobility. However, rather than accepting Virilio’s assertion of a uniform and totalising dromological tendency of modern life as the last word, it is necessary to recognise the ways in which the city is an assemblage of rhythms — some generated by relations of domination and others cycling to an alternative tempo. This is the thrust of Lefebvre’s late writings on rhythmanalysis, in which he attempts a theorisation of how the interconnections between space and time unfold in everyday life. For Lefebvre, time in contemporary urban societies is measured in two ways: ‘fundamental, cyclical rhythms’ and ‘repetitions imposed by quantified time (ie the type of temporality dictated by clocks and watches)’.60 The repetitions associated with linear time mirror the fractured and homogeneous nature of abstract space: [Q]uantified time subjects itself to a very general law of this society: it becomes both uniform and monotonous while also breaking apart and becoming fragmented. Like space, it divides itself into lots and parcels: transport networks, themselves fragmented, various forms of work, entertainment and leisure.61 Abstract space generates an abstract social time, which is imposed on the users of space.62 The rhythms of the living body are subordinated to those repetitive gestures that contribute instrumentally to productive labour. An example is the manner in which transformations of the built environment, such as high-speed freeway developments, provide a platform for the repetitive stream of daily commuting traffic traversing the city. Sheller and Urry’s description of the temporal effects of the system of automobility in general are directly relevant to the experience of the freeway: Automobility … coerces people into an intense flexibility. It forces people to juggle tiny fragments of time so as to deal with the temporal and spatial constraints that it itself generates … [It] structur[es] and constrain[s] the ‘users’ of cars to live their lives in particular spatially stretched and time-compressed ways. By actively supporting the role of the private car in the overall system of urban mobility, the freeway invisibly but effectively marginalises other transport options. Historically in Brisbane, this has had the effect of making it very difficult for most households to avoid daily motor vehicle usage, unless situated very close to poorly serviced railway or busway stations. TransApex further entrenches this privatised model of mobility by subsuming transport and land use planning decisions to the objective of reducing isolated pockets of peak-hour congestion. It will effectively legislate for the extension of a spatiotemporal order, which reproduces the dominance of linear and quantified social rhythms. Virilio correctly identifies the dromological pressures to which these rhythms fall prey, but the city is also the site of a plurality of other rhythms, not all of which are dominated by increasing levels of speed.63 As Lefebvre states: [E]veryday life remains shot through and traversed by great cosmic and vital rhythms: day and night, the months and the seasons, and still more precisely biological rhythms … [T]his results in the perpetual interaction of these rhythms with repetitive processes linked to homogeneous time.64 Occasionally, the repetitive gestures generated by abstract space find themselves in direct conflict with lived time and the spaces produced by the body’s rhythms. Abstract, commodified space may provide the ‘envelope’ of time, but lived time resists its reductive power. ‘[R]eal social time is forever reemerging complete with its own characteristics and determinants: repetitions, rhythms, cycles, activities.’65 Accordingly, resistance to the laws of abstract space requires not just the reappropriation of physical space, but a reassertion of alternative rhythmic modes. This leads us to the prospect of a ‘differential space-time’, capable of supplanting the dominance of abstract space and its quantified, linear time.66 Marginalised means of travel, such as walking, cycling and the various mixes of public transport, may well be subject to the demands of linear time if simply integrated into the daily routine of commuting. But they have the advantage of removing the mobile body from the obligation to keep to the freeway speed limit in order to remain merged with the general flow of traffic. As such, these activities can be the basis for moments of ‘appropriated time’, resisting forceful social urges towards speed, repetition and quantification.67 Similarly, the act of aimlessly driving around town can approximate the leisurely stroll, while roadways may themselves be appropriated by those wishing to use them for purposes that evade the homogeneous intent of their original design.68 Fostering these alternative rhythms of mobility and securing a space for the practices that generate them form an essential part of any strategy seeking to confront the fragmentary, homogeneous and hierarchical tendencies of abstract space and producing a space-time open to social difference.


State transportation initiatives promote legibility of populations to enhance monitoring and colonize everyday life

Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

To this point, I have been making a rather straightforward, even banal point about the simplification, abstraction, and standardization that are necessary for state officials' observations of the circumstances of some or all of the population. But I want to make a further claim, one analogous to that made for scientific forestry: the modern state, through its officials, attempts with varying success to create a terrain and a population with precisely those standardized characteristics that will be easiest to monitor, count, assess, and manage. The utopian, im- manent, and continually frustrated goal of the modern state is to re- duce the chaotic, disorderly, constantly changing social reality beneath it to something more closely resembling the administrative grid of its observations. Much of the statecraft of the late eighteenth and nine- teenth centuries was devoted to this project. "In the period of move- ment from tribute to tax, from indirect rule to direct rule, from subor- dination to assimilation," Tilly remarks, "states generally worked to homogenize their populations and break down their segmentation by imposing common languages, religions, currencies, and legal systems, as well as promoting the construction of connected systems of trade, transportation, and comm~nication."~~ As the scientific forester may dream of a perfectly legible forest planted with same-aged, single-species, uniform trees growing in straight lines in a rectangular flat space cleared of all underbrush and poachers,85 so the exacting state official may aspire to a perfectly legi- ble population with registered, unique names and addresses keyed to grid settlements; who pursue single, identifiable occupations; and all of whose transactions are documented according to the designated formula and in the official language. This caricature of society as a mil- itary parade ground is overdrawn, but the grain of truth that it em- bodies may help us understand the grandiose plans we will examine later.86 The aspiration to such uniformity and order alerts us to the fact that modern statecraft is largely a project of internal colonization, often glossed, as it is in imperial rhetoric, as a "civilizing mission." The builders of the modern nation-state do not merely describe, observe, and map; they strive to shape a people and landscape that will fit their techniques of observati~n.~~ This tendency is perhaps one shared by many large hierarchical or- ganizations. As Donald Chisholm, in reviewing the literature on ad- ministrative coordination, concludes, "central coordinating schemes do work effectively under conditions where the task environment is known and unchanging, where it can be treated as a closed system."88 The more static, standardized, and uniform a population or social space is, the more legible it is, and the more amenable it is to the techniques of state officials. I am suggesting that many state activities aim at transforming the population, space, and nature under their jurisdiction into the closed systems that offer no surprises and that can best be observed and controlled. State officials can often make their categories stick and impose their simplifications, because the state, of all institutions, is best equipped to insist on treating people according to its schemata. Thus categories that may have begun as the artificial inventions of cadastral surveyors, census takers, judges, or police officers can end by becoming cate- gories that organize people's daily experience precisely because they are embedded in state-created institutions that structure that exper- i e n ~ e . ~ ~ The economic plan, survey map, record of ownership, forest management plan, classification of ethnicity, passbook, arrest record, and map of political boundaries acquire their force from the fact that these synoptic data are the points of departure for reality as state officials apprehend and shape it. In dictatorial settings where there is no effective way to assert another reality, fictitious facts-on-paper can often be made eventually to prevail on the ground, because it is on be- half of such pieces of paper that police and army are deployed


Central planned transportation infrastructure calculates and reduces all human activities to after effects of capital

Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

Believing that his revolutionary urban planning expressed univer- sal scientific truths, Le Corbusier naturally assumed that the public, once they understood this logic, would embrace his plan. The original manifesto of CIAM called for primary school students to be taught the elementary principles of scientific housing: the importance of sunlight and fresh air to health; the rudiments of electricity, heat, lighting, and sound; the right principles of furniture design; and so on. These were matters of science, not of taste; instruction would create, in time, a cli- entele worthy of the scientific architect. Whereas the scientific forester could, as it were, go right to work on the forest and shape it to his plan, the scientific architect was obliged to first train a new clientele that would "freely" choose the urban life that Le Corbusier had planned for them. Any architect, I imagine, supposes that the dwellings she designs will contribute to her clients' happiness - - rather than to their misery. The difference lies in how the architect understands happiness. For Le Corbusier, "human happiness already exists expressed in terms of num- bers, of mathematics, of properly calculated designs, plans in which the cities can already be seen."40 He was certain, at least rhetorically, that since his city was the rational expression of a machine-age con- sciousness, modern man would embrace it ~holeheartedly.~~ The kinds of satisfactions that the citizen-subject of Le Corbusier's city would experience, however, were not the pleasures of personal freedom and autonomy. They were the pleasures of fitting logically into a rational plan: "Authority must now step in, patriarchal authority, the authority of a father concerned for his children. . . . We must build places where mankind will be reborn. When the collective (unctions of the urban community have been organized, then there will be individ- ual liberty for all. Each man will live in an ordered relation to the whole."42 In the Plan Voisin for Paris, the place of each individual in the great urban hierarchy is spatially coded. The business elite (indus- trials) will live in high-rise apartments at the core, while the subaltern classes will have small garden apartments at the periphery. One's sta- tus can be directly read from one's distance from the center. But, like everyone in a well-run factory, everyone in the city will have the "col- lective pride" of a team of workers producing a perfect product. "The worker who does only a part of the job understands the role of his labor; the machines that cover the floor of the factory are examples to him of power and clarity, and make h i m part o f a work ofperfection to which his simple spirit never dared to aspire."^ Just as Le Corbusier was perhaps most famous for asserting that "the home is a machine for living," so he thought of the planned city as a large, efficient machine with many closely calibrated parts. He assumed, therefore, that the cit- izens of his city would accept, with pride, their own modest role in a noble, scientifically planned urban machine. By his own lights Le Corbusier was planning for the basic needs of his fellow men-needs that were ignored or traduced in the existing city. Essentially, he established them by stipulating an abstract, simpli- fied human subject with certain material and physical requirements. This schematic subject needed so many square meters of living space, so much fresh air, so much sunlight, so much open space, so many es- sential services. At this level, he designed a city that was indeed far more healthful and functional than the crowded, dark slums against which he railed. Thus he spoke of "punctual and exact respiration," of various formulas for determining optimal sizes for apartments; he in- sisted on apartment skyscrapers to allow for park space and, above all, for efficient traffic circulation. The Le Corbusian city was designed, first and foremost, as a work- shop for production. Human needs, in this context, were scientifically stipulated by the planner. Nowhere did he admit that the subjects for whom he was planning might have something valuable to say on this matter or that their needs might be plural rather than singular. Such was his concern with efficiency that he treated shopping and meal 1 preparation as nuisances that would be discharged by central services I like those offered by well-run hotels.44 Although floor space was pro- vided for social activities, he said almost nothing about the actual so- cial and cultural needs of the citizenry.

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