Prof. Dr. Felipe Luiz Gomes e Silva.

State University.


We intend this research to reflect on the subjective and objective degradation of work in the twenty-first century. We know that the crisis opened the Taylorist-Fordist system of production appears in the second half of the twentieth century, the system of flexible mass production. With the generalization of this production system the social phenomenon “karoshi” – death and disease from overwork-Japanese transcends reality and spread throughout the world. The ideology of engagement stimulated, “flexploitation” and appropriation of subjectivity of the working class – “it mentalité des pompiers” – break down various forms of resistance of the proletariat and generate, in the twenty-one “new” psychosocial phenomenon: suicide spot work. Thus, we ask: what are the fundamental causes of suicides in the workplace.

Work Degraded and Ungrateful.

The degradation of the physical and mental work is not a new theme in studies on the process of capitalist production. The work of Karl Marx is replete with analyzes of working conditions in England at the time of the Industrial Revolution, it is worth remembering the limits of English factory legislation in relation to health and education of the working class and also about the high levels of exploitation the work of women and children (p.550 -575.1980).
In the twentieth century, Harry Braverman, for example, gave a great contribution with his work “Labor and Monopoly Capital: the degradation of work in the twentieth century” (1981). It demonstrates how human beings are defiled by the organization of production and how they react against exploitation and mental suffering of being deprived of the ability to think. Examines how the logic of “work in crumbs” also advancing in the office with the application of Taylorist techniques of organization, systems and methods.

The transformation of humanity working on a “work force” in “factor of production” as an instrument of capital is constant, is an endless process. The condition is repugnant to the victims, whatever their salary, because it violates the human conditions of work, and since the workers are not destroyed as human beings, but simply used in inhuman ways, their critical faculties, intelligent and conceptual always remain to some degree, a threat of capital, however they are weakened or diminished. {…} is the dissatisfaction expressed by the high dropout rate of employment, absenteeism, reluctance to work rate tax, indifference, neglect, restrictions on production, and overt hostility to the administration (p.124, 5).
But we can not fail to mention the contributions that the philosopher Simone Weil in his classic text “rationalization” (1937), draws attention to two central aspects of the domination of capital: the exploitation of surplus value and the oppression of human beings. In his words:

So there are two issues to be distinguished: the exploitation of the working class which is defined by capitalist profit, and oppression of the working class in the workplace, which results in prolonged suffering, as appropriate, 48 hours or 40 hours per week, but that can go even beyond the factory occupying 24 hours a day (p.114, 1979).

As we know the crisis opened the Taylorist-Fordist system of production, a privileged locus of unskilled work and degraded, appears in the second half of the twentieth century, the system of flexible mass production (JIT / Kanban / QCC / Kaizen, Zero stock) and renewal of the ideology of engagement stimulated the School of Human Relations drafted in the 1930s, by Elton Mayo and colleagues (Hawthorne, Chicago, USA).
The rejection of repetitive work is inherent in the workers’ struggles against capitalist exploitation and intense with the introduction of the organization and management Taylor-Ford in the automobile industry. In 1914, for example, for a total of 14,000 factory workers, H. Ford had to admit, each year, 53,000 workers, the rejection was great and almost precluded capitalist production.
Lojkine states (1999) that the more “work is thankless” the greater the “tension of the will ‘, ie, the pressure on human beings, and therefore F. W. Taylor, in addition to the tight supervision, never forgot the need for “stimulus psychic / symbolic,” emulated the working class with the ideology of abundance for all, employers, employees and consumers would benefit from increased productivity and capitalist progress.
In the second half of the sixties, even with the “ideology of abundance for all,” the resistance struggle of the working class against the degraded work objectively and subjectively increased. Chrysler, for example, in 1969, nearly half of the workers failed to complete his job in the first ninety days. At Ford, in Detroit, to maintain a collective work of 5,000 men was necessary to hire 4,800 new workers, the rate of absenteeism reached the figure of 8% per month and in a situation close to full employment tended to increase. With some level of social welfare and full employment the proletariat is not easily docilizado rewards and incentives, alicientes mixed.
For capital, adherence to the company and working in the production process is something that should never be disregarded, is a crucial issue especially in the assembly line, where it is present, with all its intensity, the “thankless job” and painful. For productivity and quality of goods is guaranteed to be essential for the stereotyped hand gestures are played perfectly synchronized with excellence and total.
The researcher Simone Weil had already alerted to the suffering caused by the condensation of the pores of the working day, labor intensive and repetitive and laborious, often causes much mental and physical wear than the long journey. With Taylorism-Fordism employers had discovered a better way to explore the added value of the labor force than the extension of working hours. And the working class, having to undergo this form of domination, to “accommodate” working with the mind to drift, that is, repeated physical gestures manuals thinking about something else, daydreaming is nonetheless a form of psychic protection, monotonous work and painful causes great human suffering. It stated:

I am convinced that, beyond a certain limit, is much more serious for the human body to accelerate the pace, as Taylor wanted, than to increase working hours. {…} This system produced the monotony of work. {…} If you get to the habit, is at the expense of a decrease in morale. Actually, no one gets used, unless you can work something else in mind. But then you have to work at a pace that does not require much attention from the attendance of the pace of work need (Weil, p. 123, 4.1979).

In the context of resistance struggle capital seeks constantly new forms of management of the workforce. In this way the just-in-time (just-a-time) production built to some extent, subjective adherence of workers to work fragmented and alienated. The techniques for reducing inventory buffers and developed through participatory management of Quality Circles (QCC) combat absenteeism, apathetic behavior of the workers, and even the “spirit adrift, or conduct inimical to the work deteriorated, and painful” repugnant “.
The workers of Henry Ford had no right to talk during the repetition of hand gestures, for the supervision of the foremen was closed. With the mass production system flexible engagement seeks to imprison stimulated the creative mind of the working class, as we say the spirit adrift it was still a form of resistance to extreme hardship and monotony caused by intense repetition of mechanical gestures. The perfect synchronization of machine-like gestures requires that Antonico Gramsci called “psychophysical adaptation,” and this form of physical and mental adaptation causes a specific type of wear to the workers.
Elton Mayo and colleagues discovered during the search of worker attitudes in the company Western Electric (Hawthorne, Chicago) in the 1930s, the existence of informal groups who resisted the goals laid down by bureaucratic management. These groups of workers controlled to some extent, the production, a form of resistance struggle against absolute depersonalization of work.
According to the psychologist C. Dejours the essence of the work is subjective and the actual organization is not actually fully prescribed, there is room for negotiation of human suffering, to individual and collective defenses against capitalist exploitation.
Somehow Simone Weil in 1937, had discovered that the so-called “rationalization” of the work process is not perfect and capital sought to tame the workers as a gentle dog, combining, roughly, stimulants whip with pieces of sugar. New management strategies appear to clash capital and labor and psychologists are hired to create ways to “sweeten” the alienated and repugnant tasks, the modern theory of organizational behaviorists alicientes defend the mixed material and symbolic, in order to build the membership of the working operation and prevent the constant rejection of the degradation of human labor, ie the advancement of subjective and objective deterioration. Simone Weil said:

But the Taylorist-Fordist, even using the bait of gratification {…} hopefully not never achieves complete success, because rationalization is never perfect and because, thank God, the head of the workshop did not ever know everything. Remaining ways to get the body out, even for an unskilled laborer ((p.125, 1979).

It is obvious that the philosopher Simone Weil could not foresee that the management of production through just-a-time engagement and stimulated CCK could appropriate the tacit knowledge that they were in the hands of the working class and destroy, too, “the means of if you take the body out work without attendance of attention thinking about other things, “with the management of” human spirit “daydreaming is almost impossible. The “rationalization” of human conduct reaches unimaginable levels and contributing undoubtedly to new forms of suffering in the local and out of work.
As we know, this production system was initially developed in Japan and spreads throughout the industrialized world. This model is spreading in a particular historical moment, when it (re) defines the form of labor exploitation under a regime of capital accumulation predominantly financial world (Chesnais, 1997).
The attacks by “ideology pseudoliberal” against the gains of the working class in Western Europe, make the emergence of a new institute called the rule “flexploitation” (Bourdieu, 1998), ie, the rational management of “resources” human , through insecurity, fear of insecurity of employment, unemployment and the breakdown of class solidarity. The Institute of domination “flexploitation” spreads in the world of work and achieves several countries including invading the public sector, outsourcing has become generalized as an efficient way of managing people.
In the Toyota Company in Japan after the defeat of militant unionism, develops the “company union.” This is how it advances the “Japanese managerial ideology” toward human thought pre-molded, closed in time and space. Propagates the idea that the antagonism between social classes is a thing of the past, ie, capital and labor are partners and employees of the same enterprise, decreed the end of the story. The ideology of collaboration and partnership is spread by the central and peripheral countries, local and transnational companies to adopt proactive management of the engagement of the working class.
The Business Speech: The Words and their Meanings Miscellaneous.
The ideology is the result of a process by which the ideas of the class that owns the means of production are transformed into ideas from all social classes, ie, become dominant and universal. The class that dominates in the economic, social and political exerts its dominance in the realm of ideas, ie, in terms of “spirit.” In the end, the ideology of a class cover reality, transfigured the facts and this has been the role of management techniques, innovative and / or reheated in new styles.
The “Fordist thinking” from the outset, expressed as the ideology of human progress, its great promise and has not been different with a messianic ideology toyotist production just-a-time (JIT stock-Zero-Kaban, CCK- Encouraged engagement). Through the “rationalization” of the production process and fight against indolence, will build a new society, or a free society without poverty and unemployment. Would ensure higher wages, fewer hours of daily services and even the best possible working conditions and housing (Taylor, 1985, p. 33).
Reflecting on the application of methods of Industrial Engineering in Japan, some techniques that are applied in “labor studies”, for example, process flowchart, reveals Schonberger (1984) that the teachings of FW Taylor has never been abandoned and are present, including, in Quality Control Circles.
First of all, it should be noted that Freyssenet Michel et al (1985, p.7) point out that collaboration in group work coexists with competition, ie, company managers stimulate competition between groups of workers and to motivate teams the plant exposes their positions in the production of large panels, ie, all are aware of the successes and failures. The worker (s) required to be a contributor of capital, proactive, multi-functional and competitive jeopardizes any possibility of human solidarity in the workplace.

{…} CCQ intensifies the rhythms, the tasks increases, it makes more work, worsening working conditions with suggestions like “do in 80 hours what was done in 100 hours” (Freyssenet et al, 1985, p . 12-3).

In fact, this innovative principle will mean for the working class integration of their psychic energy to the production process, whose negative effect on health has been known by the name of sociomédico karoshi, illnesses and deaths caused by overdose of work. (Kenny et al, 1993, N. Chapman, 1995; Sargentini et al, 1996)
As it became clear, the operation of this new system requires that the collective worker develop the quality of a great spirit of cooperation-competition. Encouraged through participation in QC circles, non-participation involves punishment, and the results of the efforts that are posted in visible panels, workers gather to suggest gradual and continuous improvement (kaizen) in the production process. In general, teams are also responsible for cleaning tasks, minor repairs of tools and quality control easier. These activities and responsibilities combat dullness inherent in the minds of Fordism and the classic strategies of resistance collective or individual.
It is evident how this management scheme of the workforce generates, with the ideology of engagement encouraged a form of “qualification” much higher than the “simple psychophysical adaptation” that is, how it produces the worker dominated proactive multi-tranche by capital. A survey in the 90′s, the largest Japanese organizations, states definitively what “knowledge-creating company.” It is certainly a renewed process of appropriation of knowledge workers, in fact, an enhancement that maintains and modifies some of the principles of Taylorism-Fordism classic.

Concluding Remarks.

The capitalist management is dynamic and does not move in one direction, living with various forms of exploitation of labor, within various companies and various corners of the world. Technical progress is not unilinear and capital kicks with both feet, replays similar forms of forced labor, creates the so-called “temporary workers” pruning more than eight tons of cane per day without rest breaks, without application of the Law Fatigue Taylor, (re) invents the housework in the shoe industry, various types of freelancers (s) or working men and stick-to-all-works etc..
Therefore, it is evident that the “Japanese model” does not overcome the division between manual and intellectual work as suggested by the business discourse. The capital, indeed, (re) defines how to exploit the working class, reaching a total control over the workforce, that is, adherence to the spirit of the worker process of exploration.
In their studies, Burawoy (1995) reveals that the toyota factory regime is characterized by a form of management of the workforce despotic. Workers have no autonomy in the face of the supervisors, the rotation between tasks is carried out compulsory and has not improved as a result of working conditions, but the increased tempo.
Within the process of evolution of capitalism there is a clear trend that allows us to say that technical progress necessarily mean the improvement of living conditions of the working class.
The repetitive strain injuries or musculoskeletal disorders (RSI / WMSD) sound the most prevalent diseases among the related work in Brazil. In Japan peaked in the 70 and Australia in the 80s. In the United States in 1998, there were 650,000 new cases of RSI / WMSD, accounting for two thirds of absence from work (O’Neil, 2000).
It is known that there has been working the system refuses toyota in Japan In 1991, 25% of the workforce employed in April left the company in December (Silva, 1999).
The ideology of managerial task multifunctional (multi-skill), the introduction of the concept of customer satisfaction, reduce operating costs through the use of contract workers in cleaning services, the increase of the tasks performed by “student interns”, “hiring teachers volunteers “etc. are examples increasingly present in public universities.
In summary, we believe that revealing the ideology of labor engaged qualified and can stimulate critical reflection on the capitalist society and the process of social struggle. How long will the working class to bear the intense and repetitive, overexploitation of global capital?


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