The Next Ten Years in British Social and Economic Policy

By G. D. H. Cole | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE NEW CAPITALISM

"Rationalisation' and 'Scientific Management'—The gospel of 'industrial efficiency'—What does 'Rationalisation' mean?—Competition no longer extolled as the key to progress—Capitalist combination and its growth— The effects of war-time control—The workers urged to produce more and the capitalists less—The workers' reply to the demand for higher output—Effects of the post-war slump on Trade Unionism—Recent changes in productive technique and workshop practice—The decline of manual skill—Standardisation and its effects—Payment by results under the new conditions—The 'Americanisation' of industry—Mass-production certain to increase—Reaction of technical changes on skilled and less skilled workers and on their relations and relative wages—Craft Unionism largely obsolete—The increased transferability of labour— This weakens the workers' bargaining power—And reacts on the appeal of Trade Unionism—But it leads the workers to look more for political remedies—The future of strikes considered—The changed attitude of the worker to his job—Workshop discipline—A keener demand for leisure—Can Capitalism meet the workers' demands, and so outbid the Socialists?—This is the 'rationalisers'' hope—The dilemma of Capitalism stated—Even if it can solve the riddle of production, can it solve the riddle of distribution too?—Capitalist restriction of output—The obsession of the 'limited market'—How coal and cotton met the slump—How and why both failed—The right policy must band purchasing power on what society can produce, and not 'ration' production within a limited purchasing power—Will 'Rationalisation' solve this problem?— Lord Melchett and the Trade Unions—'Left Wing' critics of the Trades Union Congress—The expediency of a general negotiation—A temporary accommodation needed—How a Labour Government could increase Labour's industrial bargaining power—What terms do the Trade Unions want to make?—Industrial Psychology and its uses—The need for a reorganisation of Trade Union machinery—'Rationalisation'as a challenge to Trade Unionism.

During the past few years a new word, or rather an old word in a new sense, has made its appearance in our economic vocabulary. We have taken to speaking of the 'rationalisation' of industry, and the new word has almost ousted the old phrase 'Scientific

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