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Young, R.M. (1991). Psychoanalytic critique of productivism. Free Associations, 2(4):507-514.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(4):507-514

Explorations in Theory

Psychoanalytic critique of productivism

Robert M. Young

Both of the terms in my title are catchalls. By psychoanalysis I mean that we need to look at the inner world, at group processes, at the psychodynamics of society. By productivism I mean the kinds of politics that are associated with the pre-Thatcher left. I will try to characterize this as I go along, but the first thing I want to say is that it seems to me that many of the post-Fordist critiques are themselves still allowing the point of production and the social relations of production to determine left politics in too rigid a way.

It is often said these days that mass politics at the point of production with class-wide appeals is obsolete because of the increased fragmentation and flexibility of production and because of the created fragmentation of the sites where politics was made in the past. Mass politics based on trade union solidarity is falling victim to beggar-my-neighbour unions, unions based on allegedly innovative forms of the organization of work called post-Fordist and epitomized by flexible specialization, new incentives and the kinds of work discipline evoked by Nissan and other paternalistic firms.

My

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