Sunday, August 29, 2010

Industrialism -- Automation Vs. Craftsmanship

The only automation I presently like is what must be done, but nothing else. What I'm saying is, if it's not necessary then I would rather you didn't do it. Thank you. Industry, in order to have craftsmanship, needs men to do the work.

To me, it's a sad thing to see a factory where you have machines with their big, ugly metallic arms poking and prodding pieces on things, welding them with a spritz, and moving them down the line. No! Manufacturing is for men, a whole hands-on thing that's good for men's spirits and souls ... as long as it's done in a humane way, that is apart from the major industrial powers' abusive practices. The Residential Industrial Movement (RIM) has made manufacturing humane again! Every man can flourish!

Now, some of the things that I'd consider necessary, those times when I would see automation as necessary, would include the obvious: heavy lifting, stacking in high places, and shuffling cards during lunch breaks. Some things you just can't trust men with.

But for all the rest, I prefer the hands-on approach, not just because men need to make a living, but for the craftsmanship that we expect. A machine isn't a craftsman; it does the same thing over and over by rote, always the same way. An actual man, assuming he's not drunk, not too tired, not too distracted, not mad at the company, and has taken his meds, has the pride it takes for genuine craftsmanship.

Of course I've been in factories. And I know that men can fail and often do. If you get a company that allows women to work there, as I've seen, you get fights on the line. Someone's jealous. This really gets bad if there's a husband in one part of the plant and a wife elsewhere. Invariably, she'll be flirting, pulling up her blouse for a "peek" and all the rest, and the man will go ballistic and bash in someone's head with an 80 pound pipe-wrench. Or one guy will owe someone else money and they'll get in a fight about it. Or someone will show up drunk and start spilling the beans on someone. Or someone will sneak out early. Or someone will be sleeping up in the top of the stacks of parts. Or a leadman will be pulling rank against a peon, making him lose face in front of his peers. Or he'll be quick to cite you for "insubordination" for the slightest thing. Or someone will make a racial crack. Or misunderstand something you said, since the factory's a loud place, and you're written up. It's endless what can happen with men.

But what about machines? They have their problems too. Of course there's no jealousy, no sexual shenanigans, no violence, no fights over money, no drinking, no leaving early, no sleeping on the job, no testosterone-fueled turf battles, no bending of the rules for personal gain, no racism, and they never have anything to say, nor do they ever get in trouble. But they do break occasionally. Then the whole line has to stop, usually for a minute or so while the part is quickly replaced. Then everything is back up and running in a flash. It's everything you'd ever want in a factory ... except the craftsmanship.

I could almost love automation. I mean, who doesn't like time-saving conveniences and efficiency? I wouldn't mind sitting in my house like a lump with machines serving me all day. As it is, I have it much easier than Grandma had when she was a girl. Back then, they washed clothes with a washboard. They walked to school. They had a car they had to crank. Their toilet was an outhouse. There wasn't any such thing as an electric guitar; they only had manually operated ones. Thank goodness those days are gone for good!

But I can't love automation when it comes to industry. Yes, yes, it does its business in a nice, clean, and neat way. It helps keep prices dirt cheap because you're not paying a large workforce. And, as stated above, there aren't all the terrible things that men do with and to each other in a factory, including, I might add, taking out their grudges after hours in the parking lot when the shift's over. I personally know some of these men and women have hooked up after hours, then they're spotted in a bar over at Skidrow, then she goes home and tells a lie to her husband, who goes storming over to the other guy's place yet that night ... or the next day ... It's a terrible mess!

Automation has its place, there's no denying that. But the biggest reason I can't love it, again, is in the whole issue of craftsmanship. Craftsmanship demands a man to get the job done.

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