- In order to reduce working people to the status of “free” producers and consumers of commodity-time, there was an essential precondition: the violent expropriation of their time. The giving back of that time as performed images is something that only became possible because of that first step: by which the ‘productive work-force’ become disposessed.
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So… the attempts to create factory America… a long time ago.
They’re trying to create the beginnings of the Industrial Age, having factories and producing things, and it went from the little shop where Paul Revere’s knocking out the THING, to something more like “we need to mass-produce stuff”. And it wouldn’t work.
Because people lived in their own time-space. And so the response to “we have to be here tomorrow at 7:00…” was: “well, I don’t want to come at 7:00, I’ve got stuff to do”… And their concepts of time, and how they related to time, were so organically driven – “I have to… My cows have to…” – that they had this line about their lives. And the main thing was they could not conceive of what they were being asked to do.
Because they didn’t grow up with the mind of: “you have a clock, and t h e s e hours belong to t h a t person…” They didn’t live that way. It made no sense.
And so factories wouldn’t work. Sometimes a bunch of people would show up and they’d do some stuff and then just go home. “Well how come…” “Well, no, we have to finish…” “Well, no, we’re done.” Because their organic time told them “I’m hungry.” Or “I’m done”.
Actually it would be as simple as “I’m done.”
And so there was this huge struggle. And so what they did… what the industrialists did… was: they imported people – from Ireland, for example – who were so desperate they were able to force them to behave, essentially, like clock-work machinery…
“If you want to eat, you will appear at this moment.”
And then they built clock-towers – because the new folks didn’t have watches and stuff.
So every town that had some kind of industrial base had a clock-tower. And they set it up so it chimed, so there really wasn’t an excuse.
And they began to build this regulation into these people. And they lived in hovels or slums, so what happened was they built “salons” – or “saloons ” – which was the public house and everyone lived most of their lives there. And they’d go to sleep in these little boxes, basically.
And then the factories initially only ran when it was daylight, so they were seasonal. And in winter the days were short. Because kerosene was too expensive. But once they got the coal-tar-driven lighting, the factory could work all hours, all year.
And eventually they produced a whole new class of people, whose children had been raised under the clocktower, who lived in the saloon – the “salon” – which is where they learned all their social life. They were able to speak Gaelic, there, or whatever their home language was. It was like a little isolated zone. And they’d go live in these tenements: they only slept there, because they were so horrible.
And so over three generations they created a group of people who changed their concept of natural time into a commodity. Time became a commodity. And that’s when the people began to feel unhappy and tried to revolt. And that is the beginning of unionization.