What We Are Reading Today: A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind

A World Without Work is an excellent and timely piece of analysis by Daniel Susskind, who with his father Richard wrote the seminal The Future of the Professions (2015), which explored the impact of digital technologies on employment in the professions.

Anthony Seldon said in a review for newstatesman.com that Susskind “looks at past predictions with a skeptical eye, noting that many earlier warnings of widespread unemployment and disaster were proved wrong.” 

Seldon said Susskind “is far from convinced by a recent survey of leading computer scientists, which concluded there is a 50 per cent chance that new technology will outperform human beings at ‘every task’ within 45 years. Nor has he any truck with the hotheads preaching imminent disaster. He argues that many jobs existing today will not vanish completely and new ones will be established, including those we have not yet imagined.”

The book’s title “is either a threat or a promise, depending on your point of view,” critic Dorian Lynskey commented in a review for theguardian.com.

What We Are Reading Today: Forging Global Fordism by Stefan J. Link

Updated 30 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Forging Global Fordism by Stefan J. Link

As the US rose to ascendancy in the first decades of the 20th century, observers abroad associated American economic power most directly with its burgeoning automobile industry. In the 1930s, in a bid to emulate and challenge America, engineers from across the world flocked to Detroit. Chief among them were Nazi and Soviet specialists who sought to study, copy, and sometimes steal the techniques of American automotive mass production, or Fordism. Forging Global Fordism traces how Germany and the Soviet Union embraced Fordism amid widespread economic crisis and ideological turmoil. 

This incisive book recovers the crucial role of activist states in global industrial transformations and reconceives the global thirties as an era of intense competitive development, providing a new genealogy of the postwar industrial order.

Stefan Link uncovers the forgotten origins of Fordism in Midwestern populism, and shows how Henry Ford’s antiliberal vision of society appealed to both the Soviet and Nazi regimes.

He explores how they positioned themselves as America’s antagonists in reaction to growing American hegemony and seismic shifts in the global economy during the interwar years, and shows how Detroit visitors like William Werner, Ferdinand Porsche, and Stepan Dybets helped spread versions of Fordism abroad and mobilize them in total war.

Forging Global Fordism challenges the notion that global mass production was a product of post–World War II liberal internationalism, demonstrating how it first began in the global thirties, and how the spread of Fordism had a distinctly illiberal trajectory.