In order to turn his small automobile company into the giant Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford incorporated a number of techniques which can be roughly divided into technological and business ones. In terms of technology, he applied innovation abundantly, and tried to make production as fast and calculable as possible. In the course of growing, his company he had a task of turning unique production into mass production, for which he needed every automobile to be similar to others, produced by the company. For this purpose, he used such production cycle where every worker was responsible for a particular part of production. Eventually, he tried to change human labor for machine production, where possible, without loss in quality, which also made production cheaper. In terms of business solutions, he tried to select and retain staff for long time periods, and gave shares of business to those who stayed with the company for at least twenty years.
Since cars were a sign of the new epoch, Henry Ford, a person who contributed to the creation of the industry, became a star in his own right. He was also worshipped for the fact that he embodied the American Dream come true: he managed to fulfill his boldest plans. On the other hand, however, it is claimed that he epitomized the ambivalence of the attitude towards the new world of 1920s’ America. He simultaneously stood up for the new urban industrialized nation and sentimentally nurtured nostalgic old image of the United States: “This ambivalence did not signify a lack of values so much as a superfluity of them” (p.105)
Henry Ford opposed the government’s intervention to ease the ravages of the Great Depression because he believed in the power of American economy and its ability to self-regulate. So, his demonstrative reaction to President Hoover’s request to raise prices and lower salaries is quite impressive; on the contrary, he decreased the price and increased salaries for how workers, though it could not be a lasting option under the circumstances of Great Depression, which, by the way, Ford refuses to recognize.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Comparing Booker T. Washington and William EB Du Bois, it should be noted that both of them sincerely wanted to improve the living conditions for black people. However, Washington’s beliefs were still limited by the idea that it was impossible for black people to take the place that would be equal to that of white people. His suggestions only concerned the opportunity for African Americans to improve their economic state by getting decent jobs and being trained. That way, Booker T. Washington was more pragmatic and realistic for his times than William EB Du Bois whose ideas were more bold: he wanted equality and the same opportunities in education, so that black Americans could go beyond working class social layer.
In his method of non-violent resistance, King used Gandhi’s philosophy and practice in India, which proved to be successful. During 1950s, a number of important events celebrated this movement and their ideology of non-violence. Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 was the first case of effective use of the strategy, when it was possible to oppose evil by non-violent methods. He personally embodied the approach because he refused from body guards, despite risk for his life to demonstrate the spiritual element of the principle. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) held in 1957 was necessary to create ideological basis for the movement.
In 1960s, Black Power concept and Malcolm X gained more popularity than King’s nonviolence. This happened because in a number of cases, such as Albany, the strategy appeared to be ineffective. Moreover, soon after his famous speech I have a Dream, four black girls were killed by explosion in a church. This and other violent cases against African Americans resulted in the growth of popularity of militant methods. Besides, there was a need for black Americans to reestablish their national dignity, not only social equality. For these reasons, nationalist ideas appealed to part of them, while King was treated as the one who wanted to reconcile the two opposing groups of whites and blacks. When Malcolm X was murdered, the discontent of nonviolence reached its peak, which reflected in the attitude to Dr King as well: “Fearing a black civil war, King volunteered to mediate the dispute but was rejected by both sides. The militants wanted no part of a man they regarded as patient and docile to a fault – an “Uncle Tom” (p.179).
The personal history of Betty Freidan contributed to shaping her feminist outlook. From her childhood, she detested the type of femininity embodied by her mother, who often criticized her appearance and masculine manners. Her desire was to offer an alternative to this kind of female role, which was confined to being a housewife and a mother. She believed that women can be smart, strong and ambitious, and take more powerful social position. When she attended a her college reunion, she was disappointed by the fact how even educated women could not succeed in society. To analyze their stories, she made them fill in the questionnaire and used the results for creating The Feminine Mystique. Friedan’s experience as a wife and mother shaped her vision for writing the book and resulted in her formulation of “the feminine mystique” concept: “the highest value and the only commitment for women is this fulfillment of their own femininity” (p.262). The author believed that neither passivity and inferiority, nor competition with men and trying to dominate over them is the right path for a woman. This kind of behavior is restricted by their own insecurity and inability to realize the true essence of their nature.
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