By Deborah Fitzgerald

In the course of the early a long time of the twentieth century, agricultural perform in the United States used to be remodeled from a pre-industrial to an commercial job. during this learn Deborah Fitzgerald argues that farms grew to become modernised within the Nineteen Twenties simply because they followed not just new equipment but in addition the monetary, cultural and ideological gear of industrialism. Fitzgerald examines how bankers and rising pros in engineering and economics driven for systematic, businesslike farming. She discusses how manufacturing facility practices served as a template for the construction around the kingdom of commercial or company farms. She additionally seems at how farming was once stricken by this revolution and concludes by means of following numerous agricultural fans to the Soviet Union, the place the teachings of business farming have been studied.

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For Mumford, the pyramids offer a key example of such a machine; for us, the factory, or the collective farm, offer others. Obviously, machines were not limited to factories, but have been around for millennia in many contexts. In a basic sense, all machines have performed tasks that humans had previously done for themselves. They have been designed to replace human and animal labor or, in some cases, to multiply labor. One specific context in which machines were developed, the factory, was extremely important in turning machine logic toward the repeated reproduction of complicated, artisanal tasks.

27 When parts are standardized, people can repair their machines quickly and easily because manufacturers make lots of these parts for use in both new machines and machines that need repair. Often it means that the exact same part can be bought in two geographic locations a thousand miles apart—the principle that enabled chain stores to operate nationally. When parts are standardized, one can be substituted for another; when humans are standardized, the same holds true. When factories were mechanized with specialized machines, the operative made none of the careful judgments the artisan had made and held none of the special knowledge either.

Urban lenders and business leaders, as well as many small-town bankers, were implicated in the creation of the farm crisis because they encouraged farmers to buy expensive land to expand production. Many critics pointed out that the speculative bubble of wartime expansion was sure to burst at war’s end, and bankers should have known better. Deservedly or not, bankers and lenders found themselves holding hundreds of bankrupt farms when farmers were forced out in  and . These financial institutions did 19 20 The Industrial Ideal in American Agriculture not want to own these farms in a dead market, especially because many of the farms were in sorry shape.

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