Sibenska Travel on We are confronted here with an analysis of Taylorism that is quite different from the influential one provided by Harry Braverman (1974), which focuses on the degradation of both mental and manual work. Sohn-Rethel sees flow and mass production as the highest moment of the socialization of labor under the domination of capital (Sohn-Rethel 1978, 165). The dramatic increase in the incorporation of science in production processes displaces the position of intellectual labor toward the domain within which manual labor had previously been located in an exclusive way. For Sohn-Rethel this is the origin of a destabilization of intellectual labor's autonomy from its manual twin.
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At the root of the problem for him is the relation between cognition and abstraction. Sohn-Rethel questions the age-old idea that abstraction is the exclusive privilege of thought (7), fashioning the concept of real abstraction by emphasizing those elements of Marx's thought that locate the abstractions of labor and money at the heart of the social mediation of the commodity form. This concept implies an undermining and restriction of the domain of thought and intellectual labor, which Sohn-Rethel traces in his reconstruction of the adventures of the notion of an independent intellect in the face of the steady intertwining between science and capital in modernity (67-79).
Sibenska Travel 2016.