- Historic Sites
Frederick Winslow Taylor
The Messiah of Time and Motion
August/September 1979 | Volume 30, Issue 5
But such palliatives seem inadequate to restore significantly the reliance on individual knowledge and skill that Taylor taught employers to regard as an impediment to higher profits. That these profits were to be achieved by condemning industrial workers to a spiritual and psychological hell was clear to, among others, Taylor’s printer correspondent, A. J. Portenar. “It depresses me horribly,” Portenar wrote after reading Taylor’s Shop Management . “The whole thing looms up vaguely before me as an inhuman inexorable machine, gliding smoothly on its way, but crushing not only all in its way, but sapping the vitality of all connected with it.” The years have confirmed the validity of Portenar’s fears, and exposed the naivete of the 1912 progressives who so warmly embraced Taylor and Taylorism. For today it is hard to take seriously any general scheme for human betterment that does not seek to revive the pride in craftsmanship, and the sense of control over one’s work, that Taylor was at such pains to do away with in the name of progress.