In This Review

Forging Global Fordism: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Contest Over the Industrial Order
Forging Global Fordism: Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the Contest Over the Industrial Order
By Stefan J. Link
Princeton University Press, 2020, 328 pp

The great industrial innovation of the first half of the twentieth century was Henry Ford’s system for organizing mass industrial production. In this “Fordist” model, very large and specialized factories employing relatively well-paid workers efficiently produce an abundance of consumer goods. This method—combined with the Great Depression—sharpened global competition among democratic capitalist, fascist, and communist political systems, each trying to employ Fordist means of production to achieve different ends. This book traces the calculated way in which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union studied the success of Fordism in the United States as at once a model of modernization to emulate and an ideological threat to fight. Later, in the Cold War, newly moderate Western Europeans came to view the United States as a potential partner, not just in the ideological crusade against communism but also in realizing Ford’s vision of an affluent, mass-production-focused society. This period’s lessons resonate today as new technologies threaten to disrupt production systems once again.