> Of course, it sounds like hell on earth, the last word in alienated
My first instinct is to think nothing can be more dehumanizing and degrading than these types of production methods. On the other hand, as someone who has worked on an assembly line (I made metal file cabinets) with a very American operating philosophy, my experience was that the time flew by in those rare instances when we were all 'in the zone', so to speak. Your brain effectively turns off and you just keep repeating the same motions over and over and over and over again. The next thing you knew, it was lunch or next shift. To get in the zone, though, you couldn't have surprises -- if someone welded the wrong pieces of metal together, for example, we'd have to stop production and pull the pieces apart. And when you had to stop and think, that was the worst, because you became conscious of the drudgery of it all. So, insofar as these Japanese production techniques make factory production that much more tolerable, I'm all for them.
Now ideally, there'd be no jobs like this (or at least they should be shared) but if they must exist -- to the extent they're made easier by technologies that dissociate you from the drudgery -- I say great. Political consciousness can just as easily develop out of the realization that you're spending more than a third of your life braindead.