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New Left Review 90, November-December 2014


Michael Denning

DESIGN AND DISCONTENT

In 1977, I found myself—thanks to an accidental meeting in a bar—working in an office of the defence contractor Raytheon. [1] Nikil Saval, Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, Doubleday: New York and London 2014, $26.95, hardback352 pp, 78 0 3855 3657 8 I needed the job, having failed to find a way to pay the rent while living in the ‘movement’, the flood of radical storefronts that was subsiding as quickly as it had risen. Compared to the romance of encountering the American proletariat in factories and mines that fired our imaginations—Barbara Kopple’s great documentary on a Kentucky miners’ strike, Harlan County usa, had just been released—the monotonous rhythm of subway commutes to the pacified dullness of the Charles River office building, where Raytheon paid us to blue-pencil government reports on subways, seemed as far from the vanguard of social change as could be imagined.

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