01 February 2012
General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson was interviewed on NPR this week.
During the interview the term "Government Motors" was brought up as a term that Ackerson didn't "like".
This is not a new way to critically refer to GM. See for example this article from The Economist last summer: Government Motors no more
I found Ackerson's argument really interesting in that it parallels one that I often find myself making. Ackerson was arguing that "Government Motors" and the negative connotations that come with such a term in American society (inefficient, bureaucratic etc.) are unfounded. Sure the US government still owns about 25 percent of the common stock of General Motors, but ownership does not matter, to paraphrase Ackerson. What is important is the relationships at the point of production that determine the directions a company is moving in. Apparently GM is still a vibrantly innovative capitalist firm (I believe he used the words "leaders in technological development a few times). Vibrant and innovative, even if the ownership structure is something that those preoccupied with ownership relations would call state capitalism.
It is good to know that the top echelon of management at GM understands that increasing the rate of exploitation in their capitalist production relations is still possible, regardless of the ownership structure. Maybe there is hope for capitalist exploitation in the American Auto Industry. Keep buying American! (or in the case of GM "assembled American"!)