« 99% Invisible

298- Fordlandia

2018-03-06 | 🔗

In the late 1920s, the Ford Motor Company bought up millions of acres of land in Brazil. They loaded boats with machinery and supplies, and shipped them deep into the Amazon rainforest. Workers cut down trees and cleared the land and then they built a rubber plantation in the middle of one of the wildest places on earth. But Henry Ford wanted this community -- called “Fordlândia” -- to be more than just a huge plantation. He envisioned an industrial utopia. He paid his Brazilian workers good wages, at least for the region. And he tried to build them the kind of place he would’ve loved to live, which is to say: a small Midwestern town...but in the middle of the jungle.


In the second segment, we discuss Roman’s other show What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent. Invisible I'm roman Mars. In the late nineteenth Twenty, the Ford Motor Company bought up millions of acres of land in Brazil. They loaded it's with machinery and supplies and ship them deep into the Amazon Rainforest workers cut trees and cleared the land, and then they built a rubber plantation in the middle of one of the wildest places on earth. Robert development on the top adjust river is an enterprise of historic proportions, donated Here's a jungle are being converted into our highly modernized plantation capable of produce large scale, the play It was the harvest, the rubber and ship it back to Detroit, where it would be turned into tyres and other parts for forward cars, but Henry Ford this community, which he called for land to be more. Then just a huge plantation. He wanted it be a kind of industrial utopia. He pay
his brazilian workers, good wages, at least for the region and each the bill than the kind of place he would have loved to live, which is to say a small midwestern town but in the middle of the jungle the wilderness, this model community, is self sufficient in every detail. It has its own. Our house, electric lighting, a telephone system, its own machine shop, completely equipped with modern tools as a laboratory for processing, rubber and ice planned and the fire department. You had a church, you head hospital leave at a power plants, you had a big saw mill, that's Roger Weber, he's the host of a pod cast called mismatch and story is an adaptation of one that recently aired on his show, and so he wanted to create this village for the workers down in for land area and why? It's easy to look at him as some greedy imperialist capitalist, very easy. He actually felt that he could help these people a company
with the best of modern equipment and excellently staff provides free medical aid. For the employees later and outdoor luncheon is served followed by tempting delicacies incomes. There, A new round of golf played on it. Adaptation links against a beautiful jungle backdrop. Today, the board plan Patient is a successful enterprise, a tribute the scale and science but new weapons. Twentieth century pioneer. The reality is that formerly NEA was not successful enterprise. Nor was it really a tribute to skill and science. It was equal, also expensive and tragic mistake, and it took Henry for nearly two decades to give up on it the parable of areas. But the arrogance isn't that Ford Thirty contain and conquer the Amazon historian Gregg ridden. He had us I'd on something actually much bigger. He thought he could tame and conquer capitalism. Industrial capitalism,
bored wanted to export his brand of industrial paternalism to the Amazon pay workers. Well, and provide services so that they stay healthy, productive and, most importantly, loyal to the company and- and that didn't happen. In the early nineties, hundreds a couple of decades before afford set out to build for Libya, a massive shift- was under way in the rubber industry, for you, there's. Brazil had been the world's main supplier of rubber, pretty much all the rubber, with the money to bicycles. I wanted to condoms that wanted to gas. Kids they went into bows. Went in to tie is ok. From Brazil and the way rubber was cultivated was very labour. Intensive rubber tapirs would go out into the dense jungle in fine vertrees. They would slow the trees, and then they would extract Lee Latex that on the side of the trees, they would boil In essence, this milky fluid and into a large boy,
also rubber, which they would then you try to sell passing it on this kind of very decentralized chain. Up until the wound up in warehouses in Manchester or or in Detroit, rubber tapirs would work. The year. Tapping rubber and they were part of the year, growing other sustenance. Crops in order to survive. This was the economy lasted for years and in Brazil but this economy could be brutal for workers at the bottom of the production chain as well. Plantations grew they struggled to find enough workers. Some robber Baron started enslaving, indigenous people in forcing the tap trees, even the worker that were being paid, didn't make very much the so called latex Lord at the top grew enormously wealthy living in palatial homes and gilded cities in the jungle system all started to change because of a british explore name Henry Wickham he'd come to bring,
to seek his fortune in the Amazon and then Eighteen, seventy six Henry Wickham met is to thousands of rubber plant seats and he sent back to England, and eventually they went to the english colonies. There was nuclear, no law at the time preventing the export of the seas, but Wickham had applied for export licence under false pretences. He smuggled de tens of Thousands of seeds back to England in the hold of a steamship each seed was about, Ash wait over one thousand pounds. And he cash not over one thousand pounds and he may not have known it at the time, but his act of bio piracy would early transform the rubber trade from
when Wickham's rubber see its travelled to various european colonies. Like Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia betrays thrived in these warm tropical environments where no blight or bugs had evolved to eat them. Growers set up plantations with rubber trees planted in dense rose in these new colonial plantations, ended up massively outperforming the traditional brazilian rubber tapirs. Sarah nineteen ten Brazil has, by that you're pretty much lost its control over the rubber industry mean the new european Robber barons we're talking about setting up a kind of cartel they now dominated the global rubber trade and they realise that man naked set its prices. Made a certain american industrialists control freak, extremely nervous, Henry what was used to controlling everything. Well, if motor company and in the nineteen twenty pretty much controlled Neil, every region
material that went into the making of a motor car the glass, the iron, though the wood, the lumber everything except later, this looming european control? Rubber cartel represented a big threat. If we're prices went up, it can make the tire Gas gets and to be more expensive so for one the great his own rubber supply, but his problem was that rubber doesn't grow in the. U S so not it was Henry Ford Vulnerable, but but Brazil was vulnerable and that's I have the nation of Brazil basically gave him this huge tract of land about the size of Connecticut to try to start is doomed rubber Plantation Brazil, It was placing a big bet but betting on it, Ford wasn't tourist idea, you look at a guy like you, reforms in all. He had achieved with I will tea in the five dollar day wage. There looking at a real opportunity and better than Henry Ford come down there and restore
the former glory of of controlling the rubber market, it was a boondoggle from from the very beginning companies company shipped in supplies on the topic of river. They brought in american managers and hired a brazilian workforce. Then they started clearing the land to build for landing the the jungle of courses is just a very challenging place and right away things started to go wrong. You have four will. The workers were trying to clear the land. They beware the other bear chested and would be suddenly covered with biting ants and hornets, and scorpions and an even worse they would reach in and suddenly a pit viper would buy them and kill them so where they were dealing with a life and death struggle. Here, eventually, the workers managed to clear the land and build a town in the middle of the rainforest and Ford at a very
the vision for this town. He wanted it to feel these small midwestern towns he associated with his childhood. He drop a farm. He believed There was a kind of the connection between between agriculture and industry, it's crazy. That seems he he saw them kind of intermingling and he really brought these boyhood memories The farm into his adult life, just I'll yearning for bygone era. This nostalgia was for a very narrow slice of America, small town, mostly he White America that sports model for Fort Land, even though he importing it into a very different cultural environment. When you got a Ford, Landy, others an uncanny next to it, a familiarity, it doesn't seem exotic, could seem very recognisable the company then set up plantation style, rubber fields, lots of trees densely planted
dial the colonial rubber tree plantations in South EAST Asia, they started recruiting even more brazilian workers from the surrounding areas in a lot of them were excited to work for Ford Ford was proud. Seen something they'd, never really had free healthcare free education. He wasn't a guy just running roughshod over that area. He felt he could improve. The wives. These workers, and this wasn't just for being benevolent. This was for being strategic, back in the. U S, he discovered if you paid his workers well and let the more reasonable hours, if you didn't totally exploit them, in other words, he could dramatically reduce turnover that's what you wanted to do in Brazil and assessed they're trying to apply lessons from the factory to a plantation at exactly what they're trying to do. That's Matt Anderson from the Henry Ford Museum being interviewed by Roger try to run a planting in South America, though it were up industrial fish.
But here in the MID West, in bringing the time flocks had the workers or gave our shifts clock on clock off, I serve them cafeterias style lavish that part of the world so forbidding to what he was trying to accomplish. Part of the problems were cultural. People down there were produced to living a different where they were not used to the eight hours a day for a factory clock shift that were used to hear in the United States, and part of that was with very good reason. The climate there's very different there, just two hundred and fifty, Our soften, the equator temperatures routinely did well over a hundred degrees. During the heat of the day they were used to going into work in the early morning hours before the Hebrew they kicked up, taking a break for several hours in the middle of the day. Coming back at the end of the day to finish up and processed,
the way for did think she'd punching a nine each word right till five, and that was it. Then other problems started to become clear back in the states. Ford have created and industrial system will, workers can actually afford to buy the products they made, but in the Amazon there wasn't really that wants to buy. There was no consumer society within the Amazon, so they didn't actually need the high pages. That Ford was promising. They would work a few weeks or a few months and then they would disappear and they would go back into into Ino into the jungle to two to work. Their plot stood to produce their own food, and maybe they come back the following year and this one, this would drive the Ford manages mad. Love the Amazon. The topic was river, just proved insurmountable in the in the middle of the Amazon. The culture Henry River just proved insurmountable idea
is about how societies should be arranged and what people should enjoy. For example, he left the ideas about how societies should be arranged and what people should enjoy, for example, he loved square dancing. He met his wife, Clara at a square dance and so he figured well. We ve got this big hall down there and in four Landy until its place, some square dancing music address surprise. You know wasn't all that popular down there, who would have thought it was also a teetotaller. So even though drinking was legal in Brazil prohibited in Fort Lando, again you have him. For trying to impose his will thinking. Well, it works for us in America. A lot of Americans at the time didn't think the prohibition work, but he was golly, he was going to make it work in Brazil and bitter
he wasn't going to make it work in Brazil, some savvy entrepreneur or set up a bar and brought her on a little island near for Latvia. They called it. The island of innocence ladys and they were technic play outside one sovereignty of Ford's control. Couldn't do anything to stop at night and then there was the food. Henry for it was a vegetarian and an early advocate of the eating and so, a he. One of them do eat whole wheat products, and he just felt that this was gonna, be better for their health, This actually lead to a riot, the right hand, in nineteen thirty work. Resented having to eat the exact kind of food that Henry Ford told them to eat but the other problem was that they did. Lisa launched the workers, restaurant style with waiters will then somebody got the Listen, we have the assembly line up in the United
they'd. So, let's hear them eat cafeterias style, it's more efficient. We can keep track of things. Well, the workers absolutely hated that approach. They felt like there are being treated like cogs in a in a week, and suddenly went on a rampage and the town was was practically destroyed one of the first targets. What their time clocks, which they smashed to pieces yes, the managers actively right that manages actively on boats and unintelligible. This is right, because of because of the fury of this uprising and- and it was the time, was eventually retaken with the help of brazilian security and and then, rather than give up Ford recommended, point even more money into enter, trying to realise this been western ideal at this, for it was only a few years into this ward landing experiment and it wasn't the pain off, but they come
you just kept pouring money into the rubber Plantation Grandin, says they're always seem to be a way to justify the project, meaning I didn't twenties, there's gonna, be a symbol of what industrial capitalism could bring to. The backwater of the Amazon nineteen thirty. During the depression, it becomes a symbol of how to survive the downturn and besides who is going to say no to Henry Ford No one really had the commission that determination, the bravery perhaps to challenge Ford on these big decisions, because now he was to follow more more as the years went by God said in his ways that was at his word was was what was going to happen for land here, was up against insurmountable challenges more than the time clocks more than the square seen more than the way meals were served. The real problem was bugs the insects and funds that word, the rubber trees, natural predators in the Amazon. Ford hadn't
really bothered to learn anything about botany or agronomy before embarking on his forehead, the experiment. He didn't trust the experts it's that could have warned them what getting into. In fact he didn't trust experts at all demeaned the idea of of export sort of slowing the progress of the idea in his experience. They can go to the factory floor and maybe they had a problem with a widget or a watch it and they would have trial and error, and they would figure it out. And they didn't need some body with the title or location in some specially to tell them what to do. That was part of the problem with this that I think Ford botting to his own kind of invincibility zone press. If you will thinking that he could just go to there and take this kind of raw jungle and turn it into an industrial enterprises working industrial enterprise, and, I think, he's some Eyes were bigger than his stomach, so to speak. His ambitions got ahead of his abilities in this case,
because he wasn't willing to listen to. The experts was going to bring them on board you're using far far too deeply over his head, the problem was that rubber trees had never grown in the Amazon in the way that the Ford company was trying to grow them in plantations with trees. Did in tight rose. This group style might have worked in the South EAST asian plantations run by Europeans. That's because the on there hand evolved to eat rubber trees in Brazil. This density ended up, creating an environment where name bugs that fed on rubber trees thrived what fort was Basically doing was building a giant incubator and which he had that the bugs and eight and the fungi that feed off her brother was able to grow potentially because the trees were close together programme. There were these caterpillars that were very fond of rubber trees. One of the predators were caterpillars right and at first All of the caterpillar warn the bottom of the leaves support,
Lando, the managers with send out battalions of workers to pick the category may even gathered while the caterpillars together in and in buckets and then put them together and then had a huge bonfire, but with it a few years. Guess what happened there, when the cattle those were actually eating. The least from the bottom, they will leave me in the least from that up. Suddenly you couldn't actually see them, and so, therefore you couldn't take them and again, they replanted the trees only to have him killed off by pasts this on four years and then decades, it wasn't until nineteen, forty five that Ford finally decided to shut down for landing at that point can refer had turned the company over to his grandson enforced, India, with it and within a few months he hold it back to the brazilian government like two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and then it was over
Henry Ford died a couple of years later and after all, the money and time invested weirdly he never even visited Fort Land, he'd orchestrated all of it, right down to the square dances from his home thousands of miles away in Michigan part of it. Maybe he was just afraid of going in seeing the veil therein farce and so to speak, and we certainly was reading the reports. The memos knew. What for land, there is still a town today and although a lot of the old buildings are now falling down, people continue to live their historic. Has visited twice that's two times more than Henry Ford ever did for those of you keeping count grand and made the Dana half long trip up the topic, Can you to live their historic, Greg Grand has visited twice. That's two tonnes: more than Henry Ford ever did for those of you keeping Count Brandon. The data, have long trip up the tapajos river by boat? You,
Turn you just come around a bank and then all of a sudden, you see this enormous on this? I want a tank and back in the day that the word for it was written on the water tank and and and and you can see the outlines of was Ford. Landy is still. There is now a regular town. Brazilians are moved in and taken over all of the houses, you still get a sense of what it looked like in the nineties. When he's a nineteen thirty's Gaza and went to Prague, my house is very close from my house. We can see the water tower that's honour, heaters, Sosa and she's lived in for land use since two thousand nine european law. Lesbian kilometer- we can see it. The water tower is beautiful, its historic God is wonderful. Thank you.
There aren't many jobs left in the area for the two thousand inhabitants of fourthly, India, most The economy in the region now revolves around industrial soybean production and cattle ranches, there's a little tourism to which people like Sosa account on she works at a hotel in town had said, we re smart people from all countries, they search for the history. They are curious to see in person this history. What is left there are a few things. Yet they come to the village, the big houses cool, the cemetery, the hospital. Pow people come to see. What's left of affords crazy vision, the Americans, I'll town in the middle of the brazilian jungle, the culturally sensitive and paternalistic boondoggle that, for all its faults, still crew,
It had good paying jobs for its workers away far from gaining finding out that of bringing him before Miss Barry Audacious at the time to investors origin in Brazil in a foreign land. I think he's very interesting audacious, Americans are very like this. It was school, he did there as it. I'm he created a lot of jobs, resilience people from all Brazil, migration; two here looking for a job, so's- I wasn't there to see all the ways for landing went wrong for her the haste. They represent a time when the sleepy town was. The focus of a massive experiment by world a famous industrialist now, its crumbling all buildings for land here is a different kind of
our civilization, then you'd expect to find in the middle of the Amazon amid West Fantasy land returning to the jungle. Do you know I hosted produce another shown, that's about the constitution, twitter and Trump, and it's actually really fun. It's called what Trump can teach us about common law, and this week is the last episode of the second series of that show, and I want to talk about it with my oh presenter, Elizabeth Joe right after this, we often don't think of winter as a time of growth or creation. But if you think about it, it's the perfect time to greet your own website. Cooped up you thinkin about being productive and now square space can help you do it with where's Bates can take your cool ideas. You ve creative content, your services, goods, and you can turn them into a beautiful website in just a few clicks. Does it because there is to use templates or create
My world class designers and then you have the ability to customize the look and feel in the different settings for your own needs. For example, my side, roman Mars, dot com I made with square space. The landing page features a close up me talking to a microphone asthma, my very handsome beard, but if I should ever shave it, I dont have to wait for my web guy to change the photo. I can do it myself and maybe the next vote. I will feature my soulful eyes and where the pages are also picked out, some my favorite episodes of ninety nine percent of visible to share in the audio is convening we in bed it even on mobile. Try yourself could scarce based outcomes, thus invisible for a free trial and when you re the launch, easy overcoat, invisible to save ten percent off your first purchase of a website or domain.
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The government employee that would potentially use deadly forces a cop, nodded teacher, but the world has gone crazy presidents have always pushed against the constitution in different ways to forward their agenda, but the reason tromp is such a good foil. For these types of hypothetical discussions about the constitution is because we have this unique window into what he's thinking, because of twitter. We ve never had sort of direct access to the president's thoughts. His id his moment by moment. Thoughts on every piece of news or policy which may only hold for the next five minutes, but nevertheless we get a snapshot into what he's thinking and that's been important because as this has been a norm breaking presidency, it's almost at aired phrase now to say this is abnormal. I mean the abnormal has become normal and in some ways that's been. The genesis of this whole series and trauma definitely changed the way that Elizabeth teaches constitutional law. At you see Davis.
I'm so sorry, my class and ass, the good. What would you like to talk about the semester? You'll try to address on those things there. All trump relate they all are. No, basically, you know whatever the topic is. Can he do that? Is he allowed to do that and I think that's been what's really remarkable, as we had very different to be merged student, I think in it sure of constitutional law, its very different just to be an american today. To think about. Will it's normal in terms of expecting certain kind of behavior out of an american president? That's totally changed were using the opportunities teach people about the constitution in Newgate and that seems to be going on beyond the reach of this podcast. That a silver lining that you see in all this that people are actually talking about? The fourth amendment in the tenth amendment do take pleasure in that, yes, that has to be the one silver lining. The people actually want to learn about how the government works and The people are slowly discovering that, despite the fact that we have
constitution- and we have so many Supreme Court decision on a variety of topics- the real that was always binding us, the cohesion. The glue for society was norms. That no, it wasn't the law. The law came second, that The norms actually make our shared except variants of government should be possible and when those or to unravel people are under and we nervous- so that's been a big learning. Experience for all of us Do you have a greater sense that we are dependent on worms than you did know eighteen months ago? Absolutely minutes, it's showing us that you know what we need is a kind of collective faith in our institutions are collective faith. Then, what The present should and should not be doing in when that's come apart. I think that that raises new kinds of questions for how we are to think about all of these offices and institutions. Congress, the president, how ya works.
What we should think about courts may live, never really had this kind of ultimate question begging moment. What is this all mean in the very very beginning when we started this show we talk about constitution having only five thousand words and adjust the scaffolding that can be interpreted in a lot of ways, you kind of which, now that there were more words in the constitution, that it was a little more exact, no, they'll think so, because I think there's a mean one of the reasons why so far anyway, our system has been remarkably resilient and long lasting is because of the flexibility in the document you know. If they we had spent specific, that you know you can't use muskets and every person to pay. You know what a dollar and taxes will be a very different document, and probably we would have abandoned it a long time ago, but the open ended this other, which kind of shows the genius of the original framers, I think, to show they were writing a document that was the last for a long time now. The problem with them,
Is we and of arguing a lot about what that means, and We need all mixed intact production by Sharif uses music. By shown Rio Katy Mingle is our senior producer course. Tat is the digital. Patrolman, Emmett Fitzgerald, turn if you want to take the chaos of unhinged, tweets and endless political nudism? Ten that into learning the constitution. I welcome you to join me as a fellow students. What tromp can teach us about cars can trump fire Mahler can trump. Ardent himself. What does it mean when trunk questions the legitimacy of judges? Can he even sees the necessary land to construct a border water, Elizabeth, Joe explains it all done. What tromp can teach us about common law? We call a trump card for short, find it Apple parterres radio public wherever you,
partners, Yeah ninety nine percent. Invisible was produced this week by our senior editor Delaney Hall mix intact production by Sharif use of music by Sean Rio. Katy mingle is our senior producer. Her course tat is the digital director, the rest, the staffing Foods, Avery, Travelin, Emmett Fitzgerald turn Massa, Emmy, roman moors. Thanks to Roger Weber and Zack rose the host in producer of the mismatch podcast. The grand media group in WMD Ivy Local for in Detroit RE adapted the Lady, a story from them. Thanks also to parliament for production in translation.
We are a product of many one point. Seven k, L W in San Francisco him produced on radio row in beautiful, downtown, opened California, ninety nine percent of his boy is a founding member of Radio Tokyo from Pierre acts, collective of the best most innovative shows in all podcasting. We are supported by our listeners. Just like you, You can find the show in joint discussions about the show on Facebook. You treat me a roman Mars in the show at ninety nine p. I ordered one instagram tumblr and ready to. We have all kinds of pictures of four they are weird and definitely worth the gander. P, I dot Org,
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.