Reviewing Fordlandia

Greg Grandin’s Fordlandia is reported to describe the rise and fall of Henry Ford’s Brazilian rubber plantation. In reality, Fordlandia is another striking example of the destruction and exploitation brought by capitalism.

About the Book

In Fordlandia, Grandin describes Henry Ford’s efforts to build a rubber plantation and city in the amazon. For more than 20 years, Ford ignored science, exploited natives based on his own racist views of them and their society, destroyed acres of valuable forest, wasted millions of dollars, and grew almost no useful rubber.

My thoughts

The thought I most often had while reading Fordlandia revolved around the obsceen wealth of Henry Ford. The idea that someone had enough money, never mind ego, to even attempt to construct a new city thousands of miles from home was infuriating. The idea that millions was spent causing so much destruction so a rich man could have a vanity project he knew nothing about demonstrates the problem with someone having too much wealth and power.

I kept thinking about the tremendous good that could have done with the millions wasted on a racist, stupid business venture.

Fordlandia is an important story because it is a stark example of the failings and inhumanity of capitalism and the serious problems created by concentrated wealth and power. Given it’s historical value, it’s no wonder that Fordlandia is almost never discussed in America today. Revisiting the story is another reminder of how easily American society, American government, and American journalism have resorted to racist, classist ideals when promoting concepts and covering stories.

If more people knew of the spectacular failure of Fordlandia and the racist, classist values that drove Ford and Fordlandia, more people would better understand capitalism and true American history.

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