Thursday, 3 August 2017

Welcome to sabotage

Sabotage is the weapon of the disinherited - IWW flyer, early 20th century 

sabotage is a zine aimed at recording acts of workplace resistance, from individual pranks to large-scale employee action. I’d like your tales of slowing down, bungling work, wildcat strikes, stealing (back) time, money or resources, boss-napping, sleeping on the job - anything that makes life harder for those that make life harder for you!

Sabotage as a form of direct action has been around for at least two centuries. The apocryphal tale is that the term comes from a striking French weaver, who threw his wooden clog - called a sabot - into the delicate mechanism of the loom. In 19th century England The Luddites destroyed the weaving machinery that was pushing down wages and putting people out of work. In the 20th century, sabotage was associated with the militant union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and radical environmental groups such as Earth First!. Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) tells the story of a group of activists who destroy the industrial machinery that is destroying their beloved Utah desert.

In and among all of this have been much quieter acts of sabotage - what the IWW calls a withdrawal of efficiency - in all its forms. Sometimes individual, sometimes collective, these acts are of course rooted in exploitation and desperation, but also boredom, pettiness, loneliness, frustration; they're everyday shows of solidarity and resistance that might not improve conditions materially, but certainly help the working day go faster and easier. It's these smaller acts of sabotage that I'm especially interested in hearing about.

This idea for the zine is directly lifted from a book that came out in the US in the early 90s, Sabotage in the American Workplace. The book is hilarious and heartening, and I can’t believe there hasn’t been a version done more recently. The whole thing is available for free on libcom.org, along with a brilliant library of articles on sabotage.

Please visit the Submissions page for more information about sending me your words and pictures. I'll be posting stories here for now, with a printed zine to follow once I've got enough material.