Resistance:  How to be a subversive at work

Our class is at war.  Thousands are striking or preparing to strike.  We all have a part to play, and for those of us in work, there is much we can do to show solidarity and undermine the boss class short of striking itself

Capitalist economy is a ‘war of all against all’, where we are not only robbed of the value of the produce of our labour, but subjected to a tyranny of authority that demands we all leave our humanity out of the equation. 

Work can affect our families, our social networks, our belief systems, our health, our leisure, our desire for change, our communication, our frustrations.  At the same time, it demands that we should not bring any of these ‘personal issues’ into the workplace.

When was the last time you had a call and your boss asked if it was personal? When was the last time you were five minutes late and got docked 15 minutes pay?  Or you asked for time off because you were just knackered and they told you ‘computer say’s no’?  This way of existence is not human but corporate.  We are reduced from people to things. Cogs in a machine.

A key goal of revolutionary transformation for anarchist-communists, is to move from a top down,  capitalist hierarchical society’s administration of people (governments, local ‘authorities’, bosses, managers, HR departments, quality assurers, compliance, key performance enforcers, police, tax inspectors, bailiffs, teachers and so on), to a horizontal, communal, egalitarian administration of ‘things’ based on common need:  What to produce; how and for whom; how much, why and where.  From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.  The big picture is the abolition of Capital: it’s state, coercion, profit, wage labour, money and exchange. But hmmmm, how do we get from here to there?

Come the revolution of course, we’ll sort it, but until then, “Off with their heads!’ might not work.  The boss class have often been resistant to that.  But in the same drip, drip, drip way they chip away at our souls, we can erode their power, drop by drop.

The simplest way we generally encounter their power is the clock. One way we can respond to a ‘clock on’ mentality is simply a ‘work to rule’ response.  Above/below my pay grade etc. Let your organisation’s lack of capacity fall upon managerial shoulders.  Every one below a certain level is feeling equally dehumanised so let that corrosion sink in.

Regularly refer to your job description.  Demand training for anything new and a review of your terms and conditions.  Ask all the questions you know they can’t answer and question the answers they give.

Take your time, longer than you need to slow things up.  Call it thorough and responsible, or under resourced and unavoidable.  Go slow and blame your tools. Other colleagues will have been doing this for years, learn from and share each other’s examples. Communication is key, share your discontent, ideas and solidarity.  Offer it, seek it.

Take care of yourself first, health and mental well-being.  They’ll get by – or not – without you.  The graveyard is full of indispensable people.  So, take sick leave when you can.  Promote your mental health needs at work and make them ‘reasonably adjust’ as the law requires – it is there to defend them from liability more than to protect you.  Know your workplace policies to time when, maximise impact and reduce the repercussions on you.

Make their laws work for you.  Use your unique individual characteristics to get concessions and make them fearful of the legal consequences of not meeting them.  Consider your health status, does it qualify as disability?  Represent your real life (outside work) relationships.  Are parental needs or caring responsibilities amongst them?  Our class has fought for the concessions they’ve made, use them to fight for more.

Use what you have, toilet breaks, medical appointments, treatments, lunch breaks, consultation time, union meetings.  Travel delays, add that extra minute, anything to take back those minutes and hours they steal from you disguised as wage (slave) labour.  Be confident – let them know we have rights we have won (however limited) and push responsibility back on them.

Use your beliefs, take your faith holiday, Eid, Easter, Hanukkah, Diwali, May Day.  You have the same rights in secular belief as religious.  Encourage others to do the same in the spirit of celebration and diversity.

Let responsibly for your disruption and sabotage lie with them.  Blame unreasonable expectations and call it what it is, bullying.  Blame technology and poor management for workplace pressure and stress.  Where you can, force them to resort to due process and resolution, block and delay half arsed attempts to resolve and ultimately where possible, take collective action.  Strike.  Picket.  Bring and share your struggle in solidarity to the street and in your communities.

Solidarity beats exploitation.  If work was so good, the rich would have kept it for themselves by now.  Remember, they would work you until you die, liberation is for life!

Article by Dreyfus 08/09/22