Reflections on sabotage: theirs and ours

Philosophers for Change

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by Jeff Shantz

Sabotage! the word conjures images of damage and destruction. In his chapter “On the Nature and Uses of Sabotage,” anarchic sociologist Thorstein Veblen notes that the sinister meaning attributed to sabotage, which predominates American usage, appears and solidifies due to the interests and actions of news media and media figures who have sought to discredit the use of sabotage by organized workers (Veblen 1921, 4). The initial meaning of sabotage derives from the French term for a wooden shoe—the sabot. That initial usage is often said to refer to practices of foot dragging or shambling which such shoes might be expected to contribute to.

In some cases, the connection of sabotage with the sabot refers to practices of the early opposition to mechanization, as in the Luddites, in which the wooden shoe is placed in the moving gears or parts of the machinery as means to…

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About dmf

alienist @ large, mostly on foot
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