Sabotage as Standard Practice

Again via Phil B, who appears to be angling for a coveted Research Assistant position, is this link to a manual written by the US office of strategic services in 1944 advising people how to bring occupied Europe to a grinding halt. Phil B says:

It seems to have been discovered by the HR and Managerial types as a template for good management practices, not as a way of destroying an organisation.

Is he right? Have a look at Section 11 which deals with the “General Interference with Organizations and Production” and judge for yourselves:

(a) Organizations and Conferences (1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

At this point my jaw is on the floor at how well this describes major oil companies. Numbers 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are hard-wired into temployees and management within weeks of joining.

(10) To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

Which neatly describes career progression in a modern organisation.

(11) Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.

A practice perfected by governments everywhere. Climate change jamborees, anyone?

(12) Multiply paper work in plausible ways.

(13) Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, pay checks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.

(14) Apply all regulations to the last letter.

Any budding saboteur would have his work cut out finding departments of a modern government where this behaviour was not already obligatory.

(1) Work slowly. Think out ways to increase the number of movements necessary on your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one, try to make a small wrench do when a big one is necessary, use little force where considerable force is needed, and so on.

(2) Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: when changing the material on which you are working, as you would on a lathe or punch, take needless time to do it. If you are cutting, shaping or doing other measured work, measure dimensions twice as often as you need to. When you go to the lavatory, spend a longer time there than is necessary.

Forget tools so that you will have to go back after them.

Are they describing sabotage techniques, or the local council?

(8) If possible, join or help organize a group for presenting employee problems to the management. See that the procedures adopted are as inconvenient as possible for the management, involving the presence of a large number of employees at each presentation, entailing more than one meeting for each grievance, bringing up problems which are largely imaginary, and so on.

Deployment of these techniques was so successful in occupied France they forgot to abandon them when the war ended.

(b) Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or police.

Such as Nazi pugs?

(c) Act stupid.

*Splutter*

(d) Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.

To be fair, I do the first half of this. I’m not so good at the second part, though.

(i) Cry and sob hysterically at every occasion, especially when confronted by government clerks.

…and demand safe spaces.

So who’s responsible for handing this to governments and organisations and telling them it represents best practices? If it was the Soviets, I’m going to credit them with winning the Cold War hands down.

Share

34 thoughts on “Sabotage as Standard Practice

  1. (c) Act stupid.

    Some of the managers I have to work with aren’t acting.

  2. >At this point my jaw is on the floor at how well this describes major oil companies.

    Apart from the bit about patriotism, it pretty much describes academia too.

  3. Apart from the bit about patriotism, it pretty much describes academia too.

    Blind loyalty to one’s nation is not expected in modern corporations, but by damn blind loyalty to one’s hierarchy is.

  4. Whoever wrote that bit obviously did not get out much.

    To be fair, in 1944 and previous eras being purposefully stupid might have had dire consequences, unlike now.

  5. Unbelievable!

    Is there a bit in there about giving the commercially least important department the most power? I’m looking at you, HR.

  6. I don’t understand what this manual is for – why would American army want to bring European bureaucracy to grinding halt? I thought it was a joke manual, what I missing?

  7. The War.

    Tim mentioned it once, but he might have got away with it.

  8. I don’t understand what this manual is for – why would American army want to bring European bureaucracy to grinding halt?

    You mean instead of just watching it happen anyway from afar?

  9. (10) To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

    This, 83,000 times this.

    Where I used to work the dictatoress used to do EXACTLY this. Plus, she added a layer of whipped cream on top of it – she used it to bend the overpromoted inefficient types to her will and turn them into her spies. She also applied this technique to super-inefficient types who should have been encouraged to pursue their carreers elsewhere one way or another. A fairly extreme system of patronage, as it were, which was quite obvious and caused a lot of competent and motivated folk to quit.

  10. The game plan for the decline of western civilisation exposed. Good to see it is being implemented in the highest and longest corridors of power, as voted in by ‘the people.’

    All hail Chaos!

  11. Or, to quote myself from an earlier discussion here:

    “Sometimes I get a sneaking suspicion that it really was not Reagan: maybe the Berlin wall came down because there was nobody left on the western side of it really opposing the USSR.”

  12. “Sometimes I get a sneaking suspicion that it really was not Reagan: maybe the Berlin wall came down because there was nobody left on the western side of it really opposing the USSR.”

    There’s a lot of truth in that. I read somewhere that the original checkpoint Charlie museum was all about those who died crossing and the evils of the wall and socialism, now its connection with socialism has all but been eradicated and it’s a monument to progressivism.

  13. It’s particularly amusing that the Nazi state had already been operating under those principles long before the manual was written. Otherwise they would have won the war.
    And probably why so much chimes with your current experiences. Basically what happens to large centrally controlled organisations. See Parkinson

  14. Of course this is essentially Rule No.3 of Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics:

    “The simplest way to explain the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.”

  15. Of course this is essentially Rule No.3 of Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics:

    Excellent observation.

  16. I see advertisements appearing in the middle of the blog text. That is, between the words:
    “judge for yourselves:”
    and
    “(a) Organizations and Conferences (1) Insist on doing”

    Is this on purpose?

  17. Is this on purpose?

    Yup, I’m running an experiment with ads: the French Open is coming up and I want to impress Maria Sharapova with a Lamborghini.

    If you use Brave as your browser, you don’t see any ads.

    Oi, stop that!

    Agreed. I didn’t even know there were ads…

    You too!

  18. The methodology outlined in the manual puts the Brexit negotiations in context, eh? >};o)

  19. Decades ago, the original Simple Sabotage Field Manual was ubiquitous in the libraries of every real prepper site and organization. (Before “sites”, even.) Any place that offered anything on “Steal This Book” (Abbie Hoffman) also offered this. Back before Prepping became a retail profit center, this was always one of the big “here’s some dissident material” go-to’s.

    Glad to see someone monetized it.

  20. If you’re seeing ads in some version of either this post or the source material, I’d suggest that you run some utility program designed to root out ad malware.

    I normally block ads in a variety of ways, but I can generally see where an ad has been deleted. I see no such signs here, which usually means that I’m upstream of where the ads are coming from.

  21. If it was the Soviets, I’m going to credit them with winning the Cold War hands down.

    If they’d only hung on a few more years, they probably would have, right? Can you imagine if they were still around?

    People always used to fret about the long-term effects of nuclear, chemical, biological warfare – what if the radiation makes the land uninhabitable? What if the virus spreads beyond where we want it to spread? Hell, Princess Diana even made everybody care about landmines – but nobody ever cared about the long-term effects of information warfare, and that’s the one that’s ended up taking us down, decades after the USSR ceased to exist.

  22. The methodology outlined in the manual puts the Brexit negotiations in context, eh?

    Does it ever!

  23. The USSR has not ceased to exist, it only lost some recently occupied territories, namely (most of) the Warsaw pact and the Baltics, and only just beginning to lose Ukraine, with the outcome far from certain. The Western civilization that opposed the USSR has ceased to exist to a much larger extent.

  24. The inline ads are mega intrusive. Not a fan

    Yeah, it’s gonna take about a month of experimentation I’m afraid. In the meantime, sorry for any embuggerance.

  25. If you’re seeing ads in some version of either this post or the source material, I’d suggest that you run some utility program designed to root out ad malware.

    Yeah, thanks for telling everyone my site is running malware, that’s helpful. I’ve already posted that I’m going to start running ads, I’d hoped that would suffice to keep everyone informed.

  26. Of course this is essentially Rule No.3 of Robert Conquest’s Three Laws of Politics:

    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” ~ H. L. Mencken

    Conquest’s Third Law sounds very clever but it’s wrong. What’s really going on is what seems to have been immortalized as Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy. This is unfortunate, as Pournelle was hardly the first to make the observation that any bureaucracy, regardless of its original purpose, will eventually become solely about perpetuating its own existence. This goes for entire organizations, and for bureaucracies within larger organizations.

  27. “will eventually become solely about perpetuating its own existence”

    Then the trick for corporations at least must be to liquidate them before the “eventually” moment comes. Like what private equity firms do for a living.

  28. “Deployment of these techniques was so successful in occupied France they forgot to abandon them when the war ended.”

    Thanks Tim, I laughed out loud at that.

  29. “Yeah, thanks for telling everyone my site is running malware, that’s helpful.”

    Not what I meant at all, sorry if it came off that way.

    There is malware out there that slips in its own ads – the purpose of the malware is to expand the audience of its paying clients by bringing their ads onto any sites which the infected computer visits. I suffered through a bit of this a while ago until I ferreted it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *