Friday, 17 April 2009

On Resistance in an Information Age

In my working lifetime, the workforce has been delayered, deskilled, automated, de-industrialised and atomized. Management has asserted it's 'right to manage' beyond even the memory of such a 'right' being questioned. But where is our new Braverman to theorise all this from the left?

More mundanely, where are the tactics appropriate to this new situation? So let me welcome a new idea - well new to me anyway. It's a response to the recent NUT vote for a potential pay strike, but I think it could have a wider application. Resistance by refusing to fill in the forms necessary to manage an information society.

"What is needed is the strategic withdrawal of forms of labour which will only be noticed by management: all of the machineries of self-surveillance that have no effect whatsoever on the delivery of education, but which managerialism could not exist's time that teaching unions got far more immanent, and take the opportunity opened up the crisis - their crisis, our opportunity.... to begin to rid public services of business ontology. (When even businesses can't be run as businesses, why should public services?)"

From here, via GTR and the Fatman.

Hey, it may not be as dramatic as a factory occupation, but it may just be more relevant to quite a large section of the workforce...


  1. This is great idea. I have another one, I've already tested and while it won't bring an institution to its knees it will seriously inconvenience it.

    Simply give out your work email password to any Tom, Dick and Herbert who asks for it and allow them to take over your email account for their own nefarious purposes. I did this and my email was used to send spam all over the globe. So much so that email providers such as Hotmail and Yahoo refused to accept emails that bore my work's email address. Now, most of our clients use Hotmail accounts, so for two days last month my work couldn't communicate with anyone and all because I had revealed by password to some con-artists. But the best bit was that I was unable send or receive emails for a week, which reduced my workload by half.

  2. You gave out your email password!?!

    Well in that, case I feel free to reveal myself as a former middle ranking member of the Nigerian Ministry of Finance, and if you just send me your bank account details I'd be pleased to pass on a legacy that's been left to you for your sterling work on the media studies field...

  3. You are. You will. Wow, that's just too good an offer to turn down. Here's my details.... wait a minute. I'm not falling for that again.

    Yeah, I really did give my email password to a complete stranger. To be fair though they were pretty cunning in the way they got it out of me. They emailed me. And asked me for it!

    I am a dipstick!

    But it taught me a lesson. If you really want to seriously inconvenience a modern employer, mess up their email system.

  4. Well, it seems a bit complicated as a technique of industrial sabotage to me Rab. But then I speak as someone who has had not one but two places of work burn down around their ears, so I'm used to a more direct approach.

  5. raivo

    Bank of America.

    The last three months have been a painful time for the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant. There has been the never-ending string of headaches associated with last year's fateful purchase of Merrill Lynch, including a bonus scandal that the company can't seem to shake.

    At the same time, there has been no shortage of criticism from shareholders about its stock price. Management has also been working hard to convince investors that last year's purchase of mortgage lender Countrywide was a smart move.

    Elevating the stakes even further is the fact that many of Bank of America's peers, such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) and Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), have shattered profit expectations so far this quarter.