Resistance in the Workplace: A Key Battleground for National Revolutionaries

by Dan Canuckistan

“I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables—slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war . . . our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
–Fight Club, 1999

Back in the late Seventies, the British National Front found itself in the throes of an internal struggle between its Political Soldier wing and a more reactionary right-wing faction. One issue that contributed to this split was the suggestion by Patrick Harrington- a young national-revolutionary in the Front’s upper ranks- that NF members should engage in workplace ‘expropriation’ to further the aims of the nationalist cause (steal stationary supplies, make unauthorized photocopies, etc…).

The reactionaries were aghast, considering such shady activities not only to be unethical but a corrupting influence on all those who engage in it. And, as a general rule, they were absolutely correct! Outside a revolutionary framework and lacking a higher ethical justification, workplace theft can lead to the moral dissolution of the individual and collectively to a culture of corruption. Yet what Harrington advocated- if properly thought out, explicated and implemented- could very well have the opposite effect by opening up a new sphere of national-revolutionary struggle, one that is not only righteous in a moral sense but employs ethically superior tactics (i.e. non-lethal and directed mostly at property).

Workplace resistance, of course, goes way beyond just expropriation of goods. It can include a vast spectrum of activities including liberating one’s time from the tyranny of the punch clock (so-called “time theft”), work slow-downs (the “conscious withdrawal of efficiency”, as the old Wobblies called it), whistle blowing (a la Wikileaks), sabotage, pranking, revolutionary graffiti & pamphleteering, harassing bosses & scabs, spreading dissension & undermining general morale, computer hacking, and so forth. To borrow a recent anarchist expression, there is a veritable “diversity of tactics” available.

First of all, it is important for National-Revolutionaries to situate the workplace in its proper strategic context. Too often we relegate the spaces we work in- and spend so much of our time- as mundane or humdrum, to be separated from our political activism. Acts of workplace resistance are looked down upon as merely petty crime or juvenile rebellion but this is a completely wrongheaded approach!

The economic size and power of big corporations dwarfs the GDP of many nation-states. Wal-Mart, for example, is valued higher than Pakistan, Exxon outstrips New Zealand, British Petroleum looms over the Ukraine, and Citigroup outperforms Romania. The Brazilian mining giant Vale, which operates a mine in Newfoundland, is richer than its host province. This unprecedented concentration of wealth has allowed corporations to unleash armies of lobbyists with buckets of money to capture the political processes of many modern nations, pushing through harmful legislation to maximize their profits (i.e. promote cheap labor via mass immigration) and shield themselves from regulation.

Rather we should look at our “local” big box stores, fast-food restaurants and corporate retail chains as outposts of globalization, enemy territory in a vast geopolitical struggle pitting the forces of standardized consumerism & capitalist exploitation (“them”) against the forces of  radical traditionalism & economic justice (“us”). Workplace resistance is an updated and effective form of guerrilla warfare or asymmetrical conflict ideally suited to modern realities. In the long run, for instance, the low-intensity/low-risk theft of copper wire is far more effective in undermining the system than any number of fertilizer bombs or senseless spree killings. It may not be as “macho” or as Hollywood-esque as a Big Boom terror act, but workplace resistance is far more profitable from both an economic and revolutionary-propaganda point of view.

And multinationals are at a distinct strategic disadvantage: the nature of their operations require that they allow us access- as consumers and workers- into their corporate fortresses (stores, malls, outlets, corporate headquarters, plants, factories, distribution centers, etc.). In military terms, this is the equivalent of permitting a commando team to infiltrate behind your lines & even rolling out a red carpet for them!

National-Revolutionaries need to exploit this chink in the corporate armor & reorient our struggle to the widely-dispersed economic infrastructure of the capitalist economy. Our people, alienated & burnt out in their precarious working lives, are to be found there. And they will be receptive to a message of practical everyday resistance combined with a positive vision of future economic and social justice. We must become the New Wobblies… National Revolutionary Industrial Workers of the World unite!

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