One year ago the Bank of America offered me a job as a Systems
Analyst. Not being a moralist, I didn't feel that my anti- authoritarian principles
would be overly compromised if I became an officer of one of the largest and most
hated financial institutions in the world. Besides, once inside the belly of the
beast I could pursue my other career--i.e. professional anti- authoritarian revolutionary.
While designing property management database systems I could drop hints to my
co-workers about a "world free from authoritarian domination and exploitation.''
Without being dogmatic, condescending or jargonistic, I'd convince others of the
desirability of a "classless, stateless society where decisions about daily life
are made by those most directly affected by the consequences of the decisions,''
meanwhile making sure not to neglect my duties in providing technical assistance
for the department's office automation project. I'd pass out copies of Processed
World , I'd never cooperate with management, I'd always support my co-workers
in their fights with the supervisors. Perhaps one day we'd take over the data
center and take control of the Bank's assets. From such experiences people would
become "capable of coping with social problems in a direct and conscious way,
beyond present day "needs' like the maintenance of profits and power structures.''
I did carry on my shadow career by participating in Processed
World. In fact, that's how I got caught with my theory of sabotage showing.
More precisely, I left a copy of the following article "Sabotage:
The Ultimate Videogame'' on my desk at work. One of the people who I should
have convinced long before of the desirability of a new world found it, and turned
it in to the VP of Personnel Relations.
Subsequently, I had a meeting with the VP and was asked
to comment on the article. Despite my attempts to turn sabotage into something
harmless he meted out a punishment of a week's suspension. At the nd of that week
I was fired. In the formal document explaining my dismissal he stated that it
was too risky to have a person who advocated and condoned sabotage working around
expensive equipment that stored critical financial data.
Of course, it's not surprising that I got the bounce. Everyone
knows that the Bank of America is a repressive institution. My firing is more
interesting in what it reveals about me.
There was a subtle dissimulation in the way I presented
myself to the people I worked with. I'm sure most of them were shocked when they
found out why I was fired. After having worked there for a year only a few people
knew that I consider myself a radical. Virtually no one was aware of my past political
involvements or that my ideas about what's wrong with the world didn't spring
full blown from the CRT screen. My problem wasn't that I failed to convince people
but that I was dishonest.
The same problem extends to the way Processed World
handles the question of who we are as a group. "Office dissidents,'' "malcontents,''
"nasty secretaries'' are all vague ways to respond to those who inquire about
our politics. Like me, most of the members have definite political backgrounds
that stretch back for years. (This is not to say that PW is a monolithic political
organization. While we all consider ourselves anti-authoritarian, we differ from
each other substantially in our political points of view.)
Our relationship as marginals, radicals and "revolutionaries''
to the people we are approaching should be analyzed. Perhaps if I had been more
open about my ideas at Bank of America I wouldn't have been so isolated when I
got caught with my theory showing.