Dear PW,

I work in a warehouse where I receive pallets of boxes daily. One day, a box arrived addressed to the Naval Weapons Center in Oakland. The sender was IBM—it was a shipping error. The contents appeared to be some kind of computer software— mechanical gears for the war machine.

The box sat on a shelf for a week while I considered its fate. I considered taking the package home and giving it to some friend who owned a computer. In the end, I opted for sending my greetings to the Naval Weapons Center; I marked the box all over—US OUT OF EL SALVADOR—and left it in the mail to be picked up.

Unfortunately, my supervisor, a devout believer in the gods of business and private property, got to the package before the mailman and showed it to the Big Boss. Big Boss came over to admonish me for my "childish behavior.'' In a business where no worker is older than 40, being called "childish'' is something like a football coach calling one of the players "faggot.'' Big Boss doesn't believe in mixing business with politics. He was particularly irate because a co-worker had marked a box destined for South Africa with a similarly suitable message.

I don't believe my behavior was childish, but in retrospect, I believe it was foolish. Foolish because I got caught. Foolish becasue they wrapped up that box so it looked like nothing ever happened.

So this is my message for citizens of the Processed World: the strong action is discrete and effective. A lound statement often never reaches the right ears. I should have quietly shipped that IBM box straight to the dumpster. My co-worker should have ripped up the South Africa order and gone around smiling a quiet smile all day (to paraphrase another co-worker). Oh well, you live, you learn.

Yours for more courageous actions,


Dear Processed World,

Where there is a need for sabotage, it's so easy just to put an Out of Order sign on the xerox machine...

Paper courtesy AT&T.

Love, M—SF

Dear PW,

Gidget Digit's "firing'' does reveal a lot about her. When she was suspended, I was waiting for her to act. Surely a copy of the Sabotage article would appear on every coworker's desk! Tied with red/white/& blue, maybe. And when the time was up, surely she would walk into the VP's office with a colorful "letter of resignation,'' informing him that a copy of that letter was being circulated in every BofA branch in the Bay Area! As Saul Alinsky says, this "blunder'' was the opportunity when looked at in a clear light! But all she did was scurry around for another job, which she got (something she omits in her confessional letter... along with her real name). What a disappointment this letter was, coming before the well-written Sabotage article!!!

Sincerely, Your Supporter Despite Poor Editing,

Shirley Garzotto - SF

Dear People:

The place where I work is unbelievably straight... today I was blowing my nose in the bathroom stall and my schnozz was going HONK HONK, as it is want to do. I noticed by the little white sling-backs under the next stall that the old BOSSO was trying to take her little dump right there, next to little pink-collared me. So, to get her embarrasesed I said, "It sounds just like a moose-call, doesn't it?'' Another pink-collared slave would have giglgle or said "I thought that was you'' or something. My boss said NOTHING. When we got out to the old sinks I took my time washing my hands, next to the old boss. She still said NOTHING. I was taking such liberties! (I hope she thought I was referring to her old dried-up sphincter.)

It might be a good idea to pass on—talk to your bosses in the bathroom. You can't get "in trouble'': no one is doing any WORK. It gets them all upset because a) the human side of them is exposed, if you will, b) they're at your mercy, c) if you act real sunny and bright, they can't say you're being obscene or something, and that gets them even more! Try it!

Comes the revolution, however it comes.




I read the first two issues of your journal while visiting Vancouver. I could identify with personal contradictions of being an intellectual doing unskilled labor since I hae always done menial manual labor myself. My current position is as a laborer on the garbage trucks for the City of Toronto.

I don't mean to denigrate your more theoretical insights by discussing the personal contradictions involved in unskilled labor. Indeed I found your overall analysis of work and not-work to concur very much with my own ideas. But over the 8 months that I worked as a garbage laborer, I have become much more aware of the elitism of the left and their misunderstanding of people who choose non-careerist survival options.

My own position is summed up by paraphrasing the old dictum: "employment if necessary, but not necessarily employment.'' I know that I have other options, so to speak, i.e. retraining in computers or electronics for instance, but I feel so alinated from this system that I find it difficult ot direct my energy to increasing the social value of my skills when the only benefits that I will receive out of it is security and the remote possibility that my work will be more interesting. Otherwise any benefits certainly go to the abstract extraction of surplus value.

Compared to most people that I know in Toronto, I prefer my alienation straight. When one does manual, unskilled labor, there is no way that one can mystify oneself into thinking that one is working for some social or political good. One works for survival and for some extra income to fund personal/political projects. But the careerists lose that clarity. Their politics and their careers begin to dovetail into each other. They become more concerned with their resume than with their lives.

It was interesting to tell people what I did. People's responses on hearing that I was a garbage laborer were readily divisible into two distinct categories. One was quite pragmatic. They were interested in how much money (good), working conditions, i.e. outside work, physical work, time for which we were paid that we didn't have to work, etc. The second category of responses was generally a non-response, usually a polite silence at best. After a while, I almost enjoyed maliciously telling people quite bluntly that I worked on garbage to shock them a bit.

I had only recently moved to Toronto and it was quite a different left to what I had ever been around before. In the other cities that I had lived in, lefties (using the word very generally) were usually marginals or workers or some unbalanced combination. But in Toronto there is no large culture of marginalization as there was in Kitchener or Vancouver. I just had never had much contact with people who actually thought in career terms. It seems so unfortunate that people direct their energies towards an end that is not at all in opposition to the Machine. At best, they work 35 hours a week for the system and ten hours a week against it.


Dear Processed World,

Your issue 4 gave me more laughs than anything I have read since the IWW pamphlets. You seem to be hung up in your development somewhere in the '20s, where an intelligent being could still believe Marxist bullshit.

Fantasies about sabotaging computers, fighting work quotas and assassinating bosses illustrate your failure to understand what the world is all about. Here are a few pointers that might just help:

1. Jobs are not created to provide employment. They are created to supply a service or product to someone willing to pay for that service or product.

2. All wages, benefits, profits, tools, equipment, supplies, and workplaces must be paid for out of the sales price of the goods or services.

3. If the customer can get it cheaper or better somewhere else, you lose the business (and your job). (This is the "Production for need'' you desire, without the bureaucracy your scheme would require).

4. However demeaning and ill-paid you consider your job, somewhere there is someone who will cheerfully do it for half your price.

5. With today's instant communication, it doesn't matter where a company locates the clerical staff.

Denigrate if you must the "childish'' $50,000-a-year executive, but realize that it may be only his childish desire to live in Frisco rather than in Colorado or Korea that keeps your job around.

On that great day when you smash the VDT's and hold the files hostage, you will suddenly find as the air traffic controllers did that society is not impressed with your tantrums. It is true that a concerted labor uprising can break a company. It has happened before, and it will happen again as long as we have people who, as we said in the old army, shit in their own mess kits. But a bankrupt company pays no wages, so where are you?

But if you can't fight business and you can't fight the economy, what can you do to improve your situation? I'm glad you asked.

1. Start out by making yourself worth more to your company than some warm body off the street, then diversify your skill enough to avoid locking in one narrow slot.

2. Your rationalization for ripping off the company is the same one used by the executive for making his secretary fuck for her job. You both feel undercompensated and so you pick up a few extra benefits. Knock it off.

3. When asking for a raise, forget what you "need.'' Everyone needs more. Talk instead of your proven value to the company, and if they refuse to pay for that, go elsewhere even if it means taking your precious tail onto a paper route or a janitor's job. If you are not worth what you are getting, keep quiet and hope the company doesn't find out.

4. Don't fuck your boss for a raise. Not everyone can do 60 WPM error free, but the chances are that he can hire a better lay. Stick with what you do best, if anything.

If the burden of applying yourself to your job so the customer is assured the best deal for the money does not appeal to you, then fuck, snivel, whine, cheat, steal and bullshit your way through life, because you are nothing but a fucking, sniveling, whining, cheating, thieving bullshitter, but keep quiet about it 'cause we already have more of them than we need.

Walter E. Wallis
Wallis Engineering
Mountain View, CA

The idiocies of Mr. Wallis are too numerous to be dealt with here. But the bumptious, arrogant tone of his letter, and some of the half-truths it contains, are worth attention for two reasons. First, they reflect attitudes and platitudes regrettably widespread among workers as well as the like of Mr. Wallis. Second, they express all too accurately the current relationship of forces between workers and business, at least in most of the world. Needless to say, these reasons are closely connected.

Let's begin with Mr. Wallis' economic notions, which are a cross between high-school civics texts and a corner grocer. Mr. Wallis, with quaint stubbornness, asserts that market competition brings about "production for need.'' The reverse is true. The gap between profitability and
real human need—for properly-grown and nutritious food, comfortable and spacious housing, efficient and safe transport and energy generation, creative and satisfying work—has never yawned wider. Two-thirds of the world's population are badly-housed and malnourished. Seven-eighths of its workforce spend their lives in exhausting, mindless and frequently useless toil. At the same time, vast sectors of the global economy are devoted to the creation and satisfaction of "needs'' like armaments, nuclear power plants and the private automobile.

More compelling are Mr. Wallis' arguments for worker passivity in the face of capital's imperatives. ". . .You can't fight business and you can't fight the economy,'' he crows—because if we do the company will either go broke or leave town. At present, more US companies are going broke than at any time since the thirties, though seldom because of employee demands. Meanwhile, larger corporations are indeed moving their industrial operations to low-wage areas like Latin America and Southeast Asia. And in fact, the threat of mass layoffs because of bankruptcy or relocation has been remarkably successful in bringing US and Western European workers back into line.

Traditional labor unions have proven completely incapable of dealing with this—except as active enforcers of management demands.
Processed World is arguing for a new, offensive approach—for breaking out of the legalistic "labor'' framework and creating directly-democratic, autonomous organization that cuts across the lines of income, occupation and (eventually) nation. Moreover, while Mr. Wallis' class currently has the upper hand, there are encouraging signs. The workers of San Juan, Seoul, Singapore and Soweto are beginning to resist in earnest. What if they were to force the multinationals to pay them San Francisco wages? And in Western Europe, a generation of youth has appeared that is openly contemptuous of the miserable choices offered it, and prefers to fight directly for money, free time, and the space to enjoy both.

Underlying Mr. Wallis' bullying, patronizing style is the mistaken certainty that working-class people are incapable of
constructive self-organization. He concedes that "a concerted labor uprising can break a company.'' But he prefers to forget that "concerted labor uprisings'' have also broken government after government during this century, and have several times challenged the fundamental relationships governing this society—the state and the wage system. Over and over again—in Russia and Germany in 1917-21, Spain in 1936-37, Hungary in 1956, Portugal in 1974-75, and most recently in Poland during the last two years—workers have begun taking over social power and running production and distribution for their own purposes— without a bureaucracy. That these revolutions were "lost,'' crushed in blood, undermined by their own hesitations and lack of self-confidence, is not the point. The present order can be shoved aside by the new, freely cooperative and communal society already latent within it. The means and the necessity for this transformation now exist worldwide, in more profusion than ever before.

Mr. Wallis, rather than contemplating such possibilities, understandably prefers to give us vulgar and condescending advice on how to "get ahead'' in a world marching in lockstep toward the abyss. Let us not regret either his stupidity or his repulsiveness. Both will make it easier when the time comes.

—Louis Michaelson

Dear PW,

Hey! We just got a great idea! If you can't beat them, join them!

We should start up our own temporary agency and call it RED ROVERS: (of course, the slogan would be "Red Rover, Red Rover, send someone right over'') the kick is that they are quiet fomenters of revolution, distributing pamphlets, and generally spreading the WORD.

If not a reality, it would make a great story. . .

E. - San Francisco