A History Lesson

Below, reader Frip suggested that we need to stop being nice guys. Which violates the spirit of Joe Biden’s America, in which the people who stole the election and pissed in our faces have commanded us to come together in unity, so regretfully I have reported you to the Thought Police, comrade. With that unpleasant task out of the way, here’s a history lesson, on a topic totally unrelated to passive resistance to power, with no modern day applications whatsoever.

I’ve always found the history of labor disputes interesting. You could, in fact, have been forgiven for thinking America was on the verge of another violent revolution in the 1880s and 90s — the Pullman Strike, Federal troops at Homestead, etc. (And if you think infiltration and entrapment is something new, look up the Molly Maguires. McParland was a Pinkerton agent, i.e. a proto-Fed. Note that this was the 1870s, even). Though the Federal leviathan was a minnow compared to today, the Yankees had gotten a taste for blood in the Civil War; they wouldn’t hesitate to use massive force if they felt they had to. And this was an era in which Big Business literally owned the government (in case you don’t want to click, that’s J.P. Morgan bailing out the US government — all of it, himself, personally — during the Panic of 1893). So the workers were hosed, right?

If those poor bastards had known how things would turn out in our glorious future, of course, they would’ve hopped the first available ship back to the old country, preferring to starve with dignity among people who shared their culture (and knew which pronouns to use), but alas, they didn’t. So they stayed, and they developed various highly effective techniques of passive resistance. One of these was the work-to-rule strike, a personal favorite of mine, because I enjoy the writings of Franz Kafka.* This one takes a bit of unpacking, so:

Scientific management, a.k.a. “Taylorism,” was all the rage around the turn of the 20th century. At its crudest (and I’m only exaggerating a little), you’ve got some dork with a stopwatch and a camera standing behind you while you do your job, and after some observations and a little math, the dork tells you you’re pulling the lever wrong. There’s a scientifically optimized way to pull that lever, one that shaves 0.6 seconds off each of your work “processes,” and henceforth you shall be required to do this exact sequence of steps, every time… and if you disagree, too bad, why do you hate science?** Similar regulations follow, until the whole plant is “scientifically” optimized.

And since this is the great age of “Progress,” you’ve got umpteen government regulations to deal with now, too. And then as now, the august personages in Congress wouldn’t dream of soiling even their shoes, let alone their hands, by going anywhere near anyplace labor is actually performed, so all these regulations have been promulgated ex cathedra. Suddenly the straightforward, mindless job of lever-pulling — the one that was already so insulting to the human spirit, so “alienating,” as Marx put it, something to be endured because one has no choice — is bound up with reams of regulations, too. If you don’t like it, build your own factory.***

But in this, the workers saw opportunity. You’re going to tell me how to do my job? Fine, but you’d better tell me how to do all of it. Is there anything the Policies and Procedures manual leaves unexplained? Where to place my feet as I stand in front of the lever, for example? I’d better not do anything until the manager tells me exactly what to do, in writing, in a fully-vetted update to the P&P, and have you run that by Compliance, sir? Perhaps the lawyers in the Environmental Division should take a gander, too, since who knows what might contribute to Global Warm…. errrrr, whatever, you get the point. It turns out that even back then, when there was no such thing as OSHA or the EPA or the rest of the Federal alphabet soup, the “scientifi managers,” let alone Congress, simply weren’t able to envision the nuances of everyone’s day-to-day job. Or, for that matter, the very basics of everyone’s job. Work ground to a halt because everyone was following the rules.

As I said, this has no applicability to The Current Year whatsoever, when the Federal law codes are so complex that we all (as everybody knows) commit at least three felonies a day. Also not applicable is the related technique of “work slow-age.” Imagine what would happen if a mechanic, say, simply refused to work on a Leftist’s car. That would be bad, of course, very bad — “bake the cake, bigot!” can just as easily become “change the oil, bigot!” So nobody should do that. But what would happen, hypothetically, if the mechanic just… kinda…. took his time with it? Oh, sorry, I can’t get you in today, but I can pencil you in for the 24th. Of April. And hey, gosh, the EPA just put out another ruling about the amount of unicorn piss, in parts per million, that is required in all new bottles of motor oil. And I just sold the last one in compliance. I’ve got some on back order; it’ll get here around the 9th…. of August.

And so on.

Once again, nobody should do that, as that would be very, very bad. Not even the factory hands of the 19th century steel mills would be so awful, so inhuman, so contrary to the ideals of peace love and understanding that the Bidenreich is about to shove up our asses, as to do that.

Or anything similar. All of this, as they say, is for informational purposes only. It’s just a history lesson.


*A title that is so, so much better in the original German: Der Prozess. In fact, I nominate that for a good catchall name for what’s going to happen to your anus under the Bidenreich — you’ll get the full rigors of Der Prozess.

**Just in case you thought that was anything new. Proggies don’t know any history, of course, least of all their own, but in this case they have an excuse: So many of those early “Progressives” really thought they were helping “the Workers,” and were doing it from the spirit of Christian charity, too. Obviously that’s unacceptable — there is no God, and fuck the workers, who go to church and watch NASCAR and haven’t even taken a single Gender Studies class.

***Another fun irony: I’m told that out in Silicon Valley, the digital plantations maintain housing for their H1-B indentured servants. Whites would balk at living ten to a room, but that’s luxury living where the techno-serfs come from, so lots of little towns have become, in effect, company towns. Just in case you thought that was anything new, and I for one am looking forward to the bankrupt state of California simply selling Cupertino to Tim Cook, Menlo Park to Zuckerberg, etc. Watch how fast a big beautiful wall goes up, and how ostentatiously not-defunded the police are.


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11 thoughts on “A History Lesson

  1. ganderson

    Interesting stuff. I’d point out that ol’ nose boy Morgan saved the financial system’s bacon AGAIN in 1907, which unfortunately led to the creation of the Fed.

    I would say , too, that the early 20th century progressives weren’t wrong about everything ( just like the Muslims, I guess), although as you say Taylorism, when taken to extremes was a bad deal, and, I’d argue one that did not make use of human capital, efficiently. ( wow! Anyone reading that sentence might think I knew what I was talking about!).

    You’re right about how most progressives had never set foot on a shop floor- Upton Sinclair, who I know, Sev, you’re a huge fan of, never saw the inside of a packing house. And, the big companies didn’t really mind the regulation- they could afford it while many of their smaller competitors could not.

    And, unlike today’s progressives, who chase imaginary hobgoblins, many of the progs of 100+ years ago were concerned with things like garbage collection, sewers, paving, plowing, etc. In other words, in a rapidly urbanizing nation, many were devoted to improving the city environment. And I think they were successful; America’s big cities were better places to live in 1920 than they had been in 1880. (Compare and contrast, 1980 and 2020) Also, I think most of us here wouldn’t have a problem sending our kids to the public schools of 1910!

    Anyway you’re right, we’re in for, in the words of that great English philosopher Lt. George from ‘Blackadder’ “ a darn good British-style thrashing, six of the best, trousers down”

  2. The Kaigat Of Wands

    I’ve often wondered, purely in idle moments for no particular reason, what the effect would be of things like, for instance, people lining up in each lane on the Beltway around DC and driving at the speed limit all day – round and round in alignment. Would they be breaking any current laws? Or perhaps confused old people visiting a place like DC accidentally going the wrong way down one-way streets, a lot. Or taking a remarkably long time to dig out their money at cash booths on toll-roads. Or getting flat tyres in inconvenient places, a lot.

    That’s the trouble with lockdowns, as our rulers might come to realise, gives people a lot of time to wonder. Not that I would advocate any of the above.

    1. Severian Post author

      That would be one great example of a work-to-rule strike that everyone could do… if one wanted to do that, of course, which one shouldn’t. Just… drive the speed limit. The minimum speed limit, which on US freeways is usually an absurd 45. (It’s for foggy conditions and whatnot, but hey, a rule is a rule). Come to a complete, three-second stop at all stop signs. Don’t turn right on red — after all, the law says you can, it doesn’t say you have to. By contrast, turn left whenever possible, ideally to and from major thoroughfares. One could bring entire cities, say, cities in states with idiot power-mad Blue governors (can’t count how many ways that’s redundant), to a crashing halt, just by following our Gauleiters’ rules to the letter.

  3. Some Guy

    Speaking of david thompson and cupertino, his blog posted a link to a story that is a white pill, or at least a yellow pill. Apparently the wealthy asians of cupertino just rebelled and had critical race theory removed from the elementary school cirriculum. In the article one parent states that they don’t want a repeat of the cultural revolution. Seems our new asian overlords hate the woke shit too, at least for them and theirs.

  4. MBlanc46

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I worked with a guy who’d been a supervisor with Swift & Company, at the old Chicago Stockyards. When Swift moved to Iowa or wherever it was, he took a buyout because his wife was ill and he didn’t want to uproot her, and he became the custodian at the warehouse where I worked. He told us of the time there was a strike and the management sorts themselves had to haul the hog carcasses, and it was his job to remind them how many hog carcasses per hour had to be hauled according to their own policies. Sometimes the little guy does get a little justice.

  5. texinole

    This is truly hilarious for me today.

    Everywhere I look I find slow incompetence, so this tactic is like telling a snail to take it easy.

    My company was a small, single owner outfit who kicked ass and stuck it to the big boys. The owner was a fire breathing redneck with the best sales and negotiation savvy I’ve seen before or since. He pushed me so hard some days I was willing to sit in jail just to punch him. I’d have gone through a brick wall for that man.

    He sold the company to Global Mega Corp whose politics and culture is exactly as you would imagine. We used to laugh at the incompetence and pace of this progressive behemoth as they took literally months to do what we used to handle in an afternoon. 30 approvals for a minor label change kind of stuff. We gradually realized these asshats had no clue what to do with us and that their general listlessness was costing us customers. We’ve been screaming at anyone who’ll listen for 3 years that the brand we’d busted our ass making valuable was dying on the vine. We’ve had no choice but to slow down our work.

    Well, now three corporate drones are coming out to our corner of Flyover next week to (I assume) finally put us out of our misery.

    I’ve been searching for things to actually DO in the face of the Bidenreich so reading this today is an irony too rich.

    Sorry for the text wall.

  6. Maus

    NovoMenloPark will certainly need a formidable wall and an equally formidable police force, given its proximity to the peaceful city of East Palo Alto, an enclave of glorious woke diversity. Perhaps I will open a building supply outfit and a donut shop there. Misery loves profit.
    I’ve seen the error of my ways, Sev. Damn the mud, it’s time for some pig wrasslin’.

  7. Frip

    I think people forget how mean and scary unions used to be. Certainly historically. But I mean just as a Thing in life growing up. (That is, if you were placid middle-class. Or raised to see them as the enemy). I don’t go back super far. I just remember them as a kid in the 70’s, and teenager in the 80’s. And in the 90’s being “in the midst” of strikes where I worked. You had the sense of “there’s no telling what these dirtballs are capable of.” Now it’s the Left that feels that way about US. Especially after one-six. They’re nervous about us. That’s good if we’ve got a fighting chance. Not good if we don’t.

    1. neal

      1966 Columbus, Ohio,
      Father walks through the picket line at Westinghouse to work.
      That night our house was blown up with a rocket launcher.
      While we were there, sleeping.

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