Because your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear….

There’s been a fair amount of notice of a recently discussed 1944 OSS manual on techniques of sabotage, intended for training potential saboteurs within the Axis countries on industrial and bureaucratic goldbricking and sabotage. Cory Doctorow suggests that the list of sabotage tactics reminds him of the practices of an average 2008 manager. No doubt true; for myself, though, I must say that the first thing that comes to mind for me is the experience of trying to talk with, or simply in the same comments thread as, anti-feminist trolls on the Internet — for a recent illustrative example, see my discussion with Jerry at Brad DeLong’s blog. Those who have enjoyed this special kind of experience ought to take note of points (2) and (6), and especially (4) and (7).

  1. Insist on doing everything through channels. Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

  2. Make speeches. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate patriotic comments.

  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for further study and considera­tion. Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

  5. Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.

  6. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

  7. Advocate caution. Be reasonable and urge your fellow-conferees to be reason­able and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

  8. Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

3 replies to Because your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear…. Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Jeremy

    It can’t surprise you that #5 stands out to me. :-) But I never would have applied these ideas to online conversations if you hadn’t suggested it. Makes a lot of sense - there’s a lot that these techniques can do to degrade both formal and informal groups.

  2. Brad Spangler

    Methinks I detect a certain resemblance to the internal goings on of all political parties…

  3. LadyVetinari

    Forget political parties—you could apply this to any organization, political or not.

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