Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sabotage Cat

Since the beginning of the 20th century the black sabotage cat has been used as a symbol of direct action related to workers rights movements and anti-industrialism.  While there are few modern convictions using Federal sabotage laws, they were an important step in the progression of the American legal system towards the erosion of free speech, personal freedoms, and the collective agency of the 99%.  But our colloquial understanding of the term is far afield from its original use or application

Merriam Webster defines sabotage in the following ways:
1  : destruction of an employer's property (as tools or materials) or the hindering of manufacturing by discontented workers

: destructive or obstructive action carried on by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation's war effort
a : an act or process tending to hamper or hurt

b : deliberate subversion

What I think is interesting about these definitions is that the term is so evidently related to the workplace and the relationship between the worker and the employer.  I also think that the emphasis on destruction in the modern definition is interesting as there is little historical evidence to support destruction as an integral element of sabotage.  Sabotage was,  in fact, the first step towards progressive direct action, modern non-violent confrontation, and collective bargaining.  I think about terms such as terrorism, homeland security, strike, and occupy and wonder how their definitions will be changed in time, and if they will still serve their purpose.


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