I recently wrote a blog post that proved to be one of the more popular ones I’ve posted. It concerned itself with the plight of the common man in the modern world of work. It is a theme that’s been touched on more than a few times in my writing, consciously or otherwise.
This blogpost is also dwells on that theme although it has as it’s genesis a challenge I set myself and my Twitter followers. You can read about the background to the challenge here. The three words that were chosen by my glamorous assistant, the lovely David Goddin, are to be found at the very bottom of this post along with a footnote on the submissions and participants. To all who took part or offered encouragement, I am most grateful.
Through a Twitter contact, I was recently led to the website corporaterebelsunited.com and was taken enough with what I read to join up there and then (and I wasn’t entirely unmotivated by the hope that I might get my own X-Wing starfighter). What is evident from what this new rebel movement is proposing, and what I hear and read across my various social media networks is the need for a changing of the guard. Developing thought about the present and future of work and workplaces is leapfrogging the anachronistic, stuffed shirt mentality that might, to cite just one example, be behind the high profile and embarrassing failure of the FMA’s MBA programme. Taylorism and scientific management have well and truly had their day in most of the western world, although at-arms-length outsourced sweatshop manufacturing for first world-headquartered businesses remain a blight in the developing world and on our collective conscience. However, there is something much more hope-filled and life affirming about what is being talked about right now about how things might be done differently – with safety and integrity as watchwords.
On face value there are similarities between what is driving these new digital native colllectives and those that saw the formation of movements such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the early part of the twentieth century. Namely, a desire to re-order the organisation of work and workers and to determine how society might best be improved for all. However, whilst direct action does not presently form part of these new manifestoes, the militancy of the IWW saw them in near open warfare with the authorities and its members became notorious for acts of sabotage. In this context it is perhaps worth noting the definition provided by J. A. Estey, in his “Revolutionary Unionism,” where he says: “In Syndicalist practice it [sabotage] is a comprehensive term, covering every process by which the laborer, while remaining at work, tries to damage the interests of his employer, whether by simple malingering, or by bad quality of work, or by doing actual damage to tools and machinery”. Fortunately we are moving in more enlightened circles but the challenge of an ossified corporate/political system remains acute. One other challenge and perhaps a more intractable one is that of how to maintain a free-flowing collectivism without it coalescing into something structurally similar to that which it seeks to replace.
There can be no significant argument against the statement that our current system is broken. The inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort and the desire for and pursuit of wealth, status, and power as embodied by the worst excesses of the self-styled banking “master of the universe” has pushed us beyond any notional tipping point and into the abyss of uncertainty. This week’s passing of a political heavyweight who many held responsible for the “Loadsamoney” culture that Fred The Shred was erstwhile heir to, has once again thrown disparities in our society into sharp relief. Perhaps we should consider it fortunate that we haven’t fallen back on a Luddite tendency. I rather hope we are due another outbreak such as that which occurred in San Francisco in mid-1967. A radical cultural and political shift catalysed by an eclectic group, suspicious of government and corporate agendas, rejecting atavistic consumerist values, and peace loving. Whilst not all of us would claim, as the corporate rebels do, that we love our organisations, those now discussing a new order seem driven by a love of the art of the possible and a true desire to build a sustainable future. Another “Summer Of Love” seems more than a distinct possibility or pipedream.
If you’re going to change the system be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…if you’re going to make a difference, you’re gonna meet some gentle people there.
And now that footnote I promised.
In all, 14 words were submitted. Below I’ve listed those of my followers who kindly submitted words and the words that they submitted. I’ve highlighted the three words selected at random by David Goddin (@ChangeContinuum) in bold.
Natasha Stallard (@StirTheSource) submitted: mortality; illusion; reality
Margaret Burnside (@MargaretBurnsid) submitted: esteem; summer
@eras_ltd submitted: greed
Megan Peppin (@OD_optimist) submitted: hope; intriguing
Neil Usher (@workessence) after the deadline submitted: delayed
Gemma Reucroft (@HR_Gem) submitted: dignity
Lucy Jeynes (@LarchLucy) submitted: sabotage
Adrian McNeece (@AdrianMcNeece) submitted: carousel
Mark Catchlove (@markcatchlove) submitted: ambiguity
@OfficeInsight submitted : Liff
The title of this post is a quote by Abbie Hoffman.