The Sabotage Manual

| by Ida Börjel |

[originally published in Swedish as Miximum Ca’ Canny Sabotagemanualerna you cutta da pay, we cutta da shob, excerpts from English translation by Jennifer Hayashida, Commune Editions, 2014]

II. the sabotage manual

In nineteen-sixteen
Industrial Workers of the World
(IWW) publishes the handbook Sabotage:
The Conscious Withdrawal of the Workers
Industrial Efficiency
authored by
Elisabeth Gurley Flynn

In nineteen-fourty-four
The American Office of Strategic
Services (OSS) publishes The Simple Sabotage
Field Manual
, de-classified
in the year two-thousand-and-eight

The human factor. To widen a
margin of error.

Intentional stupidity goes against
human nature. The saboteur may
need to reverse her thinking. If
before she made sure to keep her
tools sharp, she can now let them grow
dull. What was brightly polished will now
be scratched; what was carefully tucked away can
now be left out. The assiduous grows full
of indolence. The keen grows torpid,

the firm begins to give way. When the saboteur
starts to think backwards about herself and hers
she does not let the opportunity slip
out of her hands. Anything might be sabotaged.

What was firmly rooted
lies rotted. What was cast solid
is perforated. Into those openings the
saboteur sticks her fingers.

A certain measure of humor in the following

proposition helps the tension and
fear dissipate.

Commit acts for which a large number
can be held responsible. So that it could have
been anyone.

Do not be afraid to commit acts
you can personally be held
responsible for, as long as you do not do it
too often and assuming that you have a
plausible excuse   dropped the wrench
there   by that circuit   the little one cried
and kept me awake all night   I
must have been half asleep   well   so
I dropped the key

[…]

Communication

now and then when I want half a day off and
they don’t give it to me I let the belt slither off
the machine so that it doesn’t work and I get
my half day   I don’t know if you call it
sabotage   but that’s what I do

delay   give the wrong number   happen
to disconnect   forget

mutter   make conversations difficult or
impossible to understand

distort telegrams so that additional ones need to be
composed   sometimes simply by
changing a letter   from “minimum” to
“miximum”   then they won’t know if
minimizing or maximizing is at stake
a letter   a punctuation mark   to move a
comma   from “access denied, control” to
“access, denied control”

at the screening of propaganda films place two or
three dozen large moths in a paper bag   bring
to the movie theater   place on the floor in an empty row
the moths will fly out into the theater
towards the light
and when they climb over the projector
the film becomes an agitated fluttering shadow play

so they will sound as though they were passing
through a thick cotton blanket with mouths
full of gravel
so that the line can no longer be used

so they do not move
but flutter   disturb
the automated gaze

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Ida Börjel is a Swedish poet and author of several books including Ma (Bonniers, 2013), Konsumentköplagen: juris lyrik (OEI, 2008), Skåneradio (OEI, 2006) and Sond (OEI, 2004).