Sabotage

Sabotage

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Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. As a rule, saboteurs try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions. For example, whereas an environmental pressure group might be happy to be identified with an act of sabotage, it would not want the individual identities of the perpetrators known.

Etymology


Claimed explanations include:
  • That it derives from the Netherlands
    Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

     in the 15th century when workers would throw their sabots (wooden shoes) into the wooden gears of the textile looms to break the cogs, fearing the automated machines would render the human workers obsolete.
  • That it derives from the French sabot
    Clog (shoe)
    A clog is a type of footwear made in part or completely from wood.The Oxford English Dictionary defines a clog as a "thick piece of wood", and later as a "wooden soled overshoe" and a "shoe with a thick wooden sole"....

    (a wooden shoe or clog) via its derivative saboter (to knock with the foot, or work carelessly).
  • That it derives from the late 19th-century French slang use of the word sabot to describe an unskilled worker, so called due to their wooden clogs or sabots; sabotage was used to describe the poor quality work which such workers turned out.

As workplace action


When disgruntled workers damage or destroy equipment or interfere with the smooth running of a workplace, it is called workplace sabotage. Taylor & Walton defined it as "conscious action or inaction directed towards the mutilation or destruction of the work environment". This can be as part of an organized group activity, or the action of one or a few workers in response to personal grievances. Taylor & Walton placed workplace sabotage into three categories: (1) to reduce tension and frustration deriving from work, (2) to make the work process easier, and (3) to assert control over the work. In general, workplace sabotage takes the form of deliberate and prolonged inefficiency by the saboteurs. Alternatively there may be repeated "accidents" which cause damage/delays to equipment, supplies or processes. Whether it is hand-tools or computer files which go missing, the intended effect is the same. The only real limit to workplace sabotage is the imagination of the saboteurs.

Luddite
Luddite
The Luddites were a social movement of 19th-century English textile artisans who protested – often by destroying mechanised looms – against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their way of life...

s and Radical labor unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World
Industrial Workers of the World
The Industrial Workers of the World is an international union. At its peak in 1923, the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict...

 (IWW) have advocated sabotage as a means of self-defense and direct action
Direct action
Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

 against unfair working conditions.

The IWW was shaped in part by the industrial unionism
Industrial unionism
Industrial unionism is a labor union organizing method through which all workers in the same industry are organized into the same union—regardless of skill or trade—thus giving workers in one industry, or in all industries, more leverage in bargaining and in strike situations...

 philosophy of Big Bill Haywood
Bill Haywood
William Dudley Haywood , better known as "Big Bill" Haywood, was a founding member and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World , and a member of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party of America...

, and in 1910 Haywood was exposed to sabotage while touring Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

:

The experience that had the most lasting impact on Haywood was witnessing a general strike on the French railroads. Tired of waiting for parliament to act on their demands, railroad workers walked off their jobs all across the country. The French government responded by drafting the strikers into the army and then ordering them back to work. Undaunted, the workers carried their strike to the job. Suddenly, they could not seem to do anything right. Perishables sat for weeks, sidetracked and forgotten. Freight bound for Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 was misdirected to Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 or Marseille instead. This tactic — the French called it "sabotage" — won the strikers their demands and impressed Bill Haywood.

For the IWW, sabotage came to mean any withdrawal of efficiency — including the slowdown, the strike, or creative bungling of job assignments.

One of the most severe examples was at the construction site of the Robert-Bourassa Generating Station
Robert-Bourassa generating station
The Robert-Bourassa generating station is a hydroelectric power station on the La Grande River that is part of Hydro-Québec's James Bay Project in Canada...

 in 1974, when workers used bulldozers to topple electric generators, damaged fuel tanks, and set buildings on fire. The project was delayed a year, and the direct cost of the damage estimated at $2 million CAD. The causes were not clear, however three factors have been cited: inter-union rivalry, poor working conditions, and the perceived arrogance of American executives of the contractor, Bechtel Corporation
Bechtel
Bechtel Corporation is the largest engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 5th-largest privately owned company in the U.S...

.

As environmental action



Certain groups turn to destruction of property in order to immediately stop environmental destruction or to make visible arguments against forms of modern technology they consider detrimental to the earth and its inhabitants. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies use the term eco-terrorist when applied to damage of property. Proponents argue that since property can not feel terror, damage to property is more accurately described as sabotage. Opponents, by contrast, point out that property owners and operators can indeed feel terror. The image of the monkey wrench
Monkey wrench
The monkey wrench is an adjustable wrench, a later American development of eighteenth century English coach wrenches. It was popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but is now used only for heavier tasks, having been mostly replaced by the lighter and sleeker shifting adjustable or...

 thrown into the moving parts of a machine to stop it from working was popularized by Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey
Edward Paul Abbey was an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views. His best-known works include the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which has been cited as an inspiration by radical environmental...

 in the novel The Monkeywrench Gang and has been adopted by eco-activists to describe destruction of earth damaging machinery.

As war tactic


In war, the word is used to describe the activity of an individual or group not associated with the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 of the parties at war (such as a foreign agent
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 or an indigenous supporter), in particular when actions result in the destruction or damaging of a productive or vital facility, such as equipment, factories
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

, dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s, public services
Public services
Public services is a term usually used to mean services provided by government to its citizens, either directly or by financing private provision of services. The term is associated with a social consensus that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income...

, storage plants or logistic
Logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 routes. Prime examples of such sabotage are the events of Black Tom and the Kingsland Explosion
Kingsland Explosion
The Kingsland Explosion was an incident that took place during World War I at a munitions factory in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.Soon after its outbreak in 1914 World War I settled in the West into an almost static line of trenches with the principal Allied armies facing the forces of Germany and...

. Unlike acts of terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

, acts of sabotage do not always have a primary objective of inflicting casualties. Saboteurs are usually classified as enemies, and like spies
SPY
SPY is a three-letter acronym that may refer to:* SPY , ticker symbol for Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts* SPY , a satirical monthly, trademarked all-caps* SPY , airport code for San Pédro, Côte d'Ivoire...

 may be liable to prosecution and criminal penalties instead of detention
Detention (imprisonment)
Detention is the process when a state, government or citizen lawfully holds a person by removing their freedom of liberty at that time. This can be due to criminal charges being raised against the individual as part of a prosecution or to protect a person or property...

 as a prisoner of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

.
It is common for a government in power during war or supporters of the war policy to use the term loosely against opponents of the war. Similarly, German nationalists spoke of a stab in the back having cost them the loss of World War I.

A modern form of sabotage is the distribution of software intended to damage specific industrial systems. For example, the CIA is alleged to have sabotaged a Siberian pipeline
Siberian pipeline sabotage
The Siberian pipeline sabotage refers to the alleged 1982 sabotage of the Soviet Urengoy–Surgut–Chelyabinsk natural gas pipeline by the CIA as a part of a policy to counter Soviet theft of American technology.- Background :...

 during the Cold War, using information from the Farewell Dossier
Farewell Dossier
The Farewell dossier was the collection of documents that Colonel Vladimir Vetrov, a KGB defector , gathered and gave to the French DST in 1981–82, during the Cold War....

. A more recent case may be the Stuxnet
Stuxnet
Stuxnet is a computer worm discovered in June 2010. It initially spreads via Microsoft Windows, and targets Siemens industrial software and equipment...

 computer worm
Computer worm
A computer worm is a self-replicating malware computer program, which uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other nodes and it may do so without any user intervention. This is due to security shortcomings on the target computer. Unlike a computer virus, it does not need to attach...

, which was designed to subtly infect and damage specific types of industrial equipment. Based on the equipment targeted and the location of infected machines, security experts believe it to be an attack on the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian nuclear program
Nuclear program of Iran
The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution...

 by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 or Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

As crime


Some criminals have engaged in acts of sabotage for reasons of extortion
Extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

. For example, Klaus-Peter Sabotta
Klaus-Peter Sabotta
Klaus-Peter Sabotta was an extortionist who sabotaged German railways in December 1998, only six months after the Eschede disaster. He claimed to represent former employees of the German railway operator Deutsche Bahn who had been made redundant, and demanded a ransom of DM10 million...

 sabotaged German railway lines in the late 1990s in an attempt to extort DM10 million from the German railway operator Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

. He is now serving a sentence of life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

.

As political action


The term political sabotage is sometimes used to define the acts of one political camp to disrupt, harass or damage the reputation of a political opponent, usually during an electoral campaign. See Watergate.

Derivative usages


A sabotage radio was a small two-way radio
Two-way radio
A two-way radio is a radio that can both transmit and receive , unlike a broadcast receiver which only receives content. The term refers to a personal radio transceiver that allows the operator to have a two-way conversation with other similar radios operating on the same radio frequency...

 designed for use by resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

s in World War II, and after the war often used by expedition
Exploration
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

s and similar parties.

See also



External links