d ) Forms of Action|
Which Cannot Be Recuperated :
Sabotage and Downtiming
Sabotage has been practised in the U.S. for many years and is now developing in Italy and France. In 1971, during a railway strike in France, the C.G.T. officially denounced sabotage and "irresponsible" elements. Several engines had been put out of order and a few damaged. Later, in the Renault strike in the Spring of 1971, several acts of sabotage had damaged vehicles which were being assembled. Sabotage is becoming extremely widespread. Stopping the line ( "downtiming" ), which has always existed as a latent phenomenon, is now becoming a common practice. It has been considerably increased by the arrival of young workers to the labour market, and by automation. It is accompanied by a rate of absenteeism which causes serious trouble to some firms.
These events are not new in the history of capitalism. What is new is the context in which they take place. They are indeed the superficial symptoms of a profound social movement, the signs of a process of breaking away from the existing society. At the beginning of the century, sabotage was used as a means of exerting pressure on the bosses to force them to accept the existence of unions. The French revolutionary unionist Pouget studied this in a pamphlet called Sabotage. He quotes the speech of a worker at a workers' congress in 1895 :
"The bosses have no right to rely on our charity. If they refuse even to discuss our demands, then we can just put into practice the 'Go Canny' tactics, until they decide to listen to us."Sabotage was used by workers against the boss so that he would admit their existence. It was a way of getting freedom of speech. Sabotage took place in a movement trying to turn the working class into a class which had its place in capitalist society. "Downtiming" was an attempt to improve the conditions of work. Sabotage did not appear as a blunt and direct refusal of society as a whole. "Downtiming" is a fight against the effects of capitalism. Another study will be necessary to examine the limits of such struggles and the conditions in which capital could absorb them. The social importance of these struggles makes it possible to regard them as the basis of "modern reformism." The word "reformism" can be used to the extent that these actions could in theory be completely absorbed by the capitalist system. Whereas today they are a nuisance to the normal activity of production, tomorrow they might well be linked to production. An "ideal" capitalism could tolerate the self-management of the conditions of production : as long as a normal profit is made by the firm, the organisation of the work can be left to the workers.
Capitalism has already carried out some concrete experiments in this direction, particularly in Italy, in the U.S., in Sweden ( Volvo ).  In France, one may regard left-wing "liberal" organisations such as the P.S.U., the C.F.D.T. and the left of the Socialist Party as the expression of this capitalist tendency. For the time being, this movement can be defined neither as exclusively reformist nor as anti-capitalist. It should be noted that this "modern reformism" has often been directed against the unions. It is still difficult to describe its consequences on capitalist production. All we can see so far is that these struggles attract groups of workers who feel the need to act outside the traditional boundaries imposed by the unions.
Although the "downtiming movement" can be defined as we have just done, sabotage is different. There are two kinds of sabotage : (a) sabotage which destroys the product of the work or the machine, (b) sabotage which partially damages the product so that it can no longer be consumed. Sabotage as it exists today can in no way be kept in check by the unions, nor can it be absorbed by production. Yet capital can prevent it by improving and transforming its system of supervision. For this reason sabotage cannot become the form of struggle against capital. On the other hand, sabotage is a reflex of the individual : he submits to it, as to a passion. Although the individual must sell his labour power, he goes "mad", i.e., irrational compared to what is "rational" ( selling one's labour power and working accordingly ). This "madness" consists of the refusal to give up the labour power, to be a commodity. The individual hates himself as an alienated creature split into two; he tries, through destruction, through violence, to re-unify his being, which only exists through capital.
Since these acts are outside the boundaries of all economic planning, they are also outside the boundaries of "reason." Newspapers have repeatedly defined them as "anti-social" and "mad" :  the danger appears important enough for society to try to suppress it. Christian ideology admitted the suffering and social inequality of the workers; today capitalist ideology imposes equality in the face of wage-labour, but does not tolerate anything opposed to wage-labour. The need felt by the isolated individual to oppose physically his practical transformation into a being totally subjected to capital, shows that this submission is more and more intolerable. Destructive acts are part of an attempt to destroy the mediation of wage-labour as the only form of social community. In the silence of the proletariat, sabotage appears as the first stammer of human speech.
Both activities : "downtiming" and sabotage, require a certain amount of agreement among the people working where these activities take place. This shows that, although no formal or official organisation appears, there exists an underground network of relations with an anti-capitalist basis. Such a network is more or less dense according to the importance of the activity, and it disappears with the end of the anti-capitalist action. It is normal that, apart from the "subversive" practical ( and therefore theoretical ) action, the groups gathered around these subversive tasks should dissolve. Often the need to maintain an illusion of "social community" results in an activity which is secondarily anti-capitalist but primarily illusory. In most cases these groups end up by gathering around some political axis. In France nuclei of workers gather around such organisations as "Lutte Ouvriere," a number of C.F.D.T. union branches, or Maoist groups. This does not mean that some minorities with Trotskyist, Maoist or C.F.D.T. ideas are gaining ground among the workers, but simply that some workers' minorities are trying to break their isolation, which is quite normal. In all cases, the dissolution of the anti-capitalist network and activity means the re-organisation of the working class by capital, as a part of capital.
In short, apart from its practical activities, the communist movement does not exist. The dissolution of a social disorder with a communist content is accompanied by the dissolution of the entire system of relations which it organised. Democracy, division of struggles into "economic" and "political" struggles, formation of a vanguard with a socialist "consciousness," are the illusions of days gone by. These illusions are no longer possible to the extent that a new period is beginning. The dissolution of the organisational forms which are created by the movement, and which disappear when the movement ends, does not reflect the weakness of the movement, but rather its strength. The time of false battles is over. The only conflict that appears real is the one that leads to the destruction of capitalism.
 This passage refers to the transformation of the Taylor system. The assembly line has already partly disappeared in some factories.
 Therefore psychiatry ( and its reform ) becomes an important element of social integration-and repression.