Letters

Dear PW,

Thank you for the copy of Processed World that arrived while I was on vacation. Since then there have been about three crises at a time, including the landlord suddenly selling our apartment from under us and the like.

There is a story I've started [which] is based on my time as a Personnel Management Analyst Trainee for the State of Tennessee. The courts had ordered the state to make job definitions for each of the 3,200 classifications then in use. To stand up in Civil Service proceedings the definitions had to be broken down into hundreds of minute actions. The interviews to get the information had to be taken from employees scattered around the state, and then the information had to go through all sorts of computer analyses. Each job definition was to be about 300 pages. When I arrived at the office, the eight PMAs had been working on this about two years and hadn't completed one of the 3,200. Even if they completed one it would legally expire in three years since it might not reflect current job requirements. The then-governor of Tennessee was against the whole thing and just funded it to satisfy the court. A new election was coming up in a few months that might change the whole policy and method of definition. Etc. My job was terrific and just what your magazine is about. I had to work toward writing job definitions that would never be finished, and if finished never used. Despite this the boss, a one-legged man on crutches known to the staff as Tripod, prowled the halls to make sure we were working. Good story material, Beckett-world.

Sincerely,
D.F. — Lincoln, NE

Dear PW,

I've been an office worker for a long time now — since I left home at fifteen and lied about my age to start as a secy in a temp agency. Along the way have picked up skills — been an admin. asst., word processor, and all-around-peon as well as gained some real insights into the mechanics of Big Business and our capitalist society. Over the years I've accumulated my share of "Tales of Toil" and have become increasingly fed up with the whole system. What an integral part of this society are we lowly office workers! What a void has been filled by PW! I'm so proud and happy that you all have labored and loved to create this much needed forum for us. At last — a place where we can communicate, exchange ideas, and discover that we are not alone. The letter from L.S. in PW4 and Maxine's response really touched me deeply. It is the people like L.S. and Maxine in my life who have kept me going when the going got rough and who have inspired me to take the chance and quit working to become a full time student.

Right now I've got a year to go towards my B.A., and then I hope to study law (no — I do not plan to be a corporate lawyer!). In the meantime I'm working part-time as a secy on campus to survive. Check it out — students aren't allowed to make more than minimum wage here. Thus, I am the most experienced worker in the office but have the lowest salary — with no fringe. Also, since "boss" discovered that I write better than he does (which isn't hard), I now write most of his correspondence and edit his reports. C'est la vie. At least I get an inside look at the workings of this madhouse...

Although I don't call myself a socialist (haven't really read enuf about it) I know and believe in the slogan "workers of the world unite!" As office workers we fuel the very brain of the industrial monster. I truly believe that we have the potential for enormous power — we could bring Wall Street to its knees, we could halt Pentagon operations — if we wanted to and if we were united and organized. The articles in PW on office workers' strikes and the science fiction "could happen" stories all reveal this truth. How far we want to realize our potential is wide open for discussion — and PW gives us a place where we can explore these ideas. The comic relief helps too!

Keep strong, stay healthy,

L.G. — New Paltz, NY

Dear Processed World,

I read with interest the Talking Heads column in issue #5. I think the questions being raised about future directions for Processed World are important. As I read the article a variety of thoughts occurred to me and I would like to share some of them.

Too many groups in the past have been unable to move past the point PW is at now. Instead they've ended up liberal or doctrinaire or just burned-out. All the activism of the '60s and '70s has ended in apathy and disappointment with political movements that have assimilated to the mainstream.

This apathy, even though an obstacle to the goals of PW, is a valid feeling and we should accept it. Within the apathy is a potential for a genuinely radical position. That is, people are apathetic because they realize how much is wrong with society. Old political formulas aren't good enough anymore. The potential is for this feeling to become a willingness to consider new alternatives, to question one's stake in the system.

PW has done a good job of tapping into this feeling among office workers. But can this alienation be translated into a desire to resist social control and to work for something better? The issue of how to relate to the labor movement and unionism is a good example. Can unions address the alienation office workers feel today?

I don't think so. Unions always assume that we accept our roles as workers. But we don't! And that's what PW has been pointing out. Even if the wages were better, we'd still hate office work.

But unions, by definition, limit their scope to the workplace and issues of workers. For those of us who'd like to see work itself redefined, to unionize is almost a contradiction in terms.

Is there an alternative? A way to move beyond the worker role, to address the socio-economic control that jobs exercise over our daily lives?

I emphasize the idea of daily life because I think we've been asked too often to give energy to movements on the basis of abstract or theoretical goals. We're always talking about the "workplace" or the "voting booths" or even the "streets". But these are abstract metaphors for political processes and not concrete situations in our daily lives. We may demonstrate for the human rights of people in a country we've never been to. But we often don't even know the people who live in the apartment next door. This contradiction ultimately tends to negate our political work.

My point is that these abstract political arenas can never help us achieve our goals. Processes based on the use of power (that is, coercion), from the marketplace to the halls of Congress, are what creates alienation. We can't use them to end alienation!

That's not the only reason to question our relationship to these arenas. We've seen how past movements that have used these political processes have ended up thinking and acting like the very institutions they wanted to change. There are many examples of this phenomena — from women managers to Black Republicans to unions that cooperate with management to increase productivity and lower wages (like the auto unions).

We need to think about political change in a whole new way. We can't accept issues in the terms that corporations define them. They want to talk about productivity and wages. But we're concerned about the value of work and the quality of life. They want us to define our needs in terms of salaries and benefits. We want to meet human needs without money.

Our concerns today are not as workers or producers (which has always been the basic premise of the labor movement). We want freedom from work that is useless and alienating. But what forces us to remain workers is our role as consumers. Despite all the abundance and over-production of our economic system, we're still forced to pay money for basic survival needs, as if these things were scarce. And as long as we need money to survive, we're forced to sell our labor.

Organizing us in our capacity as producers only further entrenches us in the world of wage labor. It is as consumers that we exercise what choice we do have as participants in the economy. The choice we can exercise now: not to participate at all. So by organizing ourselves as consumers, we can free ourselves from the economic system, especially our dependence on jobs for survival. And I believe that anything that lessens that dependence moves us towards the freedom from work that we are seeking.

The underground economy is the arena where this struggle for freedom is being conducted. This counter-economy is as important to the '80s as the counter-culture was to the '60s. It's an arena that does have a concrete basis in our daily lives. It's where our political ideals can be integrated with our own day-to-day actions and behavior.

The possibilities suggested by this approach are numerous. Any project that promotes economic and psychological freedom from the workplace can be considered. The following are ideas that occurred to me:

Information: Office workers have a real need for an information resource or network that isn't sold out to corporate interests. We need to exchange information to help us survive in the office world, such as: comparisons of salaries, benefits, corporate policies and similar information about various companies, the reputations of corporations for discrimination, employee relations, etc., experiences with various temporary employment agencies, our legal rights on the job, health hazards in office environments, and strategies for dealing with employers, unemployment insurance, job-hunting, etc., etc.

Resources: Instead of waiting for the corporation to provide us with benefits to meet our needs is it possible to provide for some of them ourselves, cooperatively? Some workers, especially temporaries, have a real need for health insurance. A lot of people take a permanent job simply because they need the health benefits offered. Another area might be child care...

Co-ops and Exchange Networks: Having to pay for goods not only forces us to work — routine shopping takes up a terrific amount of what little free time we have. A network for trading and bartering goods and services could help. So could cooperative foodbuying, especially if the distribution outlet was near our jobs or home...

Support and Community: Contact with other office workers in similar situations helps us find support. It's also a key way that people develop an awareness about their situations. Informal gatherings, like PW has already been doing, are good as well as formal events. I like the idea of an annual "Secretaries Ball" — sort of a counter-part to the annual Hooker's Ball in San Francisco.

By these suggestions I don't mean projects organized like human services. I mean projects organized by people to benefit themselves. Some may not consider this to be valid political work. But today, the corporations are determined to co-opt all our needs into the cash economy. If we don't address these needs ourselves, they will soon have a price tag on them and we will be all the more dependent on the economy. Dropping out of the cash economy, its laws and its values, is a genuine act of resistance.

This is where official, formal, legal organizations — the kind most groups seem to think they have to be — are actually a disadvantage. By working informally, without a platform or manifesto or even a name, it's possible to promote the underground economy and advocate resistance with less risk of becoming a legal target.

Then, unlike unions, we can really challenge the whole system of corporate values and the absurdity of our jobs. For example, we could hold a press conference on the steps of the Pacific Stock Exchange to announce awards to companies based on categories like "Lowest Salaries," "Most Paternalistic," "Most Incompetent Management," "Most Sexist," etc. Or we could start a Corporate Crime Secret Witness Program and offer rewards to employees who anonymously leak information about their corporation's crimes and boondoggles.

Once we get over old ideas about revolution being led by united, mass fronts, we can open ourselves to creative thinking about our political work. We can learn to be comfortable with a variety of opinions and a diversity of actions — not everyone has to agree with us or do what we do to be a friend.

As for developing our own processes for decision-making, there are a couple of ideas worth considering. One is the process of consensus, where the group acts on something as long as no member has a strong objection. If there is an objection it is discussed and if the objection still remains then the particular action is not taken. Consensus requires more time initially, but it ensures the participation of all group members and requires the majority to consider the opinions of independent or minority voices within the group. A corollary to this is the use of direct representation. Representatives appointed by the group serve only to convey positions the group has agreed to in consensus. They can't change that position (like politicians do) unless they return to the group for a new consensus.

Having said all this, there is still the question of what to do about the jobs we still have to have. Workplace organizing can be worthwhile depending on its goals. To make us increase our keystroke rates in return for a higher tax bracket? Or to win us freedom, piece by piece, from the alienation of the workplace? It can do this, for example, if the union seeks fewer hours for workers.

But for a goal like this to be practical, we still have to address our dependence on the cash economy. That's why I put the idea of cooperative projects first. If we can meet our material needs in other ways, we can seek a goal like a shorter work week.

The purpose of my ideas here has been to help PW find ways to address this challenge: not only to find the direction to move in, but to overcome the apathy at the same time, to find alternatives to past mistakes of political movements and to show office workers that change is possible, starting with the concrete reality of our daily lives.

Sincerely,
W.R. — Los Angeles

P.S. I just saw the news that Blue Shield is pulling its office out of San Francisco in a clear attempt to break the union there, one of the first unions of office workers in S.F. [See past coverage of the fights at Blue Shield.] This only underscores the futility of the union approach. Corporations today are national and international in scope — they can move anywhere, while we, as individuals, always remain local. It is the local level, and our daily lives, that offer us the best opportunities for organizing today.

Dear Will,

Thanks for your thoughtful letter. So far [i]PW has focused on workplace issues and though this will probably remain true for some time, we welcome discussion and articles on other aspects of our daily lives. In any case, I don't believe that the sphere of consumption can be divorced from the sphere of production as you seem to propose. Organizing as "consumers" no more guarantees freedom from the coercion of the marketplace than does organizing as "workers". Both these roles need to be redefined, or better still, abolished as such.[/i]

Finding new ways to circumvent the money economy is a crucial step in doing away with it altogether. But the purpose of co-ops and collectives is defeated if they don't actually spare people from alienated labor, and few such experiments have succeeded. As long as the market rules, "dropping out" of the cash economy tends to take the form of self-imposed poverty. Witness the burn-out rate of communes and collectives in the sixties and seventies. [The counter-economy was, in fact, an important part of the counter-culture, see "Roots of Disillusionment" in this issue].

The workplace and the streets are not just "abstract political metaphors for political processes," they are very concrete arenas of social activity. Wresting control of neighborhood space from landlords, banks and police officers certainly concerns our daily lives, as does taking control of work places, whether to destroy them or transform them.

Nevertheless, some of your suggestions for ways we can immediately help each other are well-taken. Some people working on [i]PW are interested in contributing to such an information exchange. If anyone wants to send in comments, reports, recommendations, etc., on companies, bosses, etc., we can begin putting it together for publication. If other people would like to co-ordinate childcare co-ops or take up other ideas for projects, we can help put people in touch with each other, if so desired.[/i]

Maxine Holz

Dear comrades-in-arms,

A friend who is highly skilled in office sabotage gave me issues #4 and 5, and Christ on a bicycle, I don't think I've been this grateful since I was first taught to read! Having just lived through a year-long horror story that I'll send to you someday, I was particularly enchanted by "Sabotage: The Ultimate Video Game" (although Gidget neglected to mention the financial power incarnate in the shit-job of mail clerk — how sweet it is to whisk away to the washroom and fIush checks!).

Me, I'm a secretary with some word processing. Till the beginning of this month I worked in a "permanent" job with a computer consulting company — then after many attempts to force me to resign, my old management gave up and fired me for BAD ATTITUDE. Yippee! Now I'm doing temp for a university. The only bad thing is, now that I know the most effective ways to fight back, I'm working for a good employer, dammit.

In real life, though, I'm a writer.

Just wait until I'm well paid and I'll send you lots of bucks. This is better than the Cancer Fund. (Also, considering VDT risks, potentially more effective. Let us attack all problems at their source.)

May your cog be ever toothless,

J.M. — Ottawa

Dear Processed World,

I've hesitated subscribing until now because I thought you would probably be another one of those little radical magazines that folded after two issues. But enclosed please find my check for $10 to cover one year's subscription. This is as much a vote of confidence and encouragement as anything else.

Your magazine is becoming more and more relevant to my life. I started at my present job at a large bank as a part-time student assistant while I studied Art History at SFSU. When I graduated, I was offered the position of "Data Base Manager." This job entailed lots of responsibility coupled with lots of shit work. I have an ambitious boss who is getting ahead with the help of a lot of my (unacknowledged) creativity. I don't mind too much because she leaves me alone and I have the chance to learn a lot about all the new office equipment that the bank puts at my disposal. I will soon have the distinction of having two VDT's at my desk ( ... ) The point is that I have found myself relating to, and in some ways fascinated by, a technology that two years ago I dismissed in favor of gothic cathedrals.

I would like to make personal and political connections with people who share my concerns and experiences ( ... ) It would be nice to connect with some people who have also thought and worked around [this situation].

In solidarity,
M.L. — SF

Dear Processed World,

Just what do these guys do anyway?

I mean these fat ones, wandering around the office with their vests unbuttoned and sleeves rolled up, making sick jokes with the secretaries (like, "Did you hear the one about the stenographer who goes into her boss' office and says, 'Boss, I've found a new position,' and the Boss says, 'Great, let's try it!'"). And they stand around all day talking about their children, their cars, their patio cement that's cracking, or the card games they play sitting in their Winnebagos.

Once or twice a day they disappear into their cubicles. Three hours later they waddle out belly first with a notepad clenched in their fists. The results of their hours of managerial productivity: a three paragraph memo ready for typing.

Deciphering is what we really do. We take their child-like scrawls and correct the spelling, make verbs agree with subjects, create paragraphs, interpret various arrows and inserts, and make something out of it you could actually read (if you wanted to).

We return the masterpiece for approval and they spend another happy hour "reviewing." The door opens again and out they come, the memo finally ready for "distribution."

That means a score of xeroxes distributed to files, binders, CC's, and personal scrapbooks, stuffed in envelopes, drawers, and in-boxes on three floors.

Just about when we're finished they suddenly appear again, an apparition hovering around our desk, clearing its throat... could they make one small change on the memo? And off we go again, retyping, re-xeroxing, re-filing.

One or two of these executive documents a day seems to be the limit of most managers. But our job helping them maintain this extraordinary level of productivity can leave us exhausted at the end of the day.

Obviously they don't want to admit how important our role is in making their attempts at communication legible. What I want to know is... what do they do? I mean, what are managers supposed to know that we don't?

It doesn't include spelling or basic writing skills. Remember those spelling tests they give you at employment agencies and Personnel Offices? Good thing they don't give tests like that to managers!

I, for one, think it's time to stop covering for the Boss, using skills we aren't paid for. Correcting grammar and spelling is editing and that's the job of a "communications specialist." Laying out letters and creating formats for reports is the job of "graphic artists" and "forms control officers." And those jobs all pay a lot more than ours do.

I'm suggesting that we simply stop making all these corrections for them. I did at my job and I was surprised to discover that my manager didn't even notice! Now I regularly send memos out system-wide with sentences like "Thank you for your patients," and "Newer contruction are listed for rent," and "Local environs are well appearing."

If more of us do this we can clog the corporate communications system with their own gobbledygook. Then, sooner or later, someone "higher up" like the president, will notice that all the memos he receives are written in sixth grade English. He'll throw an executive fit, call an executive meeting, issue an executive bulletin... and look for a consultant.

And that's where we can be the recipients of corporate misappropriation and extravagance for a change. We can market the skills we've stopped using on the job in the lucrative world of consulting. Processed World could form a subsidiary corporation to give us part-time employment consulting corporations who don't understand why their communications are proto-illiterate. It's just taking advantage of an old principle, "create a need and fill it." (Of course, our corporation will have to pay us so much in salaries that it never makes a profit and we can all use the loss as a tax shelter...)

No more free rides! Let the Boss dot his own i's... if he can. A 1,000 office workers who know the secret of a 1,000 incompetent managers can be a powerful force. Corporate communications are already meaningless. Let's make them illiterate, too, and help cut the final ties of the corporate world to reality! Let them drown in their own words!

Sincerely,
K.L. — Los Angeles

Dear Comrades,

My companion and I have just moved from Philadelphia to Endicott N.Y. If you don't know of Endicott you should — not only is it the "home" of Endicott Johnson Shoes (bad enough!) but also the home of IBM! Imagine our disgust moving from Philadelphia — home of murderous pigs, foul water and hot pavement ("home" is the wrong word — my description is too broad — it could fit anytown USA — no, make that the world!).

Endicott is for all practical purpose a company town with IBM being "the company."

Since unions are not tolerated — we've heard the rumored existence of IBM Workers United but can find no signs outside. You can't imagine how annoying it is to try and cash our food stamps at lunchtime when they come out to fill the streets. Or how last year we found out the company "spilled" some toxic wastes by "accident" and the whole mess was covered up by village authorities so as not to get IBM upset. Since we've only been here several months we're still orienting ourselves about local customs and politics. When the Japanese computer theft story broke we thought about spray painting "I'm Turning Japanese" on one of the ugly buildings that so ruin a rather pleasant landscape, but thought it too ambiguous and perhaps racist in its meaning.

We are slowly at work on the local history of agriculture in this county (from self-reliance to corporate control) and have met some local farmers who still hold out and feel very good about sharing information and skills with "anarchists" — we'll see what happens, maybe Processed Dirt — "the magazine of the modern farm worker."

So let this be a lesson to all who contemplate the "simpler life" — while it's true we'd rather be here than Philadelphia (who wouldn't) — the "problems" (and their solutions!) become just as great — there is no "escape."

For a World without Toil,

R.S. — Endicott, NY

PW5 is a winner. Thanks for sending it to me. As always it reinforced my sense of community. Although I work in spiritual isolation I have no physical privacy. My telephone calls must be made in full hearing, papers on my desk are public property, and the nearness of others as bored or drugged as I is a further irritant. No community here, friends.

Like Gidget I am involved with the questions of subversion, self-definition, and powerlessness. Of course, computers don't work, people do. Of course, too, computers increase productivity, but the potential for abuse of the technology is great. Counting keystrokes is an inadequate measure of productivity, although an electronic overseer is a nice touch on the word-processing plantations. In fact, the technology defines the extent of the subversion. It's less risky, more fun, and definitely more profitable to program or key in misinformation than to hold up a bank at gunpoint. Creative programmers, Captain Crunch, et al., are acting in the tradition of Jesse James, not Joe Hill. The outlaw has always been the American Hero. The current infatuation with "man-against-machine" in the media is no different from the idealization of the gangster in the movies of the 1930s. Had Gidget's article appeared in the pages of the Wall Street Journal or New York Times (the private Western Union of the elite), it could have been used to reinforce paranoia and interest in anti-intrusion systems and computer security. They don't advertise electronic briefcases with "voice stress analysis to detect lying" for nothing.

It is my duty to subvert authority. The problem is that, like Gidget and so many others, I have convinced myself of the absurdity of management. I've forgotten they can't take jokes. It's sort of like forgetting that dope is illegal. I've had to forgive myself for these occasional lapses, even if they've meant getting fired, trusting a co-worker, being terrified, or feeling alone. The only way not to feel alone is to trust a co-worker (and if trust leads to conspiracy, so what?). Office friendships are subversive, too, and IBM, among others, has corporate fiats forbidding them. It's not only "dissension" that management tries to control through its personnel department agents.

Incidentally, the ultimate video game isn't sabotage — it's pulling the plug. The nuclear holocaust is the end of the game, all the games.

B.C. — SF

Dear PW,

Gidget Digit's "firing" does reveal a lot about her. When she was suspended, I was waiting for her to act. Surely a copy of the Sabotage article would appear on every co-worker's desk! Tied with red/white/& blue, maybe. And when the time was up, surely she would walk into the VP's office with a colorful "letter of resignation," informing him that a copy of that letter was being circulated in every BofA branch in the Bay Area! As Saul Alinsky says, this "blunder" was the true opportunity when looked at in a clear light! But all she did was scurry around for another job, which she got (something she omits in her confessional letter... along with her real name). What a disappointment this letter was, coming before the well-written Sabotage article!!!

I remember well one member of the BEAVER 55 group Gidget Digit mentions. "X" was an honor grad student in physics at the U. of Chicago when they invaded the Hewlett Packard installation. Even though she was brilliant, she was subsequently blacklisted from every lab in the country. She took a job close to science — teaching it. But she found that painful because she itched to get into a real lab. So she changed careers, got married, ending up (last I heard) in, of all places, an ad agency! She had many a bout with her conscience... many times we had talks about whether she should've played it safe. She accompanied Jane Kennedy when Jane turned herself in; she sobbed when she read the obit of another "friend" who had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. "That's the third, one," she said. "They are getting us all." Was this "social critique worth it? Who knows. It would be interesting to find out.

Sincerely,
Your Supporter Despite Poor Editing,

Shirley Garzotto — SF

P.S, It is OK if you reveal my name and address. I think you should be consistent about this: I may not agree with Mr. Wallis, but I think you treated him unfairly by printing his name and address. Boo! Hiss! Otherwise, #5 was a good read, as usual.

Ed. Note: Wally is a self-employed engineer. Revealing his identity does not threaten him or his job security. This is in contrast to most writers and contributors to PW whose jobs might be jeopardized if their real name were printed in PW.

Dear PW:

In the preface to her article in PW #5, Gidgit Digit waxes ironic at the expense both of PW and herself. It's not clear how seriously she intends her self-description as a "professional anti-authoritarian revolutionary" pursuing a "shadow career" in PW while working as a systems analyst for the Bank of America. But certainly she seems intent on tarring PW with the same brush: like Gidget herself, PW's regulars stand accused of dishonesty, for not revealing our "definite political backgrounds that stretch back for years" and implicitly therefore of manipulation. She admonishes us to analyze "our relationship as marginals, radicals and revolutionaries to the people we are approaching."

The core of truth in Gidget's attack is that some of us developed fairly extreme and well-thought-out criticisms of the existing society in contexts other than office work — as students, as other kinds of workers and/or as activists against nuclear power, war, male domination and so on. Several of us, for that matter, are still sneakily active in such "outside" causes. Worse, one or two of us are not even currently office workers! How dishonest can you get?

All of this, of course, misses the point. Processed World was not conceived by missionary leftists, "professional revolutionaries" who marched into the Financial District to educate the white-collar masses. Instead, a handful of people who had got into office work as one of the few ways open to them to make a living, got fed up with their isolation and with the silence around them concerning all the important questions. They set out to produce a vehicle of communication for others working in financial districts with similar attitudes to their jobs and the world at large.

A general skepticism, even hostility, toward authority and an intense frustration with boring work are characteristic of many in our generation. The only thing different about the initiators of i is that unlike most people, they have articulated these attitudes into a relatively coherent critique of the modern world and some (rather sketchier) visions of how it might be transformed. Some of PW's subsequent associates, like me, share most of their outlook. Others share much less of it.

In developing this critique and these visions, PW's founders very naturally drew on past radical traditions. Possibly they might be criticized for not discussing these further or referring readers to them (I would like to see, for instance, a series on great Utopians of the past, such as Charles Fourier and William Morris. And a long article or even a special issue on the history of workers' movements, already seriously discussed in the group, ought to be produced). But PW has been anxious to avoid any association with the 57 varieties of boring leftism, from Tom Hayden to the Sparticist League or the RCP, that pollute the radical working class tradition with their authoritarianism, opportunism and hysteria. In the pages of a magazine that wants to be open to people without any "political" background, it is very difficult to discuss this tradition without creating such associations. A cursory treatment is likely to be confusing, and a lengthy one would take up too much of an already crowded magazine. Besides — and here's the rub — we vary widely in our interpretation of the tradition anyway, and the last thing we want is to fill PW's pages with endless debate about who was right or wrong in 1870 or 1921. Declarations of our beliefs couched in the specialized terminology of past revolutionary tendencies, however bold and honest they might make us feel, are more likely to confuse than clarify in most people's eyes.

As to whether Gidget should have revealed more of her "politics" sooner to her co-workers, I'm not in a position to say. I suspect that she's being too hard on herself. Certainly it seems only prudent to sound out one's workmates carefully before letting on too much, a prudence which has always been part of the agitator's and the organizer's task. Why get fired, or worse, merely for the sake of "honesty?" If she moved too slowly this was only a tactical mistake.

We will all make further and bigger mistakes, and, I hope, learn from them. Once again, PW's purpose is not to recruit or convert to a pre-existent ideology or organization. The core group of Processed World has never made any secret of its views and aims, but neither has it imposed them on other contributors. The immediate goal of PW is to make possible the sharing of ideas, emotions and perceptions, and to further debate about strategy and tactics among rebels in the workaday world. I hope to see this debate continue, not only in PW's pages but in the cafeterias, restrooms and elevators of downtown, beyond our immediate contact or influence. I am only too aware of how vague and flawed are our visions of change, and I know that only the experience and creativity of countless others can give them clearer and more tangible form.

Yours objectionably,
Louis Michaelson

Dear Staff:

FANTASTIC! In the midst of uniformity and digital death, art survives! I read my first issue of PW (#4) at the June 12th peace rally, and I was impressed. I really liked the creative xerox art the most (did you know that "xerox" is the greek word for "draw"??), and also the information on office uprisings. The healthy weight and thickness of the booklet itself proves something about audience response.

I know. I work for a major minicomputer company in Embarcadero IV, doing field repair work, and I see the firsthand results of digitalized society every day, from the endless parade on Market street to the poor file clerks holed up in the giant glass prisons that line the streets of our fair, postcard-perfect city. Anyway. Keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Jose's Son — SF