Albion Monitor /Commentary
[Editor's note: For a serious article on this important news, see "CIA Manual Explains Mystery of 'Disappeared'" elsewhere in this issue.]

A CIA Guide to Business Management

by Ted Rall

(AR) NEW YORK -- Simpleminded executives may actually welcome the latest quarterly economic statistics -- which indicate a huge 4.7 percent increase in the gross domestic product, along with the lowest inflation rate since the Summer of Love -- as signs that all is well for their bottom lines. In fact, management faces a grave crisis as workers attempt to use soaring profits to justify pay increases.

How do you convince your wage slaves to accept cutbacks when even Alan Greenspan is dancing down Wall Street?

Managers should adapt to the role of torturer in a workplace where most Americans already feel like victims
Fortunately, bosses are about to get some help from a most unlikely source -- the Central Intelligence Agency. At the end of January the CIA declassified documents revealing methods of psychological coercion that the agency deems more effective than conventional means of torture. "Direct physical brutality," reveals a 1983 manual titled Coercive Techniques used for training state-sponsored goons in Central American dictatorships, "creates only resentment, hostility and further defiance" in victims.

The new CIA papers are a gold mine of useful tips for the office manager who wants to extort increased productivity from unruly employees. First, the boss must abandon old-fashioned notions of paternalism. Instead, he or she should adapt to the role of torturer in a workplace where most Americans already feel like victims. After this change of attitude, the logic of terror follows easily.

"The torture situation is an external conflict, a contest between the subject and his tormentor," counsels the spook handbook. "The pain which is being inflicted upon him from outside himself may actually intensify his will to resist. On the other hand, pain which he feels he is inflicting upon himself is more likely to sap his resistance." Thus if a person is "required to maintain rigid positions such as standing at attention or sitting on a stool for long periods of time, the immediate source of pain is not the 'questioner' but the subject himself."

This system of reverse ergonomics unquestionably works, as anyone who has ever spent scores of pain-racked hours trying to crank out spreadsheets on a secretary's swivel chair designed for a prepubescent child can verify. Workers go home every night with backaches so agonizing that their minds can't process other desires, like asking for a raise. Savvy employers can economize thousands of dollars in salaries and benefits using this method -- and pass the savings on to themselves.

Other formulas that translate well from the torture chamber to the conference room include the inducement of profound fatigue, insupportable anxiety and solitary incarceration.

Most companies are already subjecting their workers to long hours, including working on weekends and holidays. But reducing the airflow in the ventilation system, piping in Muzak versions of Roberta Flack songs and secretly stocking the coffee urn with decaf can debilitate your staff to the point that they'll scarcely know how to find their way home at night -- much less summon the energy to unionize!

The crux of conventional torture, then, is the same as for labor-management relations
If you're a manager, you have already made great strides in the field of employee anxiety with random layoffs followed by doubling the workloads of the survivors. Yet, far more remains to be done. For instance, you can install surveillance cameras over each desk, as well as a nerve-racking device that dispatches a small electric shock through computer keyboards whenever the word-per-minute rate drops below company expectations. You might even consider employing an arsonist to burn down your workers' homes during the day. With nowhere else to go, your staff will soon spend all of their time at work!

Separating your drones from one another can prove tricky in an environment in which office space is at a premium. However, your underlings will soon get that isolated "Bridge Over the River Kwai" feeling after you add a soundproof roof to the top of each cubicle. You should also consider reprogramming office phones to block internal extensions: The less they talk to one another, the more they listen to you.

The CIA also recommends "persistent manipulation of time." For instance, "retarding and advancing clocks, disrupting sleep schedules, and disorientation regarding night and day" can effectively "break" a person and "drive him deeper and deeper into himself, until he is no longer able to control his responses in an adult fashion." Eliminate windows -- they hint at the time of day -- and switch workers' shifts frequently.

The crux of conventional torture, then, is the same as for labor-management relations. Your personnel lose their rights as adults the moment they go to work for you. You tell them when to go to lunch, when to urinate, who to talk to, how to talk, how to dress, what to do. Since you will control every aspect of their day-to-day lives, it won't even occur to them to question you. You'll own your workers' minds; someday they'll even grow to love you.

NEXT TIME: The FBI shares its employee surveillance techniques!

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Albion Monitor February 15, 1997 (

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