The March of the Musicians

In the book The March of Musicians (Musikanternas uttåg, 1978)  PO Enqvist is  telling the story about the spread of the labour movement in the villages around Bureå, just south of my home town Skellefteå. Instead of being greeted as liberators the socialist agitators met a really hostile resistance. In other places the hostility came from the owner of the sawmills. In this area the hostility and violence surprisingly came from the workers themselves.

So what was the new ideas that workers opposed? Basic things that we take for granted. Eight hour work days, fair and decent pay and safe working conditions. Fear of change. Fear of the impact of new ideas and the conflict with the hardcore Lutheranism and the Lutheran work ethic was the base of the resistance. Today it feels unbelievable that the workers themselves could violently resist things that would obviously improve their lives.

Sundsvall_18900501

Workers demanding eight hours of work, eight hours of freedom and eight hours of rest. Source

So what if resisting lean and agile is the same kind of mistake as the workers in Bureå made? Saying no to things that could improve lives. What if people instead of being a victim of the system started to control their own destiny by improving the system that mistreated them?  Working in empowered teams guided by clear boundaries instead of micromanagement from above. Making decisions in the teams, the place where we have the most accurate information.  Having fun doing experiments in safe-to-fail environments. Taking the leap to become a creative worker instead of a knowledge worker.

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