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[Fr., sabot=wooden shoe; hence, to work clumsily], form of direct actiondirect action,
theory and methods used by certain labor groups to fight employers, capitalist institutions, and the state by direct economic action, without using intermediate organizations.
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 by workers against employers through obstruction of work and/or lowering of plant efficiency. Methods range from peaceful slowing of production to destruction of property. In 1897, French workers adopted sabotage as a general strategy. It was also used by the syndicalists (see syndicalismsyndicalism
, political and economic doctrine that advocates control of the means and processes of production by organized bodies of workers. Like anarchists, syndicalists believe that any form of state is an instrument of oppression and that the state should be abolished.
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) and by the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States. It has been condemned by Communists and Socialists as counterrevolutionary because it often results in a wave of repressive measures. The term has also been used, notably by Thorstein VeblenVeblen, Thorstein
, 1857–1929, American economist and social critic, b. Cato Township, Wis. Of Norwegian parentage, he spent his first 17 years in Norwegian-American farm communities. After studying at Carleton College and at Johns Hopkins, Yale (where he received a Ph.D.
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, to refer to limitation of output by businessmen to enhance profits by maintaining scarcity of goods. In wartime it connotes nonmilitary enemy activity, by either foreign agents or native sympathizers, especially the physical damage of vital industries.

See also guerrilla warfareguerrilla warfare
[Span.,=little war], fighting by groups of irregular troops (guerrillas) within areas occupied by the enemy. When guerrillas obey the laws of conventional warfare they are entitled, if captured, to be treated as ordinary prisoners of war; however, they are
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; terrorismterrorism,
the threat or use of violence, often against the civilian population, to achieve political or social ends, to intimidate opponents, or to publicize grievances.
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See E. Pouget, Sabotage (1910, tr. 1913); S. B. Mathewson, Restriction of Output among Unorganized Workers (1931); E. Feit, Urban Revolt in South Africa, 1960–1964: A Case Study (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Russian, diversiia from the Latin diversio, deflection, distraction). (1) Subversive actions (arson, demolition) carried out by specially trained agents or groups in time of war or peace on the territory of a particular state or in territory occupied by an enemy for the purpose of weakening his economic and military strength and his morale.

(2) Under Soviet criminal law, sabotage is an especially dangerous crime against the state (art. 5, Law on Criminal Responsibility for Crimes Against the State of 1958; art. 68, Criminal Code of the RSFSR). An act of sabotage is intended to cause substantial harm to the economic foundations of the state. It may be carried out either by destroying or damaging (by explosion, arson, or other methods) enterprises, structures, roads and means of transportation, means of communication, or other state or social property or by mass poisoning or the spreading of epidemics and epizootics for the purpose of weakening the Soviet state. It is punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term of eight to 15 years, with confiscation of property. In addition to the deprivation of freedom, exile for a term of two to five years may be prescribed. The deliberate destruction or damaging of state or social property, committed without the intention of weakening the Soviet state, is not considered sabotage and is treated as a crime against socialist property (art. 98, Criminal Code of the RSFSR).

(3) In political writing the term “ideological sabotage” is applied to the provocative propaganda of imperialist states (by radio, television, or publications) directed against the socialist countries.




the deliberate disruption of any activity; the evasion of work or its deliberately careless execution.

In Soviet criminal law, sabotage is the conscious failure to execute one’s defined duties or the deliberately careless performance of them for the purpose of weakening the Soviet state. Until 1958, Soviet law had a special norm establishing liability for sabotage. Under existing legislation, there is no provision for liability for sabotage as an independent crime, because there are practically no cases of sabotage in the USSR. Actions resembling sabotage are classified as wrecking and subversive actions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Action by enemy agents or sympathizers with intent to stop or otherwise hinder a nation's war effort or to interfere with or obstruct the defense of a nation.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


The deliberate damage to equipment or information. For example, website defacement is an example of information sabotage.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
There a pack of 30 to 40 dogs charged through people's gardens, chased a herd of deer and mauled a fox to death, the saboteurs claim.
The Cheshire Hunt Saboteurs' Facebook page describes themselves as: "autonomous individuals dedicated to saving the lives of hunted animals through non violent direct action." The group claim that 'illegal' fox hunting is still happening across the UK despite the ban.
"It is true I did lose my temper and swear in one of the videos, but it was because the saboteurs had blown their own electrical horn to draw the hounds away from the huntsmen.
* The "poor-pitiful-me" saboteur. Do you have a friend or spouse that can eat whatever he or she wants and not gain an ounce?
'Without a doubt, saboteurs are behind this problem.
He however expressed his displeasure over the activities of Saboteurs and said that they cannot digest in the upsurge popularity of the party and they are busy doing false propaganda.
In the early hours of Monday, it said Ukraine had attempted to infiltrate two groups of saboteurs into Crimea by force, but that the FSB and other agencies had repelled the attempts.
Officers were called to the scene by members of the West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs Group who captured the video footage.
The protesters were all believed to be from a local wing of the national organisation Hunt Saboteurs and had gathered to monitor the club's rabbit and trail hunt.
Le ministre a egalement declare la guerre aux saboteurs des equipements medicaux qui coutent des milliards et qui sont deteriores a coups de marteau ou de scie.
WE LOVE DRAMA THE SABOTEURS (More4, 9pm) THANKS to BBC4's Swedish import The Killing, people are increasingly open to having to read as they watch TV.