Celebrating the Luddite Uprisings

celebrating the luddite uprisings

“November 2011 – January 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings, in which artisan cloth workers smashed machines which were destroying their trades, undercutting wages and forcing them into unemployment and destitution. Today, the industrial system that the Luddites were rebelling against has led to climate change and huge losses of biodiversity, and its new technologies, such as information technology, genetic engineering and nanotechnology raise equally profound issues. Yet anyone who raises concern about the price and side-effects of new technologies is harshly condemned as a ‘luddite’, someone supposedly irrationally opposed to technology and progress.”

“In fact, the Luddites were not ‘luddites’ in that sense: the idea that they were opposed to all technology is a history written by the victors. In fact the Luddites opposed only technology ‘hurtful to Commonality’, ie. to the common good, rather than the narrow interests of the few. They destroyed some machines whilst leaving alone others in the same workshop. So being a luddite today means being a sceptic about the dogma of technology as progress, not about denying the real benefits of some technologies. It means insisting that the crucial decisions about which technologies are developed are made democratically, not just imposed by corporations and technocratic elites. And it means standing up for our own ideas of what progress really is.”

Help celebrate 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprising: Luddites at 200 website. See also: “Lessons of the Luddites“.

Supporters and Opponents of Technology

“Having read and listened to the arguments of technology enthusiasts and technology critics, I find it striking that different people look at the same history, the same society, the same products and services, the same jobs – and come to diametrically opposed conclusions about what they see. There is a fundamental difference in the world view of supporters and opponents of technology. It is more than the difference in seeing a glass half full or half empty.

The difference seems to be one of contrasting views of what should be in the glass. Supporters of technology see an upward trend in quality of life beginning with people living at the mercy of nature with an empty glass that technology has been gradually filling. Neo-luddites view the glass as originally full when people lived in small communities with little impact on nature; they see technology as draining it.”

Quoted from: “A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Internet, by Sara Baase (Amazon link). Excerpts of the book.

Slow geeks

Amish hackers. Via Tapwater J.