I know Michael meant this as a humorous commentary, but contrary to popular mythology, the Luddites did not oppose machines per se, but "machinery hurtful to Commonality" -- i.e., the imposition of capitalist "efficiency" -- the assembly line, and the factory form of production which destroyed earlier non-industrial ways of living.

In England they wielded hammers against the newly installed giant mechanical looms; in France, their counterparts threw wooden shoes (called in French "sabots") into the gears. (From that came the term "sabotage").

The emerging industrial system found it needed to crush the Luddites, which was becoming a widespread and well organized mass movement. The bourgeois presses distorted and then obliterated memory of the Luddites' radical direct action “critique” of factory production from history texts. So did the Marxist parties, who falsely caricature the Luddites in order to dismiss them.

- Mitchel

At 08:56 AM 5/30/2011, Michael Balter wrote:
This does look interesting, although it's ironic that those calling for a second look at the Luddites are doing so by Facebook, email, and a Web site. :-)


On Mon, May 30, 2011 at 4:50 AM, Alex Dajkovic <[log in to unmask] > wrote:
A critical look at the Luddite Uprisings might be informative for many of today's promises of techno-scientific salvation.

Begin forwarded message:

From: "David King" <[log in to unmask] >
Date: May 29, 2011 3:56:47 PM GMT+02:00
To: "David King" <[log in to unmask] >
Subject: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Luddite Uprisings: Technology Politics Then and Now

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Luddite Uprisings: Technology Politics Then and Now

Date: Wednesday June 8th, 7pm
Venue: Feminist Library meeting room, 5a Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW, Nearest tube Lambeth North,
Organised by: Luddites200 Organising Forum [log in to unmask] www.luddites200.org.uk
No admission charge, donations welcome.  Please contact organisers about disabled access.

In 1811-12 artisan cloth workers in the Midlands and North of England rose up against factory owners who were imposing new machines and putting them out of work.  Since the 1950s the Luddites have been painted as fools opposed to all technology and progress, but in fact the Luddites were very selective in their attacks, breaking only machines they thought were 'hurtful to Commonality'.
What can the Luddites teach us about the ongoing use of technology to replace workers’ jobs, as well as issues like GM food, nuclear power, reproductive technology and surveillance?  Can we escape the myth that technology always brings progress?  On the anniversary of the first action against a GM crop site in Britain, come and discuss the issues with speakers from the Luddites200 Organising Forum, Stop GM, a trade union activist, and the Stop Nuclear Network.

PLUS! Luddite entertainment and CAKE

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith


Ring the bells that still can ring,  Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. 
~ Leonard Cohen