Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Luddite Uprisings: Technology Politics Then and Now
November 2011 – January 2013 are the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings: a great opportunity to celebrate their struggle and to redress the wrongs done to them and their name. Today science and technology raises many more critical social, environmental and ethical issues, but from GM food and eugenics to plans for engineering the planets climate, from surveillance to nuclear power, these issues are rarely addressed properly, partly because anyone who raises criticism is denigrated as a ‘luddite’. History has been written by the victors and the Luddites are portrayed as opposed to all technology and progress: it is ironic that while the ideology of technology as progress has hardened into a rigid dogma, which must condemn all critics as ‘anti-science’, in fact the Luddites opposed only technology ‘hurtful to commonality’, (i.e. the common good). They destroyed some machines whilst leaving others, and earnt their living using a complex piece of technology, the hand loom. In their spirit, we make no apology for calling for real democratic control over science and technology.
In this project we aim to:
· Remember and honour the Luddite struggle and begin their political rehabilitation
· Strengthen the contemporary technology politics movement, by discussing the lessons that the Luddite uprising can teach us.
UK Organizing meeting: Wednesday June 8th, 7pm, Feminist Library, 5a Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7XW, Nearest tube Lambeth North,
Organised by: Luddites200 Organising Forum email@example.com www.luddites200.org.uk
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.