The Luddites,Neo-Luddism, andTechnophobia CyborgMillenium Winter 2009 Tim Sheard
England’s Distress in 1811-1813 • In 1812 the government probably had reason to be fearful: • a large part of the army was overseas, mainly in the Peninsular with Wellington; • the country was fighting not only the French but also the Americans • England was experiencing the worst trade depression since the 1760s and people were suffering great hardship. as evidenced by the Sheffield riots of 1812 • Source: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/victorian/history/riots/luddites.html
Causes • Poverty – Harsh economic times because of the Napoleonic wars • Non-enforcement of laws meant to protect workers • Minimum wage bill 1808 (decreased wages) • Deteriorating working conditions • Combination Acts – Banned trade unions • Mechanical Looms and spinners replacing skilled craftsman
Who were the luddites • 19th Century English Handicraftsmen • Ned Ludd – apprentice who smashed his bosses shearing frame with a hammer
Mythic Hero? • Ned Ludd mythical person? • Ned Ludd was reputed to live in Sherwood Forest. • They said Ned Ludd was an idiot boy • That all he could do was wreck and destroy, and • He turned to his workmates and said: Death to Machines • They tread on our future and they stamp on our dreams.-- Robert Calvert
The cause of it all? The type of instrument destroyed by Ned Ludd A Stocking frame was a machine that knitted stocking or socks. 1812 – Frame-Breaking Act (capital crime)
Riots and battles of the luddite rebellion • Riots • Nottinhamshire – Nov 1811 • West Riding of Yorkshire – Jan 1812 • Lancashire – March 1813 Sutton’s Mill, Nottinghamshire Luddites smashing looms in a factory during the riots of 1811–16. The Granger Collection, New York
Middleton Guardian report "AT LEAST seven people have been killed after a day of Luddite rioting that brough terror to the poplace of Middleton. Until now the town has been spared the attention of the followers of the infamous Ned Ludd from Leicestershire, whose resentment of the coming of the power driven loom has spawned bands of machine wreckers. It has been feared for some time that Middleton could become the target for these agitators, for many of the town's loomhouses have fallen silent - the men have gone to work at the power looms that Daniel Burton has installed at his calico printing mill in Wood Street. But no one could have forseen the mayhem that ensued today, 2nd April 1812. Men armed with clubs, staves and rakes came into the town from all directions. They congregated at Th' Top o' Middleton, entered the shops and began to fill their pockets with the goods on the shelves, throwing the flour and sugar about the floor and generally causing havoc. • http://www.middletonguardian.co.uk/community/nostalgia/s/409682_1800_to_1900
Government Response • Felt it had to establish control • Provide good business climate • Repress and control unruly labor groups • No attempt to alleviate cause of social disruption • “The FRame Breakers” by Nicols Fox
Frame Breaking Act National Archives Catalogue reference: HO42/119. f.135
Lord Byron’s Speech againstThe Frame Breaking Act • Lord Byron, made a passionate speech against the Act in the House of Lords at the end of February, 1812: • During the short time I recently passed in Nottingham, not twelve hours elapsed without some fresh act of violence; and on that day I left the thecounty I was informed that forty Frames had been broken the preceding evening, as usual, without resistance and without detection. Such was the state of that county, and such I have reason to believe it to be at this moment. But whilst these outrages must be admitted to exist to an alarming extent, it cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: the perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community.
Luddite Battles • Burton’s Mills – Middleton • Westhoughton Mill, Lancashire • At the time there were more men under arms fighting the Luddites than fighting Napoleon
Were the Luddites Provoked? • Samuel Whitbread, an MP, after the riots were put down, said of the riots As to the persons who had blackened their faces, and disfigured themselves for the purposes of concealment, and had attended the meeting on Deanmoor, near Manchester, it turned out that ten of them were spies sent out by the magistrates... These spies were the very ringleaders of the mischief, and incited the people to acts which they would not otherwise have thought of. [Parliamentary Debates, lst Series, Vol. 23, Col.1000, (l8l2)]
http://www.cottontimes.co.uk/luddo02.htm • Part-time journalist John Edward Taylor investigated the story and claimed: "This outrage was debated at a meeting which took place on Dean Moor, near Bolton, the 9th of April, sixteen days before the scheme was put in practice. "At this meeting there were present, during the greater part of its duration, and up to the time of its close, not more than about forty persons, of whom no less than ten or eleven were spies, reputed to be employed by Colonel Fletcher. "The occurrence of circumstances like these, sixteen days before the burning of the factory took place, renders it not a matter of presumption, but of absolute certainty, that that alarming outrage might have been prevented, if to prevent it had been the inclination of either the spies or their employers."
The end of Luddism • Male workers gained the right to vote • Trade unions became legal • 49 luddites killed in riots by government forces • 24 were executed • 34 transported to Australia • More than 20 others given long term prison sentences
Political Consequences • Changed the views of many influential people • Especially Lord Byron who spoke at the trials of several luddites, and Earl Fitzwilliam, Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. • Brought rights of workers to the attention of the public • Began debate about industrialization • Look at both the positive and negative effects of industrialization • Govt. could no longer ignore the plight of workers • Technology is never neutral
Luddites in Song The Luddite riots led to many songs that were sung for years afterwards, and made the Luddites popular heroes General Ludd's Triumph Tune "Poor Jack" Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood,(2) His feats I but little admire I will sing the Achievements of General Ludd Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire Brave Ludd was to measures of violence unused Till his sufferings became so severe That at last to defend his own Interest he rous'd(3) And for the great work did prepare(4) Now by force unsubdued, and by threats undismay'd Death itself can't his ardour repress The presence of Armies can't make him afraid Nor impede his career of success Whilst the news of his conquests is spread far and near How his Enemies take the alarm His courage, his fortitude, strikes them with fear For they dread his Omnipotent Arm!
More Songs • Hunting a Loaf Good people I pray, now hear what I say, And pray do not call it sedition; For these great men of late they have cracked my poor pate: I'm wounded, in a woeful condition. Chorus And sing fallal the diddle i do, Sing fal the diddle i do, Sing fal the lal day. For in Derby it's true and in Nottingham too, Poor men to the jail they've been taking; They say that Ned Ludd, as I understood, A thousand wide frames has been breaking. • "The Cropper's Song" Come, cropper lads of high renown, Who love to drink good ale that's brown, And strike each haughty tyrant down, With hatchet, pike, and gun! Oh, the cropper lads for me, The gallant lads for me, Who with lusty stroke, The shear frames broke, The cropper lads for me! What though the specials(14) still advance, And soldiers nightly round us prance; The croppers lads still lead the dance, With hatchet, pike, and gun! Oh, the cropper lads for me, The gallant lads for me, Who with lusty stroke The shear frames broke, The cropper lads for me!
Luddite Fallacy • Labor saving technologies increase un-employment by reducing the demand for labor • The Fallacy • Cost of goods decreases • Demand for goods rises • So more people are hired. • At the macro-economic level, production increases while keeping workforce levels constant • Micro-economically, real people are out of a job. Modern day wisdom says the cure for this is job training • If the Luddite fallacy were true we would all be out of work because productivity has been increasing for two centuries • Alex Tabarrok, economist
The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson • Luddites were not opposed to new technology so much as the economic order that arose with it that destroyed their lively hood • Research suggests that the frames destroyed were often those of owners and mills that tried to cut proces and wages, while others were often left un touched • The Luddites acted from a sense of self preservation
Neo Luddites • Kirkpatrick Sales • Author – Rebels against the Future • Advance of technology will bring about the downfall of the world
Sale’s Lessonshttp://www.mindfully.org/Reform/Luddite-History.htm#1 • Technologies are never Neutral, and some are positively detrimental • Industrialism is a traumatic and cataclysmic process. • Only a people serving an apprenticeship to Nature can be trusted with machines • The nation state, intertwined with industrialism, will always come to its aid and defence, making revolt futile and reform ineffectual. • Resistance to the industrial system, based on moral principles and moral revulsion, is not only possible, but necessary. • Resistance to industrialism must ultimately be embedded in an analysis - better, a philosophy that is widely shared and carefully articulated. • The industrial civilisation so well served by its potent technologies cannot last, and will not last: its collapse is certain within not more than a few decades.
Book Review of Sales book • http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_quarterly/v049/49.4br_sale.html • Luddism and its Discontents by Paul Lindholdt • “Scholars who hope to understand the hermeneutics of suspicion now known as Luddism or neo-Luddism--who want to learn more than the newspapers can offer about what went into the Unabomber's world view--would do well to read these important works by Kirkpatrick Sale and ChellisGlendinning. ‘’
The Unabomber • Ted Kaczynski • Ph.D. Mathematics, U Mich • Social Critic • Recluse
The Manifesto • Industrial Society and Its Future • In 1995 he sent a letter to the NY Times saying he would desist from terrorism if they printed his manifesto • A quote from the manifesto The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in "advanced" countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering—even in "advanced" countries. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Industrial_Society_and_Its_Future
A Tale of two brothers • http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,984418,00.html