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What is Luddism? Learn all about its history and popular luddites
The popularity of the term “Luddism” is a good indicator of how technology influences society. The word Luddism has been used for centuries, and has always reached its peak in times when technological development caused disruptive changes, which directly affected the lives of people.
In this article we will see what Luddism is, and we will discover some famous Luddites throughout history and we will talk about the near future of Luddism.
What is Luddism?
The word Luddism refers to a popular movement emerged in England in the early nineteenth century, led by artisans who protested against the growing use of machines in the productive process – especially threshers and looms -, they considered that their use destroyed the employment and deteriorated the working conditions. In particular, the term “Luddite” comes from the name of Ned Ludd, a young English worker (whose name was possibly a pseudonym) who broke two mechanical weavers in 1779, decades before the Luddite movement.
From its historical origin, the term Luddism has been used to describe the ideology of people opposed to the use of technology. However, both Luddite and neoluddism have taken completely different paths depending on the people who defend it or intend to live according to its principles.
Who are the Luddites? But what is luddism?
As an ideological movement, Luddism or neoluddism take various forms according to the people or groups of people who postulate it. Therefore, beyond the basic definition of Luddism, it is difficult to locate Luddites as a movement, because of the different ways of understanding Luddism nowadays.
According to the manifesto elaborated in 1996 in the context of the Second Luddite Congress, neoluddism is a “movement without leaders of passive resistance to consumerism and to the increasingly strange and threatening technologies of the Computer Age”.
Neoluddism has been combined in recent years with environmentalist, anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements, which obviously does not mean that all those assigned to this type of movement are neo-Luddites. At its most radical edge, neoluddism would propose the definitive end of technological progress, the abandonment of existing technology and the return to Nature.
Some famous Luddites in History. What is luddism?
Although it is probably not fair to identify neoluddism with this person, the most well-known neo-Luddite in history is probably Theodore John Kaczynski, better known as Unabomber.
Unabomber’s story got into the media in the late 70s, extending into the 1990s, although some details of it were not known until later.
After being recognized as a gifted child, Theodore Kaczynski began his studies in mathematics at Harvard University, while participating in an investigation funded by the CIA called MK Ultra, in which student volunteers were subjected to psychological attacks in order to study their reactions.
It is not easy to know the extent of these studies and how these could have influenced the personality of Kaczynski, but the truth is that, after finishing his thesis and spending some time teaching classes, he left the university and retired to a cabin in the mountains.
After a few years living in Nature, living a healthy and peaceful life, Kaczynski began his criminal career. In 1978, and until 1995, he sent up to 16 bombs to diverse things (especially universities and airlines), and he ended the life of 3 people and wounded 23 people.
In 1995, Unabomber (name that comes from the alias “Unabomb”, created by the FBI from the nickname “University and Airline Bomber” or “Terrorist of Universities and Airlines), he addresses a letter to The New York Times, in which he promised to stop his terrorist attacks if a manifesto in which he openly attacked the use of technology was published.
Unabomber was arrested shortly thereafter, this way ending his criminal activity, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without option to parole, he currently lives there in the State of Colorado (United States).
But not all Luddites are people as terrible as Unabomber. A much more reasonable way of understanding Luddism is found, for example, in the Amish.
They are quite popular for their lifestyle shown in some books and films, the Amish form a community of 235,000 people, distributed in settlements located in around 10 countries.
They are easy to identify because of their traditional dress, the Amish are a very close cultural and religious community that defends a simple way of life, without technology. Some of their values are pacifism, humility, work and simple life. They have nothing to do with the violent ways of Unabomber.
Luddism in the future
As a result of the increasing automation and robotization of the economy, some experts think that the Luddite movements will have a great boom in the coming years.
Due to this, there are opposing theories; those that maintain that automation will not destroy jobs in the next few years, but it will create new jobs, and those that think that it will cause massive unemployment and important social problems.
If the second one happens then, it is possible that some people, due to being removed from the labour market, might be led to Luddite movements and these might become important, perhaps even to the point of the rise of some violent movements. Should we think about looking for protection for our mobile phones?
However, it is worth remembering that technology has been around for many decades and has been essential for human progress. Technology has contributed to the human being for a longer, healthier, more comfortable and more enriching life. Although it is convenient to have control over technological progress for its ultimate purpose, which is to improve people’s lives, ending technology completely does not seem like a good idea. Of course, this is just a personal opinion.
What do you think about all this? Let us know by sharing your opinion in the comment section which is located down below.
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