The Luddite

An Anticapitalist Perspective on Tech

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The internet, much like the physical world, is a wonderful place full of resources and opportunity. How we choose to use it is one of the biggest questions of our time. As the divide between the physical and digital world becomes ever blurrier, it is important to remember the example of The Luddites.

The Luddites were textile workers. In 1812, it's said that Ned Ludd, from whom the Luddites take their name, wrote the following:

Whereas by the charter granted by our late sovereign Lord Charles II by the Grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland, the framework knitters are empowered to break and destroy all frames and engines that fabricate articles in a fraudulent and deceitful manner and to destroy all framework knitters’ goods whatsoever that are so made...

They destroyed machines not because they hated textiles or automation, but because machines were being used to rob them of their livelihood, or as they put it, "in a fraudulent and deceitful manner." Any piece of technology is neither good nor bad — it is just a tool, and no tool is inevitable. It's up to decide how these tools are used, or if we even want them at all.

The media usually covers technology by interviewing investors, founders, and CEOs — the very kinds of people the Luddites opposed. The Luddite adds a dissenting voice to the discussion about the future of our technological world that emphasizes public good over private profit.

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