The Luddite

An Anticapitalist Perspective on Tech

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Once, long ago, we were miserable. We lived in cold, dark caves, until someone figured out how to make a fire, which eventually lead to the iPhone. Most of that happened very slowly, but then we came up with capitalism. Suddenly, we went from no iPhones for 200,000 years, to the iPhone 15 — all in the last two decades!

We all know that technology is progress, but progress towards what? Where exactly are we going? And who the hell is driving? If the internet is connecting us all, then why are we so lonely? If tech moguls are innovators, then why do they keep reinventing Twitter? What are computers even for, and why do I need one in my fridge?

In 2011, the Arab Spring was called the Twitter Revolution. We in the tech industry knew that, because of our hard work, our disruption, global liberal democracy was now inevitable. People living around the world could now see our Freedom™ and would inevitably demand it for themselves. Today, a mere 13 years later, "AI-powered misinformation is the world’s biggest short-term threat." What the hell happened?

The media normally covers technology by interviewing investors, founders, and CEOs, the people who own so much of the internet. We want to take a more skeptical look at those very weirdos and the world that they're creating. We'll probe that ever-weakening divide between the digital and material world and try to make sense of whatever oozes through.

Like the original Luddites before us, we don't hate technology; we're active participants in its creation. The Luddites were textile workers. They were sophisticated technical operators who destroyed machines not out of ignorance, but because, in their specific social and political context, those new machines guaranteed their immiseration. Today, we are hurtling towards a climate crisis. We face a resurgent global right and hitherto unimaginable global inequality. Perhaps, in this context, we ought to consider the example of the Luddites.

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