Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in by Nicols Fox

By Nicols Fox

During this paintings, Nicols Fox examines modern resistance to know-how and locations it in a shocking historic context. She illuminates the wealthy yet many times unrecognized literary and philosophical culture that has existed for almost centuries, because the first Luddites - the "machine breaking" fans of the legendary Ned Ludd - lifted their sledgehammers in protest opposed to the economic Revolution. Tracing that present concept via a number of the maximum minds of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - William Blake, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Graves, Aldo Leopold, and so on - Fox demonstrates that smooth protests opposed to consumptive existence and misgivings concerning the relentless march of mechanization are a part of a desirable hidden historical past. She indicates to boot that the Luddite culture can yield very important insights into how we would reshape either know-how and glossy existence in order that human, neighborhood and environmental values take priority over the call for of the desktop.

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Extra resources for Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives

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There is an element of deconstruction in that thought process. And yet there is no one single political ideology associated with antitechnology groups. The movement, if anything so scattered and disorganized can be called that, is as anticommunist as it is anticapitalist, more libertarian than liberal — and still neither one nor the other. Scott Nearing, while remaining dedicated to the principle of simple living his entire life, early on rejected the Communist party — or, more likely, the Communist party rejected him as being too independent-minded.

With government spies everywhere, looking for evidence, watching the post, the risk was simply too great and remained so. When Luddism became a hanging offense, secrets were kept for forty years or more. To have announced oneself a Luddite, even after the rebellion had ended, would certainly have attracted unwanted attention from the law. 6 What is known of the actual rebellion, therefore, is mainly from secondary sources or from its 30 Ag a i n st the Mac h i n e opposition or from the occasional anonymous letter to the newspaper claiming (and likely) to be from the followers of Ned Ludd.

But the revolt of that long-ago rebellious English lot, and Sale’s sympathetic gesture today, has resonance and meaning still. Technology should not go unquestioned, Sale was saying. It should not be complacently accepted without a thorough evaluation of its potential impact on ordinary lives, on human communities, and on the natural world. At the very least, the consequences of introducing a technology should be thoroughly understood so that trade-offs can be consciously considered. And it may well turn out that from time to time a technology needs to be protested, resisted, or rejected if its effects are found to be unacceptable or its costs too high.

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