From the Rostra

Luddites and the Matrix

Modern Day Luddites

No one knows exactly where the term “Luddite” (lud-ite) comes from, but the likely origin is a tribute to Ned Ludd, who in the late 1700’s entered the home of a stocking weaver in Leichester, England and destroyed his sewing equipment.  Whether fact or fiction, the name stuck and people who oppose the introduction of new technology down through the ages have been labeled Luddites. The Industrial Revolution In 1811 during the Industrial Revolution there was great fear and concern as factories began to adapt to new machinery capable of disrupting society and displacing jobs.  Near Nottingham, England the Luddites again surfaced as a band of workers, who were fearful of technology, banded together and began to riot against the changes.  In some instances, they even destroyed the new machinery to stop or slow the changes.  The concern over steam power was a trigger to the new fears. Orwellian Dystopia Although more apocalyptic, the book 1984 was written along these same concerns but with a different theme.  The 1949 George Orwell classic foretold a society characterized by destructive control through propaganda, surveillance, and disinformation.  While not a perfect parallel to Luddism, it follows those fears to an extreme fear of technology and automation.  The term Luddism began to be replaced with Orwellian or just a reference to 1984.  Few know that “George Orwell” was a pseudonym for Eric Arthur Blair, an English novelist who opposed totalitarianism in favor of democratic socialism.  The 1984 theme is so ubiquitous, and his pseudonym so well known that Blair’s true name was eclipsed. Orwell’s vision is more up to date and relatable, but in my opinion, is nothing more than a twentieth century extension of Luddism.  Orwell helped replace the fear of the sewing machine and its effect on garment workers with fear of computers, displacement of workers, and government control. Wider Spread Acceptance in the 1950’s In the 1950’s until the 1970’s computers were often viewed as helpful but gigantic calculators and business tools for major corporations.  Without electronic storage and massive computing power, the punch card era was somewhat boring and non-threatening. 

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My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists.Scientist, Inventor, Futurist Nikola Tesla

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