Monday, October 30, 2017

Ned Ludd was an Anstey lad

We've all heard of the Luddites, but who was Ned Ludd after whom they were named?

Wikipedia says:
Supposedly, Ludd was a weaver from Anstey, near Leicester, England. In 1779, either after being whipped for idleness, or after being taunted by local youths, he smashed two knitting frames in what was described as a "fit of passion". This story is traceable to an article in The Nottingham Review on 20 December 1811, but there is no independent evidence of its truth.
Whatever the truth of it, there is now a road named after him in the centre of Anstey.

Today "Luddite" is used as a pejorative term for anyone who questions the introduction of new technology.

But an article by Richard Conniff for the Smithsonian Magazine suggests this is a libel:
As the Industrial Revolution began, workers naturally worried about being displaced by increasingly efficient machines. But the Luddites themselves "were totally fine with machines," says Kevin Binfield, editor of the 2004 collection Writings of the Luddites. They confined their attacks to manufacturers who used machines in what they called "a fraudulent and deceitful manner" to get around standard labor practices. 
"They just wanted machines that made high-quality goods," says Binfield, "and they wanted these machines to be run by workers who had gone through an apprenticeship and got paid decent wages. Those were their only concerns."
He also says Ned Ludd never existed - try telling them that in Anstey.

It is interesting that those who are most dismissive of the Luddites are the same people who reject any notion that tyranny in Communist states can be excused because the regime was modernising the economy and society.

I reject it too, but then I have always had a sneaking regard for the Luddites.

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