Neo-Luddism is a personal world view opposing any modern technology. Its name is based on the historical legacy of the British Luddite
The Luddites were a social movement of 19th-century English textile artisans who protested – often by destroying mechanised looms – against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their way of life...

s which were active between 1811 and 1816. Neo-Luddism includes the critical examination of the effects technology has on individuals and communities.

Reform Luddism is an offshoot of Neo-Luddism and represents a personal world view skeptical of modern technology and critical of its many purported benefits.


Opposition to the adoption of technology and challenges to the notion of supposed technological progress are sentiments that are echoed across history. In Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver's Travels
Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, better known simply as Gulliver's Travels , is a novel by Anglo-Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of...

(1726) Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

 ridiculed the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

, the oldest scientific society in Britain, and both Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist...

 and Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 extolled the virtue of unaltered nature.

Neo-Luddism conjures pre-technological life as the best post-technological prospect (see also primitivism
Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation...

), or as Robin and Webster put it, "a return to nature and what are imagined as more natural communities". Industrial Society and Its Future (1995) is a recent expression of Neo-Luddism by Theodore Kaczynski
Theodore Kaczynski
Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski , also known as the "Unabomber" , is an American mathematician, social critic, anarcho-primitivist, and Neo-Luddite who engaged in a mail bombing campaign that spanned nearly 20 years, killing three people and injuring 23 others.Kaczynski was born in Chicago, Illinois,...

, also known as the Unabomber. The manifesto states:

"The industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in 'advanced' countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilled, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world."

The more moderate Reform Luddism recognizes the many benefits of the evolving industrial society and embraces the inevitability of change while recognizing that change does not compel the uncritical adoption of new, seemingly useful innovations which may have unanticipated consequences. The balance of benefit and burden for acceptance of new technologies must be arrived at individually. The Reform Luddite movement resists the trend toward industrialization but does not reject and seeks to ensure that change does truly produce a net benefit overall.

Both Reform Luddism and Neo-Luddism express significant doubts about the nature of benefits from uncritically embracing new information technology. Neo-Luddism holds the belief that we were better off before its advent and is the opposite of technophilia
Technophilia refers generally to a strong enthusiasm for technology, especially new technologies such as personal computers, the Internet, mobile phones and home cinema...

, the belief that technological innovation will remedy all ills. Reform Luddism alternatively holds that an individual chooses to embrace or not an individual technology, that is to "Turn it on" or "Turn it off" and consequently may embrace technology to obtain a full, rich and balanced life.

Both also challenge the assumption that all that went before technology is redundant and to be disregarded because of its inferiority. While Neo-Luddism is a fringe movement, some of its ideas, critiques and solutions have broad resonance in contemporary culture that resonate with the more moderate Reform Luddite movement; for example, quests for a "simple" way of life.

While Reform Luddism engages change in a moderated way Neo-Luddism often expresses itself in stark predictions about the effect of new technologies. John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

 for example regarded the introduction of the phonograph
The phonograph record player, or gramophone is a device introduced in 1877 that has had continued common use for reproducing sound recordings, although when first developed, the phonograph was used to both record and reproduce sounds...

 with suspicion, predicting:

"a marked deterioration in American music and musical taste, an interruption in the musical development of the country, and a host of other injuries to music in its artistic manifestation, by virtue - or rather by vice, - of the multiplication of the various music-producing machines."

See also

  • Ned Ludd
    Ned Ludd
    Ned Ludd or Ned Lud, possibly born Ned Ludlam or Edward Ludlam, is the person from whom the Luddites took their name. His actions inspirated the folkloric character of Captain Ludd, also known as King Ludd or General Ludd, who became the Luddites' alleged leader and founder.It is believed that Ned...

  • Anarcho-primitivism
    Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation...

    Committee for Liquidation and Subversion of Computers was a neo-Luddite French anarchist organization, active during the 1980s, that targeted computer companies...

  • Deep ecology
    Deep ecology
    Deep ecology is a contemporary ecological philosophy that recognizes an inherent worth of all living beings, regardless of their instrumental utility to human needs. The philosophy emphasizes the interdependence of organisms within ecosystems and that of ecosystems with each other within the...

  • Monkeywrenching
  • Primitivism
    Primitivism is a Western art movement that borrows visual forms from non-Western or prehistoric peoples, such as Paul Gauguin's inclusion of Tahitian motifs in paintings and ceramics...

  • On the Origin of the "Influencing Machine" in Schizophrenia

Further reading

  • Sale, Kirkpatrick (1996) Rebels Against The Future: The Luddites And Their War On The Industrial Revolution: Lessons For The Computer Age Basic Books, ISBN 978-0-201-40718-1
  • Postman, Neil (1992) Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology
    Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology
    Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology is a book written by Neil Postman in 1992 that describes the development and characteristics of a "technopoly". He defines a technopoly as a society in which technology is deified, meaning “the culture seeks its authorisation in technology, finds...

    Knopf, New York, ISBN 0-394-58272-1
  • Quigley, Peter (1998) Coyote in the Maze: Tracking Edward Abbey in a World of Words University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, ISBN 0-87480-563-5
  • Roszak, Theodore (1994) The Cult of Information: A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High-Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking (2nd ed.) University of California Press, Berkeley, California, ISBN 0-520-08584-1
  • Tenner, Edward (1996) Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences Knopf, New York, ISBN 0-679-42563-2

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.