28Jul13 - Luddite conference - The Politics Of Technology

Ned Ludd tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Feb 11 22:48:02 GMT 2013

Luddites200 February 2013 Update

Commemorative event in York
Summer gathering on the politics of technology
Luddite music compilation and poetry book
New Luddite technology project in USA
Forthcoming technology politics events

Commemorative event in York

On January 19th, York Alternative History 
staged an excellent and moving event to commemorate the final episode 
of the Luddite uprisings - the trial and execution at York of men 
involved in the West Yorkshire uprising. In what was very much a show 
trial, 17 men were sentenced to death. Of these, three were hanged 
for the murder of William Horsfall, the mill owner who had threatened 
to 'ride up to his saddle girths in Luddite blood.' These three, 
George Mellor, William Thorpe and Thomas Smith, were hanged on 
January 8th 1813 and a further 14 were hanged on the 16th. Others 
were sentenced to transportation.

The first part of the event took place in the Guild Hall included 
talks by historians Katrina Navickas, Malcolm Chase and Alan Brooke 
(for the full text of his talk see 
Katrina Navickas gave a general introduction to the Luddite 
uprisings, and Malcolm Chase followed with a fascinating history of 
different uprisings that have resulted in incarceration and 
executions at York Castle, illustrating the overall political 
significance of York as a site of demonstration of state power over 
several hundred years. Alan Brooke's talk focused on the legacy of 
the Luddites both in political movements such as the early 20th 
century Syndicalist movement, and in literature and film. The talks 
were followed by a brief but lively discussion which focused more on 
the politics of Luddism and their contemporary relevance more than on 
the 1813 events.

There was then a procession through the town with placards, each of 
which carried the name of one of the men executed. At a ceremony by 
the castle wall, at the site at which it is believed that the 
executions took place, Martin Bashforth read a brief but moving 
statement about why we were commemorating these men's deaths, and 
placards were planted in the snow below the castle wall.

The commemoration was rounded off in the evening with a wake and a 
folk club with lots of different performers. My personal highlights 
included Theo Simon singing the Cropper's Song and the 
wonderfully-named Reason Breeds Monsters.

Overall, the York events were an excellent conclusion to the 
historical part of the celebrations of the Luddites' 200th 
anniversary. Luddites200 is, however, far from calling it a day and 
over the next six months we will be focusing on a number of current 
issues raised by technology, where a Luddite perspective is needed. 
If you are based in or near London, our next organising meeting is on 
February 11th, please contact us for details if you'd like to be there.

Summer gathering on the politics of technology

We are making very good progress towards staging what should be a 
fascinating and extremely enjoyable gathering on the politics of 
JULY 25th TO 28th, although we are having some difficulties updating 
the information on the website.

The basic idea behind the gathering is that there is a need for a new 
radical politics of technology to address the crises of the 21st 
century and the need to transition to a sustainable and socially just 
society. There must be a systematic and proactive approach which goes 
beyond reacting against the challenges that the technocratic system 
constantly throws up, such as new nuclear power stations, 
geoengineering, or genetic engineering of human beings. So, we are 
aiming to bring together activists from many different areas of 
technology politics, as well as trade unionists, developers of 
alternative technologies, radical historians, artists and writers and 
anyone with an interest in these issues, to try to collectively 
rethink our approach to technology. The gathering will include plenty 
of activities such as hands-on workshops on traditional and 
alternative technologies, as well as walking, music etc.

We are beginning to prepare the agenda for this ground-breaking event 
over the next few months and are looking for input or offers to help 
from anyone who is interested, so please contact us if you have any 
suggestions about people to invite and opportunities for publicising the event.

Luddite music compilation and poetry book

Our compilation of Luddite music, Mr Lud's Song, was published just 
before Christmas and has been received with enthusiasm. The title of 
the CD comes from an intercepted letter from a Yorkshire weaver to 
his Nottingham brother from April 1812: "We received him as a friend 
from you... and we have enjoy'd ourselves over a pot or two of Beer, 
and he read us Mr Lud's Song." The album contains performances of all 
but one of the traditional Luddite songs, as well as new material 
from shows that were touring last year and some existing modern 
Luddite classics, from artists such as Seize the Day, Steeleye Span, 
New Model Army, Robert Calvert and Chumbawamba. You can buy it online 
but act soon because stocks are dwindling fast. We would be 
interested in any suggestions for places where the CD could be 
reviewed or opportunities for marketing it.

We are working hard towards publishing Words in Praise of General 
Ludd, a compilation of poems from our competition last year, but 
still need a few more advance orders in order to be confident that we 
can break even on the project. So please lend us a hand getting over 
that hurdle by ordering the book online at the address above.

New Luddite technology project in USA

In December we received a very interesting message from a new US 
group which is aiming to set up a demonstration project for a 
community using traditional technologies, such as handloom weaving, 
blacksmithing and human-powered tools. Interestingly, they are not 
averse to the use of current communication technologies in the 
planning process for the community, and are interested in getting 
input from anyone with an interest in traditional and alternative 
technologies. More information can be found at: 
or by contacting Iuval at clejan.iuval at gmail.com

Forthcoming technology politics events

Frack Free February is a month of action in Somerset with public 
meetings, talks, stalls, workshops, actions and more all raising 
awareness about the threats to our communities and the bigger picture 
of extreme energy. For more information: 

Food Sovereignty Movement meeting
The nascent UK Food Sovereignty Movement is holding a meeting in 
Bristol on February 10th to plan next steps. See link for more 
details: http://foodsovereigntynow.org.uk/ukfoodsov/

Talk on Science, Technology and Militarism
Scientists for Global Responsibility will be giving a talk on this 
subject at Leeds Cafe Scientifique on May 14th: http://www.cafescientifique.org

Anarchism and Science Discussion Group
This London based discussion group was set up in December. The next 
meeting is on February 10th at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 
1ES, from 12:30 - 3pm, followed by visit to pub.


Posted on 
7, 2013 by <http://luddites200blog.org.uk/author/luddites200/>luddites200
Alan Brooke
Full text of a paper forming the basis of a talk given at York 
Guildhall, 19 January 2012, to commemorate the execution of the West 
Riding of Yorkshire Luddites in 1813.

+44 (0)7786 952037
Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered that shall not be 
revealed; and nothing hid that shall not be made known. What I tell 
you in darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye hear in the 
ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27
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