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Chapter 50 ~ “Notes toward a Neo-Luddite Manifesto” by Chellis Glendinning September 28, 2009

Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR, Technology.
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Chapter 50 ~ “Notes toward a Neo-Luddite Manifesto” by Chellis Glendinning (1990)

Though there are those that believed Luddites were “reckless machine-smashers,” that’s not the complete picture for Glendinning. Luddites were fighting against a capitalistic society bred on power, resources, and wealth while trying to support their view of a world that connected work, community, and family. Technology threatened their way of life, the quality of their lives, and so, in almost desperation, they fought the machine.

Neo-Luddites of the 20th century echo this calls in their roles as activists, workers, neighbors, social critics, and scholars.

Glendinning uses Mumford to illustrate a definition of technology. Technology, because it consists of machines, techniques, and social organizations that make a machine workable, is a worldview that supports a mechanistic way of life where humanity is replaced with efficiency, ownership, supremacy. In order to stop technology and its destructive ways, we must create a new worldview.

There are three principles of Neo-Luddism

  1. Neo-Luddites are not anti-technology; there are just against any kind of technology that strips humanity to nothing more than rationality.
  2. All technologies are political; all technologies are built with an agenda. Reading about television in this section definitely makes me think about the internet and its ability to bring entertainment and information to households, its offering to corporations “a surefire method of expanding their markets and controlling social and political thought” (604). And considering how much times families actually spend “together” anymore when they could easily touch base via text messages or Twitter, I can definitely see the breakdown of family communication and the mediation of reality.
  3. The personal view of technology is dangerously limited; we have to be technocritics. We have to examine technologies through their “sociological context, economic ramifications, and political meanings” (604). It’s not just about how we gain from technology but also how we lose, and how the technology will affect our overall life.

Glendinning illustrates a program for the future that entails four things Neo-Luddites are in favor of.

  1. The dismantling of destructive devices, to include as nuclear and chemical technologies, genetic engineering technologies, television, electromagnetic and computer technologies.
  2. The search for new technological forms; using Winner, Glendinning asserts that these technological forms should favor the creation of technologies by the people who use them. The technology shouldn’t be hard to understand and should be flexible in so to “foster independence from technological addiction and promise political freedom, economic justice, and ecological balance” (605).
  3. The creation of technologies in which politics, morality, ecology, and technics are merged for the benefit of life on Earth.
  4. The development of a life-enhancing worldview in Western technological societies.

Wonder if we can tag this on to Mitcham’s three ways of being-with technology chart. It seems the Neo-Luddites want the best of both worlds, the rationality with the creative expression; definitely is a way of being-with technology and isn’t connected fully with the three ways Mitcham describes.