Luddites aren’t who you think they are

Stop the rise of the machines.

by Carlos Pedraza

The Luddites emerged in the early 1800s, claiming to follow craftsman and folk hero Ned Ludd in expressing the rage of craftsmen and other workers who felt threatened by industrialization. Today, Luddite is used as an insult for technophobes, but the real Luddites didn’t hate technology. They wanted to protect their livelihoods and get better working conditions.

Automation has always been a threat to workers. Unlike humans, machines don’t demand higher wages and can work 24/7. The Luddites would go to factories and smash machines with anything they could find. In 2013, delivery drivers smashed and stabbed robots in a modern display of Luddism, not technophobia.

While new technologies can lessen work time, they usually are used by businesses and governments for control. Think of the algorithms that Amazon uses to manage their workers’ work time and breaks. I used to work as a service worker stocking shelves. I would get up at six in the morning and work till noon, with only two 15 minute breaks. If I knew that a machine was tracking me to keep me working and not take an extra five minutes, then I would be the first to stab it.

In working jobs where I had no autonomy, I would be forced to smile at all times and repeat the same mindless boring tasks over and over again. The greatest disappointment was when I saw my paycheck, feeling robbed by how little it was. A higher wage or longer breaks would have made me feel less angry, but a machine doesn’t care about breaks or paying rent.

Even if automation didn’t make me lose my job, then it would still cut my hours and thus my pay. I’m a Luddite not because I hate technology or want everything to be the same. I like progress and embrace change, but if automation is going to happen then it must be for the workers to decide when and how to do it, and to distribute the benefits among the people.

Until then, if I see a machine control my time or push me out of a job, I will keep shouting, “down with all kings but King Ludd.”

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on reddit

More Stories

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Cowboy Daddy's Drummer and Keyboard player Conner West, 25, and guitarist Skye Freitas, 24, jam out at the Gutswurrak Student Activity Center on April 28.

Local bands rock the Gutswurrak

by Ione Dellos Band members wait in front of the bathrooms, eyes anxiously fluttering from the stage to the growing audience in the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center. After the deepest sigh one could possibly take, they make their way to

Travis Allen pole vaults at the Green and Gold Track Event on Feb. 12 Photo by Morgan Hancock.

Athlete’s outperform at decathlon

by Carlos Pedraza The Cal Poly Humboldt Track and Field team participated in the Stanislaus State Multi-Event from Thursday April 7 to Saturday April 9. The team participated in over 10 different events, all of which were multi-day involving different

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Izzy Star hits a home run in final softball game of the season at the Bear River Recreation Center in Loleta, California on Saturday, April 30.

Cal Poly Humboldt plays its last softball game of the series

by Eddie Carpenter On April 30, Cal Poly Humboldt Softball played the last two games of their series against Cal State San Marcos. Due to weather conditions, the softball games had to be relocated to the Bear River Recreation Center

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply