A review of Brian Merchant's "Blood in the Machine"
Cory Doctorow wrote about the Luddites recently, just ahead of you and Merchant's book, making the exact same points: https://locusmag.com/2022/01/cory-doctorow-science-fiction-is-a-luddite-literature/
I promise I'm not shaming Dave or Merchant in the slightest for being "late to the party" or whatever. This isn't a race. What I am saying is what fucking awesome kismet that Cory Doctorow and Dave Karpf are coincidentally talking Luddites, and now I have another book to read. Positive and enthusiastic vibes all around on this!
Obligatory shout out to E.P. Thompson’s magisterial The Making of the English Workimg Class and it’s indispensable discussion of the Luddite revolt. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that that is centerpiece of the book.
Great review. Another good book about the Luddites and modern labor: Gavin Mueller's Breaking Things at Work.
Will definitely read. I immediately had to think how the 'Sophists' have been framed likewise (up to todays Wikipedia page on Plato's "Protagoras") and how that name has become a negative label, hiding actual very strong arguments (as little as we know of them after 2500 years). See this PS on a post I wrote a while back: https://ea.rna.nl/2014/07/08/why-is-stakeholder-not-a-role-in-archimate/#protagoras
Thanking Dave Karpf for this review, which completely reframes what I "learned" as a high schooler.
“We should all be luddites now” - you should put that on t-shirts and sell them.
Cultural re-labeling is a powerful thing. Powerful enough that I’m not sure “We should all be Luddites” is a useful framing. That said, it is absolutely critical that we understand the true nature of the conflicts we talk about and reference.
We cannot allow the historical Luddites to be claimed by modern radicals who reject the tools we have built in favor of an imaginary Edenic innocence, any more than we can allow milk-drinking to be claimed by white supremacist trolls.
Added the book to my list, thanks. Lots of food for thought here.
Great review! Looking forward to reading the book