Rebel Against the Future

December 26, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Cheryl Haugen for this article.  See:

An Interview with Kirkpatrick Sale
Rebel Against the Future

by David Kupfer

Kirkpatrick Sale has written a book on the Luddites titled Rebels Against the Future, released in paper-back in 1996 by Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., U.S. $13; 320 pp.

DK: From where was your desire to write this historical interpretation of the Luddites born?

KS: If you locate the problem as being the industrial system, it’s simple to say: “Well, let’s go back to the industrial revolution, the big industrial revolution.”

And after you make that identification, the next one is to say: “Well, did anybody ever object to this?” And you find the Luddites there.

At the beginning of the industrial revolution (about 1785), they rose up in resistance. They made a brave effort that, although it failed, was so powerful that it embedded their dream in the language.

So I decided to study the Luddites in a positive light, which had almost never been done before. The two other books on the Luddites, written in England, essentially were saying these were foolish and misguided people.

Do you think the Luddites are misunderstood today?

Of course. Everyone assumes they were bad people who were against all technology and were fools to resist it. In general the Luddite image today is negative. People will say, “Well you don’t want to use a computer, then you must be a Luddite,” meaning a social outcast. Or they’ll say, “Well I’m no Luddite, but I can’t reset the clock in my VCR,” meaning “I don’t want to be thought of against technology, mind you…”

The connotation of Luddism is “taking us back,” while it is human nature to progress, to build on and go forth.

To believe that what has happened to humankind in the last 200 years is “progress” is to fall into an industrialist trap of: “Anything new is better and everything is better tomorrow than it is today because we have more material advantages and more ease and speed in our life and this is good.”

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