Note — Feb 07, 2021

The Future Encyclopedia of Luddism

Luddites have made a number of apparitions in the newsletter, I come back to them time and again, I find the real story of what happened to be a useful perspective on technological adoption, and the repurposing of the word by its adversaries is something we can see done repeatedly for various topics throughout history.

This specific piece is a speculative encyclopedia entry from 2500, giving us a “glimpse of an alternative economic and industrial history and future, in which the Luddites were successful in their battle against alienating technology.” Miriam A. Cherry paints an alternate history where the members of the movement, “in their success, formulated a different, yet productive, relationship between society and the development of technology.” Just as I tend to agree with the original intent of the loom workers, I definitely relate with their hypothetical “Sustainomics” philosophy.

The Luddite movement was a precursor to the development of the economic philosophy known as Sustainomics, which promotes technological development that adheres to principles of Utilitarianism and Human Flourishing Doctrines. […]

[I]t was understood that there needed to be a communal discussion of the nature of technological change and advancement as the technologies were being implemented. The cadres were not convinced that the free market should be the only determinant of technology. Instead, they firmly believed that technology had to be adopted democratically and used for the common good, not just the interests of the few. […]

Luddite philosophy also rests on the notion that the adoption of a new technology may resolve an existing problem, but that it may create future problems and concerns. […]

“Don’t build what you can’t maintain”; “Respect for human life and the environment”; and “Principles over property.”