Progress Without People


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In Defense of Luddism

by David F. Noble

Foreword by Stan Weir

“Is there anything in common between the age of automation now upon us and the first industrial revolution long ago (circa 1790-1840)? Yes. Both surged ahead with technical progress and production, and eliminated jobs without jobs for the workers. Both claimed that technological progress was inevitable and would automatically put things right. In this respect the age which first established factories and the age which automates them are alike.

“We know that the job-killing of the late 18th and early 19th centuries hurt both the cottage workers, the communities in which mena nd women lived and which depended on them, and a system of production that extended far beyond people like handloom weavers. We know that jobs in the new mechanized industry, to compare with the old, did not multiply for a generation. We know that the workers defended themselves by direct attacks on the new looms and machines intended for factory use. These movements came to be known as Luddism.

“It is this subject area that Davd F. Noble goes to immediately in order to provide a detailed analysis of the effects of automation in its mechanized and computerized forms. As a historian of technology he knows, for example, how history has been distorted so that the term ‘Luddite’ can be used to target any who try to save their jobs or control the condition of life in their immediate work areas, on industrial, office, retail or service jobs.”

-Eric Hobsbawm

“Progress Without People is a lucid and masterful portrayal of what is happening in the real world of state-corporate power, and what it means for the people of the world.”

-Noam Chomsky

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