Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blind Progress

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There is a word that is being arbitrary'll thrown around often these days, and is used to shut up anybody who questions the currently prescribed narrow definition of progress. Any resistance to the inevitability of prescribed progress is to be interpreted as fear and ignorance. The word used is "Luddite", it is the new weapon in the arsenal of those who don't open dialog but shut it closed.

Luddites came about during the early days of the industrial revolution, in response to owners of the new machines/factories who suddenly excluded the hard working professional craftsmen. What the craftsmen proposed was an approach to progress that was employment conscious and societally aware. It was a common sense approach, it was sophisticated and it accepted complexity and took into account consideration for the other. The factory owners and public institutions didn't listen to this reasonable approach, they opted for the bottom line instead. This resulted in unbearable social and work conditions, poorhouses, huge never before seen slums, labour defined entirely by commerce, violence between authorities and citizens, use of military force against civilians, civil wars, the rise of communism and then fascism! It took society a hundred and fifty years to recover from this!

Now again we are back to a simplistic corporate view of technology, no matter the human cost. The new narrow elite (those who own the technology, professionals, managers and technocrats) accuse their opponents of Ludditism. This is there security blanket, they are scared of a citizen-based society, they desperatly hold onto the simple formula of technological and economic, the trickle down approach. Expertise and analysis is now the new metaphor for debate, one that does not desire or recognize shared knowledge. Debate should be about common sense, ethics, memory, imagination and intuition.

Instead everything is cut up into separate isolated self referencing compartments. This creates secret languages within institutions and corporations. Introverted language/dialect that only specific experts can interpret, thus excluding the citizenry and debate.

The accusations of Ludditism is a rejection of a careful, prudent, complex and intelligent approach towards progress. What we now have is a steady rise of the continuously poor and homeless and a part-time labour market. A market that only favors companys, corporations and shareholders, while for most it means a need for more than one job per person. We have to stop focusing on the well being a single segment of the population..,.ie the middle class, and consider all within society. If Ludditism means a careful, prudent, complex and intelligent approach to progress, then call me a Luddite by all means!


B Cameron
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