In rural England, nearly two hundred years ago, the world was quickly changing, perhaps even more than the tides seem to be shifting today. The Industrial Revolution not only forced humans to adapt to an entirely new economic system, but to social change as well; change that marked the end of a community based economy and culture and the beginning of a more national system of production. What’s more, the strength of the individual laborer was waved for the sake of mechanical productivity. Imagine a time when concepts of mass production, time-based labor, and productivty over quality were not only frustrating realities but entirely new.
In 1811 and 1812 in the textile center of England, assorted groups of well-organized laborers and crafstmen, collectively known as the Luddites, participated in a series of sabotaging raids on the mills and factories that threatened their very livelihood. Miraculously enough, the Luddites managed to consistantly hinder the progress of the textile industry in England as well as, for the first time, create a revolutionary movement that seriously questioned the seemingly unstoppable forces of laissez faire capitalism. Though the Luddites were doomed from the start, they fought bravely for their integrity against a regiment of soldiers equal to those used during the preceding Napoleanic wars. And although there were many other variables such as food shortages and trade regulation that facilitated the desperation of the Luddites, one must wonder how close we are today to a similar occurence.
Perhaps the Luddites were right.