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28Jul13 - Luddite conference - The Politics Of Technology

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  • Ned Ludd by way of Tony Gosling
    Luddites200 February 2013 Update Contents: Commemorative event in York Summer gathering on the politics of technology Luddite music compilation and poetry book
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2013
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      Luddites200 February 2013 Update

      Commemorative event in York
      Summer gathering on the politics of technology
      Luddite music compilation and poetry book
      New Luddite technology project in USA
      Forthcoming technology politics events

      Commemorative event in York

      On January 19th, York Alternative History http://yorkalternativehistory.wordpress.com/ staged an excellent and moving event to commemorate the final episode of the Luddite uprisings - the trial and execution at York of men involved in the West Yorkshire uprising. In what was very much a show trial, 17 men were sentenced to death. Of these, three were hanged for the murder of William Horsfall, the mill owner who had threatened to 'ride up to his saddle girths in Luddite blood.' These three, George Mellor, William Thorpe and Thomas Smith, were hanged on January 8th 1813 and a further 14 were hanged on the 16th. Others were sentenced to transportation.

      The first part of the event took place in the Guild Hall included talks by historians Katrina Navickas, Malcolm Chase and Alan Brooke (for the full text of his talk see http://luddites200blog.org.uk/2013/02/the-luddite-legacy/). Katrina Navickas gave a general introduction to the Luddite uprisings, and Malcolm Chase followed with a fascinating history of different uprisings that have resulted in incarceration and executions at York Castle, illustrating the overall political significance of York as a site of demonstration of state power over several hundred years. Alan Brooke's talk focused on the legacy of the Luddites both in political movements such as the early 20th century Syndicalist movement, and in literature and film. The talks were followed by a brief but lively discussion which focused more on the politics of Luddism and their contemporary relevance more than on the 1813 events.

      There was then a procession through the town with placards, each of which carried the name of one of the men executed. At a ceremony by the castle wall, at the site at which it is believed that the executions took place, Martin Bashforth read a brief but moving statement about why we were commemorating these men's deaths, and placards were planted in the snow below the castle wall.

      The commemoration was rounded off in the evening with a wake and a folk club with lots of different performers. My personal highlights included Theo Simon singing the Cropper's Song and the wonderfully-named Reason Breeds Monsters.

      Overall, the York events were an excellent conclusion to the historical part of the celebrations of the Luddites' 200th anniversary. Luddites200 is, however, far from calling it a day and over the next six months we will be focusing on a number of current issues raised by technology, where a Luddite perspective is needed. If you are based in or near London, our next organising meeting is on February 11th, please contact us for details if you'd like to be there.

      Summer gathering on the politics of technology

      We are making very good progress towards staging what should be a fascinating and extremely enjoyable gathering on the politics of technology this summer. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE DATE HAS BEEN CHANGED TO JULY 25th TO 28th, although we are having some difficulties updating the information on the website.

      The basic idea behind the gathering is that there is a need for a new radical politics of technology to address the crises of the 21st century and the need to transition to a sustainable and socially just society. There must be a systematic and proactive approach which goes beyond reacting against the challenges that the technocratic system constantly throws up, such as new nuclear power stations, geoengineering, or genetic engineering of human beings. So, we are aiming to bring together activists from many different areas of technology politics, as well as trade unionists, developers of alternative technologies, radical historians, artists and writers and anyone with an interest in these issues, to try to collectively rethink our approach to technology. The gathering will include plenty of activities such as hands-on workshops on traditional and alternative technologies, as well as walking, music etc.

      We are beginning to prepare the agenda for this ground-breaking event over the next few months and are looking for input or offers to help from anyone who is interested, so please contact us if you have any suggestions about people to invite and opportunities for publicising the event.

      Luddite music compilation and poetry book

      Our compilation of Luddite music, Mr Lud's Song, was published just before Christmas and has been received with enthusiasm. The title of the CD comes from an intercepted letter from a Yorkshire weaver to his Nottingham brother from April 1812: "We received him as a friend from you... and we have enjoy'd ourselves over a pot or two of Beer, and he read us Mr Lud's Song." The album contains performances of all but one of the traditional Luddite songs, as well as new material from shows that were touring last year and some existing modern Luddite classics, from artists such as Seize the Day, Steeleye Span, New Model Army, Robert Calvert and Chumbawamba. You can buy it online at: http://luddites200blog.org.uk/luddite-music-cd-and-poetry/, but act soon because stocks are dwindling fast. We would be interested in any suggestions for places where the CD could be reviewed or opportunities for marketing it.

      We are working hard towards publishing Words in Praise of General Ludd, a compilation of poems from our competition last year, but still need a few more advance orders in order to be confident that we can break even on the project. So please lend us a hand getting over that hurdle by ordering the book online at the address above.

      New Luddite technology project in USA

      In December we received a very interesting message from a new US group which is aiming to set up a demonstration project for a community using traditional technologies, such as handloom weaving, blacksmithing and human-powered tools. Interestingly, they are not averse to the use of current communication technologies in the planning process for the community, and are interested in getting input from anyone with an interest in traditional and alternative technologies. More information can be found at: http://culturalspeciation.blogspot.com/2012/04/luddite-manhattan-project-first-stage.html or by contacting Iuval at clejan.iuval@...

      Forthcoming technology politics events

      Frack Free February is a month of action in Somerset with public meetings, talks, stalls, workshops, actions and more all raising awareness about the threats to our communities and the bigger picture of extreme energy. For more information: http://www.frackfreesomerset.org/frack-free-february/

      Food Sovereignty Movement meeting
      The nascent UK Food Sovereignty Movement is holding a meeting in Bristol on February 10th to plan next steps. See link for more details: http://foodsovereigntynow.org.uk/ukfoodsov/

      Talk on Science, Technology and Militarism
      Scientists for Global Responsibility will be giving a talk on this subject at Leeds Cafe Scientifique on May 14th: http://www.cafescientifique.org

      Anarchism and Science Discussion Group
      This London based discussion group was set up in December. The next meeting is on February 10th at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES, from 12:30 - 3pm, followed by visit to pub.


      Posted on February 7, 2013 by luddites200
      Alan Brooke
      Full text of a paper forming the basis of a talk given at York Guildhall, 19 January 2012, to commemorate the execution of the West Riding of Yorkshire Luddites in 1813.

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      Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that shall not be made known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27
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