[Jones' boek is een culturele studie naar hoe schrijvers, activisten, filmers, beeldende kunstenaars enz. de geschiedenis van het Luddisme hebben geïnterpreteerd dan wel zich door deze anti-technologische beweging hebben laten inspireren.]
[Het is dus - zoals Jones ook zelf zegt - geen puur historische studie naar de oorspronkelijke Luddieten (de Engelse textielarbeiders die tussen 1811 en 1816 systematisch machines stuksloegen die een bedreiging vormden voor de uitoefening van hun beroep) en het Luddisme als stroming.]
[Jones is een Amerikaanse professor in Engelse literatuurwetenschap die ook veel onderzoek deed in de UK. Het tegenwoordige Neo-Luddisme is vooral te vinden in de USA, merkt Jones op p.20 op. De laatste twee hoofdstukken over de tegencultuur, hackers, de Unabomber, en dergelijke, hebben dan ook vrijwel uitsluitend betrekking op de situatie in de USA.]
"This book addresses the question of what it might mean nowadays to call oneself a Luddite — to take a position against technology. (...) It’s about the willingness to buy into two widely shared assumptions: (1) that technology’s place in our daiis central; and (2) that it will inevitably increase in the future. In the face of this seeming inevitability, this done-deal with technology, a low-level anxiety persists about what technology is doing to us: the environmental consequences of genetically modified foods, children’s dependence on antidepressants, reduced social interaction among the 'pod-people' lost in their own soundtracks or people who compulsively flip open their phones every time they are out in public. Everyone participates but everyone from time to time worries — often with a wry irony that only partly covers their anxiety — that technology is taking over, dominating our lives."(1-3)
Veel moderne mensen die je als Neo-Luddiet zou kunnen zien - blijken echter een heel bepaalde - bijvoorbeeld romantische - interpretatie te hebben van wat het betekende om een Luddiet te zijn. Er is met andere woorden sprake van mythevorming over het Luddisme. Die mythevorming wordt hier nader bestudeerd.
"Instead of clearing away all distortions to reveal what the Luddites really did or meant to do, I choose to ask: What do people say the Luddites did, and why do they say it (and then become convinced that the Luddites did it)? What have the Luddites meant to later antitechnologists and what do they continue to mean today?"(8)
"By contrast, we have to remember, the historical Luddites were themselves technologists — that is, they were skilled machinists and masters of certain specialized technes (including the use of huge, heavy hand shears, complicated looms, or large, table-sized cropping or weaving machines), by which they made their living. That living and their right to their technology was what they fought to protect, not some Romantic idyll in an imagined pretechnological nature."(9)
"Since the rise of what Dwight D. Eisenhower named the 'military-industrial complex', and especially since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have lived with the feeling that technology itself (autonomous and omnipresent) is a system not to be trusted, that it is out to get us, and, concomitantly, that whatever is systematic and is out to get us is likely to be insidiously technological. (...) What is less often acknowledged is that a kind of not-fully-abandoned utopian wish for an appropriate, even benign kind of technology, a machine in the garden humans could live with, lives alongside or lies behind modern neo-Luddism and, more often than not, is the symmetrical flipside to the paranoid suspicions of the neo-Luddites."(10)
Volgt een overzicht van de inhoud van de hoofdstukken samen met een wat nadere precisering van Jones eigen standpunt in de kwestie.
"A skeptic in other things as well, I tend not really to believe in a monolithic 'Technology' that one must declare oneself to be for or against. Computing, for example, can be used by global corporations to exploit consumers for profit or by governments for acts of oppression. But it is also a set of tools and media networks for studying texts and other works of art and cultural artifacts in fascinating new ways. I don’t mean that I think technology is essentially neutral. I don’t think it’s essentially anything. For me, technology is always a human system (not merely an inert 'tool') that must be understood and confronted in specific human contexts ..."(14)
" I am not a Luddite. But I know where my neo-Luddite friends and acquaintances are coming from. I, too, am worried about the consequences of some technological experiments and believe I see through most forms of market-driven techno-hype. I share some of the neo-Luddites’ political views and get their jokes, and to some degree I share their larger concerns. (...) In the end I believe in mindfully engaging and reengineering specific technologies rather than renouncing Technology as a whole."(15)
"This seems to me a fruitful place from which to begin pursuing the important questions of who owns and uses specific technologies and for what particular ends — which are I think the real problems of technology in the twenty-first century."(16-17)
Het [met name Amerikaanse] techno-optimisme van de 1990-er jaren heeft na het knappen van de Internet-zeepbel in 2000 plaats gemaakt voor een wat bescheidener visie op techniek. Desondanks is de 'correctie van de markt' zelf al weer gecorrigeerd: het techno-optimisme neemt de laatste jaren weer toe. Op die eerste periode van de 90-er jaren kwam veel reactie.
"In the midst of all this speculation and hype [van de 90-er jaren in met name de USA], just when it might have seemed that resistance was futile, a relatively small number of authors, activists, journalists, and pundits began perversely to identify themselves as Luddites or (often interchangeably) neo-Luddites. They published books and articles, held meetings, and formed into loosely overlapping coalitions that some called a movement. They claimed as their ancestors a number of earlier intellectuals who had promoted simplicity and ecology but also those textile workers in England in 1811 who first invented Ned Ludd as their mythical leader."(22)
Belangrijkste auteurs hier: Kirkpatrick Sale, Sven Birkerts, David Noble, Clifford Stoll, Theodore Roszak, and Neil Postman, en uit de 'groene beweging' Chellis Glendenning, John Zerzan. Technologie werd vaak in samenhang gezien met het globale kapitalisme, dus je treft ook neoluddistische gedachten aan in de antiglobaliseringsbeweging. Maar net zo goed bij conservatieve en/of christelijke groeperingen. Interessant is ook het artikel 'Why the future doesn't need us' dat Bill Joy in 2000 in Wired publiceerde:
"It expresses philosophical anxiety about the essential nature of what it means to be human in an age of autonomous technology. Kurzweil ends by asserting that neo-Luddism will probably not succeed since it lacks a 'viable alternative agenda' (182). Yet Joy implies that a more open, moderate Luddism, one that would involve voluntarily relinquishing only some harmful technologies, might be a viable alternative to the bleak prospect he foresees."(40)
Jones gaat in op de mythen en de beeldvorming over Nedd Ludd en de Luddisten uit de 19e eeuw. Over de historische feiten is geschreven door E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm, Malcolm Thomis, Adrian Randall, en Kevin Binfield.
"Like Robin Hood, Ned Ludd was a collective popular invention. In this chapter, I’ll examine representations, legends, and myths, alongside facts and the limited cache of extant historical documents. But one key fact is that legends and mythmaking were already in play from the earliest recorded acts of General Ludd’s army. It was precisely this legendary, mythic quality of original Luddism — the powerful intertwining of history with myth — that became its most significant legacy to later neo-Luddites and to popular historical understanding."(46)
De historische feiten zijn schaars. Het ging om geheime groepen.
"This is all you’re going to get; much of what happened in 1811 to 1812 is forever sealed with the death of the participants. The deeper truth behind the story is the profound difficulty of recovering and telling the story of Luddism itself. Was it a spontaneous uprising or an organized movement? Original Luddism died with many of its secrets intact. (...) Inventing (and taking) the name of General Ludd was a symbolic act that amounted to the creation of a political and labor subculture."(50-51)
"One of my arguments is that historical Luddism is fundamentally different from more recent neo-Luddism, and that the two cannot simply be collapsed into the false continuity of a single 'antitechnology' philosophy. And yet there are certain features of historical Luddism that have traveled well as cultural currency, that have been translated during the past two hundred years into meaningful examples for the new, plural and diverse, loosely cohering subculture of recent neo-Luddism."(51-52)
"But the Luddites were not unwitting participants in a cultural 'type' — they were the makers of their own subculture. They deliberately exploited the traditions of banditry [zoals in de verhalen rondom Robin Hood] for specific economic and (to some extent) political purposes."(61)
"It’s odd that some who are fully prepared to see the Berkeley-based 'Croppers' as engaging in symbolism, allusion, and satire somehow automatically assume that nineteenth-century radicals were necessarily simpler in their aims and methods, more direct, more sincere. This is ultimately a form of historical prejudice, a form of 'presentism' and a version of E. P. Thompson’s 'enormous condescension'.
On the contrary, as I have been trying to show, the original Luddites were already engaged in their own vital forms of storytelling, were even to some extent engaged in an early form of what we think of today as a 'media campaign' to support their direct action. They were actively engaged in representing their affiliations, goals, and values in symbolic ways, through the media of letters and ballads and direct actions, and the journalistic and word-of-mouth reportage (and spying) all this provoked and inspired. In defiance of stereotypes, this highly symbolic subculture was the product of the hands-on laborers who are famous for their physical acts. The truth is that at the very heart of the most direct kind of physical action one can imagine — a worker’s sledge-hammer coming down on a hated frame — there was already present, from the very beginning, a sophisticated set of symbols, myths, and intertextual allusions, a language of signs that are also more than signs."(74-75)
Ludditen worden vaak geassocieerd met de Britse Romantische dichters uit die periode die weinig op hadden met de industrialisering van het landschap, bijvoorbeeld William Blake, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley. Maar dat ligt niet helemaal zo eenvoudig als veel mensen denken.
"... Romanticism has provided a powerfully distorting frame or lens through which to view the reflection of the Luddites — one exaggerating the importance of nature, transcendence, and individualism. It is impossible to simply remove the Romantic lens and get a clear, unmediated view of what the Luddites really did (much less what they really thought), but we can at least recognize the role played by the Romantic ideology in interpreting the Luddites — which more often than not, I would suggest, means interpreting them as neo-Luddites before the fact. "(80)
Illustratie aan de hand van gedichten uit die Romantische traditie. Bijvoorbeeld Blake's Jerusalem.
"No wonder the song appeals to neo-Luddites who would base their own beliefs on the meaningful connection between their dark 'now', a hoped-cited historical precedent of Luddism in 1811."(82)
Andere illustratie aan de hand van Wordsworth's sonnet The world is too much with us, en andere waarin zijn dubbelzinnige ideeen over de natuur naar voren komen.
" The Luddites' desired way of life was not remote or Romantic to them, and it had nothing to do with wild or untouched nature. They were seeking what they saw as a more civilized, not a more 'primitive', existence. That word itself indicates a Romantic idealization of the past, an imagined rural-village culture, now lost or disappearing, and in need of eulogizing or collecting .. (...) It was the Romantic poets, and then their readers and critics, who imagined an idealized primitive way of life in rural England."(91)
Ook John Keats is niet zonder meer een dichter die de ongerepte natuur idealiseert. En dat geldt zelfs voor Byron die wel expliciet over de Luddieten schreef, met hun streven sympathiseerde, maar ze desondanks ook romantiseerde als individuele helden en dwarsliggers zodat de materiële noodzaak bij de Luddieten uit het oog verdwijnt (Byron was zelf een landeigenaar en Lord).
Dit hoofdstuk gaat over Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin-Shelley's roman Frankenstein - door vele interpretatoren gezien als een (Romantische) kritiek op de techniek.
"Clichés about Frankenstein have taken on lives of their own, just like Shelley’s monster:
-Some things man was not meant to know.
-Blind progress gives birth to technological monsters.
-Dehumanized technology will inevitably 'bite back' against humanity.
If Romantic poetry turned the Luddites into proto-ecologists or inarticulate nature poets without the poetry, then Frankenstein — or at least how it has been interpreted — frames Luddism from the start as a fearful, anti-technology philosophy. (...) The story of Victor Frankenstein and his creature has become the fundamental literary myth of neo-Luddism, a tale about the dangers of technology — though this is a term that Mary Shelley would not have used. "(106)
Wat zijn Mary Shelley's ervaringen met het Luddisme van de tijd waarin ze zelf 15-21 jaar oud was? Hebben de verhalen erover invloed op haar gehad?
"In 1811 to 1812, supporting the Luddites' cause certainly did not require or even imply that one held an antitechnology philosophy. On the contrary, as Percy Shelley's example demonstrates, one could be 'progressive' about new science and also support the workers' cause against the capitalists and the government. (...) Shelley's earlier expression of support for the Luddites in 1812 is consistent with his radical understanding of class conflict, which later made his work appealing to Marx and Engels as well as the British Chartists."(107-108)
"If anything, the young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was generally even more pessimistic than Percy Shelley about the likelihood that revolutionary action would turn into mob violence. She was also generally more skeptical toward the conduct of the lower classes, though she was politically supportive of their interests. In later life she became more politically and socially conservative, at least publicly and in part in order to protect her family’s prospects in society, and distanced herself from her earlier bohemian existence. She revised Frankenstein for a later edition in 1831, toning down some of its more blasphemous and blatantly radical representations. In many ways, Mary Shelley’s attitudes often seem more like those of the family friend Lord Byron."(108)
"Frankenstein may reflect Mary Shelley’s ambivalent fear of revolutionary violence, of the mistreated mob as a potential 'monster'. The novel warns against the dangers of popular revenge, and the monster’s actions may represent the violence of workers like the angry Luddites, victims of social inequality. But just because industrial progress was already recognized as contributing to that inequality does not mean that Frankenstein is simply an antiscience book, or even a treatise against progress as an ideal (especially not in the first version of 1818; the 1831 edition tones down the Enlightenment theme a bit)."(109-110)
"Most neo-Luddite readings of Frankenstein don’t make much of an attempt to establish biographical or historical context. They assume the novel’s theme and cite the general outline of the plot or a few key passages (if they don’t skip straight to the better known film adaptations). The result is a boiled-down theme: technology = autonomous force = monstrousness."(111)
In film-interpretaties wordt het monster al gauw vervangen door grotye machines (Metropolis bijvoorbeeld) en later door mainframe computers (The Desk Set of 2001 - A Space Odyssey, The Matrix bijvoorbeeld). Ze drukken vaak een angst uit voor de autonome ontwikkeling van technologie waarbij mensen het onderspit moeten delven.
"The tyranny of the simulacrum — the deep fears engendered by a truly autonomous technology, untethered from any human control — this was not the concern of original Luddism. Only hinted at in Mary Shelley’s novel, it has, however, become the central obsession of modern neo-Luddites, for whom the very idea of autonomous technology, on its way to becoming ubiquitous in the world, to becoming the Matrix, is the scariest monster yet."(136)
De Luddieten worden in romans en theaterstukken al heel snel geromantiseerd:
"To audiences of 1832, Luddism itself was already seen as a melodrama or a romance, the Luddites of twenty years before as the characters in a popular novel or play. In the play, they are Robin Hood-like Romantic desperados, worker-antiheroes. They face a difficult choice of morally ambiguous action in response to unbearable tyranny. In the end, their acting on their passions in response to tyranny brings about the violent climax. (...) In this chapter I examine a group of nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels explicitly about the Luddites, written from the 1840s to the 1980s. Though they remain unknown to most readers, several have had a major influence on popular ideas about Luddism, and some have influenced professional histories of the period. Taken as a group, they illustrate how much the making of the Luddites — and the creation of neo-Luddism — has depended on the “novelization” of their story."(138)
Voorbeelden: Charlotte Brontë's Shirley (1849) of - vanuit een heel wat conservatiever perspectief - Alfred Colbeck's Scarlea Grange or, a Luddite’s Daughter (1893) of - weer sympathieker voor de Luddieten - D. F. E. Sykes / G. H. Walker's Ben O’Bill’s: The Luddite (1895).
Technologie is door de eeuwen heen alleen maar alomtegenwoordiger geworden. Met de groei ervan groeiden ook de bezwaren en de angst.
"The sense that technology is ubiquitous often leads to an ironic paranoia, an attitude that I want to suggest is the necessary condition for modern neo-Luddism. On one level, the feeling is of course justified. As the cliché goes, being paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. There are serious dangers to health and the environment, and to privacy and civil liberties, arising from advanced technology. (...)
But the nature of any paranoid response is a tendency to universalize its fears, from the government’s desire to access databases to a general shadow government, from human agency to the idea of technology as a vaguely autonomous and ubiquitous force. If the threat is everywhere at once, the resistance also must be everywhere, generalized into an abstract hatred and fear. My point is simply that the sweeping suspicion of technology as an all-pervasive thing (see, for example, Kirkpatrick Sale’s idea of 'the future'), and the conviction that technology is inevitably the tool of oppression, are very different attitudes from the original historical Luddites’ strategic and relatively confident resistance to specific machines and their owners."(176)
"This kind of paranoid neo-Luddism, which begins by assuming that a shadowy, generalized technology lies behind many, if not most, of the modern evils of society, seems particularly American, is perhaps a direct response from within American culture to America’s global dominance in technology-related business and military force. (...) This awe-filled paranoia was a major motif in the 1960s counterculture, with its suspicion of the dominant technocratic society, often represented simply as 'the machine'."(177)
[Jammer dat dit typisch Amerikaanse niet verder geanalyseerd wordt. Een ander ding is natuurlijk dat het boeiend zou zijn om de 'hackercultuur' en de 'tegencultuur' verder tegen elkaar af te zetten en te analyseren waarom die twee tegenstelde bewegingen er waren en bij wie en waarom 'de tegencultuur' er nooit in geslaagd is om het tij te keren waarvoor de 'hackercultuur' stond. En wat is de rol van het liberale kapitalisme daarin? Ook interessant: er waren 'hackers' die deel uitmaakten van de tegencultuur, hoe verliep dat? ]
De tegencultuur kwam op vanaf ongeveer 1964. Het protest tegen de dominantie van de technologie werd pas geleidelijk ingevuld als met name een protest tegen computertechniek (de Berkeley Free Speech Movement begon er mee).
"The cultural changes that made 'technology' virtually synonymous with 'computers' (and associated with big government or monopolistic corporations) gained momentum during the first postwar decades, under the cold war buildup and the accompanying rise of the surveillance state and the 'military-industrial complex'. (...) Fostered in part by popular authors such as Paul Goodman and Jacques Ellul, antitechnology attitudes became part of the general rebellion against institutional authority in the 1960s and early 1970s."(180)
"The enemy was the shadowy, virtual 'machine' processing draft cards as well as punch cards, managing CIA operations and FBI files on 'subversives', and, at the same time, running soulless corporate capitalism and degrading the environment. The whole thing was run via humming mainframes that no layperson really understood. The mega-machine was the product of the 'scientific-technological elite', Dow Chemical's napalm being the best-known symbolic fruit of the unholy union of government and science, the military-industrial complex."(181)
"On the other hand, an important lesser-known segment of the counterculture, a faction within the hippie subculture that flowered and was first widely reported on in San Francisco, was not neo-Luddite at all — quite the opposite, in fact. They were pro-technology, as long as it was 'appropriate technology'. It is sometimes forgotten that some counterculturalists were avid technophiles who mixed do-it-yourself pragmatism with radical optimism and shared a vision of technology’s utopian potential for building a new kind of community."(181)
[Precies. Andrew Kirk lezen, die dat blijkbaar bestudeerd heeft.]
"By the 1990s, this ideology had helped shape the hacker subculture as well, and, by extension, the technology-startup business culture of the booming 1990s (also based in the San Francisco Bay Area, though with ripple effects in the technology companies of the Pacific Northwest). (...) In fact, the 'wired' subculture of the 1990s was shaped to a significant degree by former 1960s counterculturalists such as Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly of the Whole Earth Review (an offshoot of the Whole Earth Catalogue). Kelly went on to be Executive Editor of Wired magazine. Both had been involved in creating the WELL (Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link), one of the earliest online bulletin-board communities, with a direct connection back to the Bay Area Community Memory Project and Loving Grace Cybernetics (more about that project below). In the 1980s, street-level appropriated technology came together with cyberpunk science fiction to make a hacker subculture."(182)
[Dat lijkt me een te simpele voorstelling van zaken. Wat met alle 'hackers' en computerfanaten aan de universiteiten? Ook het verhaal over de tijdschriften Mondo2000 en Wired dat dan volgt, hangt daarmee een beetje in de lucht. 'Wired' is juist een tijdschrift waar in voortdurend gedweept wordt met techniek, zelden dat auteurs met beide voeten op de grond staan. Ik denk niet dat er een link is tussen die tijdschriften en neo-luddisme.]
"Technology was still an issue in this late enclave of the old counter culture: Why did some of the heirs to the counterculture become technophobic (and outdoorsy, ecologically minded) while others ended up as technophile geeks and cyborgs? The hacker theorist quoted above locates the cause in the twentieth century’s favorite scapegoat, television. One suspects that the 'New Age people', looking at the problem from the other side, might have agreed. Both sides would probably assume that technology does have a sometimes frightening power to shape individuals and cultures. They would just feel more or less pessimistic about that assumption. The ambivalence of the sixties counterculture when it came to technology found its way into the concept of 'hacker' itself. In its 'black hat' mode, hacking is a form of technology sabotage, sometimes using viruses or worms or denial-of-service attacks on corporate or government systems. In this regard it might be viewed as a selectively destructive, neo-Luddite attack on oppressive technology. But on the 'white hat' side, hacking has always been about creative play and a love of the technology, about harmless exploration and experimentation on the part of hobbyists, geeks who explore the machine from the inside. Hackers are technologists who undermine big technology, either for fun and profit, or for darker reasons, some of which overlap with neo-Luddism."(183-184)
[Nee, dit is echt te simpel. ALLE hackers zijn gek op techniek, ze zijn er voortdurend mee bezig. En de 'black hats' zijn - ondanks alles wat ze kapot maken - niet bezig met sabotage van de techniek. Met techniek kunnen ze juist laten zien hoe 'cool' ze zijn. Beide groepen zijn gek op het middel, maar hebben verschillende doelen. De hele normatieve dimensie hier zou uitgewerkt moeten worden, maar dat gebeurt niet. De nuances op basis van slecht nadenken zoals: wel tegen atoombommen, maar niet tegen computers. En zo verder.]
Vervolgens aandacht voor Richard Brautigan's actiepoëzie, met als voorbeeld het gedicht All watched over by machines of loving grace van 1967.
"It’s easy to dismiss this wish for a postscarcity society as a superficial fantasy of the drug-infused counterculture, mostly composed of privileged white youths with enough leisure to imagine utopia as even more leisure. But the idea has a long history and that history is not yet concluded. In the counterculture, the technology part of the vision was hotly debated. Neo-Luddite counterculturalists insisted that it would be the 'voluntary primitive', someone who had gone back to the land and was 'innocent of technological sin' who would be "best equipped to survive the post catastrophic world" (Perry, 263). The pro-technology faction believed it was possible to create a new kind of countertechnology, an appropriately scaled and designed technology that, come the revolution and the collapse of the military-industrial complex, would rise to the occasion."(189)
[Die eerste zin drukt aardig uit hoe ik er tegen aankijk. Hoe serieus moet je al die uitroepen en ideetjes nemen van mensen als Brautigan, O'Leary, McLuhan, en zo verder?]
In de 1970-er jaren zie je initiatieven die computers en netwerken inzetten voor de gemeenschap zoals het 'community memory'-project van Loving Grace Cybernetics, Ted Nelson's Xanadu-project, Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog en andere projecten, maar ook Edward Abbey's eco-luddisme met zijn boek The Monkey Wrench Gang van 1975, dat veel negatiever was over de 'appriopriate technology subculture'.
"The link between the counterculture and the hacker subculture was the kind of relative technological optimism expressed in Brautigan’s Gestetnered poem (and its illustrations). (...) Nelson advocates not smashing the machine but appropriating it, hacking it."(193-194)
"The small-is-beautiful guerrilla technology advocated by the Catalog is based on the ideal of appropriation in lieu of sabotage — or, actually, as a form of relatively slow and benign sabotage — a way of using human-scale technology to resist and gradually undermine the dominant technocracy. This strategy is seen most clearly in Brand's advocacy of windmills, solar panels, and so on, to enable communards or homesteaders to 'go off the grid' of the centralized fossil-fuel power system."(195)
"This is the paradox at the heart of midcentury neo-Luddism, which sought ways to use technology, machines, to sabotage the Machine (the 'Combine'). The two sides of the sixties counterculture when it comes to technology are actually flipsides of one idealization — of the infinite possibilities of technology in the postwar era. The image of technology as a ubiquitous evil force has its photonegative image in the hacker view of technology as a ubiquitous, potentially liberating force, a kind of good silicon monkey wrench for stopping bad, oppressive technology and building a whole new alternative way of life."(197)
"In The Machine in the Garden, Leo Marx analyzed the two sides of American identity when it came to technology, an analysis recently extended by David Nye in The American Technological Sublime."(202)
" The two countercultures, the neo-Luddites and the hackers, were always to some degree flipsides of the same deeply utopian desire to leverage power over the world with the tools we have made — what Carlyle called 'our resistless engines' — and the symmetrical, accompanying fear that we might succeed in doing just that. For a time in the 1980s and ’90s, playing god, in this practical sense, seemed an attractive option for some in the technoculture. But the deep-seated neo-Luddite resistance to (and fear of) what was seen as techno-hubris never really went away. And it surfaced again in the late 1990s — with a vengeance."(209)
De huidige samenleving is afhankelijk van techniek. Dat maakt de angst voor techniekterreur alleen maar groter.
"In the present age of terror, technology is both a threat and a potential target, a means of destruction as well as the 'fabric' (network, web, weave) of society that is threatened with destruction. And the Luddites — who terrorized their local mill and shop owners with threatening letters and acts of sabotage — still seem to provide a way to think about this new problem. (...) Clearly many are anxious about the possibility that malicious hackers might act as super-Luddites, which is to say as cyber-terrorists setting out to sabotage the network as a whole. "(212-213)
"The tech bubble and the current wave of terror are of course related. Both are ultimately causes and effects of American global dominance and third-world reactions to it. Technology is associated with both the triumph of capital in the 1990s and what some have depicted as its comeuppance in the two collapses: those of the stock market and of the World Trade Center towers. Seen more broadly, terror looks like the dark shadow of global technological supremacy. Anxiety about global conflict seems built into the grand dream of global technological progress."(214)
[Ik zou wel eens uitgelegd willen zien waarom er sprake is van 'American global dominance'. Dat hangt er van af waarnaar je kijkt. Het zijn vooral de Amerikanen zelf die dit graag zeggen, lijkt het.]
"The decade of the technology bubble turns out to have been simultaneously the beginning of the age of terror, framed by and permeated with technological anxieties — and with neo-Luddite responses to these anxieties."(215)
Jones volgt die ontwikkeling door het bespreken van romans en andere documenten waarin die culturele angsten en conflicten zichtbaar worden. Voorbeelden: Hayduke Lives! van Edward Abbey (1990); het artikel Industrial Society and Its Future van 'Unabomber' Theodore Kaczynski (2002; in het tijdschrift Green Anarchy van neo-luddiet en anarchist John Zerzan; het posthumanisme van Ray Kurzweil in zijn boek The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999).
"Zerzan is something of a Romantic primitivist for whom everything after hunter-gatherer society represents a fall into the ever-increasing specialization and alienation of labor. The historical crux from his point of view was the (first) Industrial Revolution, when, he believes (echoing the theories of Michel Foucault) "the factory system was introduced in large part as a means of social control". Thus he considers the Unabomber's manifesto, which he refers to by its original title, Industrial Society and Its Future, to be "an extremely important text" for our time, the age of the second Industrial Revolution. The manifesto, he judges, explains "in very clear, accessible prose", the "dead-end that is industrialism"."(219)
"People from all walks of life have said in effect that their own distress about technology is so desperate that they — however ironically or reluctantly — find themselves driven into sympathy with the Unabomber."(221)
Wat zijn nu de neo-luddistische ideeën over technologie die mensen lezen in het werk van mensen als Kaczynski? Technoligie wordt gezien als een autonome, onomkeerbare, abstracte kracht, die overal aanwezig is. Mensen worden er door tot slaaf gemaakt, hun indivuele vrijheid wordt tot niets reduceert, ze worden vervreemd van hun mogelijkheden tot ontplooiing. Er achter ligt een soort van samenzwering die mensen in slaap sust en kritiekloos maakt. Er is geen oplossing dan een radicale.
" In their view [Robins' and Webster's boek met een meer marxistische kijk op de zaak], the neo-Luddites make a fetish of family values, rural community, and hold an oversimple view of postmodern social ills. Robins and Webster are quite right that a Romantic, nostalgic hatred of modernity and an idealization of the primitive cuts across Glendenning’s and Sale's neo-Luddism, Zerzan's green anarchism with its affiliations with ELF and other eco-activist groups, as well as Kaczynski's brand of individualist, psychological neo-Luddism allied with terrorist tactics. Just considering his individualism, Kaczynski is not so far from the libertarianism of many technophiles of the 1990s, for example. Robins and Webster argue against this nostalgic conservative reaction and for an anticapitalism they claim is the true legacy of the historical Luddites, who were resisting the capitalist idea of 'progress' rather than the 'future' or change in general. (...) Modern neo-Luddism simply follows the capitalist example by hypostasizing and reifying technology, turning what is the product of human labor and ingenuity into an externalized 'monster' or alien being with power over humanity. This insight, as I have argued, is indeed contemporary attitudes toward technology."(227)