• Bret Bernhoft
    115
    I am a happy practitioner of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) gathering. And from these activities, I've observed a rather stark increase in the total volume of voices that are in support of the neo-Luddite worldview; especially on YouTube, Twitter and Reddit. Ironies aside, I am curious about what genuinely motivates the neo-Luddite perspective. And I would like to hear from the thoughtful minds on this Internet forum, as to what they think are the motivating forces underpinning "it".

    So my inquiry in, "What motivates the neo-Luddite worldview?"

    But before we go any further, let's set some definitions:

    • Neo-Luddite - "An individual who opposes the use of technology for ethical, moral or philosophical reasons." - Source
    • OSINT - "...is derived from data and information that is available to the general public. It’s not limited to what can be found using Google, although the so-called “surface web” is an important component." - Source
    • Worldview - "a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint" - Source

    It should also be mentioned that among many of the social media and other multimedia objects that I encounter every day, one of the more notable philosophers mentioned among these neo-Luddites is Ted Kaczynski; whose manifesto can be purchased on Amazon, which has a star rating of 4.8 out of 5. This both perplexes and worries me.

    If you would like to explore the kinds of Twitter activity commonly associated with Ted Kaczynski, here is a useful link.

    All of this is quite concerning, obviously. And shouldn't be ignored, especially as extremist fundamentalism is rising (in my opinion, inescapably) around the planet, throughout most arenas of society. But before the neo-Luddite worldview can be addressed, the paradigm needs to be understood; starting with its roots.
    1. Is the neo-Luddite worldview dangerous? (14 votes)
        Yes
        36%
        No
        64%
  • introbert
    80
    Trying to remember history class from highschool, but I think the machines the original Luddites destroyed (led by Ned Ludd) were taking away their livelihood. That is one motive, to protect livelihood. Another could be to protect environment. To return to a more primitive way of life. There are other more imaginative reasons.
  • Tom Storm
    5k


    Technology as a symbol of evil and its role in the total destruction of our world is a fairly appealing narrative. And Back to Eden solutions have long been popular. Technology seems to magnify all that is terrible about humans - from pesticides to nuclear bombs, chemical weapons to plastic bags and climate change. It can be argued that technology has robbed the world of its charm, displaced people of their jobs and suggested an apocalyptic future for us that is even more horrifying than religious end times. We don't need a theorised position to understand this.
  • IntrospectionImplosion
    5
    @Bret Bernhoft

    I'm sure there are bad ideas out there about how technology is bad, but there are also legitimate concerns about how technology can hurt us. Social media and global trade are great things, but there are downsides. There's good reason to think social media can cause or exacerbate mental health problems, and there are plenty of unhappy workers caught on the short-side of the global market.

    This probably isn't exactly what you are referring to but I think there are lots of good reasons to hesitate before we embrace something new.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    What motivates the neo-Luddite worldview? Disenfranchisement.
  • javi2541997
    2.2k


    "What motivates the neo-Luddite worldview?"

    Staying out of the masses. If you really want to be yourself you need to prevent the use of big social media apps (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, etc...) where the critical thinking doesn't exist and those are filled by fake news or hate speech.
    To be honest, I never heard of neo-Luddite until today. It looks so interesting. I will look forward on this topic.
  • Pantagruel
    2.1k
    Technology as a symbol of evil and its role in the total destruction of our world is a fairly appealing narrative. And Back to Eden solutions have long been popular. Technology seems to magnify all that is terrible about humans - from pesticides to nuclear bombs, chemical weapons to plastic bags and climate change. It can be argued that technology has robbed the world of its charm, displaced people of their jobs and suggested an apocalyptic future for us that is even more horrifying than religious end times. We don't need a theorised position to understand this.Tom Storm

    Yes, all of this.

    If you think of knowledge from a holistic perspective, it seems self-evident that our economically-driven societies have over-emphasized technical knowledge at the expense of moral and social. Until we are able to catch up in these other dimensions of knowledge, technology may indeed pose more dangers than it offers benefits. This I would say is the underlying motive.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Looks like a neo-Luddite is simply opposed to technology, the reason for doing so is irrelevant although having a good one would make the movement that much stronger.

    Technology has, by and large, been about one or all of the following.

    1. Speed (doing stuff faster)
    2. Accuracy (better measurement)
    3. Power (machines are, pound-for-pound, stronger)
    4. Error reduction (computers don't make mistakes in calculations)
    5. Risk (bomb disposal robots)
    6. Biologically impossible (Planetary rovers like Curiosity)

    I don't see why neo-Luddites have a problem with with 5 (risk) and 6 (biologically impossible).

    The heart of the matter - our beef with technology - is the last of the 4 Ds robots are used for (Dirty, Dull, Dangerous, Dear jobs). Slavery is making a comeback and in a big way!
  • unenlightened
    7k
    The myth: technological progress improves productivity so that everyone can have more goods and services for less time spent working.

    The reality: it is no longer possible for a family to survive on a single wage, and it is becoming impossible to survive on a dual wage. Reliance on food banks and homelessness are increasing, work hours are increasing and conditions worsening.

    Once one realises that promised progress is reversed, one naturally wants to reverse the reversal and return to the good old days.

    The luddite was the product of exploitation, and the neo-luddite is no different. It is the culture of ruthless exploitation that is dangerous.
  • T Clark
    9.8k
    I am curious about what genuinely motivates the neo-Luddite perspective.Bret Bernhoft

    Calling it "neo-Luddite" gives a pejorative tint to reasonable skepticism. I think humanity is at a very dangerous stage. Our science has developed technologies that can change the very nature of our world and all of humanity. Examples - genetic modification of organisms including people, cloning, artificial intelligence, nuclear weapons, virtual reality, nanotechnologies, pandemics. People who develop technologies have never shown any particular social conscience. Science generally works for whomever pays, which means that profit may be more important than human well-being. Scientists will often lie and cheat when it suits their purposes.

    Suspicion of science and technology and its effects is not necessarily unreasonable.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    115
    Thank you to everyone for your responses. They are all quite thought-provoking. I'm also grateful for the responses to the poll that was posted in association with this thread.

    I have much to think about, and look forward to additional dialogue.
  • Paine
    694


    I agree with T Clark on the importance of recognizing the danger of the new means of production. I also stand with those who point to the dynamics of exploitation which is readily evident to any that care to look. With that confluence of concerns, the arguments between communitarians and global unity should be seen as necessarily linked to your question.

    Ivan Illich spoke of how technology can disempower individuals, not only as a participant in a system of exchange but as a shrinking scope of freedom for the homo faber. Perhaps he was naive in how society could be different, but it is interesting how he thought Marx was naive.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k

    What motivates the neo-Luddite worldview? Disenfranchisement.Banno
    Alienation, comrade – compunded by anthropogenic climate change, technocapitalist "progress" (re: automation) is politically incompatible with global population growth (re: maximizing surplus labor). It seems to me that various anti-modern, anti-tech movements such as Greens & Neo-Luddites for at least the last half-century or so have mostly ignored the other driver of (mass) alienation which is overpopulation.
  • Paine
    694

    Always the bald-headed stepchild of eternally expanding systems.
  • Paine
    694

    I am sorry, I don't understand that emoticon as an expression of thought.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    I don't understand your post to which I replird with that emoticon.
  • Paine
    694

    The various models of capitalism involve ever expanding markets for the process to establish an expectation of future returns. That limit provides no model for the problem of Malthusian limits to what can support a population. That problem persists regardless of how resources are directed toward sustainability if those models do not include population growth itself.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    So what does that have to do with what I've written? My comments address the practical historical consequences of what I call "technocapitalist progress" and not theoretical (laissez-faire?) capitalism. Thus, :chin: – your reply is non sequitur, Paine.
  • Paine
    694
    The experience of our system is not only a theoretical construct but a result of actual events. And with that resul in view, I read your statement:

    It seems to me that various anti-modern, anti-tech movements such as Greens & Neo-Luddites for at least the last half-century or so have mostly ignored the other driver of (mass) alienation which is overpopulation.180 Proof

    Rather than argue that such a problem is strictly about investment in a particular theory, I think that the 'technological' is not something that happens by itself.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.1k
    One, maybe 'THE' critical question is "In whose hands does control rest?" The looms which the Luddites rejected were imposed upon the hand weavers. High tech (automation, AI, etc.) is likewise imposed upon workers with a subsequent loss of autonomy. Technology also de-skills work, too.

    Workers could select the technology they wanted were they in charge, but that's just not the case in this world. Therefore:

    Alienation180 Proof

    disempowermentPaine

    ruthless exploitationunenlightened

    DisenfranchisementBanno

    Anomie, unemployment, poverty, etc.
  • Hanover
    8.8k
    Workers could select the technology they wanted were they in charge, but that's just not the case in this world. Therefore:Bitter Crank

    This presupposes the alienation of concern to the neo-ludites is limited to or primarily from the technology encountered in the workplace.

    My personal ludite sympathies are from what I see as a deterioration in personal relationships and interaction, which presumably would exist in a technologically advanced Marxist economy as much as a capitalist one.

    This interaction is a case in point. I interact with you and many others on this Board as much as anyone, yet know very little about you, certainly never havi g seen you or heard you.

    That alienation where I can't even see my cellmates, so to speak, but can only see their occasional scribblings is as real an alienation as there can be, far beyond what Marx could have imagined.

    So I get it. People want to unplug and re-engage into the actual world.

    I'd also have preferred the OP would have referenced the Amish as an example of the intentional ludite as opposed to Ted Kaczynski. It's not necessary that every radical be malevolent.
  • Paine
    694
    I'd also have preferred the OP would have referenced the Amish as an example of the intentional ludite as opposed to Ted Kaczynski. It's not necessary that every radical be malevolent.Hanover

    That is why I brought up communitarians as wanting to preserve something they already had rather than making it all about breaking the system.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.1k
    My personal ludite sympathies are from what I see as a deterioration in personal relationships and interaction, which presumably would exist in a technologically advanced Marxist economy as much as a capitalist one.Hanover

    The point I was aiming for was that "better" or "different" technology would have to be self-selected, or it would just be another imposition.

    The technology we are submerged in is atomizing, isolating, and alienating. I guess I agree that submerging the workers' paradise in cell phones, tablets, facebook, Google, et al would have pretty much the same effect it has had on workers in this society.

    The medium is the message, per McLuhan. Cell phones do something that landlines just didn't do--they intrude into every moment indiscriminately. Using the product is the priority. The internet isn't the same thing as a library. Google search is a mixed blessing, undermining memory (you can always look it up) and, of course, serving up results according to a formula. Social media is a battering ram.

    Technology and social media are products which must be sold, bought, and consumed in order for profit to be made. it is, obviously, profit that matters, not the effect of the technology. Business is business, and the tech and social media business is not radically different than gadget and publication business of the past, but their products are in a different class.

    Back in the days of Walkman, people lamented that walking around listening to music on earphones was anti-social. They were cutting themselves off from everyone else. (Well, yes. I find earphones and MP3 players to be salvation on public transit.)

    Tech didn't inaugurate alienation, but it certainly amplifies it.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    I'd also have preferred the OP would have referenced the Amish as an example of the intentional ludite as opposed to Ted Kaczynski. It's not necessary that every radical be malevolent.Hanover

    Nice.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Back in the days of Walkman, people lamented that walking around listening to music on earphones was anti-social. They were cutting themselves off from everyone else. (Well, yes. I find earphones and MP3 players to be salvation on public transit.)Bitter Crank

    You've triggered me now! I've never used a walkman or listened to music on a device/phone. It can seem antisocial however it is often a mercy that people are preoccupied and listening to their music instead of talking or interacting. I just bought a car which has electronic everything. I hate it. I really should have bought a good 20 year-old car with none of the tech nonsense. I don't need to make calls in my car or use a camera to park it, nor do I need a screen to help me navigate. I just don't get the point of these banal features and they seem to have become compulsory. Another aspect of technology which I personally resent is that it is often imposed upon us. I can see how this might breed resentment and a desire to push back. :angry:
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    The issue boils down to a simple fact: people want tools that can enhance (their abilities) and not replace (them entirely). It's the difference between being empowered (Grace) and being obsoletized (Rev-9).

    I hope readers are aware that I'm making a Terminator - Dark Fate reference.
  • Bylaw
    246
    I think it's good to keep in mind that a neo-luddite might have problems to varying degrees with technology. Even the original Luddites were not against all technology. So, someone seeing the amount of people who have cars and mobiles might consider this all rather ridiculous, while understanding that some people need such powerful tools, often. But they might be critical of such a high percentage, say, of children having a device whose manufacture leads to environmental problems, whose use is coupled with social problems, and could in fact, easily be replaced with its dumb, cheap, offline versions, for those kids who actually need to be able to make phone calls everywhere and at any time. A neo-luddite might think that too often technological cures are made for 'diseases' that actually would be better handled in other ways. Or they might want the precautionary principle to be used more often and generally (what with plastic nanoparticles showing up now in fish brains and perhaps, well other brains that are part of organisms that drink and eat ((I won't specifically mention examples))). They might also be skeptical about the morals of some of the GM, nano, AI companies and investors. Often technology is simply assumed to be a sort of practical extension of science with some goodwill dashed in. But a neoluddite might feel that given the lack of independent oversight (in the US in any case) and the specific kinds of short-sighted profit motive that have arisen in the last few decades, the companies that create products and devices, may not be motivated by some neutral methodology like the scientific one. Government regulators are not independent in the least and this has gotten worse.

    So, it seems to me there is a broad range of positions that some will call neo-luddite, which nevertheless are not against all technology. Sometimes people will get labelled luddites, sometimes they will even name themselves that way. But likely most of them lie on a spectrum.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    115
    So, it seems to me there is a broad range of positions that some will call neo-luddite, which nevertheless are not against all technology. Sometimes people will get labelled luddites, sometimes they will even name themselves that way. But likely most of them lie on a spectrum.Bylaw

    It would be interesting to map this spectrum out, and to see where, how and why certain ideologies exist within it. I had never really considered the neo-Luddite label to be much of a spectrum; but I guess most of reality isn't so black and white.
  • Bylaw
    246
    Even Wikipedia gives some sense of the complexity.
    And note, ideas like the precautionary principle entail that new tech could be used, if one was cautious about the introduction of it and how widespread and how it is monitored. Also that it tends to be some technologies and also can be very individualistic: the simplicity people who tend to remove themselves.
    Others have different approaches and the extent of their goals is rather wide.
    Neo-Luddism or new Luddism is a philosophy opposing many forms of modern technology.[1] The term Luddite is generally used as a pejorative applied to people showing technophobic leanings.[2] The name is based on the historical legacy of the English Luddites, who were active between 1811 and 1816.[1]

    Neo-Luddism is a leaderless movement of non-affiliated groups who resist modern technologies and dictate a return of some or all technologies to a more primitive level.[3] Neo-Luddites are characterized by one or more of the following practices: passively abandoning the use of technology, harming those who produce technology harmful to the environment, advocating simple living, or sabotaging technology. The modern neo-Luddite movement has connections with the anti-globalization movement, anarcho-primitivism, radical environmentalism, and deep ecology.[3]

    Neo-Luddism is based on the concern of the technological impact on individuals, their communities, and/or the environment,[4] Neo-Luddism stipulates the use of the precautionary principle for all new technologies, insisting that technologies be proven safe before adoption, due to the unknown effects that new technologies might inspire.

    Neo-Luddism distinguishes itself from the philosophy originally associated with Luddism in that Luddism opposes all forms of technology, whereas neo-Luddism only opposes technology deemed destructive or otherwise detrimental to society.
  • Bylaw
    246
    Cell phones do something that landlines just didn't do--they intrude into every moment indiscriminatelyBitter Crank
    They also reduce children's ability to recognize facial expressions. IOW they reduce empathy. To be clear, this doesn't mean they make children nasty. But if you can't tell what the people are feeling around you as well, you won't feel as much empathy.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.