June 18, 2015
A response to Ned Ludd by GABRIEL LEVY
Ned Ludd’s article on socialism and ecology raises important questions. What would a “real fusion” of socialism and ecology look like? How should socialist
A can factory, 1909. Source: resourcesforhistoryteachers.wikispaces.com
movements look at industrialism? Is “technocracy” a concept that helps us get to grips with this?
The left “needs to abandon its mythology of the ‘liberation of the productive forces’”, Ned argues. “Instead of that narrative of progress, we need to realise that industrialism is a 200-year-old bubble that is beginning to burst.”
Much of the organised left accepts uncritically assumptions about the benefits of industrial progress, and Ned’s warnings about this are justified, to my mind. The view of technology as something that marches forward outside of its social context, and will ultimately serve progressive causes in changing that social context, needs to be challenged.
The best place I can think of to start a serious critique of the “mythology of the ‘liberation of the productive forces’”, as Ned proposes, is with Karl Marx. After all, Read the rest of this entry »
June 14, 2015
(or, Why the Luddites were right, and Marx was wrong, about technology)
This guest post by NED LUDD of Breaking the Frame is published in the hope of provoking discussion. Responses are welcome! GL.
“Socialism can only be reached by bicycle” – José Antonio Viera-Gallo, Assistant Secretary of Justice in the government of Salvador Allende (Chile, 1970-73)
“Today, the main content of politics is economics, and the main content of economics is technology” – E.F. Schumacher, “Technology with a Human Face” (in Small is Beautiful, 1973)
Have you noticed how practically every critical issue about the future of our society hinges on technology? Whether it’s the global ecological crisis, the elimination of jobs through automation, surveillance and social effects of the internet, or the threat of a new eugenics, technology is critical. Yet public debate about these issues is stuck in the myths of progress through technology and the “neutrality” of technology. The left, because of its fundamental allegiance to those myths, has not got much to say and seems to have a major blind spot in its general methodology of critique of capitalist ideology.
On the whole, the left has learned rather little from the green critique of industrialism, and as a result most left theorising on this issue mounts to little more than bolting on a rather shallow environmentalism. Confident that it owns the master narrative on these issues (i.e. the dynamics of class conflict and capitalism), the left generally does not do much better than asserting that, once we control the means of production, everything will be fine. (Of course, there have been many more sophisticated approaches, particularly from Marxist critical Read the rest of this entry »