Luddite – The Glossary Project

Luddites: Luddites were mostly artisans and skilled workers of the early 1800s who rioted, broke machines, burnt buildings, went on strike and negotiated for their rights that were taken away due to the development of industrialism. Their actions took place during the Industrial Revolution, where control by merchants and the government were exerted over the labor process by creating a factory system. This resulted in the replacing workers with machines, the deskilling of work and the decreased the cost of labor. The government’s reasoning behind this change was that the economy of the country would be increased if merchants were able to have free reign over the maximizing of their profits. The Luddites protested this transition; they were not against the development of technology but instead had the belief was that industrial growth should take place within ethical human rights, and that human needs should be taken into consideration before the pursuit of profit. Laws were passed by the government that resulted in the deportation, jailing and hanging of people that were associated with this movement. The Luddites however did not have the intent of harming people. They only destroyed the machines of merchants who reduced the wages of their fellow artisans. Although the efforts of these people did little to stop the development of industrial capitalism, their actions demonstrated the importance of human rights.

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