Tuesday 23 August 2011

Northern Anarchist Network: The Luddites 200th Anniversary commemorative booklet - a call for articles, artwork and ideas

An 'Enoch' Sledgehammer, as manufactured by Enoch & James Taylor of Marsden & put to good use by Luddites
 We've been contacted by the Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) about a commemorative booklet about the Luddites they are planning for 2012, and we're reproducing their press release below. Expressions of interest can be made directly to the NAN or via our email address:

2011 & 2012 sees the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings in the midlands and north of England. After an initial sudden outburst in Spring 1811 amongst framework-knitters in Nottinghamshire, discontent gestated until November 1811, when the self proclaimed 'Army of Redressers' emerged once again, this time proclaiming allegiance to the mythical avatar 'General Ludd'. Though the outbreaks were initially located in and around Nottinghamshire and were concerned chiefly with industrial disputes, they soon entered into parts of South Derbyshire and Leicestershire, before extended further north to Lancashire & Cheshire amongst weavers and most notably amongst the cloth-dressers of West Yorkshire in 1812, by which time the uprisings had taken on a wholly different character: opposed to the Napoleonic War, tyranny and the direction that a particularly militant version of laissez-faire capitalism had begun to take, using new technology to drive down wages and break the power of highly organised workers. Though the uprisings continued in a muted form all the way into 1816 in the Midlands, the back was broken in the north by early 1813, with show-trials, mass executions, deportations and the virtual occupation of the region by 12,000 troops, more than were currently engaged in conflict on the continent in the Napoleonic Wars.

The Northern Anarchist Network plans to facilitate a booklet to mark the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings at their zenith, in April 2012. We are looking for contributions, chiefly original articles and artwork, but any kind of work that fits into the printed format will be considered (i.e. poetry, creative writing). Articles of any reasonable length will be considered.

We welcome original submissions of all kinds, but it you are stuck for ideas, we have some themes we have come up with that interest us:

  • The local history of Luddism from where you live
  • Caravats in Ireland 1806-1811 & the parallels with Luddism
  • Enclosure of the commons, 200 years ago and today
  • The 'neutrality' of technology
  • The role of technology in the modern workplace
  • Why does 'the left' ignore the Luddites?
  • The politics of rioting
  • E.P. Thompson & the Luddites
  • Disappearing workers, skilled and unskilled: from self-service checkouts to 3D printing
  • General Ludd in the North, Captain Swing in the South

You may have your own ideas, and we would welcome discussing them with you.

We are Anarchists, but we welcome contributions from comrades across the Libertarian Communist spectrum, and beyond: we are happy to consider articles from those who feel outside any political spectrum but are willing to contribute regardless.

Although this is the Northern Anarchist Network, we welcome ideas from anywhere in the world.

We plan to have the booklet published by April 2012, and will be seeking expressions of interest until the end of October 2011. We request that a first draft is submitted by the end of November 2011 at the very latest.

We feel that for a number of reasons, the history of the Luddites and their messages and significance down the generations have been distorted and all-too-often ignored, quite often wilfully. There is an opportunity over the next 12 months to rehabilitate and to begin to regularly celebrate the machine-breakers from 200 years ago from whom we can still learn so much.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Our silence

If you've been following this blog, you may have wondered why it's gone quiet. There are several reasons for this:
  • In terms of the historical side of this project, after a brief spurt of activity in early 1811, Luddism goes quiet, and then explodes in November 1811 and continues to burn for many months. On that basis, other than some contextual posts in late October of this year, we won't be writing about the history until November 2011.
  • We're doing the research and donkey-work now, and it's hard work...
  • We have other irons in the fire!
  • There haven't been that many events to bring to wider attention.
In the meantime, if you want to stay up to date with the latest bits of news and ephemera that may be of interest, and also engage with us, the best places to go to are our pages on twitter and facebook.

So, in the meantime, thanks for your patience!