Here is an update on recent developments. On June the 8th the Luddites200 Organising Forum held its first public event, in London, on the 14th anniversary of the first direct action against a GM crop trial in Britain. The speakers included David King from L200OF and Merlin Reader from the Communication Workers Union, who talked about the dispute currently going on at Mount Pleasant Postal Sorting Office in London, which in part involves the introduction of new sorting machinery and resulting job cuts. There was some discussion of other current cases of introduction of new machinery, such as self-service machines in libraries (again as part of the public sector cuts programme) and self-checkout machines in supermarkets. L200OF would like to encourage campaigns against such machines, and would be interested to hear from anyone who might get involved in this. In the second half of the meeting Kath Tatum of the Stop Nuclear Power talked about nuclear power and the connections between anti nuclear campaigns and Luddism, and Liz Snook from the Stop GM campaign spoke about the current threats of the revival of GM crop trials in Britain. The meeting concluded with listening to Seize the Day’s song ‘Ned Ludd’, and a Radio 4 journalist interviewed a number of people at the meeting for the World Tonight.
The beginning of June also saw two other meetings on the Luddite anniversary. In Huddersfield, which was the centre of Yorkshire Luddism, the local anarchist group organised a talk by local author Alan Brooke and a relaunch of his book ‘Liberty or Death’, about radical politics in the area between 1793-1823. In London a meeting organised by Tom Wakeford of Newcastle University focussed on the Luddites in connection to current issues in food politics and next year’s Rio+20 international conference, which will mark 20 years since the 1992 Earth Summit.
The anniversary is also being celebrated with a variety of cultural events. The Spen Valley Civic Society is erecting a statue of a Luddite cropper in Liversedge. An art work by Tim Shore celebrating the 450 men who were “twisted in” as Luddites in Holmfirth was on show at Th’Owd Towser Show in Holmfirth. The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield have been awarded £55,000 for a cultural festival to take place next year.
If you have not yet visited our new improved website please take a look at www.luddites200.org.uk. We will soon be setting up a blog connected to the website and will be looking for people to do guest posts, so if you are interested, please let us know. We are also looking for people to help organise local events, so please be in touch if you might be able to do that.
Put down all machines hurtful to Commonality!