Who Was Captain Swing?

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September 16, 2014 by JImbo

A very thorough historical story on the Luddite movement and the Swing Riots. To put it in perspective, imagine if angry cashiers and bank tellers went on the rampage and started trashing Walk Marts electronic scanning registers and bank ATM machines for “taking our jobs!”
How do you think we would react today?


General Ludd, and the army of redressers that gathered behind his name, has become something of an all-purpose avatar for any attitude towards technology that is less than fawning. Whether this image of the Luddites is based upon historical evidence or simply upon hysterical paranoia is another matter, though one thing that is certain is that the specter of General Ludd still haunts technological society. Given the frequency with which Ludd’s name is evoked – be it as an epithet or as a source of inspiration (see: Neo-Luddism) – one could be forgiven for assuming that the Luddites were the first, last, or at the very least largest group to have seen machinery as a symbol of both their actual and figurative immiseration and to have acted accordingly.

Yet such a belief would be incorrect.

While General Ludd may haunt the subconscious of technology’s loudest advocates, and while the Luddites…

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