Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Another World Is Palpable

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot, "Esebian" asks:
What do you think would it take to resurrect the Luddite movement as a political action group fighting against the oppressive, precarizing abuse of available technolgies by plutocratic elites and for a use benefiting the concerned public parties?

It is important to grasp that the Luddites are a crucial part of the history of organized labor, and that the "technology" focused narrativization of the substance of their situation, critique and activism is a falsification and distraction in the service of those plutocratic elites you mention -- as discussions of "technology in general," which doesn't actually exist, almost inevitably are.

To see what I mean by this point I am endlessly hammering, every time you use the word "technology" in a sentence that seems to make sense, try substituting for that word "technology" the phrase "social struggle over technoscientific changes among the diversity of stakeholders to those changes" instead and you will notice that you not only have a much more gawky and awkward sentence but also a sentence that forces you to engage with a host of urgent, incredibly fraught quandaries every one of which was invisible before.

All that said, I am happy to report that there is no need to re-invent the wheel here. The world doesn't need some clever educated white boys in the "developed" -- that is to say, over-exploiting -- world who think they know it all (I castigate in that phrase any tendencies to such self-congratulation in myself first of all) to pen some neo-Luddite online manifesto and unleash a neo-Luddite movement to sweep the world and save it in the nick of time.

Environmental justice critique and the environmental justice movement kinda sorta already ARE that neo-Luddite discourse and assemblage you are looking for in my view. Follow the links and many readily available others, and read up on their vast and indispensable scholarship, activism, and policy advocacy.

To save the world (by which I mean simply to make the world ever more sustainable, knowledgeable, democratic, and equitable-in-diversity), embed environmental justice analysis of and organizing over developmental questions (sensitive to the raced, sexed, classed stakeholder-stratified field in which costs, risks, benefits, and sustainability of technoscientific changes must always be assessed) within the larger social democratic struggle to provide universal healthcare, including housing and nutritional security, lifelong free education and training, unemployment insurance, parental leave, and retirement/ disability security (hence providing for a scene of legible informed nonduressed consent to the terms of everyday intercourse, including providing the functional equivalent of a publicly funded permanent strike fund), paid for by steeply progressive income and property taxes (which has the added benefit of resisting anti-democratic anti-meritocratic wealth concentration), and also providing for the accountable social administration of common and public goods (governance, law, police, obviously, and, again, education, healthcare, welfare, and also urban ecosystem support, including sustainable polyculture to provide for public nutrition programs and foreign aid, public transportation, renewable energy infrastructure, non-proprietary medical and science research and development).

There are enormous literatures and movements devoted to all these struggles already -- indeed, mainstream political parties like the Democratic Party in the United States already contain constituencies striving to mobilize the vast energies of existing formations to these outcomes, even if these constituencies do not always grasp the connections and ends in quite the way a democratic queergeek atheist vegetarian feminist ecosocialist intellectual like me does and one has to struggle toward these ends through an unfathomably frustrating, heartbreaking, compromised, convulsive process of ongoing education, agitation, organization, legislation, and reform.

The tools to dismantle the Master's house are ready to hand. They were made and hidden in the shadow of the Master's house. Some of them were appropriated from there and became ours.

Another world is palpable.


Esebian said...

On the other hand it wouldn't quite pack the punch against fanboy-frothing technomaniacs like a "Luddite and proud" campaign.

Dale Carrico said...

There's still room for such campaigns -- the almost universal misunderstanding of the historical Luddites really is a teachable moment in the service of progressive education about labor history and organizing and technodevelopment social struggle. Build the organic hemp tee-shirt and they will come!