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Social Science
SOSC 1520
John Hutcheson

Reading Notes Progress Without People New Technology Unemployment and the Message of ResistanceNoble DavidIn Canada these consequences are amply evident Unemployment has risen each decade of the information age with the increasing deployment of laboursaving technology In the 1940s at the dawn of this new age average official unemployment stood at 27 per cent It rose to 42 per cent in the 1950s 51 per cent in the 1960s 67 per cent in the 1970s and 93 per cent in the 1980s Thus far in the 1990s official unemployment has averaged about 11 per cent and the new wave of information technology is only just cresting p xiiIn 1993 an economist for the Canadian Manufacturers Association estimated that in the previous four years two hundred thousand manufacturing jobs had been eliminated through the use of new technology That was only in manufacturing and just the beginning The latest wave of information technology makes past developments seem quaint in comparison p xiiiWhile multinational firms continue to expect nationstates to subsidize their operations and fight their wars they have no allegiance or responsibility to the people of any nation There is thus no reason for workers to place their faith any longer in the promise of competitiveness the only ones really competing these days it often seems are the workers themselvesagainst each other p xvChapter one In Defense of LuddismDuring the first three decades of the nineteenth century the workers in manufacturing trades united in opposition to unemployment the lowering of wages changes in the system of wage payments the elimination of skilled work the lowering of the quality of products and the factory system itself which entailed an intensification of work discipline and a loss of autonomy and control over their own labour 7In short during the first half of the nineteenth century workers were reacting against the encroachment of capitalist social relations marked by domination and wage slavery and they were well aware that the introduction of new technologies by their enemies was part of the effort to undo them 8Most of the revisionist social historians who undertook to reconstruct the movement in the workers own terms have argued convincingly that the workers were not opposed to the machines per se They knew who their real human enemies were These historians suggest therefore that selective machinebreaking was simply one tactic among others used to cripple and intimidate their foes and win concessions 10
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