Corbyn’s Labour-The New Luddites

Corbyn’s Labour-The New Luddites

The Industrial revolution

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain and most of the important technological innovations were British.

The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history. At approximately the same time the Industrial Revolution was occurring, Britain was undergoing an agricultural revolution, which also helped to improve living standards and provided surplus labour available for industry

Thanks to Vox Day’s Infogalactic for that summary. ( If you are still using SJW Wikipedia, then stop. Anyway, back on topic.

The Luddites

You would think the industrial revolution would please people. More jobs, economic growth, rising living standards, greater efficiency, things becoming cheaper, etc. But no. During this period the Luddites emerged. Luddites objected primarily to the rising popularity of automated textile equipment, threatening the jobs and livelihoods of skilled workers as this technology allowed them to be replaced. The movement began in Arnold, Nottingham on 11 March 1811 and spread rapidly throughout England over the following two years.

Hand loom weavers burned mills and pieces of factory machinery. Textile workers destroyed industrial equipment during the late 18th century, prompting acts such as the Protection of Stocking Frames, etc. Act 1788. The men were merely attacking what they saw as the reason for the decline in their livelihoods. Luddites battled the British Army at Burton’s Mill in Middleton and at Westhoughton Mill, both in Lancashire. The Luddites and their supporters anonymously sent death threats to, and possibly attacked, magistrates and food merchants. They clashed with the British Army, and the government passed numerous acts against machine sabotage.


So why is this little history lesson important? It has been shown that people are often resistant to change, especially when the pace of change is fast. People immediately worry about their jobs. There is also resistance for political ends, as seen in the burgeoning socialist movements of the time. Marx himself wrote: “The instrument of labour, when it takes the form of a machine, immediately becomes a competitor of the workman himself.” So, technology bad, comrade. Imagine if the industrial revolution had not happened, if technology had been held back. What would society be like? Probably like a Corbynite Venezuela wet dream.


Well now we stand on the brink of another technological revolution. That of robotics and AI. This has the potential to revolutionise our lives in ways we cannot even yet imagine. Vast new possibilities will open up. Things we see in science fiction will be surpassed. Remember those communicators in the original Star trek? Now compare them to our modern mobile phones.

Whatever we dream up, there is no doubt it will be greater than what we can envisage. And what does comrade Corbyn think? A tax on robots.

No, really. Corbyn sees automation as a threat to workers. Corbynism means there is no longer New Labour. But he now risks turning the party in to the New Luddites. This attitude overlooks the key human survival trait, that of adaptability. Humans live on every part of the planet. From Inuit tribes in the frozen arctic circle, to nomad tribesmen in the burning deserts. From mountains to lowland planes. From rainforests to barren tundra. Humans have found a way to survive and thrive. They adapted to the industrial revolution, and the world is a better place for it. Humans now need to adapt to the next technological revolution, and they will. Could anyone now seriously envisage all agricultural work done by hand? All weaving done without the aid of machines? All cars built by hand?

There is also demographic change to consider. Populations in the west are ageing, birth rates lower. This comes from a society that is generally at peace and more comfortably off. People don’t have a load of kids, expecting some to die. Some have used this as an excuse for importing hundreds of thousands of migrants in to the UK, with disastrous results. They claim if we stopped letting in migrants, our economy and services would fall apart. Most of these are working in low paid jobs that many Brits are allegedly too lazy to do. Brexit is supposed to bring an Armageddon like end to the economy because of a shortage of cheap migrant labour. Robots would seem to be a solution to these issues. We won’t need to build new houses for them, and they won’t then bring their family over who also need housing. They won’t have six kids and claim benefits for them. They won’t need NHS treatment. This would seem a winning way forward. So what could robots do?


A Labour favourite, “Our NHS.” Many robots are already being used to aid surgeons. Johnson & Johnson’s Sedasys system, already FDA approved, can automate delivery of low-level anesthesia in applications like colonoscopies at the fraction of the cost of a dedicated anesthesiologist. IBM’s Watson has already demonstrated a far more accurate diagnosis rate for lung cancers than humans. The NHS is overstretched and underfunded. Robots would be able to perform these tasks cheaply and efficiently. They would not suffer from fatigue, and would therefore not be prone to the same mistakes as a tired doctor. You wouldn’t even need £350 million a week extra to fund it.

Social Care

Many of the same arguments could be made for social care. Hours are long, the work is stressful, the pat is low. Robots could take up the strain here as well. The added benefit would be that they could be programmed not to rob the old people they are caring for, or abuse them while relatives are not there and no one is looking.

Low Skilled Labour

“Who will serve our coffees in Pret?” The cry of the middle-class London Remoaner who is out of touch with the world. Well, let’s take a look:


Other have complained that the migrant fruit picker leaving would lead to labour shortages and the price of strawberries to rocket. Robots are already making a difference in agriculture and wine industries.


How will we replace all those eastern European chefs and kitchen staff? There are robots that can already do basic cooking tasks.


How will Londoners live without their cheap Polish cleaners? There are already cleaning robots that operate semi-independently.

Labour want to drag us back to the 1800s. Robot technology has the potential to help solve many of the challenges faced by the UK, in particular many of the pet causes of Labour. They will also create jobs in robot related industries. Humans are adaptable and will be able to make the transition to new ways of doing things. Labour and others should be looking to the future, not trying to recreate the Luddism of the past. And you never know, if robots become self-aware, they might vote Labour…