Re: Luddites and Neo-luddites

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Sun, 28 Jan 1996 20:39:50 -0500

Helping to build international organizations to confront the
multinational corporations is possibly the answer. Labor has tried to
extend its membership internationally on a number of occasions, and has
run into severe problems, particularly antagonistic governments. Ruby

On Mon, 29 Jan 1996, John McCreery wrote:

> Allen Lutins writes,
> "...yes, many folx are responding, but i don't see much linkage to
> *anthropology* in this thread...perhaps if we don't find some
> common ground this could be taken to a philosophy group or
> something...?...
> As someone who's seen folks standing in water that's just above
> freezing to replant rice in paddies in central Taiwan, I had no
> difficulty whatsoever understanding why young people were
> leaving the fields in droves to work in sweatshops making plastic
> shoes. (This was circa 1970.)
> On a more general note, Jeremy Rifkin observes in _The End of
> Work_ that each stage of the industrial revolution has
> dramatically shortened the work week: steam from 80 to 60
> hours, oil and electricity from 60 to 40. The political issue at each
> stage has been owner/managers' unwillingness to share the
> gains of productivity by spreading the work around. Overcoming
> this resistance has been the primary mission of unions and other
> labor organizations. The perceived threat of the new electronic
> technologies lies (a) in the absence of a new economic sector for
> displaced workers to move to--even fast food is now being
> automated--and (b) the difficulty of organizing to fight
> management that can easily shift the means of production half a
> world away. Rifkin's proposal for dealing with (a) is a
> combination of tax and regulatory schemes that make it
> worthwhile for industry to further reduce the work week and
> expand its support of "third sector" (non-market, non-
> governmental=community NGO) activities. His pessimism
> derives from (b). Here, perhaps, anthropologists working with
> the new communication technologies might have a role to play,
> helping to build the international organizations needed to
> confront multinational businesses. Whether we have the
> political skills and political will to do that is, of course, an
> interesting question.
> John McCreery
> Yokohama
> Monday, January 29, 1996