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Bob the Postman BS: 200th Anniversary of 'Luddites' in 2012 (25) RE: BS: 200th Anniversary of 'Luddites' in 2012 05 Sep 11


One aspect of Luddism which I am curious about is the extent to which the conspiracy arose out of a pre-existing network of fraternal lodges. Luddites swore oaths of loyalty and secrecy which might have been inspired by similar oaths in craft associations and/or masonic lodges. Was there a well-developed system of journeymen's mutual aid societies which could have fostered covert political action? Such societies, if they existed, would have been secretive, as there was a law forbidding workers to "combine".

I did some superficial research (Wikipedia and so forth) about Luddism for several pieces I produced for Kootenay Co-op Radio. (Episode 3 deals with the origins of Luddism in Notts and Lancs and episode 4 with the Yorkshire croppers.) But there's lots of treatments of things Luddic by serious academic writers which I haven't looked into. Maybe this issue is thoroughly explicated by one of them. I understand that American trade unions evolved from fraternal lodges.

On the murdering thugs issue: the authorities drew the first blood when troops defending Rawfolds Mill killed several Luddites. And they drew the last blood, when a dozen or so men were hanged for the crime of machine-breaking. Many Luddites believed that insurrection was justified by the lawlessness of manufacturers and authorities who ignored royal charters granting craftsmen jurisdiction over their own trades.


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