Over the past several days there have been quite a few posts out there on the national blogs about populist movements and uprisings since the beginning of the industrial revolution. One of the more interesting posts includes a history of the Luddites, a band of skilled tradesmen in the early 19th century, that attacked the very machinery that ultimately put them out of jobs.
After digesting it for a few days, this post is actually more interesting than I originally thought. While I don’t think anyone would argue that technological advances have increased our overall quality of life, there is some question about the ever diminishing value of our work, and what that has done to the psyche of workers, not just in the United States, but worldwide.
Here in the states, with unemployment still ridiculously high, and mired in the grip of a jobless recovery, folks are looking for any answer to their continuing uncertainty. Some of this has manifested itself in the nativist rhetoric of anti-immigration advocates and Islamophobes. Others have railed against government spending, both as being too much or too little. In the end, most average folks are just pissed, not knowing what to do or who to be mad at, except for the usual suspects as defined by their personal bias.
The underpinning of all of this is a sense that we’ve lost our way. That we no longer have the power to determine our future. That our outlook is held hostage by some shadowy force, be it the Government or leaders of industry, again, determined by our personal bias, and that we have little if any power to change course and make our future and the futures of our children bright again like we believe they were in some mythical time in the past.
The truth of the matter is that while these changes seem like a sudden onset of instability, they have been in the works for far longer than I’ve been alive. While its convenient to point to our leaders as failing to provide the vision to bring a brighter future, we also have to recognize that we have selected these leaders, unlike the Luddites in the days of yore, through our vote and our consumption choices, for the past two hundred years.
Its a hard reality to face that we, the regular folks, might have more power than we’re willing to recognize. While its convenient to point that-a-way and cast blame and doubt, if we’re going to be honest, we also have to acknowledge that our choices – to go to a chain store rather than a more expensive local store, to vote for people who favor multi-national corporations rather than mom-and-pop business, to move to the suburbs, expanding local infrastructure beyond all feasibility – are the hands that pull the strings that move the marionette that is our future.
Without our support, over decades of actions, many of these things simply would not have been able to happen.
If we, the people are going to call for more responsibility from our leaders, be they political or otherwise, we also have to demand responsibility from ourselves and recognize the role we play, actively or passively, in the future that we have taken part in creating. It’s easy to point outwardly and look for a bogey man to blame, what we too often fail to realize is that when we point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing right back at ourselves.
The Luddites didn’t have the choices we have today, politically or economically. They didn’t have the access to information we do today. Most importantly, they didn’t have the economic power to change the face of their environment.
While we as individuals may not have that economic power, as a group we do. We have to recognize that power, and pull the strings in a way that benefits the majority of us for the long-term, rather than between paychecks, if we want our future to be brighter.
On to the Coffee…
Don’t these people have something better to do?
Honest Campaign ads that we’ll never ever see.
The two major parties are striking out against independent candidates.
Are cuts to the lottery scholarship looming?
City of Memphis Fleet services has taken taxpayers for a ride.
What is the Midtown Overlay?
Have a great day!