The Irrelevant Elite Luddites

Luddites are those who oppose commercial innovation. They may be the workers themselves, like the original Luddites in 17th century England, who opposed innovations in weaving that made their jobs obsolete. In the end, it is futile to resist new technology and the creative destruction of jobs it brings.

Power elites can also oppose innovation, because they don’t want to do anything that reduces the wealth they receive by exploiting and controlling the labor of workers. Innovation by others would decrease their monopolistic power, thus diminishing their extraction of money from working people. Historically, this has happened a number of times, locking an entire country into an obsolete commercial technology in spite of the obvious advantage a new technology would bring.

Ludditism among the elite is no less folly
than it is in in workers.

Ludditism among the elite is no less folly than it is in in workers, especially today, and in the end it damages everyone. This is because commercial competition today can come from anywhere in the world, and most places are immune from the coercion that monopoly and other economic suppression and extraction can have at home. If a computer company resists adopting a new technology, for any reason, commerce simply moves to where that new technology is available, completely bypassing the Luddite resisters and rendering them irrelevant.

That doesn’t seem to make certain members of the elite any less Luddite. Their goal has been to protect their monopoly and extraction for so long that they do not understand that their strategy, and they themselves, are now meaningless.

The greatest irony is that free innovation and true equality improves the lives of everyone, rich and poor alike. The greatest challenge is to assure that the lives of those negatively affected by innovation are not ruined.

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Published in: on 2012/04/10 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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