In Breaking Things at Work: The Luddites are Right About Why You Hate Your Job (Verso, 2021), Gavin Mueller provides a bracing and wide-ranging study of the fractious relationship between workers and technology under capitalism. Mueller traces the thought and actions of ordinary people past and present – including hackers, dockers, musicians and the titular textile workers – who have recognised that technological ‘progress’ too often comes at the expense of their autonomy and dignity. The book pushes back against visions of machine-driven utopia that have continually re-emerged on both the right and the left, arguing instead that resistance to technology is a key site of struggle throughout modernity, and that a Marxist neo-Luddism is crucial to understanding, and changing, the world today.
Gummo Clare is a PhD researcher in the School of Media and Communications, University of Leeds.
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