Our New-Age Saboteurs

I humbly suggest the following neologism: Progluddite (pronounced like troglodyte).  Definition: a misinformed, misguided political ideologue who believes that technological regression will force humanity to build a New Age Utopia.

On its face, the word Progluddite seems nonsensical.  It is an oxymoronic pairing of Progressive (one who is interested in new ideas) and Luddite (one who rejects new technology).  However, the word is merely a reflection of the self-contradictory nature of progressive notions.  Progressives believe that political, social, and economic progress can only be achieved by instituting the failed, shopworn nineteenth century socialist program inspired by Karl Marx.  Progressives also believe that mankind's selfish use of efficient, modern technology will lead to a global environmental apocalypse.

The technological advancement that had the greatest benefit to humanity was the gradual transition from muscle energy to chemical energy.  Production via muscle energy was slow, grueling, and inefficient.  The cost of goods produced by muscle energy was relatively high and made more than bare subsistence unaffordable to all but the upper classes.  At first, the progress from muscle to chemical energy was slow.  Mankind relied on primitive wind-driven and water-driven machines for many centuries.  Over time, these machines were refined, and eventually sped up industrial production and agricultural processing, placed more goods and more food in the marketplace, and made both more affordable.  Wealth and health increased. 

Then the external-combustion engine was introduced.  The Newcomen Engine harnessed the power of steam to pump water out of mines.  James Watt made major improvements to the Newcomen design, and suddenly humanity had a portable, powerful, and versatile energy source.  Locations of factories and mills were no longer constrained by access to strong winds or swiftly-running water.  The cost of industrial and agricultural products dropped and health and wealth took a great leap forward. 

This technologically-driven advancement in the general welfare was not universally welcomed.  In England, the Luddites, skilled laborers who had been displaced by machines, burned wool and cotton mills.  In France, workers who were replaced by automated Jacquard looms threw their wooden shoes (sabots) into the machinery in an attempt to damage them.  These workers were obviously unable to see the larger picture: that increased production lowered the prices of goods, which in turn increased demand, which then led to industrial expansion and more jobs.  That small group of workers was, indeed, temporarily harmed, but it and everyone else in the society eventually benefited from better technology.

The inventors of Industrial Socialism, Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels, were philosophical Luddites.  In reaction to the perceived excesses and inequities of the Industrial Revolution, they attempted to destroy the social and political machinery of the modern Capitalist State.  They sought to do this by providing an historical and ideological justification for the great Workers' Revolt.  To that end, they posited that inexorable historical tides would bring the triumph of Communism.  What they failed to recognize is that Communism is not progressive, but is, in fact, regressive.  Their Workers' State represented the reestablishment of feudalism: workers would be vassals within industrial fiefdoms, with few rights and many duties.  The workers' committees that they envisioned as the rulers of the Communist State, were in fact nothing more than updated Medieval Craft Guilds: monopolistic, inflexible relics of the muscle-energy past. 

Today's Progluddites have irrational technological taboos and preferences: they hate nuclear power and the internal combustion engine and love 'clean, sustainable' and inefficient energy sources.  The taboo technologies are clearly more productive, and the so-called sustainable technologies are nothing but updated versions of the Medieval energy sources our ancestors discarded. 

Progluddites, however, are not interested in productivity or efficiency.  High productivity is conducive to individual liberty and free choice, whereas low productivity is more conducive to collectivism.  Progluddites believe that individual liberty and free choice are dangerous.  Progluddites believe that, if only our political and economic culture became collectivist, the modern consumerist society would cease to exist, all excesses and inequities would be eliminated, and humanity would save itself from a technologically-induced disaster. 

The Collectivist Utopia envisioned by Progluddites is not modern in concept: it is purely feudalistic.  In their Perfect State, a Progluddite Oligopoly, a cadre of Leftist experts, would have dictatorial powers and the vast majority would be vassals serving the interests of their self-anointed rulers.  Our future under the thumb of the Progluddite Elites would be identical to the past in which our Dark Age ancestors suffered.  Once again, the mass of mankind would be born with a saddle on its back, to be ridden by a favored few who are booted and spurred; once again mankind's lot would be one of tyranny, stagnation, poverty, drudgery, cold, and hunger.  But Progluddites, because they exist on a higher moral plane, and rule by virtue of a New Age Divine Right, would be exempt from the rules that they force upon their inferiors.

The word Progluddite accurately describes those who believe that the present is irredeemably tainted, and that humanity's hope for the future lies in recycling the ineffectual, irrelevant methods and ideas of our long-dead past.  It accurately describes those who are currently attempting to destroy our republican system of governance and our free-market economic system in order that they might replace it with an Orwellian Fascist State, with the purpose of saving humanity by crushing its spirit. 

[Editor's note: Thanks to reader Hugh J. Preightreeuht for pointing out that Rick Ballard came up with the same term Progluddite in 2010, as documented by Clarice Feldman on these pages.]
I humbly suggest the following neologism: Progluddite (pronounced like troglodyte).  Definition: a misinformed, misguided political ideologue who believes that technological regression will force humanity to build a New Age Utopia.

On its face, the word Progluddite seems nonsensical.  It is an oxymoronic pairing of Progressive (one who is interested in new ideas) and Luddite (one who rejects new technology).  However, the word is merely a reflection of the self-contradictory nature of progressive notions.  Progressives believe that political, social, and economic progress can only be achieved by instituting the failed, shopworn nineteenth century socialist program inspired by Karl Marx.  Progressives also believe that mankind's selfish use of efficient, modern technology will lead to a global environmental apocalypse.

The technological advancement that had the greatest benefit to humanity was the gradual transition from muscle energy to chemical energy.  Production via muscle energy was slow, grueling, and inefficient.  The cost of goods produced by muscle energy was relatively high and made more than bare subsistence unaffordable to all but the upper classes.  At first, the progress from muscle to chemical energy was slow.  Mankind relied on primitive wind-driven and water-driven machines for many centuries.  Over time, these machines were refined, and eventually sped up industrial production and agricultural processing, placed more goods and more food in the marketplace, and made both more affordable.  Wealth and health increased. 

Then the external-combustion engine was introduced.  The Newcomen Engine harnessed the power of steam to pump water out of mines.  James Watt made major improvements to the Newcomen design, and suddenly humanity had a portable, powerful, and versatile energy source.  Locations of factories and mills were no longer constrained by access to strong winds or swiftly-running water.  The cost of industrial and agricultural products dropped and health and wealth took a great leap forward. 

This technologically-driven advancement in the general welfare was not universally welcomed.  In England, the Luddites, skilled laborers who had been displaced by machines, burned wool and cotton mills.  In France, workers who were replaced by automated Jacquard looms threw their wooden shoes (sabots) into the machinery in an attempt to damage them.  These workers were obviously unable to see the larger picture: that increased production lowered the prices of goods, which in turn increased demand, which then led to industrial expansion and more jobs.  That small group of workers was, indeed, temporarily harmed, but it and everyone else in the society eventually benefited from better technology.

The inventors of Industrial Socialism, Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels, were philosophical Luddites.  In reaction to the perceived excesses and inequities of the Industrial Revolution, they attempted to destroy the social and political machinery of the modern Capitalist State.  They sought to do this by providing an historical and ideological justification for the great Workers' Revolt.  To that end, they posited that inexorable historical tides would bring the triumph of Communism.  What they failed to recognize is that Communism is not progressive, but is, in fact, regressive.  Their Workers' State represented the reestablishment of feudalism: workers would be vassals within industrial fiefdoms, with few rights and many duties.  The workers' committees that they envisioned as the rulers of the Communist State, were in fact nothing more than updated Medieval Craft Guilds: monopolistic, inflexible relics of the muscle-energy past. 

Today's Progluddites have irrational technological taboos and preferences: they hate nuclear power and the internal combustion engine and love 'clean, sustainable' and inefficient energy sources.  The taboo technologies are clearly more productive, and the so-called sustainable technologies are nothing but updated versions of the Medieval energy sources our ancestors discarded. 

Progluddites, however, are not interested in productivity or efficiency.  High productivity is conducive to individual liberty and free choice, whereas low productivity is more conducive to collectivism.  Progluddites believe that individual liberty and free choice are dangerous.  Progluddites believe that, if only our political and economic culture became collectivist, the modern consumerist society would cease to exist, all excesses and inequities would be eliminated, and humanity would save itself from a technologically-induced disaster. 

The Collectivist Utopia envisioned by Progluddites is not modern in concept: it is purely feudalistic.  In their Perfect State, a Progluddite Oligopoly, a cadre of Leftist experts, would have dictatorial powers and the vast majority would be vassals serving the interests of their self-anointed rulers.  Our future under the thumb of the Progluddite Elites would be identical to the past in which our Dark Age ancestors suffered.  Once again, the mass of mankind would be born with a saddle on its back, to be ridden by a favored few who are booted and spurred; once again mankind's lot would be one of tyranny, stagnation, poverty, drudgery, cold, and hunger.  But Progluddites, because they exist on a higher moral plane, and rule by virtue of a New Age Divine Right, would be exempt from the rules that they force upon their inferiors.

The word Progluddite accurately describes those who believe that the present is irredeemably tainted, and that humanity's hope for the future lies in recycling the ineffectual, irrelevant methods and ideas of our long-dead past.  It accurately describes those who are currently attempting to destroy our republican system of governance and our free-market economic system in order that they might replace it with an Orwellian Fascist State, with the purpose of saving humanity by crushing its spirit. 

[Editor's note: Thanks to reader Hugh J. Preightreeuht for pointing out that Rick Ballard came up with the same term Progluddite in 2010, as documented by Clarice Feldman on these pages.]

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