Back to Top

The Luddites



Luddite insurrections (roughly 1811-1813 or later) are often represented as a misguided, reactionary backlash by simple English peasants to their replacement by more efficient machines. However, the situation can perhaps be better understood as one of the first organized revolts against the age of industrial capitalism in Western Europe.

Poster text reads:

We petition no more. That won't do—fighting must.

LUDDITES: being a social uprising in the Midlands of England between the years 1811 and 1813 TO PUT DOWN ALL MACHINERY HURTFUL TO COMMONALITY!

"Certain inventions in machinery were introduced into the staple manufacturers of the north, which, greatly reducing the numbers of hands necessary to be employed, threw thousands out of work, and left them without legitimate means of sustaining life. . . . Misery generates hate; these sufferers hated the machines which they believed took their bread from them; they hated the buildings which contained those machines; they hated the manufacturers who owned those buildings." —Charlotte Brontë, Shirley.

Read Shaun's blog post about the making of the poster.

Printed at the worker-owned Stumptown Printers, Portland, OR.

This is #89 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series.

Shaun Slifer is an artist, writer, scrimshander, self-taught historian, and museum professional based in Pittsburgh. Shaun regularly works in collaboration with other artists, nonartists, and in collectively structured groups.

More by Shaun Slifer

Posts by Shaun Slifer