Friday, 7 September 2012

130: The Technological Pied Piper

Once upon a time, not too long ago, all the men and women in the land worked hard from daybreak to nightfall, making things.  Some made lace and some wove cloth.  Some span flax and some twisted yarn.  Others made paper and more still farmed the land.  They worked hard and lived tough, but took a pride in earning what they could with the strength of their own bodies.

Then the world began to change.  Machines changed things.  The bosses earned more money using a machine and sacking the workers, so they did just that.  Families lost their entire income and many faced starvation, destitution and early death.

One day a man in gaily coloured clothes came amongst them travelling from village to village, from hamlet to heath.  He played a hand-crafted flute, whistling out a stout marching tune to speed his journey along.  Locals took him into their homes and fed him, before he left again the next day setting out to his next location.

When he called upon a village, a strange thing happened overnight.  All the villagers slept heavily and shared the same dream.  They dreamt when night fell, a beguiling tune filled the air, compelling them to leave their beds.  They dreamt of laughing and dancing and skipping as a crowd, to the mill and the factory, picking up stones and limbs of trees on their way.  Dancing into a frenzy, they broke and smashed and trashed until only sticks of wood and heaps of knotted twine were left.

Then the music slowed and the crowd began to sway and move back to the village, drunk on the heady atmosphere and the thrill of experience.  One by one, they headed for their beds and back into their dreams.

When they woke the next morning, the visitor had gone.  His marching tune could be heard trailing into the neighbouring valley he planned to visit. 

Ned Ludd smiled to himself as he walked away from another successful night.  He piped up a jaunty tune and stepped out towards the town near the next cotton mill.

Inspiration: Luddites

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