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In the early 19th century, English textile workers calling themselves “Luddites” destroyed machinery in an effort to save their jobs from automation. And two centuries later, those who resist technological change are still called Luddites. In the 2020 book The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel tells the history of textiles, including the Luddite movement. And in her 1998 book, The Future and Its Enemies, she describes the “stasist” view behind Luddism, as well as its natural antipode, dynamism. To discuss how this framework can help us understand the current moment, I’ve brought Virginia on the podcast.
Virginia is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and visiting fellow at the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University. She is the author of The Future and Its Enemies, The Substance of Style, and The Power of Glamour. Her latest is The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World.
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