The True Story of The Luddites And The Battle Against Technology : Planet Money A couple centuries ago, a group of English clothworkers set out to destroy the machines that had been taking their jobs. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

When Luddites Attack (Classic)

When Luddites Attack (Classic)

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Power Loom (Front View)', 1836, (1904). From Social England, Volume V, edited by H.D. Traill, D.C.L. and J. S. Mann, M.A. [Cassell and Company, Limited, London, Paris, New York & Melbourne, 1904] Artist Unknown. (Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images)
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Note: This episode originally ran in 2015.

One night around 200 years ago, a group of English clothmakers set out under cover of darkness, armed with sledgehammers, to destroy the machines that had been taking their jobs.

The ensuing battle was the culmination of years of similar attacks, aimed at dismantling the Industrial Revolution piece by piece, under the alleged direction of a mysterious general named Ned Ludd.

What happened to the Luddites and their jobs remains a cautionary tale about the pains of technological progress. Even when technology helps the economy overall, there will be losers and they may fight back.

Music: "Guts, Glory and Guns," "Cover Up,"and "The Devil's Work."

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