Tod den Maschinen?

LONDON – Zu Beginn der Industriellen Revolution zettelten Textilarbeiter, insbesondere Weber, in den Midlands und im Norden Englands eine spontane Revolte an, indem sie Maschinen zertrümmerten und Fabriken anzündeten.  Sie protestierten damit gegen die neumodischen Maschinen, die sie ihrer Ansicht nach um Löhne und Arbeitsplätze brachten.

Ihren Namen und ihre Inspiration bezogen die Aufständischen von einem apokryphen Ned Ludd, angeblich Weberlehrling, der 1779 in einem „leidenschaftlichen Anfall“ zwei Strickrahmen zertrümmert haben soll. Im Jahr 1985 schrieb Robert Calvert eine Ballade über ihn: „Man sagt, Ned Ludd war ein junger Idiot/ der nur demolieren und zerstören konnte“, so der Anfang des Liedes. Weiter heißt es: „Seinen Arbeitskameraden rief er zu: ‚Tod den Maschinen‘/ denn sie beschädigen unsere Zukunft und zerstören unsere Träume.“

Ihren Höhepunkt erreicht die Randale der Ludditen in den Jahren 1811 und 1812. Eine alarmierte Regierung entsandte in die aufständischen Gebiete mehr Truppen als Wellington im Spanischen Unabhängigkeitskrieg gegen Napoleon zur Verfügung hatte.  Über einhundert Ludditen wurden gehängt oder nach Australien transportiert. Mit diesen Maßnahmen wurde der Frieden wiederhergestellt. Die Maschinen siegten: heute sind die Ludditen eine Fußnote in der Geschichte der Industriellen Revolution.

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