The New Cottage Industry – And A Better Quality Of Life

Luddites smashing a factory loomI often wonder what the quality of life would be like if the Luddites hadn’t failed in their attempt to humanise progress. But unfortunately they couldn’t win. For starters they weren’t an actual organised entity, just a collection of individuals who stood to loose most from, what was later termed, the Industrial Revolution. They were up against those with the capital, the British government, (predominately the same people), the British Army and the Police Force. Even so it took hastily drafted draconian laws, quite a few hangings and a lot of violence to quell them.commuters

We are living with their defeat today. It’s why we travel in peak hour droves to a place of work where we exchange large slabs of our lives for money.

Before the industrial revolution there was an organic economy based on land, labour and local exchange.

Weaver at his loom (re-enactment)The weavers of the north of England were largely one-person home businesses. Apart from producing woven goods, often with the involvement of his family, the weaver also had a small self-sufficient family vegetable garden.

Because of the quality and the demand for his manufactured goods, he was always assured that everything he produced would be sold at a constant price. He and his family had abundance, stability and unrestrained social interaction.

Then along came more advanced technology which allowed the manufacture of goods, although inferior in quality, independent of nature, of geography and season and weather, or sun or wind or water or human and animal power. It produced an economy based upon fuel, factory and foreign trade. Humans became a minor consideration in the manufacture of goods and were now serving the machine.
It was this uncontrolled empowerment of the machine in human society that the Luddites fought against.

The people who formed the Luddite movement were mainly weavers or similar craftsmen. They had the most to loose. They fought for and lost their idyllic cottage industry lifestyle of stability and self-reliance. The very quality of life that a lot of us yearn for today.A factory
The combined power of weaving machines, the steam engine, the laws of enclosure that enabled industrialists to fence off farming land and build factories, put an end to the weavers way of life. Whereas before the factories, agreed customary prices and therefore income were stable, the new technology brought with it a free market economy, which drove prices and wages down along with the quality of the product.

Life for the displaced farmers and weavers forced into the urban factories had become grim. Working for long hours in dangerous conditions with no days off for very low pay, men, women and children spent their lives either working or sleeping. Several families would have to share one house to save on rent. Humans had become a disposable adjunct to the machine. This is what the Luddites and those before them were against.

History is written by the victors, who were obviously not the Luddites, which is how the word has come to be used to mean a stupid person who doesn’t understand and is opposed to advances in technology. They were in fact very perceptive. They could see what was going to happen to humanity.
And they were right. Despite their valiant opposition we now have a collective mindset that says we must have a JOB and go to WORK for some one else.

It is now taken for granted that production and technological progress is more important than being human.
There was a brief time, with the advent of computers, that we all entertained the idea that computers would handle the more mundane tasks of modern life such that the working week would be reduced to three or four days, maybe less. It’s what the Luddites would have supported. Didn’t happen. The increased capacity that computers gave us was simply used to produce more, not improve humanity. The amount of time many office workers spend away from home at a JOB has actually increased.

Interestingly a totally unplanned result of computer technology has given us all a chance to recreate the weaver’s lifestyle.

I’m referring to the internet.

There Cottage industry at workare those that have replaced the loom with the computer and yarn with broadband. They have offices in their homes where they can interact with their families, live in a country environment where they can grow vegetables and keep chickens should they choose. As for products, they range from selling information to buying and selling on e-bay, trading in stocks and shares to advertising.
Thanks to appropriate technology, we have the opportunity to conduct business whilst packing the kids off to school, planting the spinach, feeding the chickens and maybe an afternoon delight between Google-ads!
Used this way the computer can give us more free time and at last live up to it’s promise.

It’s not much, but I know that the mythical Ned Ludd would approve.

One of the key components of the pre-industrial revolution cottage industry was the merchant. He was the entrepreneur. He would travel from artisan to artisan supplying raw materials and collecting the finished produce that he would then on sell.

Today, using the same model, the weaver would also become the entrepreneur. He or she would buy raw materials over the internet and sell the finished article the same way. No need to travel town to town. The weaver and family could live anywhere they like as long as they have access to the ‘net. This principle can be extended to a whole range of services and industries.

Of course, the new entrepreneur needs to be able to access the billions of potential customers that are waiting all around the world. This requires an ability to attract people (traffic) to your website. Two of the best ways to do this that I know of can be accessed through the two ads in the top left hand corner oFamily chickenf this page. Check them out.

So, and ironically through the use of modern technology, the Luddites dream of sustainable cottage industries is re-born.

You’ll have to excuse me now, I’ve just got to go and see what arrived in the bank account today and collect some eggs. Might dig some potatoes as well. Where’s that garden fork?

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One Response to “The New Cottage Industry – And A Better Quality Of Life”
  1. Bertram Cimini says:

    cottage industries are really needed for a very bad economy since they help boost the local economy.*

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