The resurgence of luddism is something that, while seemingly innocent, is frankly quite troubling. Neo-luddites take many forms these days — from the buy local crowd, the organic obsessed, make-work Keynesians to actual, straight up luddites. (I guess make-work Keynesians are sort of the same thing…)
As I’ve previously criticized the cult-like behavior of some buy local and organic folks, I’ll issue the standard mea culpa: Buying local or eating organic foods is just peachy in my book. Go for it. Go hog wild, but please don’t proselytize your lifestyle choices with clapatrap.
Go to the farmer’s market and buy “local” food from two states away. I’ll get food from Walmart that is even more local, and because they have economies of scale, it’ll be better for the planet than the F-250 that drove 500 miles with your kale (now with a free side of sanctimonious bullet points for lecturing!).
What bothers me about the neo-luddite cultists, aside from their lecturing, is that they don’t just lecture you about your choices, they often want policies to favor their choices.
Here’s a brief hypothetical look into what America would be like if some of these yahoos got cart blanche.
Garlic. Grown pretty much everywhere but Alaska. The U.S. ranks eighth in the world in garlic production.
Agriculture policies are changed, and no longer can you get garlic from Mega-Garlic, LLC. Your garlic now has to be locally grown, organic, and machine free.
This is what that would look like:
These are women peeling garlic in North Korea.
Throughout the rest of world, we have machines that do this. They’re pretty neat actually. They reduce labor costs and increase efficiency.
Even though I think that buying local for local’s sake is dumb, I realize that most people who love buying locally or people who love organic food (as opposed to that inorganic stuff we all normally eat) don’t espouse making their lifestyle choices mandatory for the rest of us. My example, North Korea, is a pretty extreme example. However, some people do think like that.
Many others propose watered down versions of this extreme, which is still pretty bad.