Louis Adamic: Workers Against Machines (excerpt from ‘Dynamite!’) (1931)

In a shoe factory in Milwaukee a man was pointed out to me who was known among some of his fellow workers to be a saboteur. An eccentric-looking person, he hated the machines and had all sorts of devices to damage them. He was an indefinite sort of radical, and he considered the machines a great curse to humanity. I have encountered this hate for machines elsewhere. People vent it in various forms of sabotage, which has no connection with I.W.W.-ism or Communism, but is purely a matter of personal resentment and vindictiveness. I have seen people who – sometimes drunk, sometimes sober – cursed the machine and, passing by, shook their fists at the mills, declaring they were not their slaves. Every big industrial town seems to have ‘nuts’ who believe that machines are alive and hold them – the workers – in their power.

Shortly after the war I read – I forget where – about an American soldier – “a nut” – who believed that machines were killing people in revenge for the work that they were made to do. “Stop the machines,” he would cry, lying wounded in a hospital, “and there’ll be no more war. Machines make war – machines kill us!”


from Louis Adamic, Dynamite! The Story of Class Violence in America (Oakland & Edinburgh: AK Press, 1931/2008), p 279.

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