Luddites is a name frequently given to English workers who staged a series of uprisings between 1811 and 1816. These struggles began in Nottinghamshire, where groups of textile workers began to destroy knitting machines. They spread later to Lancashire, Cheshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. Workers began to wreck cotton power looms and shearing machines. They had no coherent plan, no general aims and no political orientation.
This movement was of a thoroughly spontaneous character and was an expression of frustration. It was not ignorance as such which led to these wrecking and sabotage tactics. What it demonstrated was the organizational immaturity of the workers at that time, but also the character the class struggle can assume in the absence of a trade union that can respond to the needs and aspirations of the workers.
Marx said about the Luddites: "It took both time and experience before the workpeople learnt to distinguish between machinery and its employment by capital, and to direct their attacks, not against the material instruments of production, but against the mode in which they are used."
It is very interesting that this form of struggle should be cropping up again today, and in a country which is supposed to be in the advance guard of the technological revolution, with all its highly touted "benefits" for the workers.