This article compares industrial machine breaking and computer hacking by focusing on the English Luddites and the contemporary hacker network Anonymous. In spite of their apparent differences, the two movements share at least three remarkable features. First, both the Luddites and Anonymous target machines of a specific kind — labor-saving machines in the case of the Luddites, machines that restrict access to information and information technology in the case of Anonymous. Second, both Anonymous and Ned Ludd are collective pseudonyms, or “multiple-use names,” whose wild circulation in the public domain brings previously unrelated struggles within a common discursive space. Third, industrial machine breaking and computer hacking are comparable in that they both reduce the productivity of labor and capital. The article concludes by noting that a fundamental operational difference between industrial machines and cybernetic machines sets in motion processes of subjectivation and class composition that are not reducible to one another.

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