Breaking the Frame Gathering

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Date(s) - 02/05/2014 - 05/05/2014
7:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Unstone Grange


Our system of industrial capitalism is in both economic and environmental crisis.

Part of the cause of these crises is the technologies that we use – although they do of course bring benefits, technologies are largely designed and controlled by corporate, military and technocratic elites to serve their interests and exert their power. So, in order to really face up to those crises we need a new politics of technology, a politics that goes beyond the myths that technology is just a neutral tool, or that technological advances necessarily bring progress.

We want to overcome the fragmented single-issue, reactive approach that dominates the way we deal with technology. Technology is a major force shaping the whole development of our society, including the issues you work on, yet we never have a debate about it until it’s nearly too late, e.g. when Monsanto starts putting GM soya in our food. We think it’s time for a much more systematic and joined-up approach to technology that overcomes the democratic deficit in this area. We need to develop a new approach, based on bringing together the insights of different campaigns and movements, sharing skills, and learning from each other.

The need for a systematic approach to technology is more urgent than ever as we face environmental crisis caused by 200 years of industrial capitalism. Moreover, a range of new technologies looks set to make radical changes to our economy and society.  Developments in artificial intelligence/robotics, combined with nanotechnology, genomics/synthetic biology and neurosciences are posing what are now being described, even amongst technocratic elites, as ‘existential’ threats to society and the biosphere over the coming decades.  Here is a brief summary of the Ideas behind the gathering. Watch this space for more on the politics of technology.

The Breaking the Frame gathering is a step towards creating the new politics of technology. We will be bringing together campaigns on the technology politics of food, energy/climate/ environment, work/economics/austerity, the military, the internet, surveillance health and gender, as well as trade unionists, radical scientists, artists and developers of alternative technologies. The aim is to learn from each other and to build a new network, to strengthen campaigns and make issues about technology more central in radical movements. Amongst the principles of a new critical discourse on technology are:

  • Opposition to technologies that are ‘hurtful to Commonality’ (i.e. to the common good, including the environment) and to ‘technofixes’ for social problems
  • Support for technologies that help to satisfy real human needs and empower the powerless e.g. some renewable energy technologies
  • Technology should be developed under democratic control, rather than under the control of private interests and the military

Some of the issues we’ll discuss include:

  • What does a critical politics of technology mean in the 21st century: democratic control or ‘low technology’?
  • History of industrial society and environmental crisis; challenging the concept of progress through technology
  • Experiences in different campaigns and struggles
  • Alternative visions of social and technological development, and the transition to a sustainable and socially just society.

Confirmed speakers include Simon Fairlie (editor of The Land magazine), Jerry Mander (International Forum on Globalisation), Hilary Wainwright (editor, Red Pepper), Theo Simon (Stop Hinkley), Danny Chivers (No Dash for Gas).

There will be demonstrations and workshops on craft-based production, poetry, music, walking etc.

If you are interested in the gathering please email us at There will shortly be an online booking system for the gathering.

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