2012 is the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprisings in England. Since the 1950s, when technocrats decided to use the word to mean someone opposed to technology and progress, it has been used to silence those who would raise concerns about technology. However, the Luddites never opposed machinery as such; instead they vowed to put down all machinery ‘hurtful to Commonality’, ie to the common good. The Luddites are important because they represent a rare example of resistance to both key aspects of industrial capitalism, economic exploitation and technocratic power. Luddism is not a form of primitivism but rather a sceptical, critical approach that steers a middle path between primitivism and technocratic optimism. Understanding what Luddism is really about can bring a new and deeper perspective to the challenges raised by reproductive and genetic technologies, which David King explored in this brief talk.