Radical Technology

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In 1974 it was decided to create a book that would encapsulate the philosophy of Undercurrents, and what emerged (by 1976) was Radical Technology.

Book: "Radical Technology - Food and Shelter, Tools and Materials, Energy and Communications, Autonomy and Community" (1976). Edited by Godfrey Boyle and Peter Harper, and the editors of Undercurrents.


Radical Technology is a large-format, extensively illustrated collection of original articles concerning the reorganisatipn of technology along more humane, rational and ecologically sound lines. The many facets of such a reorganisation are reflected in the wide variety of contributions to the book. They cover both the hardware - the machines and technical methods themselves - and the 'software' - the social and political structures, the way people relate to each other and to their environment, and how they feel about it all.

The articles in the book range from detailed 'recipes' through general accounts of alternative technical methods, to critiques of current practices, and general proposals for reorganisations. Each author has been encouraged to follow her or his own personal approach, sometimes descriptive, sometimes analytic, sometimes technical, sometimes political. The contributors are all authorities in their fields.

The book is divided into seven sections (see below): Food, Energy, Shelter, Autonomy, Materials, Communication, Other Perspectives. Over forty separate articles include items on fish culture, small-scale water supply, biological energy sources, a definitive zoology of the windmill, selfhelp housing, building with subsoil, making car-type shoes, the economics of autonomous houses, what to look for in scrap yards, alternative radio networks, utopian communities, and technology in China. Between the main sections are interviews with prominent practitioners and theorists of Radical Technology, including John Todd of the New Alchemy Institute; Robert Jungk, author of Humanity 2000; the Street Farmers, a group of anarchist architects; Peter van Dresser, and Sietz Leefland, editor of Small Earth, the Dutch journal of alternative technology.

Also included between the main sections of the book is a series of visionary drawings by the gifted illustrator Clifford Harper, evoking the spirit and practice of Radical Technology: How it could be. These drawings, or 'visions' include a communalised urban garden layout; a household basement workshop; a community workshop; a community media centre; a collectivised terrace of urban houses; and an autonomous rural housing estate.

The book ends with a comprehensive directory of the literature and active organisations in Radical Technology. This notes inevitable gaps in the book's coverage, points the reader to where more information can be found, and provides also an overall picture of a growing movement.

Table of Contents


Agribusiness / Charlie Clutterbuck --
Animal farm / John Seymour --
Compost culture / Lawrence D. Hills --
Biodynamic agriculture / H.H. Koepf and John Davy --
Food glorious food / John Shore --
A question of balance / Monica Hill --
Cut out the tripe / Tony Joyce --
After the goldfish / John Wood --
The answer lies in solution / J. Sholto Douglas --
Great pigs from little acorns grow / John Wood --
Across the hungry gap / John Seymour --
Each piece of land to each piece of sky / George Woolston --
Vision I : Collectivised garden / Clifford Harper --
Interview : John Todd / Patrick Rivers --


Plant your own power / Robert Vale --
Insulation / Brenda Vale --
Sunshine superpower / Robert Vale --
Natural, endless free / Derek Taylor --
Essentially co-operative energy / George Woolston --
Cast iron power / Kit Pedler --
Vision 2 : Basement workshop / Clifford Harper --
Interview : Sietz Leeflang / Godfrey Boyle --


Lightweight / temporary / low-cost / quick / mobile / Stefan Szczelcun --
Folk building / Brenda Vale --
The ground over our heads / Colin Taylor --
Self help housing / Tom Wooley --
Man maketh the clothes / Chris Ryan --
Shoes / Nick Mellor --
Interview : Peter Van Dresser / Patrick Rivers --
Vision 3 : Autonomous village / Clifford Harper --


Limits of material autonomy ; Means of autonomy ; Variations on autonomy ; Family automony : Economics of autonomy : Collective autonomy ; Practical fantasies ; Conclusions / Peter Harper --
Vision 4 : Autonomous terrace / Clifford Harper --
Interview : Street farmers / Godfrey Boyle --


Rolling your own / Derek Burns --
Working the plank / Rob and Al Hitchings --
Skeptical chymist / Alan Dalton --
Any old iron / Robert and Al Hitchings --
De re metallica / Alan Stewart --
Vision 5 : Community workshop / Clifford Harper --
Interview : Robert Jungk / Tony Durham --


Hold the front page / Jonathan Zeitlyn --
Unfair exchange / Ian Morton --
R.T. Craft / Richard Elen, Cop McDonald --
Two-way mirror / Tom Picton --
There's no transport like no transport / Patrick Rivers --
Vision 6 : Community media centre / Clifford Harper --

Other perspectives

The moon in the mind / Lyn Gambles --
Inner technologies / Peter Russell --
It's been said before and where did that get us / Jos Kingston --
Escape route for the poor / Jimoh Omo-Fadakah --
Homespun philosophy / Satish Kumar --
Popular power 1970-73 / Josefina Mena --
Think big, think little / Tony Durham --
Bibliography and directory / Peter Harper.


Word Cloud for this book (from Google Books).