Kirkpatrick Sale (born June 27, 1937) is an independent scholar and author who has written prolifically about political decentralism, environmentalism, luddism and technology. He has been described as having a “philosophy unified by decentralism” and as being “a leader of the Neo-Luddites,” an “anti-globalization leftist,” and “the theoretician for a new secessionist movement.”
Sale “has written extensively and skeptically about technology,” and has said he is “a great admirer” of anarchoprimitivist John Zerzan. He has described personal computers as “the devil’s work” and in the past opened personal appearances by smashing one. During promotion of his 1995 book Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution, Sale debated with Newsweek Magazine senior editor and technology columnist Steven Levy “about the relative merits of the communications age”.
Sale has said that he does not “care much for popular music outside some of the Tin Pan Alley era tunes of the early 20th century.” For example, “he once heard a ‘racket’ in a nightclub during his left activist days in the 1960s from some ‘young man’ everyone told him was a ‘big deal.’ That ‘young man’ turned out to be Bob Dylan.” Kirk recalls that “he’d never heard anything so awful in his life.”
Sale has been described as “one of the intellectual godfathers of the secessionist movement.” He argues that the major theme of contemporary history, from the dissolution of the Soviet Union to the expansion of United Nations membership from 51 in 1945 to 193 nations today, is the breakup of great empires. Some on both left and right call for smaller, less powerful government.
In 2004, Sale and members of the Second Vermont Republic formed the Middlebury Institute which is dedicated to the study of separatism, secession, and self-determination. Sale is director of the institute. In 2006, Middlebury sponsored the First North American Secessionist Convention, which attracted 40 participants from 16 secessionist organizations and was described as the first gathering of secessionists since the American Civil War. Delegates issued a statement of principles of secession which they presented as the Burlington Declaration.
Sale wrote the foreword to Thomas Naylor’s 2008 book Secession: How Vermont and all the Other States Can Save Themselves from the Empire. Sale, Thomas Naylor and four others issued “The Montpelier Manifesto” in September, 2012.