Title: The Philosophy of Ted Kaczynski
Subtitle: Why the Unabomber Was Right about Modern Technology
Author: Chad A. Haag
Date: 2019
Source: Amazon

    Front Matter

      Title Page



    1. The Revolution against Technology: The Quest for the Objective Factor

      Blowing the Competition Away?

      You Say You Want a Revolution?

      The Psychological Time-Bomb

      Leftism: Any Culture You Like (As Long as It’s Mine)

      Beyond Good and Evil

      The Objective Factor

      The Search for Clarity

      Truth and Presence

      The Essence of Technology

      The Natural Mode and the Technical Mode

      The Freud Delusion

      Freedom or Surrogate Activity?

        Table 1

    2. The End of Subjectivity: Freedom and Interpretation

      Sometimes Technology is just Technology

      Hermeneutical Death

      Civilization’s Hostage Situation

      Politics and Existentialism

      Freedom Club Anarchist Terror Group?

      Revolution and Moral Inhibitions

        Table 2

    3. Essence and Rationalism: Leftists and Linguistification

      Social Justice Madness

      The Epistemology of Ted Kaczynski

      Postmodernist Escapism

      The Typology of Leftism

      The Return of Rationalist Metaphysics?

      Kaczynski’s Magnum Opus

      Gambling on Intuition: Tampering with Complex Systems

      Is There Anybody Out There?

      The Vanishing Mediator?

    Chapter Four: Pacifism or Pathology? Violence and Ethics

      Playing in Traffic

      Violence and Religion

      Dark Ages

      Fascism and Time Travel Fantasies

      It’s Not Violence When the System Does It?

    Back Cover

Front Matter

Title Page

The Philosophy of Ted Kaczynski:
Why the Unabomber Was Right about Modern Technology

Chad A. Haag
Uchakkada, India


Dedicated to Freedom Club


“If our condition were truly happy, we would not have to divert ourselves from thinking about it.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées

“In today’s world a prerequisite for revolution most likely will be a situation . . . involving widespread anger, desperation, and hopelessness. Revolutionaries need to be capable of making use of such a situation.” — Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How

“Technique is essentially independent of the human being, who finds himself naked and disarmed before it. Modern man divines that there is only one reasonable way out: to submit and take what profit he can from what technique otherwise so richly bestows on him. If he is of a mind to oppose it, he finds himself really alone.” — Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society

“It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences.” — Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future

1. The Revolution against Technology: The Quest for the Objective Factor

Blowing the Competition Away?

Theodore John Kaczynski, popularly known as the Unabomber, is the single most underappreciated thinker of our era. Yet his neglect by the “professional intellectuals” of the academic industry and the state-controlled media has not stemmed from sheer ignorance of his existence, as though he were some obscure writer whose name was known only to a small handful of eccentric followers scattered in random locations across the globe. Rather, Kaczynski’s work is ignored by the official gatekeepers of knowledge despite the fact that the “Unabomber” has had nearly universal name recognition for decades, if only through the biased lens of the media’s portrayal of him as nothing more than “a domestic terrorist.” Worse still, although popular media productions on him are relatively abundant, they have almost exclusively amounted to theatrical reconstructions of the 17 year-long FBI manhunt or pseudo-biographical accounts of his “battle with untreated mental illness.” In either case, the very name “Ted Kaczynski” is trivialized, either into narratological material for an hour-long whodunit show to kill time on a lazy Sunday evening or into advertising material for a thinly-veiled infomercial for the pharmaceutical industry. What the spectator lying on the couch in a half-awake state is certain not to encounter in any of these media circus acts is his deadly-serious warnings about doing precisely that activity: an artificially-intelligent machine running a pre-recorded video distorting information on his biography and blocking out any mention of his theories about the danger of artificially-intelligent machines, especially in order to shamelessly peddle the very same toxic pharmaceutical drugs which he warned against in his writings, is irony itself, embodied in the confines of objectivity. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has paradoxically been the most overexposed thinker at the level of crass media attention and yet the most underexposed thinker in terms of actually doing justice to the substance of his philosophical ideas.

But what is this elusive “Philosophy of Ted Kaczynski” which remains all the more invisible to the general public despite the fact that most people have some sense, however vague, that the Unabomber opposed Modern Technology and tried to stop it from gaining even more control over our lives? To the naïve viewer who assumes his goal was simply to abruptly stop technological progress, he would seem to have been a total failure, even if one did not factor in his multiple life sentences in prison. After all, Kaczynski wrote his Unabomber Manifesto Industrial Society and Its Future during the 1990s on a typewriter from a simple cabin he built with his own manual labour in the remote forests of Montana many years earlier; although he lamented the nearly-complete domination which Modern Technology had gained over humans in the Manifesto, he wrote in an era which might even seem relatively non-technologized compared to the present year of 2019. In the Manifesto, for example, electronic entertainment largely meant television and radio, media which seem quaint and innocuous compared to the nonstop flood of YouTube videos which are instantly available on a person’s smartphone even when he or she is away from home, not to mention the mind-numbing ritual of wasting away countless hours of each day scrolling down a social media newsfeed populated by selfies, memes, and clickbait “news” article headlines. Kaczynski wrote in an era in which the internet, let alone smartphones with constant access to it, was a marginal service with relatively little influence over daily life. Today smartphones are a ubiquitous presence even among the homeless in the West and among slum-dwellers in the so-called “Third World.” To the naïve viewer, Kaczynski would appear to be a madman whose few violent outbursts proved utterly incapable of stopping the inevitable forward thrust of “progress.” Worse still, the proliferation of gadgets among slum dwellers, rural villagers, and the homeless might seem to be a democratization of Modern Technology’s benefits among those previously excluded from its influence; Kaczynski’s attempts to halt this movement would therefore seem to be an affront against the global poor to whom the Technology Industry sought to beneficently extend their services in a grandiose politically correct gesture. Under this view, Kaczynski’s theories would appear to be both disproven on empirical grounds and untenable on ethical grounds.

Although these thought-stoppers will pass for “serious thinking” even among the tiny handful of people bold enough to venture into the supremely forbidden territory of discussing the Philosophy of the Unabomber, such arguments depend upon leaving a fundamental ambiguity unresolved: what, exactly, is Modern Technology for Kaczynski? Without a clear definition of what he understood Modern Technology to be, it will be impossible to honestly interpret why he not only rejected using it in his own personal life but was allegedly willing to take violent action to prevent it from developing further for the rest of the human population as well. Without a proper understanding of this term, it will be impossible to understand how his goal was not to abruptly halt technological innovation so much as it was to build a revolutionary movement over a series of decades around a clear ideology rejecting Modern Technology and an appropriate strategy to transform society to a post-technological state. This is one question which the media has never asked. It is unclear whether this was due to wilful deceptiveness or gross incompetence, or perhaps some mixture of both, but the fact remains that the media’s discussion of the infamous Unabomber is a priori ruled out as misleading, and ultimately irrelevant, due to their refusal to acknowledge this most central question of his philosophy.

Arguably, this neglect has stemmed from a genuine lack of interest in the Modern Technology aspect of Kaczynski’s story. After all, the entrenched upper middle class aristocracy who hold positions as white-collar chair-warmers in the mainstream media so thoroughly take Modern Technology for granted that they would consider even raising a question about this energy-wasting, ecologically-unsustainable historical anomaly to be a symptom of an untreated mental illness. They certainly would never lower themselves to the stance of dignifying such an explosive outburst of “madness” by recognizing any genuine question there which merits a serious answer.

It is curious, for example, that arguably the single most widely-viewed media portrayal of Kaczynski makes no mention whatsoever of Modern Technology. Kaczynski is of course mentioned in the film Good Will Hunting during a conversation over the likely future of Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT who was accidentally revealed to be a mathematical genius. Despite the fact that Gerry, a high-ranking MIT professor, had agreed to mentor him, Will still refuses to take the “ultimate opportunity” that is handed to him and instead prefers to get drunk at local working class bars with his friends who lack his intellectual giftedness and do little to challenge him to meet his potential. Near the end of the film, Gerry speculates how history might have been different if Einstein had similarly consigned himself to a lazy life of bar-hopping:

Can you imagine if Einstein would have given that up just so he could get drunk with his buddies in Vienna? We all would have lost something.[1]

Sean, the counsellor who was assigned to rehabilitate Will after he was arrested, adopts a far more alarmist stance towards Will’s possibilities. Instead, he attempts to wake Gerry up to see the frightening likelihood that Will might slip through the cracks of society and “use his powers for evil rather than good”:

Hey Gerry, in the 1960s there was a young man who had just graduated from the University of Michigan who was doing brilliant work in mathematics, specifically bounded harmonic functions. Then he went to Berkeley, where he was an assistant professor and showed amazing potential. Then he moved to Montana and blew the competition away.

It is quite ironic that even the quintessential Hollywood film about a “genius” still embodies a level of discourse so embarrassingly simplistic and reductive. Above all, the film implies that Will has two choices in life. On the one hand, he could accept the professor’s help and launch himself onto a promising career path; on the other hand, he could flee into the woods, brood over his resentment, and then finally lose his sanity and explode into a series of criminal acts that end in a life-sentence in prison. The film need not state all of this explicitly, for simply uttering the name “Ted Kaczynski” condenses this sensationalist caricature into a space small enough to fit into a Hollywood sound-bite.

What the film does not explicitly mention is that even if he accepted the “right path,” it would largely just amount to using his quantitative skills to facilitate the technical conditions for some industrial application which is overwhelmingly likely to be questionable on ethical grounds and devastating on ecological grounds. This was a moral dilemma with which Ted Kaczynski was also faced. In a 2003 letter written from prison, he noted that one reason he specialized in Pure Mathematics was that Applied Mathematics would have simply been a euphemism for directly contributing to the development of the technological industrial system which drove the mass extinction, environmental destruction, carcinogenic exposure, and psychological calamities so casually shrugged off as “acceptable collateral damage” by the morally-bankrupt corporate professionals who act as though getting to own a suburban McMansion and a few SUVs is adequate personal benefit to justify the damage they inflict upon the Earth and upon entire species of living organisms, even including their own fellow Homo sapiens. In the letter, Kaczynski states:

If I had worked on applied mathematics I would have contributed to the development of the technological system that I hated, so I worked only on pure mathematics. But pure mathematics was only a game. I did not understand then, and I still do not understand, why mathematicians are content to fritter away their whole lives in a mere game. I myself was completely dissatisfied with such a life.[2]

The film, of course, simply takes it for granted that a life of academic scribbling is guaranteed to satisfy an already-troubled young man. It is curious, though, that Kaczynski dismisses even the prestigious discipline of Pure Mathematics as a “mere game,” something of a convoluted intellectual labyrinth which paradoxically is revealed to be less and less real the deeper one descends into the darkness of its purely abstract puzzles.

On the other hand, one should be deeply disturbed by the ease with which the film implies that if the hypothetical Will Hunting accepted a high-paying position crunching the numbers to facilitate ethically questionable operations for the military industrial complex, then this would somehow be an example of him “using his powers for good” and “not wasting his talent.” One should bear in mind that technologies for which an element of unpredictability is hardwired into their nature will inevitably end up being abused in situations which would have before seemed acceptably unlikely or perhaps even impossible, though this open secret is rarely sufficient to stand in the way of raw financial self-interest for those who stand to profit from the inevitable misuse of these unconscionably dangerous technologies.

Further, it is just as unproblematically assumed that selling his soul in exchange for an upper middle class salary would be guaranteed to indefinitely satisfy him on existential and spiritual grounds. This was a dilemma which Kaczynski himself mentioned Pure Mathematics, let alone some bastardized industrial project, would be a poor solution for. In reality, of course, doing so would only trap Will into a dreadfully-familiar cycle of mindless consumerism which inevitably generates boredom, emptiness, and depression. Even as one’s stockpile of tacky manufactured products grows like a cancerous tumour, encompassing all the space in one’s half-million-dollar cardboard McMansion before overflowing into several storage units (a curious anomaly of modernity in which one pays a monthly fee just to get all of the stupid junk one spent heaps of money on before out of one’s sight now), one’s remaining seconds of life will still tick away on a one-way clock that definitively will end in death even for the wealthiest of sell-outs, figures who will be just as incapable as the ancient pharaohs were of taking their mountains of plastic trash anywhere with them when they die.

Unfortunately, it is necessary to examine this film’s portrayal of Kaczynski nonetheless in order to expose the extent to which the media has completely misunderstood his biography, let alone his philosophy. According to the film, he (allegedly) mailed bombs to professors as a result of some personal jealousy he felt towards those who were advancing in an academic career at which he had apparently failed, yet this idea that he was solely motivated by some petty desire to “blow the competition away” (as Robin Williams’ character literally claims) is just patently false. The implication that he considered the people engaging in risky research to develop technologies which are dangerous precisely because they are unpredictable to be his “academic rivals” is flatly contradicted by the fact that Kaczynski himself has repeatedly noted that he only ever took his former job at Berkeley in order to save enough money to buy some land and move to the woods. The fact that he speaks about the “Holy Grail” of all academic appointments as though it were some transitory odd job like laying bricks at a construction site, a necessary evil to be tolerated for a few years just to save some cash for a more important goal, demonstrates how little he was seduced by the aura of legitimacy surrounding these institutions which have effectively become the Holy Sites of Modernity, sites before which even the wealthiest and most powerful figures in the world will still bow down in reverence when they arrive on pilgrimage tours to stand in the presence of the anointed Priesthood of Progress.

There is no shortage of evidence to support this claim. Kaczynski himself explicitly synopsizes his motivations for working as a professor in a 2003 letter written from prison to a figure known only as “M. K.”:

Because I found modern life absolutely unacceptable, I grew increasingly hopeless until, at the age of 24, I arrived at a kind of crisis: I felt so miserable that I didn’t care if I lived or died. But when I reached that point, a sudden change took place: I realized that if I didn’t care whether I lived or died, then I didn’t need to fear the consequences of anything I might do . . . I was free! That was the great turning point in my life because it was then that I acquired courage, which has remained with me ever since. It was at that time too that I became certain that I would soon go to live in the wild, no matter what the consequences. I spent two years teaching at the University of California in order to save some money, then I resigned my position and went to look for a place to live in the forest.[3]

An unpublished letter dated to October 14, 1999 demonstrates even more unequivocally how little Kaczynski was brainwashed by the aura of the Academic Temple. When asked what major he would choose if he could go back in time and attend college all over again, he simply responded that if he could do it all over again, he would not have attended college at all. Rather than waste time in formal education, he would just go straight to living in the mountains.[4] In other words, he would quite literally “throw away” his opportunity to attend the top university in the nation, Harvard.

Likewise, his own account of his experience as a professional academic is so remarkably different from the caricature so carelessly and irresponsibly peddled by the media that there is only one very obvious explanation for this glaring discrepancy: the media has demonstrated absolutely no interest whatsoever in actually listening to any of Kaczynski’s own words, even on a subject as personal as the autobiographical account of his life.

This is doubly ironic, since Kaczynski’s biography is arguably the only thing which the media has shown any interest in covering, albeit in a shamelessly dishonest manner. This bias is all too understandable, as the story of a child prodigy with a genius-level IQ who went over to the intellectual “Dark Side” (like some rationalistic equivalent of Anakin Skywalker) to become a “domestic terrorist” holed up in an isolated cabin in the barbaric Cimmerian frontiers of Montana after dropping out of a promising academic career launched from sites as prestigious as Harvard, Michigan, and Berkeley is so intrinsically fascinating that many a Hollywood screenwriter would steal it if it were not already so well known. Unfortunately, his biography has proven so captivating that it has led the media, as well as virtually the entire population, to completely ignore Kaczynski’s far more serious project: a philosophical critique of Modern Technology. One might even be led to assume that the media has spoken so little about the specific details of his critique of Modern Technology simply because there is little to no substance in his work, which the media routinely dismisses as so many paranoid and incoherent “ramblings.” One might also be mistaken to think that the media can safely ignore his writings due to a scarcity of quality materials, as the media will only occasionally mention the infamous Manifesto, and that is only because it was released in full by several newspapers before his arrest. However, Kaczynski has formally published hundreds of pages of material, including a book-length fragmentary magnum opus Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, and has written countless unpublished letters, essays, and even several allegorical narratives. It is no exaggeration to say that his writings are among the most significant to be produced so far in this century.

The author, therefore, will endure this forced silence regarding one of the greatest thinkers alive today no longer. We have an intellectual, not to mention an ethical, obligation to break the Orwellian self-censorship on free thought by situating Kaczynski’s writings into the context of a serious analysis that takes account of their origins, content, and future trajectory. The present text will rise to this challenge to be the first ever book-length response to the philosophy of Ted Kaczynski.

Before proceeding, it is important to emphasize that the present text is a philosophical text rather than a biographical one, as virtually every other book written on Ted Kaczynski has been. The two genres differ fundamentally. A biographical text deals with straightforward matters of fact which are not open to interpretation except in cases where conflicting accounts or incomplete data actively inhibit closure. For example, a date of birth, the university from which one graduated, and the city in which one attended high school are simple facts which are definitively either right or wrong. The biographer must merely compile these data and then present them accurately to the public, hopefully in a format which is narratologically interesting to read. Philosophical questions, however, require an entirely different methodology from biographical questions. Inquiries over the meaning of ambiguous terms such as essence, freedom, reason, morality, and power are impossible to treat as simple matters of empirical fact. Yet they are not fruitless to pursue; in fact, Kaczynski’s body of work provides a unique response to the challenge of addressing all of these terms, as well as many others. Because the present work will respond to his philosophical views more than his biographical data, the result will be another somewhat ambiguous work of philosophy in its own right. This is an inevitable feature of the recursive relation of philosophers to other philosophers. For example, Heidegger and Deleuze both wrote extensively on Nietzsche’s philosophy, yet the result was that each produced an original work of philosophy in the process rather than simply reduplicated a carbon copy of Nietzsche’s works. Even Nietzsche wrote a book about himself near the end of his life (Ecce Homo) which was quite different from both Heidegger’s and Deleuze’s treatments of him. The present work will also inevitably be a product of the author’s own idiosyncratic philosophical perspective, yet this is not at all to justify a careless disregard for Kaczynski’s own words in the name of “unbridled creative self-expression.” On the contrary, the present work has been written in accord with the author’s most sincere attempts to engage with Kaczynski’s vast body of writings in a respectful, objective, and serious manner.

You Say You Want a Revolution?

The most important thing to note about Ted Kaczynski’s understanding of Modern Technology is that he literally advocates a “revolution” against it, as demonstrated in the memorable opening to the Unabomber Manifesto, Industrial Society and its Future. One of the defining features that makes Kaczynski’s response to Modern Industrialism unique is that he warns that the revolution must occur as soon as possible. Likewise, he differs from both the standard Marxist path (waiting for a revolution to spontaneously emerge as the result of some self-moving dialectical development) and the standard Peak Oil path (accepting that decreased access to concentrated fossil fuel sources would automatically collapse the system through a lack of energy.) Instead, he emphasizes that the revolution must be pursued actively by a group of committed individuals who decidedly would not wait for the system to collapse itself through some impersonal historical agency that would magically step in at just the right moment. If nothing else, Kaczynski’s own biography demonstrates that he took this imperative to seize the moment for real practical action with deadly seriousness:

[T]he bigger the [technological industrial] system grows, the more disastrous the results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner rather than later. We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system . . . Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the economic and technological basis of the present society.[5]

In the Manifesto, Kaczynski clarifies his understanding of the revolution by insisting, as forcefully as possible on a typewriter with no italics feature, that it is “not to be a POLITICAL revolution.”[6] Overthrowing particular politicians, or even entire governments, would be useless to halt the destructive trajectory of Modern Technology if it left the underlying “technological basis of the present society” intact and merely transferred the same substructure over to a superficially different figurehead. Further, even if one did successfully isolate the technological base and identify it as the target of action rather than be distracted by irrelevant surface-level phenomena such as political party affiliation, Kaczynski emphasizes that there is only one satisfactory response which could be applied to it: destruction:

When the industrial society breaks down, its remnants will [have to] be smashed beyond repair, so that the system cannot be reconstituted. The factories should be destroyed, technical books burned, etc.[7]

His insistence that total destruction, rather than some trivial rearrangement, is the only suitable response to the technological system was stated as early as a pseudonymous letter mailed to the San Francisco Examiner in 1985, in which he explained the purpose and ideology of the mysterious Freedom Club which would later be referred to by the acronym “FC” in his Manifesto. Even at this early, pre-Manifesto phase, he noted that Freedom Club’s purpose was the complete destruction of modern industrialism, yet he provided a very clear justification for this drastic claim: technological industrialism is the single greatest threat to freedom.[8] Similarly, in his pseudonymous letter to Live Wild or Die, in which he identified himself as “FC Anarchist Terror Group,”[9] he pleaded for the Manifesto to be published by providing a concise description of its content, in which two out of the three points explicitly mention destruction. The first point simply emphasizes the Manifesto’s diagnosis for what is wrong with the industrial system: the ultimate origin for each problem is of course Modern Technology. Because this origin of the system’s many flaws is so deeply-entrenched and so pervasive, not to mention so explosively powerful and so prone to rapid growth, it logically follows in the second point that reformation is not a sensible option; therefore, the third point promises to include an appropriate strategy to carry out the destruction of the system.[10]

In case this is not crystal clear: the author of the present text does not advocate, condone, or support illegal activity of any kind. However, the author acknowledges that it would be intellectually dishonest to claim that Kaczynski wants to merely reform the system rather than to enact a totalizing transformation of it, just as it would be blatantly incorrect to argue Kaczynski does not believe that Modern Technology is the ultimate source of the problems in modernity and to instead focus on some unrelated issue like “Social Justice” or Capitalism which Kaczynski himself decidedly does not consider to be a satisfactory explanation for our society’s many flaws. The present text is not a manifesto of the author’s own beliefs: it is meant to be a serious philosophical analysis of the content of Kaczynski’s work which might provide a response to his theories which the academy and the media have thus far refused to acknowledge for purely-biased reasons. Likewise, it would simply be impossible to write the present text ethically without portraying these facts, however controversial they may be.

Kaczynski illustrates his belief that destruction is the only suitable response through an allegorical narrative in the manifesto, in which a strong neighbour progressively encroaches upon stealing every bit of his weak neighbour’s land by coming back each year to claim, once again, half of it. There is no question that eventually the weak neighbour will be left with nothing. In the story, “land” is obviously Kaczynski’s metaphor for human freedom but it is interesting to note that the “strong neighbour” is not the government, bankers, CEOs, or any other nefarious person: the strong neighbour is technology itself. Given a little more time, it will squeeze out the last remaining bit of human freedom. For this reason, he emphasizes that compromise with the stronger neighbour, even if he should fall ill one day and appear to be weakened to the point of harmlessness, is not a rational option:

The only sensible alternative is for the weaker man to kill the strong man while he has the chance. In the same way if the industrial system is sick we must destroy it. If we compromise with it and let it recover from its sickness, it will eventually wipe out all of our freedom.[11]

The Psychological Time-Bomb

The lengthy critiques of “Leftist Psychology” in the Manifesto extend this warning to the medium of concrete political strategy rather than allegorical abstraction. For Kaczynski the leftist is not a literal group of human individuals so much as it is a generic “psychological type” which can be recognised according to the morphological specificity of a few identifiable traits: these include “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.”[12]

Fortunately, Kaczynski explicitly listed out numerous examples of feelings of inferiority in the tenth paragraph of the Manifesto. These include feelings of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, depressive tendencies, and low self-esteem.[13] Yet all of these were in some sense just a manifestation of self-hatred: “deep inside [the leftist] feels like a loser.”[14] He notes that feelings of inferiority are discernible even in leftist acts which claim to be motivated solely by a selfless moralistic concern for the Other. It is curious, for example, that leftists insist on “fighting for peace” (a blatant example of Orwellian doublethink) rather than pursue peace by peaceful means:

Notice the masochistic tendency of leftist tactics. Leftists protest by lying down in front of vehicles, they intentionally provoke police or racists to abuse them, etc. These tactics may often be effective, but many leftists use them not as a means to an end but because they PREFER masochistic tactics. Self-hatred is a leftist trait.[15]

One might be reminded that during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, leftists claimed to be mortally offended when police escorted hecklers out of the auditoriums, yet they gleefully leapt at every opportunity to share these images in order to provide some evidence that Trump really was a “fascist” and that electing the corporatist, big bank-funded, military industrial complex candidate Hillary Clinton was “the only ethical option.”[16] Strangely, protests in which no one was hurt and no one was arrested disappointed the leftists, since their unspoken motivation for showing up that evening was that they desperately craved a violent viral photo-op to be spread on social media. It’s strange that a movement that claimed to be “fighting for peace” would be so disappointed to find a boring, peaceful evening, as though somebody had robbed them of what they really craved precisely by giving them what they openly pretended to want.

Oversocialization is defined as the tendency to do exactly what society demands, despite claims to radical opposition to the System. It is curious, for example, that the main centres for institutionalized leftist thought are not the blue collar factories, rural farms, or minimum wage jobs populated by the exploited proletariat. Rather, leftist thought is a staple of major universities and Silicon Valley corporations, institutions flooded with billions of dollars and unspeakable political power yet somehow claim to be rebels against the System. Worse still, pretending to have a uniquely moralistic desire for justice for whichever group’s oppression happens to be trending on the Social Justice Stock Market that day has devolved into a crass, self-interested means of seeking career advancement: being politically correct is literally one’s job in academia and Corporate America.

Feelings of inferiority and oversocialization would be problematic enough even in a pre-modern era, but in the context of a technological industrial system that deprives humans of freedom to previously unimaginable levels, the leftist becomes a psychological time bomb. Because the self-hating leftist willingly deprives himself or herself of freedom by over-assimilating himself or herself to the dominant ideology of the system, his or her frustrated desire for power explodes into a need to identify with a collective movement which embodies the agency which he or she has renounced at the individual level.

Kaczynski’s references to “freedom” do not amount to an unclarified mysticism or empty abstraction. He is perfectly specific that the kind of freedom which the leftist is denied is the freedom to go through the Power Process.[17] He defines the Power Process as “a need (probably based in Biology)” which decomposes to the following four components, three of which are essential: to establish a goal; to expend effort in working towards the goal; to attain the goal; and preferably, though optionally, to do so with an acceptable level of autonomy.[18] He is careful to emphasise that attaining the goal is not sufficient in itself to constitute a complete movement through the Power Process; one must expend effort, as this is one of the essential components.

This insight was arguably noticed centuries earlier by Blaise Pascal in his cryptic story of a pathological gambler who gets excited about a big tournament because he is enticed by the nominally large sum of money which will be awarded to the winner. Although he claims to be motivated solely by the financial desire to win the money, this claim can be proven to be dishonest in the following way: if someone were to just pay him the same amount of money to not gamble, he would strangely feel disappointed, like someone had cheated him of what he wanted precisely by guaranteeing that he would get it. Yet at the same time, playing for nothing would be just as pointless and would fail to elicit the emotional response of euphoria or purposefulness which he had really sought. Even though Pascal lacked the explicit terminology of a “Power Process,” he still noticed the fundamental dilemma posed by attempts to bypass one of its essential components in order to cheat the process of its proper form, such as providing a direct short-circuit to the prize money or stripping the process down to a senseless naked action with no goal. He concludes, at the end of this haunting fragment, that the man can only become sufficiently emotionally-involved in a project if he constructs something of a chimerical structure which allows him to project his “desire, anger, and fear” upon a thing which he had himself created, a paradox which he compares to “children [who] take fright at the face they have just scribbled”:

Anyone can spend a life free from boredom by gambling just a little every day. If every morning you give them the money they would otherwise win, on condition that they do not gamble, you make them unhappy. You will say perhaps that they are looking for entertainment, not the winnings. Make them therefore play for nothing; they will not become excited and will get bored. So it is not simply the entertainment they are looking for; tame uncommitted entertainment will bore them. They have to become excited and deceive themselves, imagining that they would be happy to win what they would not want to be given on condition that they did not gamble. They work this up to a frenzy, pouring into it their desire, anger, and fear of the thing they have created, like children who take fright at the face they have just scribbled.[19]

Interestingly, Kaczynski also relies upon a hypothetical story to demonstrate this paradox. A man who could instantly obtain anything he desired just by wishing for it might initially seem to be the ultimate fantasy of a life of maximized pleasure. In reality, it would preclude the very possibility of enjoyment:

Consider the hypothetical case of a man who can have anything he wants just by wishing for it. Such a man has power, but he will develop serious psychological problems. At first he will have fun, but by and by he will become acute and bored and demoralized. Eventually he may become clinically depressed. History shows that leisured aristocrats tend to become decadent. This is not true for fighting aristocracies that have to struggle to maintain their power. But leisured, secure aristocracies that have no need to exert themselves usually become bored, hedonistic, and demoralized, even though they have power. This shows that power is not enough. One must have goals toward which to exercise one’s power.[20]

This narratological twist, whereby “power [without the Power Process] is not enough,” was utilized even in a 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone. “A Nice Place to Visit” tells the story of a criminal who is gunned down by police while robbing a store. He is quite surprised to find that what awaits him after death is actually an eternity spent in his favourite place, a casino. Unlike ordinary casinos in which winning is quite difficult, he finds that in this one he wins every time. In addition, he finds himself surrounded by beautiful women; contrary to his past experiences dealing with highly-attractive women, these ones never say no. He quickly concludes that he has somehow ended up in heaven, despite a lifetime of misdeeds. Eventually, however, the guaranteed wins in both areas drive him to boredom, then frustration, and finally madness. He then desperately begs the head of the casino to let him lose some of the time, just in order to let him feel like he has something to work for; after all, if he had known Heaven would be this dull he never would have wished to go there. The head of the casino explodes in laughter and asks, “What on earth made you think you were in Heaven?” In Kaczynski’s terms, Hell is a place where the Power Process is impossible.

It is deeply troubling to consider how closely our own era resembles the Hell portrayed in this episode of The Twilight Zone. The citizens of our era have in a certain sense achieved the ultimate fantasy of previous generations, in that they are bombarded with countless material comforts and manufactured products which even emperors in the Ancient and Medieval eras could not have imagined.[21] Somehow, though, “living the dream” has morphed into being trapped in a nightmare, since we have found ourselves bound by the same trajectory in which boredom leads to frustration, and then finally to madness.

Like the criminal in the television show, we find ourselves deprived of the very possibility to fight for the same things which become a source of suffering when the System distributes them without any effort on our part. Even if we were to kindly renounce the System’s “aid” and try to obtain food through our own efforts, the health inspectors would immediately shut down the operation for violating a number of bogus “health codes” which are only meant to divert political power to a set of corporations that seek to control the entire world’s food supply in an Orwellian dystopia that is quickly becoming reality. It is bizarre that spraying crops with pesticides that sicken the consumer (the true cause of the mysterious, rising “gluten intolerance” phenomenon) or packaging hamburger patties with a layer of ammonia to kill the E Coli left in traces of cow manure that were simply too time-consuming to be cleaned off our food supply are allowed to pass the health codes, but collecting rain water on one’s own property or drinking raw milk from a goat are illegal. The result of this systematic impossibility of going through the Power Process is the universalized psychological suffering which has infected our era.

One of the more humorous symptoms of this madness is the fact that standing up against the nefarious “One Percent” has become a highly-fashionable social game amongst the American upper middle class; it has even achieved the laughable status of “radical political engagement.” One might recall Elizabeth Warren’s rise to political stardom within the Democrat Party largely stemmed from her “courageously” championing the cause of the “struggling middle class” who have endured the abuses of the One Percent for far too long. It is curious, though, that an Ivy League professor with a six figure salary and a prestigious job at the “top university” in the nation (Harvard) could somehow claim to embody the “marginalized perspective of a disenfranchised people.” Further, if one moves beyond the angry rhetoric to examine how exactly it is that the American salaried class claims to be “uniquely oppressed” among all peoples in the world and in history, it will be difficult to find any motives not reducible to sheer greed.

An even greater irony is that even within the One Percent itself, one can find the same pattern of self-pitying resentment. One of the silliest news stories to make the rounds in the mid-2000s consisted of interviewing millionaires in Silicon Valley who were seeking clinical treatment for depression because they were “forced to share the same neighbourhood with billionaires.” One would conclude after listening to their self-righteous pouting that such a grave injustice could only occur in a world that was deeply, irredeemably unfair, though one could reach the same conclusion about the world’s intrinsic unfairness from speaking to a four year old child whose neighbour has more toys.

The discontent and bitterness so palpably displayed by the salaried class in the United States is not completely without cause, however. It simply proves that having more material comforts than Ancient and Medieval Emperors will not be sufficient in itself, provided one has to sacrifice something far more important in return. They will remain perpetually dissatisfied because they have obtained these goods at the cost of their ability to go through the Power Process. Above all, they have traded in their freedom for a set of tacky manufactured goods which lose their marketing glow as soon as the car ride back from the mall is over and they are transformed into so much more junk to be pushed over to some heap of stuff in an already-cluttered house.

One might be tempted to claim that this dissatisfaction is an insurmountable constant in the human condition. However, in traditional hunter gatherer contexts, the subject really did have abundant opportunities to go through the Power Process, since all of one’s survival needs would be met by expending effort to accomplish tasks such as tracking animals, foraging for wild roots, locating suitable water sources, and maintaining safety from the many dangers in Wild Nature. In industrial modernity, however, all of these basic survival needs have been transferred over to the System. Access to food, potable water, shelter, and the products of industrial manufacturing are no longer to be obtained through exerting effort towards goals with a life or death level of seriousness: rather, each of these is forcibly controlled by the System and distributed solely according to one’s total submission to its rules. The Manifesto exposes the deeply-controversial fact that even holding down a “respectable” middle class job in Modernity does not require “hard work” in any serious physical or even intellectual sense, since, after all, at this point virtually all of the real work in society has been automated away by machines. Instead, holding down a job simply requires trading raw, unquestioning obedience in exchange for a lifetime of receiving the manufactured goods rationed out by the System to those who are sufficiently docile to pass as “normal, functional human beings,” a laughable euphemism for someone who has just given up the ability to function autonomously:

In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to satisfy one’s physical needs. It is enough to go through a training program to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on time and exert the very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence and, most of all, simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, society takes care of one from cradle to grave.[22]

Leftism: Any Culture You Like (As Long as It’s Mine)

Behind the façade of radical action against the status quo, no one had willingly given up more freedom to the System than the leftist. It is bizarre, for example, that the stereotypical oversocialized leftist professor will somehow think that receiving a PhD from an Ivy League institution and then lecturing for two hours per week at a six figure salary job at an R1 university is somehow the ultimate act of “revolutionary action” against the bloated industrial system upon which this figure is just a tiny financial parasite. Equally laughable is the idea that abusing their power as the gatekeepers at the threshold between high school and the corporate aristocracy in order to universally indoctrinate students into electing Democrat politicians is somehow a “courageous act of rebellion” against the political establishment with which the Democrat Party is synonymous.

The Manifesto emphasized that the leftists’ supposed rejection of the System amounts to a blatant example of Orwellian doublethink,[23] in that this simply amounts to finding ways to incorporate people even more deeply into the System. Leftist political activism in favour of minority groups, for example, is literally just a euphemism for attempts to find ways for more people to “rise up” to high-paying corporate, government, or academic careers within the System:

Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists push for affirmative action, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, for improved education in black schools and more money for such schools; the way of life of the black ‘underclass’ they regard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate the black man into the system, make him a business executive, a lawyer, a scientist just like upper middle-class white people.[24]

The leftist professor therefore prides himself or herself on having the “moral integrity” to take up the “White Man’s Burden” and bravely descend into the “Heart of Darkness” to force a universal re-standardization of cultural values, in which all people, without exception, are expected to adopt the ideology and social code of upper middle class corporate professionals. Somehow, though, he or she will claim that everyone submitted to this indoctrination will still “get to keep their culture,” but this largely just means that everyone will have their choice of overpriced imitations of “exotic ethnic products” available for purchase through the markets:

The leftist will reply that the last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of the white man; instead, they want to preserve African-American culture. But in what does this preservation of African-American culture consist? It can hardly be anything more than eating black-style food, listening to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going to a black-style church or mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial matters.[25]

The leftist obsession with race therefore serves a paradoxical role in the service of this technological destruction of cultures across the globe which they themselves perpetuate. Because skin colour is one of the only things which can’t be abandoned at the gate of entry into the massified bourgeoisie, the leftist academic can celebrate being tolerant of something which can’t be gotten rid of anyway, even after he or she has forced the Other to renounce everything which can be given up. He or she can certainly tolerate the skin colour of a new recruit into the corporate aristocracy, as well as accept this person’s patronized “humble background,” such as having parents who were poor farmers in rural Tamil Nadu or a father who was a traditional blacksmith in Afghanistan. What he or she cannot tolerate is the decision for that person to remain a farmer or blacksmith and to reject the inevitable forward march of social progress by clinging to “primitive, outdated” ways of life. Leftist “racial tolerance” is nothing more than the sheep’s clothing behind which cultural destruction has hidden itself. In fact, in an unpublished letter dated at October 12, 1998, Kaczynski warned that multiculturalists were not the moral relativists they claimed to be. To an extent which perhaps even they themselves do not realize, their work serves the moralistic goal of destroying the last remnants of Western Morality in order to replace it with a new morality better suited to the technical functioning of the System.[26]

One should be reminded that these leftist academics who literally make their living by bullying people into throwing away their cultures in exchange for a massified, artificial, homogeneous adoption of the cultural biases of upper middle class corporate Western professionals are the very same people who leap at every opportunity to publicly express nominal concern for allowing indigenous peoples to preserve their cultures “against the onslaught of global capitalism,” an irony which would be comical if it were not so troubling. The Standing Rock Virtual Protest in 2016 embodied this contradiction quite nicely: it is interesting that in our era, pretending to be someplace you are not by tagging yourself in a status update with a fake location in North Dakota has come to be seen as a selfless act of charity, one which just happens to also serve the self-interested goal of displaying one’s virtue and political leanings in a public forum to which future employers will have access. Of course, anyone who hopes to pursue an academic career these days must maintain a public profile as a “political activist,” though this largely just amounts to maintaining a steady stream of Facebook and Twitter postings in favour of electing Democrats. The status update “_____ _____ is in Standing Rock, ND” is appealing both for its public visibility on social media and for the ease with which it can be accomplished, since no more than 20 seconds of clicking buttons on a smartphone screen are required to accomplish this “hard intellectual work.” Worse still, this dependence upon giant social media companies to stage this faux-protest against the System misses the irony that social media is the System and the hours consumed in this posturing simply translate into more money and power for the companies themselves, not to mention more carbon dioxide pollution for the environment both claim to love so much.

However, even with so apparently “enviable” a life as the leftist tenured professor has been granted, the need for power would inevitably remain but it would resurface in an attachment to certain acceptable outlets. The System would tolerate these harmless activities as a means to allow people to go through the Power Process to meet contrived needs which pose no threat to its dominance. For example, rather than directly work towards obtaining food and shelter, one would occupy one’s time with innocuous pastimes like building model ships or cheering for a particular football team, despite the fact that one’s quality of life would not be improved at all even by seeing one’s favourite team win the top championship game. Kaczynski of course calls these surrogate activities.[27]

Ironically, leftist political activism is routinely praised by its adherents as the most serious of all activities (often under the posture of “saving the whole world by electing Democrats”), but Kaczynski revealed that it is just another surrogate activity no less trivial and no more challenging to the System’s own ideology than the numismatist’s act of collecting rare coins. There is one notable difference, however, between leftist political activism and other non-politicized surrogate activities. Due to its members’ frustrated need for power as oversocialized subjects with disavowed feelings of inferiority, the collective leftist movement onto which each member has deferred his or her agency is constantly driven to conquer more and more political territory. Somehow, though, no amount of political success ever allows its members to find a sensible means to satisfy the desire to go through the Power Process which, precisely as instantiations of the leftist psychological type, its members are incapable of pursuing as individuals.[28]

Kaczynski warned that if the leftist collective movement ever did manage to achieve the ultimate political conquest and take control of the whole system, trusting the leftists to destroy technology at that moment would be as irresponsible as expecting Smeagol to destroy the ring after finally taking possession of it. Gandalf’s warning to Boromir against playing games with repurposing the ring to “strictly ethical purposes” is worth quoting in full:

‘We cannot use the Ruling Ring. It is altogether evil. Its strength is too great for anyone to wield at will, save those who already have a great power of their own. But for them it holds an even deadlier peril. The very desire of it corrupts the heart.’[29]

Kaczynski’s warnings that the leftist psychological type is a priori incompatible with the destruction of Modern Technology should not be read as an example of partisan bias or conservative political ideology; after all, this is an ideology which Kaczynski also critiques in the Manifesto:

The conservatives are fools. They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.[30]

Above all, the key difference between a neo-conservative capitalist blindly supporting economic growth at any cost and a culture warrior leftist seeking to conquer progressively larger chunks of political territory in order to feel a vicarious sense of agency through its political parties’ victories can be summarized as follows: a movement that was driven to mass collectivization precisely as a result of feelings of powerlessness which resulted from over-identification with the ideology of the system would be logically ruled out from taking the plunge to destroy Modern Technology. This is because the kind of mass collectivization required by the psychological needs of the leftist is only possible with the aid of Modern Technology.

More precisely, the two goals of achieving a totalizing political control over the society and destroying Modern Technology are logically incompatible goals because totalizing control over a modern nation, let alone the whole world, would be impossible on logistical and physical grounds without Modern Technology. Kaczynski is perfectly clear on this point: “rapid, worldwide transportation and communication” are conditions for a system of any kind, regardless of political orientation, to achieve a global scope of control.[31]

Kaczynski warns in the later sections of the Manifesto that these would be strict systematic requirements not only for leftist projects that are overtly oriented towards the accumulation of power or the defeat of opposing political parties. What is all too easy to miss is that “rapid long-distance transportation and communication” are hard physical requirements even for projects that appear on the surface to be selfless acts of charity for the common good of humankind.[32] The agenda for “social justice” does not provide a counter-example to this principle, because large-scale humanitarian action is just another euphemism for utilizing the massive power of Modern Technology to cover the greatest possible physical sphere of influence:

Suppose for example that the revolutionaries took ‘social justice’ as a goal. Human nature being what it is, social justice would not come about spontaneously; it would have to be enforced. In order to enforce it the revolutionaries would have to retain central organization and control. For that they would need rapid long-distance transportation and communication and therefore all the technology needed to support the transportation and communication systems. To feed and clothe poor people they would have to use agricultural and manufacturing technology . . . So that the attempt to ensure social justice would force them to retain most parts of the technological system.[33]

However seemingly-benevolent the intentions of the users might be, rapid, worldwide transportation and communication are literally specific types of Modern Technology: in the absence of modern machines, the scope of any system will be limited to a far more modest geographical scope than the globe.

Beyond Good and Evil

Therefore, social criteria, such as psychological motivation, moral bankruptcy, or personal vice are merely secondary concerns if one is to honestly evaluate the leftist movement as a political system from a purely technical standpoint. No matter how much any system may want to expand beyond the modest range to which it would be restricted without Modern Technology, it would be impossible to overstep this boundary within the hard physical limits with which systems of earlier eras were familiar. The Roman Empire, for example, certainly was not limited to the area around the Mediterranean Sea simply due to a lack of desire to expand beyond the relatively narrow scope which an agrarian economy powered by manual labour and horses was physically able to sustain. The only difference between Ancient Rome and the global empires of our era is the addition of Modern Technology.

Likewise, Kaczynski’s observation that leftist psychology a priori rules out the destruction of Modern Technology should not be read as a biased empirical judgment against one particular political party. Rather, Kaczynski just identified the leftist collective movement as one instantiation of a general type of system: the self-propagating system. In the second chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, he defined a self-propagating system as “a system that tends to promote its own survival and propagation,” the success or failure of which would occur within the context of Natural Selection and competition with other self-propagating systems. Above all, one must resist the temptation to over-anthropomorphise one’s understanding of this phenomenon. This process of Natural Selection among self-propagating systems is far more general even than a social conflict between conscious agents; in fact, such a process could take place even in the absence of any living beings. Viruses, for example, are not living creatures, yet they are self-propagating systems which engage in competitive action bound by the laws of Natural Selection. Kaczynski himself notes that a far future world in which humans will have gone extinct and will have been fully replaced by robots would still be a world in which self-propagating systems would engage in competitive behaviour bound by the laws of Natural Selection.[34]

Likewise, self-propagating systems of all kinds can be explained by a set of fully-rationalized, abstract laws which transcend the empirical content of any one particular system which contingently instantiates them. Whether one is dealing with technology, human empires, buffalo herds, or viruses, these same laws will apply. For example, the first law states that self-propagating systems will emerge into existence and will inevitably launch into competitive behaviour in any environment which is sufficiently material-rich to support their existence.[35] The second law states that Natural Selection rewards the pursuit of short term competitive advantages, even in cases in which this results in long term disadvantages.[36] The third law states the easily-overlooked set theoretical fact that any given self-propagating system is a subset of a superset upon which it depends for survival. Damaging the health of one’s superset will result in one’s own destruction, a fact which we are recklessly putting to the test on a daily basis.[37] The other laws address the fact that self-propagating systems are intrinsically limited by their scope of transportation and communication; in our era, of course, Modern Technology has allowed this scope to be temporarily expanded to encompass the entire globe.[38] Systems which would ordinarily be greedy, competitive, and destructive are therefore supplemented by an historically anomalous element that allows them to accelerate and expand this already-damaging behaviour to previously-unimaginable levels. The final result cannot be anything except catastrophic.

Perhaps even Kaczynski himself would be surprised to find that his methodology in this chapter is quite similar to Spinoza’s Rationalist Metaphysics from the 17th century, and in a certain sense, the Euclidian Geometry which Spinoza used as his model. In The Elements, Euclid had established a small set of fundamental constructs and axioms, from which he proceeded to unearth ever more complicated results, the truth or validity of which could be indisputably and unambiguously traced back to these rock-solid foundations. A point, a line, and a surface are examples of fundamental constructs because, for example, one can derive a triangle or a square from the more fundamental notions of a point and a line.[39] Axioms are self-evident truths which need not be proved but which allow one to prove derivative truths. For example, the ability to draw a straight line from any one point to any other point is an axiomatic truth, just as the ability to describe a circle from a given centre point and a given radius is an axiomatic truth. One could therefore establish an entire body of truths which were arrived at by bulletproof, demonstrable logic rather than emotional intuition or unfounded mystical faith. One should bear this in mind when evaluating Kaczynski’s claims that the destruction of humankind will follow from the laws of self-propagating systems and the intrusive element of Modern Technology alone.

Spinoza of course mimicked Euclid’s Elements but applied this methodology to Metaphysics rather than Geometry. Whereas Euclid had posited a point and a line as examples of fundamental definitions, Spinoza had argued that traditional metaphysical notions such as substance could be fit into a similar system. Substance could be defined logically as a “conception which can be formed independent of any other conception.”[40] A self-caused thing is a thing whose “essence involves existence.”[41] What is of interest to the present study is Spinoza’s claim that applying this methodology to Metaphysics allowed him to unearth the a priori laws for possible and impossible objects; for example, one could identify that the “reason for the non-existence of a square circle is indicated in its nature . . . because it would involve a contradiction.”[42] The existence of impossible objects is therefore sufficiently grounded in self-contradiction, yet the basis for possible objects could not be unearthed so easily. Instead, the “reason for the existence of a triangle or a circle does not follow from the nature of these figures but from the order of universal nature in extension.”[43] Although Reason might traditionally be limited to refuting impossible objects on the basis of some logical self-contradiction, Spinoza radicalized this stance by showing that a rationalized grasp of universal nature in extension could hold the key to unlock the positive affirmation of possible objects as well. Likewise, a rationalistic grasp of traditional Metaphysical notions such as substance and essence was not unfounded mystical speculation so much as it was the ultimate axiomatic system.

In the second chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, Kaczynski, perhaps unbeknownst even to himself, performs a feat somewhat similar to both Euclid and Spinoza. Like Euclid, he presented a set of purified laws which all self-propagating systems embody and then proceeded to derive a set of truths from this set of fundamental rational constructs. On a biographical level, one could safely assume that his formal training in Mathematics would naturally provide a foundation for this tendency to establish fundamental laws and then derive logical conclusions from them rather than rely on unfounded assertions on the basis of strong feelings. Even after repudiating the academic system, he still acknowledged immense value in Mathematics as a discipline. In an unpublished letter written from prison to a young man on October 14, 1999, Kaczynski responded to a question regarding what he would major in if he could go to college all over again; interestingly, although he explicitly called formal education a “waste of time” in this letter, he still acknowledged that taking at least a few courses in Mathematics would be valuable for training a person in “clear thinking.”[44]

Kaczynski, however, is decidedly not interested in carrying over Euclid’s Ancient Greek fascination for a-temporal mathematical abstraction, especially in light of the life or death seriousness of trying to map out the troubling future which Modern Technology poses for all living beings. Like Spinoza, therefore, he is not primarily concerned with abstract objects with no existence beyond the human intellect. Rather, the very context for our real world survival as a species is such a self-propagating system whose secrets can be unlocked on axiomatic rational grounds. By the end of the second chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, he clearly demonstrates that there is only one inevitable conclusion which could follow from a sober analysis of our present situation in light of these laws: the extinction of humans and probably the unmitigated destruction of the biosphere. It must be stressed that this conclusion is purely rational, rather than deriving from an emotional, psychological, or spiritual origin.

Human extinction may occur through the evolution of a purely-technological robotic system with no need for fallible human intellects. Ironically enough, this would occur even if Ray Kurzweil’s fantasy of a purely technical solution to death were discovered. Even if it were possible to keep humans alive forever, it would violate the laws of self-propagating systems to do so if these humans had lost their usefulness. The latter is guaranteed by exactly these laws, since the robotic minds would continually develop themselves in order to gain competitive advantage in the context of Natural Selection:

[I]t is patently absurd to suppose that the technological world-system is ever going to provide seven billion human beings with everything they need to stay alive indefinitely. If the projected immortality were possible at all, it could only be for some tiny subset of the seven billion— an elite minority . . .The [technophiles] of course assume that they themselves will be included in the elite minority that supposedly will be kept alive indefinitely. What they find convenient to overlook is that self-prop systems, in the long run, will take care of human beings — even members of the elite — only to the extent that it is to the system’s advantage to take care of them. When they are no longer useful to the dominant self-prop systems, humans — elite or not— will be eliminated.[45]

On the other hand, human extinction could occur through damaging the global ecosystem so badly that it is no longer able to sustain complex life of any kind. In either case, human extinction is an inevitable logical conclusion.[46]

The fourth law is worth considering in detail for its relevance to the impossibility of a leftist rebellion against Modern Technology. This law demonstrates in universal form that any self-propagating system’s feasible range of transportation and communication provide a generalized limit to its scope of power:

Proposition 4. Problems of transportation and communication impose a limit on the size of the geographical region over which a self-prop system can extend its operations.[47]

The leftist collectivist movement is therefore simply one empirical example of a self-propagating system, the general laws of which would be equally applicable to the Roman Empire or even a hypothetical tribe who clears away forest land in an attempt to outcompete neighbouring tribes, even at the cost of long-term disadvantage, or perhaps destruction, to itself.[48]

Modern Technology therefore holds a peculiar role within the contemporary Industrial Civilization. Although technological devices and machines might appear to the naïve viewer to be objects of equal weight alongside all of the other non-technological objects in one’s Lebenswelt,[49] such as human persons, hand tools, and the natural flora and fauna that remain (at least for the moment) extant, Kaczynski emphasizes that one will never grasp the essence of Modern Technology by treating it as just another neutral object occupying the same level as natural entities, as though they were all just “objects” from some common super-genus. Modern Technology is, rather, the elusive element which can literally transform an already-greedy self-propagating system from a regional power to a global power. Equally valid, however, is the conclusion that subtracting Modern Technology from the same system would immediately collapse its scope of operations back to the range familiar to the ancient and medieval empires. Kaczynski’s insistence that destruction is the only ethically-sound option for Modern Technology is therefore not an unfounded violent outburst with no basis beyond some idiosyncratic subjective pathology: it is, rather, the only rational option that would follow from the a priori laws of self-propagating systems.

The de-technologized systems that would fill the power vacuum left by Modern Technology’s disappearance would no doubt still be inherently self-interested and capable of horrifically unethical violence, a principle confirmed empirically by Ancient Rome, Genghis Khan, and the European colonization of the Americas. However, Modern Technology allows the dominant self-propagating systems of our era to achieve a level of destruction not just quantitatively larger than past empires (although that certainly is also the case), but qualitatively different: no empire in the Ancient World, however bloodthirsty and amoral in its dealings with the Other, was capable of destroying the Ancient Greek basic elements of Nature. Yet Kaczynski warns in the concluding sections of his chapter on self-propagating systems that we literally cannot take for granted that something as basic as air or water will be left intact at the end of the vicious struggle of competition among self-propagating systems that will have achieved global scales of influence due to harnessing the power of Modern Technology.

Such a statement would have been literally unthinkable in the Ancient Era, in that it would have violated not only physical but metaphysical principles. In his dictionary of terms in Book V of The Metaphysics, Aristotle defined the “simple bodies” out of which more complicated substances were composed to include basic elements such as “earth and fire and water.”[50] His logic was that although a composite body could be broken down into these lower, indivisible entities, speaking about destroying water or air amounted to a misunderstanding of their very function as “fundamental” elements. However, Kaczynski recounted the uniquely discomforting fact that “air” is not so much a natural given as it is a fairly specific mixture of gases, a delicate balance that is maintained largely through the activity of the very same living things who depend upon its existence to survive:

Most people take our atmosphere for granted, as though Providence had decreed once and for all that air should consist of 78% Nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases. In reality, our atmosphere in its present form was created, and is still maintained by living things [most of which are in danger of eventual extinction][51]

Similarly, water is not at all some invincible super-substance, the existence of which is guaranteed on a priori grounds. In fact, water might have once been relatively abundant on the planet Venus but evaporated due to extreme heat, a fate which becomes more realistic on our planet with each passing day of clueless fossil fuel-based pollution.[52] Even activities as seemingly-innocuous as sending emails regularly cumulatively add up to generating as much carbon dioxide pollution as driving a car, a largely-invisible flood of waste which originates from the same politically correct Silicon Valley corporations who claim to be “the most concerned” about Global Warming but consider the empty symbolic gesture of installing a few solar panels at choice locations frequented by news cameras to be an adequate response to their massive, hypocritical contribution to this problem which data centres’ gargantuan energy requirements make unavoidable.

The Objective Factor

Likewise, Kaczynski tends to not think of Modern Technology as just another element in a flat, linear series of ordinary objects such as the pre-modern cabin which he inhabited, the wood-burning stove he used to cook meals over fire, or the simple axe he used to split wood, let alone the natural objects such as rabbit meat and wild roots on which he survived as a modern day hunter gatherer. These ordinary objects might be fit into a hypothetical series which could be represented in the following notation:

Ordinary Objects = {cabin, axe, wood-burning stove, logs, rabbit meat, wild roots . . . [Modern Technology?]}.

Obviously, he had no objection to the items in this list (even the tools such as the axe which would technically count as examples of “technology” rather than Nature), but Modern Technology was not just another “ordinary object” which could be tagged onto the end of this series, nor was it even a substitute for any of the items which accomplished the same task by providing greater convenience to the human subject who would seem to be its “master.”

Instead, in his previously-unpublished letters written from prison, he described Modern Technology as the “objective factor” of our modern historical situation rather than just another surface-level element within it.[53] Although he lacked the specific terminology of an “objective factor” in his earlier work Industrial Society and Its Future, he had already emphasized a similar warning against interpreting Modern Technology through the logical resources applicable to ordinary non-technologized “things.” Specifically, he warned that Modern Technology subverted the very a priori logic of part-whole relations, in that a new technological invention introduced into a social system would not behave according to a flat, predictable model of remaining a subordinate element within a broader whole. In quantitative terms, a new technological invention’s influential “weight” within a system cannot be trusted to remain fixed to its initial share of the numerical pie, since the whole itself would be utterly transformed by the influence of this new device. He cites several examples which demonstrate this abstract principle in an all too familiar manner. The automobile, for example, was originally just one option of several. One could choose to keep walking, ride a bicycle, or even ride a horse. The naïve viewer who assumed that this initial distribution of weight within the system would remain constant would be dismayed to find that this originally-optional element would quickly transform society itself to conform to its needs. Within a short period of time, it became a strict requirement:

A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport . . . When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared to [actually] increase man’s freedom. They took no freedom away from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel much faster and farther than a walking man. But the introduction of motorized transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly man’s freedom of locomotion . . . Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation . . . (Note this important point that we have just illustrated with the case of motorized transport: When a new item of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)[54]

Another example he cites is the invention of the computer. In the not so distant past, the term “computer” largely referred to gigantic machines owned by governments or major universities in order to facilitate serious number-crunching work for top-secret military operations and scientific research. These days, of course, a disturbingly high number of pre-linguistic children have powerful computers available on a constant basis for activities as trivial as playing games or getting lost in the distraction of streamed videos. At any rate, computers quickly transformed the society as a whole, such that it was no longer “a society that had a certain number of computers” located in definite ghettoized regions within the whole; rather, the whole itself had become a “computerized society.” Our society is so fatally dependent today on computers that Kaczynski’s doomsday scenario in the Manifesto is now simply taken for granted as everyday reality. He warned that someday outsourcing decision making from human minds to electronic brains would force humans into a state of constantly maintaining the machines, since turning them off even for one day would amount to suicide:

First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary . . . If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave. We only point out that the fate of the human race would be at the mercy of the machines. It might be argued that the human race would never be foolish enough to hand over all power to the machines. But we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. As society and the problems that face it become more and more complex and as machines become more and more intelligent, people will let machines make more and more of their decisions for them, simply because machine-made decisions will bring better results than man-made ones. Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.[55]

Needless to say, the situation he described as merely hypothetical in the 1990s is simply taken for granted as an accepted everyday reality today. Few people could even bring themselves to imagine what would happen if the entire worldwide web ceased to function for a few days, let alone if the system were indefinitely shut down.

One might argue that although every culture is intrinsically bound to have a set of “deepest fears,” they are only able to express these fears in a coherent form by projecting them into a material medium that is readily intelligible to them. The irony is that the uncanny can only appear within the canny, or within the all too familiar. For example, although it is customary to translate New Testament passages such as Mark 1:13 by saying that Jesus went into the “wilderness” after his baptism, it is much closer to the original context to say that he went into the desert. This is because in the folk tradition of Jesus’ era, the desert was the place in which Satan was thought to dwell because it was familiar enough to generate a coherent image yet marginal enough to the ordinary safe spaces in which one lived the majority of the time that it could be readily associated with feelings of fear.[56] In Martin Luther’s Reformation-Era Germany, for the same reasons, Satan was known to dwell in the forest. Citizens of our “scientifically rationalized” era of Modernity will likely openly laugh at these archaic views, without realizing they embody the same principle in their own folklore. In our era, one’s deepest fears are projected into the Internet. Although the examples are far too numerous to list out linearly, one might just consider all of the countless hours of fruitless googling which have been devoted to trying to find the origins of “unexplained internet videos” such as Grave Robbing for Morons.[57] This is a testament to how deeply-entangled we have become in the computers which were originally supposed to be optional devices restricted to serious scientific and government purposes. In our era, the default location in which our most disturbing fantasies are staged is a virtual cyberspace in which most people effectively live their entire lives, despite the fact that this place is nowhere.

One can find evidence that this problem concerned Kaczynski as early as his very first writings on Modern Technology, such as the rare 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness.”[58] In this essay, he warned that technological progress and genuinely wild nature are impossible to reconcile because even if one somehow calculated an ideal balance which could be maintained between the two (a feat which is intellectually suspect to begin with), Modern Technology cannot be expected to respect this balance over the long term. This is because it flatly contradicts the essence of Modern Technology to behave according to some static model in which it would be forced to maintain a fixed share of influence within the broader whole of which it would be just a smaller, subordinate part. One cannot “posit an ideal balance between” the two because Modern Technology is not an ordinary part of a broader whole but is rather a disruptive element which transforms the whole according to its own logic of technical rationality. He notes that within any society which accepts technical efficiency as a (lesser) goal, it will quickly become the dominant goal to which every other activity is subordinated. Likewise, there is only one option to prevent the destruction of Nature and the living organisms (ourselves included) who depend upon it for survival: technical efficiency must be rejected unequivocally.[59]

Kaczynski made a similar observation regarding the impossibility of maintaining an ideal balance in a much later essay titled “In Defense of Violence.” Although the date for this unpublished text is unknown, he does refer to the Manifesto and its publication by the New York Times in the past tense by explaining to the reader that he had to remove explicit references to violence in the Manifesto and promise to desist from using it himself if he were to have any hope of getting such a controversial text published at all. But of course, the lack of references to violence in the Manifesto must not be misinterpreted as evidence that he believed the conflict between human freedom and Modern Technology even could be resolved through peaceful negotiation. He notes that even if an ideal balance were somehow engineered on paper, it would violate the System’s essence to respect it: “The System never is and never will be satisfied with any stable situation— it seeks always to expand its power and will never permanently tolerate anything that lies outside its control.”[60] Likewise, the System’s own essence actively rules out the possibility of a peaceful “Habermasian dialogue.” Only force will be adequate to resolve a conflict with an element which resists being subordinated to any broader whole and which actively reduces everything it comes in contact with to a subordinate part of itself; in the complete absence of force, this conflict will certainly end in the destruction of human life or the planet.

This claim that Modern Technology cannot be properly understood according to the traditional logic of part-whole relations because it transforms the whole of which it is part may admittedly sound unjustifiably abstract without further clarification, but Kaczynski had bulletproof reasons to frame his argument in these terms. Later on, he would caution that Modern Technology could not be understood according to one’s naïve expectations about how ordinary things should behave because it was not an ordinary thing so much as it was the “objective factor.” The specific context in which he introduced the term “objective factor” was in expressing his scepticism that large historical changes occur as a result of some conscious intention on the part of a particular individual, even one who appears to have “absolute power,” like a dictator or emperor; this was a warning he would later develop into a full-scale argument against the possibility of consciously steering a society in a particular willed direction in the first chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, titled “The Development of a Society can never be Subject to Rational Human Control.”[61]

One might call such a conscious intention by a particular person a “subjective factor.” The naïve view of history might hold that large-scale historical changes, such as the shift from agrarian economies to modern industrial economies, came about as a result of some powerful group of individuals executing a rationally-designed plan to make this transition occur. In Chapter Three of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, “How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid,” he identified this as the “Great Thinkers” Fallacy, the error of thinking that large-scale historical changes were the result of a particular “great thinker’s” (such as Marx, Jesus etc.) ideas when such large scale-changes were in reality the result of certain objective historical trends.[62]

This principle is confirmed by the historical fact that industrialism was not unanimously supported by the leaders who occupied positions of power during the transition from agrarian economies to fossil fuel industrialism. In fact, many of the old aristocratic landowners openly opposed this transition, but of course their subjective intentions were powerless to stop a historical shift that was bound to occur. Likewise, the limits of any one person’s ability to consciously steer the course of history in a particular direction came to occupy a large part of the early argument in his later fragmentary magnum opus Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. Still, even as early as a letter to David Skrbina from October 12, 2004 he noted that big historical shifts do not occur as a result of subjective factors of will: they occur due to objective factors which push history in a direction that is irreducible to anyone’s will. Further, even in the cases in which one particular person’s or group’s actions made a major, long-term impact on history, the results were radically different from what they consciously intended them to be:

Human intentions or the decisions of individuals may occasionally make a major, long-term difference in the course of history, but when this happens the results do not fulfil the intentions of the individuals or groups that have made the decisions. [63]

He cites Industrialism itself as an example of such a major historical shift: on the one hand, the general goal of “material abundance” was achieved, but the society that resulted was quite different from what the original “18th-century proponents of progress” envisioned. Enlightenment Era thinkers speculated that if machines could somehow spare the working masses from the drudgery of time-consuming manual labour, then everyone would have the opportunity to devote his or her time to developing creative intellectual endeavours which were before restricted to the privileged elites who had servants to spare them from such mundane concerns as carrying buckets of well water, grinding grain into flour by hand, or tending crops on a daily basis. Kaczynski recounts this historical fact in the short essay “The Coming Revolution”:

The naïve optimism of the 18th Century led some people to believe that technological progress would lead to a kind of utopia in which human beings, freed from the need to work in order to support themselves, would devote themselves to philosophy, to science, and to music, literature, and the other fine arts. Needless to say, that is not the way things have turned out. [64]

On the one hand, the armies of machines certainly did materialize: the hours of daily labour once devoted to cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, and animal husbandry were virtually all outsourced to machines and sweatshops or else recast in the patronizing guise of a “fun pastime.” Yet it would be absurd to argue that more than a microscopically-tiny percentage of the population responded by developing their talents to become another Mozart or another John Milton. Instead, the hours of empty time quickly became a vacuum generating boredom and sloth, preferably to be filled with tabloid drama on “celebrities” and base electronic entertainment which somehow passes as “music.” While the Enlightenment intellectuals envisioned a society steeped in Bach and Edmund Spenser, what one actually found was a population numbed by the coliseum spectacles of football gladiators and the cacophony of gossip on Kim Kardashian. Kaczynski himself noted that:

The kind of art and literature in which the average modern American immerses himself is the kind provided by television, movies, and popular novels and magazines; and it is not exactly what the 18th-century optimists had in mind. In effect, American popular culture has been reduced to a mere hedonism, and hedonism of a particularly contemptible kind. Serious art does exist, but it tends to neurosis, pessimism, and defeatism.[65]

Clearly, subjective factors like intention are worthy of consideration but are incapable of explaining major historical changes on their own, since subjective factors tend to be effective only in cases where the objective factor has already created the conditions which would allow such an intention to succeed.

Kaczynski goes on in the letter to list three objective factors unrelated to Industrialism to prove this point: given the three factors of hunter gatherer bands in Eastern Siberia, suitable land for hunting and habitation in Western Alaska, and a land-bridge over the Bering Strait, it is clear that even though the particular humans who decided to cross this land-bridge and begin populating the North American continent had to “intend” to do so, that intention was only successful to the extent that it was compatible with the objective factors that were already in place.[66] One could argue that a subjective factor must be minimally isomorphic to an objective factor in order to thrive.

While it is clear that identifying the objective factor is a much more useful indicator for the direction of a movement than focusing on the subjective factor of personal intention or getting distracted by the surface-level set of ordinary entities which lack the privileged status of “objective factor,” it is somewhat less clear what the objective factor’s own essence is. Marxists would of course claim that the “objective factor” is just the capitalist mode of production while the “subjective factor” is just the false consciousness of ideology. Under this view, the problem is not technology in itself so much as it is the misuse of technology within a mode of production that generates profit for the capitalist and poverty for the worker instead of harnessing Modern Technology’s explosive productive potential to usher in a Socialist and then Communist society that achieves even greater returns on investment but avoids the ethical problem of capitalist inequality. Kaczynski himself describes Marxists this way in a discussion on his “Truth About Primitive Life” essay in the “Afterthoughts” section of Technological Slavery:

Even the most rebellious members of society- the Marxists- believed that the injustices of capitalism represented only a temporary phase that we had to pass through in order to arrive at a world in which the benefits of ‘progress’ would be shared equally by everyone. Because the superiority of modern society was taken for granted, it seldom occurred to anyone to draw comparisons between modern society and primitive ones.[67]

Marxism, in other words, is just another variation on the Industrial Civilization founded upon the basis of Modern Technology rather than any serious rejection of it, such as one would find with hunter gatherer tribes who would genuinely exist outside of its influence. In the short essay “The Road to Revolution,” Kaczynski dismissed Bolshevism as a surface-level variation on the same objective factor of Modern Technology and warned that its ultimate effect on human beings would be to reduce them to slaves of the technological machine:

I am NOT an admirer of the Bolsheviks. To them, human beings were of value only as gears in the technological system.[68]

This was not the only time he had mentioned this undeniable fact: he denounced the Bolsheviks for being “committed technophiles” again in the fourth chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How.[69]

In fact, in the third chapter of the same work he actively downplayed Marx’s importance as an individual thinker altogether by claiming that Marx simply filled a social niche which was already made possible by the objective historical factors which had been tending towards establishing socialism regardless of anything Marx himself contributed; if Marx had never been born, some other thinker would have simply taken his place and filled the nominal role of “patron saint of socialism”:

Marx did not invent socialism, nor did he originate the impulse to revolution. Both socialism and revolution were ‘in the air’ in Marx’s day, and they weren’t in the air just because some ingenious fellow happened to dream them up. They were in the air because they were called forth by the social conditions of the time . . . If Marx had never lived there would have been revolutionaries all the same, and they would have adopted some other socialistic thinker as their patron saint.[70]

Kaczynski’s criticism of Marx may sound unjust to those who focus only upon Marx’s theoretical writings (although even these writings hardly constitute a rejection of Modern Technology), but there is abundant empirical confirmation for this fact in the Soviet Union’s ghastly environmental track record. Dmitry Orlov has noted that Americans who think that the ideology of “progress through science and technology” is unique to the West, Capitalism, and Democracy are fooling themselves, since in many ways the Soviet Communists were even more committed to this principle. Although making enthusiastic appeals to apply the theoretical insights of “scientific progress” to the practical realm of agriculture are certainly intellectually fashionable and socially beneficial in an era dominated by Modern Technology, the Soviet Union demonstrated that the results of replacing manual labourers and traditional farming methods with tractors, irrigation pumps, and genetically-modified seeds sprayed by flying rockets were truly horrifying:

Then came the man-made disaster known as collectivization, the results of which are plainly visible to this day to anyone who travels through rural Russia and the surrounding lands . . . It is as if a series of plagues had swept through the land, leaving poverty and desolation in its wake. Under the revolutionary slogan ‘All land to the people!’ the prosperous farming families were labelled as the class enemy and persecuted. Grain, including seed grain, was confiscated to feed the starving cities. The result was starvation in the countryside and a collapsing rural population . . . The introduction of mechanized farm machinery, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and ‘scientific’ farming methods did little to forestall the disaster: the best farmers were either dead or had escaped to the cities. Despite much government effort and some wildly creative solutions, such as attempts at broadcasting seeds using rockets, agricultural production never fully recovered, because fixing the problem involved undoing collectivization and this was not politically advisable . . . [If you] try replacing the [traditional manual labourer] with a university-trained agronomist, her hoe with a tractor, her bag of heirloom seeds with some mass-produced hybrid and rainfall with an irrigation pump . . . you soon find yourself on the road to environmental oblivion. While Russian agriculture presents us with a particularly frightening example, let us not discount American efforts in the same direction: with enough effort at subjugating nature, through chemical farming, genetic manipulation, pumping down non-replenishing aquifers, ethanol production and other weapons of mass desertification, anything is achievable, even starvation, right here in the US.[71]

Lest anyone consider Orlov’s testimony to be indicative of just one rare anomaly which would unfairly misrepresent the Soviet Union’s “clean history” of ecological responsibility, one might be reminded that the Aral Sea in present-day Kazakhstan was once the fourth largest lake in the world but was quickly degraded to the status of a giant open desert through Soviet irrigation projects which sought to “modernize” agriculture by applying “cutting-edge science and technology” to displace the ignorance of the pre-modern past. Clearly, with regard to Ted Kaczynski’s all or nothing stance towards Modern Technology, one could not make a bigger mistake than to misinterpret Kaczynski to be a Marxist thinker in disguise or to think that the Communist Revolution would be an adequate solution to all of the problems he identifies with our industrial civilization. Communism is just as unquestioningly subordinate to Modern Technology as Capitalism is. One need not extrapolate beyond Kaczynski’s own words to reach this conclusion, as he raised a similar warning against placing all the blame on Capitalism in the Manifesto:

This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is not the fault of capitalism and it is not the fault of socialism. It is the fault of technology, because the system is not guided by ideology but by technical necessity.[72]

Interestingly, this quote reveals that he did not even grant that a capitalist society actually is guided by the “political or social ideology” of Capitalism: instead, such an ideology “may [only] pretend to guide the technological system.” Even Capitalism is just an unclear surface-level euphemism for the objective factor, the essence of which is easily accommodated to both capitalist and socialist political contingencies because its essence is technological rather than political.

His refusal to get distracted by useless debates over “upgrading” from capitalism to socialism was evidenced as early as his pseudonymous 1985 letter to the San Francisco Examiner. In this unpublished text, he dismisses socialist revolutionary ideology as “hollow.”[73] Yet this is not a charge he uniquely levels against Socialism. Rather, he suggested that action oriented towards selecting the best political ideology is a priori ruled out as a fruitless endeavour, since, “All ideologies and political systems are fakes.” From an ontological standpoint, it is notable that he chose to emphasize the lack of real substance underlying political systematizations by calling them “fakes.” Although this early letter predates the more mature terminology that would develop in his later work, one can still discern the general idea that technology is a more worthy concern than political ideology because technology holds the status of being the “objective factor,” though at this early stage he uses the term “real issue” to express the same idea. His letter ends with a warning against allowing the movement to be overrun by leftists who would neutralize critique of technology into just another innocuous item on a lengthy laundry list of doctrinal statements to be mentioned on occasion in order to “pledge loyalty” to the local party. His primary fear over allowing this to happen seemed to be that it would displace Modern Technology from its privileged position as the “real issue” (or the “objective factor”) into a subordinate position as just another surface-level bit of linguistic information to be recited alongside one’s professed support for gay marriage and a vegan diet. He insists as forcefully as possible that the movement is to be “apolitical” because the “real issue” is not political in nature at all.[74]

In addition to speaking of the “objective factor” and the “real issue,” Kaczynski demonstrated an interest in favouring the term “central structure” in the short essay “The Road to Revolution.” In this essay, the term “central structure” does not contradict his interest in the “objective factor” so much as it provides an explanation for how it determines the civilization which is subordinated to it. In fact, the two terms (or more precisely, the terms “central structure” and “principal factor”) occur side by side near the beginning of the text:

The central structure of modern society, the key element on which everything else depends, is technology. Technology is the principal factor determining the way in which modern people live and is the decisive force in modern history.[75]

Kaczynski goes on to explain that his appeal to an “objective factor” must not be mistaken for some type of mystical obfuscation that posits an invisible Thing in Itself whose existence can only be reconstructed indirectly through a blind act of superstitious faith. Instead, his decision to isolate Modern Technology as the objective factor of our civilization was built upon his realization that our civilization embodied a hierarchical structure constrained by an internal logic that could be isolated as a rationally-purified essence. This essence, regardless of empirical contingencies, communicated a structure of dependence:

[T]echnology is the central structure of modern society — the structure on which everything else depends.[76]

This relation of dependence is not merely logical but also holds grave political implications which are directly relevant to the project of revolution: dependence upon the objective factor inevitably generates feelings of enslavement and resentment among those whose freedom has virtually been blotted out in its entirety as a result. He notes that most people lament having to live under nearly-total domination by Modern Technology but feel powerless to revolt against it because such an act would literally seem impossible:

[Because most people] have no hope that the technological juggernaut can be stopped, they have grown apathetic. They simply accept technological progress and its consequences as unavoidable evils, and they try not to think about the future.[77]

He goes on to note that the only class of people who by and large sincerely support Modern Technology are those who “stand to profit from” it (i.e., the political arrangement that forces most humans into a position of logical dependence and personal enslavement to the technological system but disproportionately funnels a share of the benefits to a small class of technicians and technocrats.) Figures who seem to be “respectable middle class professionals,” such as “scientists, engineers, corporate executives, and military [industrial complex] men” only appear to be law-abiding model citizens because the System from which they directly benefit continues to obviate any need for them to act out violently in order to pursue self-interested goals which the System itself already handles for them. Yet in a brilliant unpublished essay called “When Non-Violence is Suicide,” he warns that such people only seem harmless when the System that disproportionately pumps wealth into their bank accounts continues to function. In the aftermath of a total collapse of the system, it will be the upper middle class professionals, not highwaymen and gangs, who will be the most dangerous figures, since they will almost certainly resort to horrific violence in order to re-establish the System on which they were bourgeois parasites all along.[78] Likewise, identifying the rational essence of dependence which the central structure imposes upon every other element within the System is far more than an empty act of Metaphysical abstraction. The political implications of “dependence” must be taken with deadly seriousness when considering the consequences of a genuine collapse of the system.

The Search for Clarity

The objective factor provides a single Idea (Modern Technology) which states clearly in one intuition what is stated unclearly in the millions of surface-level distortions which political ideologies, personal narratives, or economic statistics convey. Students of Philosophy will therefore likely be surprised to learn that Ted Kaczynski is in principle committed to the same kind of search for clarity that motivated the ultra-logical analytic philosopher Bertrand Russell, although he differed by arguing that the ultimate source of clarity was not to be found in a more refined system of symbolic logic but in concentrating one’s attention on the objective factor. Still, just as Russell believed that the ambiguity of Natural Language could be overcome through formulating a perfectly clear logical notation to convey in literal notation what is only implicitly expressed by ordinary sentences,[79] Kaczynski suggested that a similar translation key could be applied to the millions of sprawling rants in our culture expressing psychological ailments such as depression, anxiety, and other exotic neuroses unknown to earlier eras. The overwhelming majority of such cases could be explained by depriving people of serious pathways to go through the Power Process, a problem which is itself merely a euphemism for living under the domination of the objective factor of Modern Technology:

[F]or most people it is through the Power Process— having a goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining the goal— that self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. When one does not have adequate opportunity to go through the power process the consequences are . . . boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, defeatism, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behaviour, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc.[80]

In the short essay “The Coming Revolution,” Kaczynski reinforces this argument from the Manifesto by suggesting that subtracting the objective factor of Modern Technology would simultaneously remove the basis for existence for “depression, nervous tension, and anxiety disorders.” In the essay he notes the disturbing empirical fact that these ailments have become so “widespread” that people often have to treat them with “drugs (legal or illegal)” or by other attempts to “modify their mental state in some other way.”[81] Sadly, most hostages to Modern Technological Industrialism have become so accustomed to these problems that they take them for granted as fixed biological facts, yet he argued that they “are not normal and inevitable parts of human existence.”[82] Their historically-anomalous occurrence coincides almost perfectly with the presence of the objective factor of Modern Technology:

[W]ithin hunting-and-gathering cultures, before they were disrupted by the intrusion of industrial society, child abuse was almost non-existent [a]nd there is evidence that in most of these cultures there was very little anxiety or nervous tension.[83]

The explosive rise in psychological ailments in Modernity could be quite easily explained as just so many unclear psychological revelations of the same objective factor: Modern Technology. Modern Technology is the ultimate reason why so many people have been disrupted psychologically, in that allowing people to go through the Power Process in order to meet survival needs is ruled out by the System in its drive to monopolize control over food, water, shelter, and even people’s movements. The System, however, is itself just a secondary euphemism for the objective factor of Modern Technology.

For Kaczynski this dualism between the one clear objective factor and the many unclear surface-level distractions was far more than a theoretical curiosity with little pragmatic application for the revolution against the System. Rather, it provided the standard by which to preserve the movement from failure. The third chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How was devoted to the purified rules for “How to Transform a Society,” but contained the subtitle warning about “Errors to Avoid.”[84] These rules were largely variations on the principle that in order to be successful, the revolutionary movement would have to maintain a strict fixation on the objective factor by focusing on one single goal directly related to it rather than be distracted by a laundry list of higher order abstractions with little explicit relation to the objective factor. The need for a single goal led him to desperately plead with his followers even as early as the opening paragraphs of the Manifesto to never allow the movement to be swarmed by leftists who would bury the goal to remove Modern Technology under a flood of social activist concerns such as political correctness, feminism, gay rights, disability rights, and animal rights.[85] By the later work Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, he had formalized this principle into a universal law for the transformation of society:

Postulate 1. You can’t change a society by pursuing goals that are vague or abstract. You have to have a clear and concrete goal.[86]

That single, clear, concrete goal is, of course, the destruction of Modern Technology, an action logically necessitated by its privileged role as the objective factor of our historical situation and the essence of the System.

Truth and Presence

Although John Zerzan and Ted Kaczynski have had numerous disagreements over, for example, whether Zerzan’s anarcho-primitivist notions accurately portray the realities of hunter gatherer lifestyles,[87] the author of the present volume would like to suggest that at the level of privileging an objective factor over higher order symbolic distractions, the two men agree to an extent which perhaps even they themselves do not realize. Their primary disagreement is not whether there is an objective factor; their primary disagreement is what the objective factor is. For Kaczynski, of course, the objective factor is Modern Technology but Zerzan relatively downplayed the centrality of technology by reducing it to just another higher order manifestation of an underlying logic which was even more general than Jacques Ellul’s notion of the all-encompassing rationalization inherent in “Technique.” At a purely theoretical level, one might argue that Zerzan is more radical than both Kaczynski and Ellul, since he identifies the objective factor as none other than agriculture, a rather surprising turn for anyone familiar with the pastoral and georgic genres of literature. After all, in the 18th Century fantasies of agrarian bliss provided a comforting inkblot upon which higher-class educated urbanites could project their hopes for a more peaceful and more primitive way of life. Zerzan finds this pastoral illusion to be deeply misleading, since agriculture is the enduring common denominator present in every social evil, from war,[88] to gender inequality,[89] to the feelings of loneliness and alienation which have driven children as young as two years old to be prescribed anti-depressants.[90] In fact, even in Zerzan’s apologetic text defending the as-yet-unidentified Unabomber, he argued that agriculture, not industrialism per se, was the origin of the present-day catastrophe:

. . . [T]he wrong turn for humanity was the Agricultural Revolution, much more fundamentally than the Industrial Revolution . . . [91]

For Zerzan, technology is not the ultimate origin of the long list of problems afflicting our culture, since it is itself just another side effect of domestication. For example, in the short essay “The Iron Grip of Civilization: the Axial Age,” Zerzan claims that domestication precedes technology both historically and logically, in that technology simply reiterates the same attitude of “domination of nature” which is already discernible in the earliest traces of agriculture:

Domestication . . . set this trajectory in motion by its very nature, giving birth to technology as domination of nature, and systems based on divisions of labour.[92]

Domination, therefore, is a type of automatic shape through which the world is processed by subjects living in the era of agriculture. In the author’s own terminology, Domination is the Deep Meme of Agriculture.[93] Whereas the automatic shape by which the world is (supposedly) viewed in the Hunter Gatherer Worldview is Egalitarianism, a fundamental shift occurred in the transition to agriculture which coerced the world itself to conform to a new shape. If one is speaking about Domination, let alone one of its higher order manifestations such as social inequality, one is really speaking about agriculture. Even technology, according to Zerzan, is just a euphemism for really speaking about agriculture, since obviously the sprawling infrastructural beast of Modern Technology would be technically impossible in a world populated solely by hunter gatherer bands. Likewise, Zerzan claims that the only solution is to enact another fundamental shift by returning to an unadulterated Hunter Gatherer Worldview, in which Domination would literally cease to exist since its very existence was transitively borrowed from the material reality of agriculture in the first place.

Zerzan’s relation to Kaczynski is arguably the most controversial topic to be treated in the present text. On one hand, Zerzan rose up to the task of defending the infamous Unabomber during the messy legal proceedings when the media unanimously demonized Kaczynski as an unrepentant monster completely devoid of legitimate concerns; Zerzan even went so far as to attend the trial himself as a show of support. Nonetheless, their correspondence by mail afterwards was marred by disagreements over a variety of topics, including the proper strategy to enact a revolution, the importance of traditional leftist Social Justice issues, and whether the hunter gatherer lifestyle was really quite as idyllic as Zerzan claimed in his writings. These are all perfectly legitimate topics of discussion, and there is a great deal in Zerzan’s body of thought which is fundamentally incompatible with Kaczynski’s philosophy, but the author of the present text will still argue that Zerzan is an important figure to the movement for the following reason: he is one of the only thinkers to recognize that the objective factor masks its distortion of consciousness’s shape by deceiving the subject into misreading its material presence for a type of indestructible legitimacy, a material reality inherent even in the abstract attitude which represents it at a higher order level. To consider his own example from the short essay “Alone Together: the City and its Inmates,” virtually no one can even take the idea of rebelling against technology and urbanization seriously because they seem to be eternally fixed material objects with a type of sublime indestructibility; even though many people don’t actually like having to live with them, they feel completely powerless and adopt a stance of pure passivity towards them:

Most of [the cities’] inhabitants simply accept the urban reality and try to adjust to it, with the same outward passivity they express toward the enveloping techno-world.[94]

Of course, it would be even more absurd to contemplate doing away with domination itself, since even our view of human nature has surrendered to the pessimistic view that humans are inherently defined by a will to domination.[95] In Zerzan’s short essay “On the Origins of War,” he noted that this widespread belief in the inherent wickedness of human nature forces us to accept a state monopoly on violence out of fear that a Hobbesian war of all against all would be the inevitable result of suspending that power for a moment.[96] Although this certainly is Hobbes’ argument in his classic text Leviathan, it is debatable whether this view should be uniquely credited to Hobbes’ invention, as he just correctly observed that Domination was an irreducible feature in the state of affairs which had come to dominate (pun intended) the agricultural civilization under which he lived.[97]

Zerzan similarly does not suggest that there is no reality behind our intuitions of domination, let alone its tangible products such as technology. He does suggest, however, that the “realness” which we misread into the abstract notion of domination is largely just the materiality of agriculture misrecognized as a type of indestructible substance underlying the subjective shape of Domination. For example, in “On the Origins of War,” he claims that institutionalized warfare is an historical anomaly unknown in prehistoric times which merely follows from the rise of domestication, but the rise of domestication is not simply a change in the abstract shape through which the world is viewed. The change in consciousness was itself dependent upon a “drastic change in a society’s physical situation.”[98] One could argue that the change in the society’s physical situation provided a minimal element of material reality to its associated worldview, the presence of which would later fuel the illusion of reification for institutions as ghastly as organized warfare. In addition, he argues in the essay “Patriarchy, Civilization, and the Origins of Gender” that certain anomalies came to be normalized and misrecognized as enduring historical constants only because they were parasitic upon the overwhelming acceptance of agriculture: he calls these “features of agricultural existence,” meaning that they transitively borrow their being from the firmly-established existence of agriculture.

According to Zerzan, rebelling against our present woeful condition only seems to be utterly pointless because we misread agriculture’s material realness into its higher order manifestations and conclude that these are ultimate “truths” which can never be challenged. He therefore subtly recognizes that truth is presence, yet this reveals that the widespread presence of agriculture is a fragile contingency which can be theoretically undone by enacting another change to our society’s “physical situation”: this could be accomplished only by returning to hunting and gathering. If we do so, an entirely new set of truths will emerge from out of the material presence of a new physical situation. Lacking the presence of agriculture, Domination will become false, just as Egalitarianism will again be true through reinforcing the hunter gatherer world’s real presence.

In any case, therefore, the proper grasp of the objective factor is itself founded upon a Phenomenological fixation on presence. The author argues, though, that this emphasis on physical presence is equally applicable to Kaczynski’s choice for the objective factor: Modern Technology. In his view, Modern Technology is the true “objective factor” underlying political or social abstractions, abstractions which are productive for consideration only to the extent that they provide an empirical pathway towards grasping the objective factor in its purity by gesturing towards its real presence. At an epistemological level, there is something of a singularity and coherence implicit in such a Phenomenological isolation of the objective factor which precludes any attempt to segment it down into smaller pieces, some of which one might attempt to salvage out of a misguided hope to preserve their apparent usefulness.[99] He warns, instead, that there is no possibility for a grey area in which the “good parts” of Modern Technology could be maintained and the “bad parts” could be removed. Playing games with reforming technology into a “safe form” would a priori amount to risking the very disappearance of complex life on Earth:

[If the current trajectory is allowed to continue unchecked, i]t is extremely difficult to imagine that conditions on this planet will not be pushed far outside all earlier limits and batted around so erratically that for any of the Earth’s more complex self-prop systems, including complex biological organisms, the chances of survival will approach zero.[100]

This connection between objective factor and presence is certainly implicit in Kaczynski’s body of work; however, due to Kaczynski’s complete disregard for academic trends, he never felt the need to actively pursue his own connections with the discipline of Phenomenology as such. Although Zerzan has been criticized for excessively referencing contemporary continental philosophers,[101] his body of work provides a very useful glimpse into how the search for the objective factor methodologically rules out some philosophical approaches while fitting in with others. Zerzan’s disagreement with Postmodernism is well known, yet it is much less widely-known that he explained his rejection of Derrida’s theories by explicitly favouring Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology. This is quite fitting, since Derrida’s most important early writings involved highly-complicated analyses of Husserl’s body of work; it is not an exaggeration to say that the essence of Derrida’s thought process is impossible to understand outside of this critical engagement with Husserlian Phenomenology.[102] In the short essay “Exiled from Presence,” Zerzan notes that Derrida’s obsession with negating presence is not at all a radical or courageous insight in our era, since negating presence is exactly what Technologization always does anyway.[103] He notes, for example, that the reduction of information to floating data disseminated by remote control centres and the explosive growth of a technological surveillance state are testaments to how the loss of presence has troubling political implications as well.[104] Therefore, whereas Husserlian Phenomenology emphasizes presence as the “primary quality [(category)]”[105] of meaning and describes the subject in terms of embodiment (real unity between body and mind), Derrida normalizes the historical anomaly of estrangement through developing an overly-complicated theoretical apparatus in which “presence” is impossible because all speech is actually writing in disguise. Zerzan warns that Postmodernism, perhaps unwittingly, is therefore just the “handmaiden to technology” because Technology is essentially estrangement.[106]

Needless to say, it is far more difficult to evaluate Kaczynski’s relation to particular philosophers, since he appears to have had virtually no explicit interest in Philosophy (at least as it is currently practiced within the academic industry). A reader familiar with this biographical fact might even object to the very idea of writing the present volume.

For example, Kaczynski has tended to downplay the connection which others observed between his own thesis of the Power Process and Nietzsche’s idea of the Will to Power. This supposed connection was mentioned, for example, in a bizarre short essay by John Zerzan called “Overman and Unabomber” in which he claimed to unearth various parallels between the two men’s theories. For example, while Nietzsche repudiated Christian weakness, Kaczynski exposed leftism to be the “dishonest projection of personal weakness.”[107]

In an early letter to David Skrbina dated January 2, 2004, Kaczynski responded to Skrbina’s question whether Nietzsche’s distinction between “herd values” and the “will to power” might be isomorphic to the content of the Manifesto. In response to this question, Kaczynski demonstrated little interest in splitting hairs over obscure philosophical texts when there was a much more pressing dilemma at hand:

I’m not terribly interested in questions of values of the kind you discuss [in your letter to me], such as ‘herd values’ versus ‘the will to power.’ As I see it, the overwhelmingly dominant problem of our time is [simply] that technology threatens to destroy the world or transform it so radically that all past questions of human value will simply become irrelevant.[108]

The author hopes that it has already been demonstrated, however, that Kaczynski’s lack of interest in Philosophy is more apparent than real. It would be impossible, for example, to speculate on new definitions for ambiguous notions like freedom, power, essence, rational objects, morality, human dignity, and the ideal way to live without doing Philosophy, yet these are precisely the notions he wrote about extensively. Further, the author can justify calling this work philosophy because Kaczynski did not merely borrow definitions established by other great thinkers, let alone recycle public stereotypes, but rather worked out original definitions of these contested terms.

Although Kaczynski does not appear to have been directly influenced by reading numerous philosophers, it is not, however, impossible to provide a forensic reconstruction of his stance relative to at least some of the classical philosophers. For example, in one letter to John Zerzan dated to March 8, 1998, Kaczynski notified Zerzan that he had read his critique of Nihilism and Postmodernism and that he agreed with it “completely.”[109] He was careful to note that overinvesting resources into attacking Postmodernism will likely prove to be fruitless, since Postmodernism is itself just a form of escapism that provides some theoretical skeleton for a widespread hopelessness which was already prevalent in society for another much clearer reason: Modern Technology. Likewise, Kaczynski warns Zerzan that Nihilism is not an absolute notion which can be emphasized in isolation. One could only achieve anything meaningful by situating it in relation to the objective factor. Therefore, he presents five bullet points for a strategy to wake people up to their hopelessness by restoring the obscured connection between their own suffering, as well as the destruction of the natural environment, to the objective factor of Modern Technology.

The author of the present text will suggest, though, that restoring these connections presupposes some understanding, however vague, of Phenomenological presence. Although there does not appear to be any evidence that Kaczynski was explicitly influenced by Husserlian Phenomenology as John Zerzan certainly was, there are very good reasons to argue that the concept of Intentionality is useful to explain Kaczynski’s understanding of the objective factor as well. In Husserl’s first logical investigation, for example, he noted that signs which bear a meaning (expressions) are meaningful insofar as what they really express is that the speaking subject intends a certain object; more specifically, the subject expresses that he or she is directed to a particular object and thereby lights up a “piece of the world” (the piece of the world in which that object presences itself) through intending it. For example, the author can use a symbol to express that he is directed towards his own particular concrete house in his rural village of Uchakkada in India. The intended house would therefore be lit up by the act, yet the existence or non-existence of the piece of the world therefore certainly does matter, insofar as in this case the presence of the object is in a certain sense the fundamental category of meaning upon which the entire symbolic operation is founded:

In meaning, a relation to an object is constituted. To use an expression significantly, and to refer expressively to an object (to form a presentation of it), are one and the same . . . [Therefore, a]n expression has meaning when an object corresponding to it exists, and it is meaningless when no such object exists. [110]

The concept of Intentionality therefore provides an explicit theoretical framework to explain why Kaczynski favoured allowing the intended presence of the existent objective factor to hold this privileged position relative to any of the sprawling symbolic systems which might otherwise distract one’s attention away from an objective factor which is to be noted for its striking unity and simplicity. For example, leftists’ obsession with artificially constructing an absurdly-rigid linguistic system of right and wrong ways of speaking through Political Correctness is not completely irrelevant to the objective factor of Modern Technology, so long as one situates it into its proper context as a higher order system founded upon the objective factor (in other words, to identify the relation of dependence) rather than treat it as some independent object in its own right. The greatest error to be avoided is to misrecognize it for the objective factor itself, and therefore be misled to believe that some empty symbolic game such as deciding once and for all whether there are two genders, 52 genders, or some other arbitrary number of genders will be sufficient to overcome the catastrophe of Modernity if it leaves the objective factor of Modern Technology untouched. Observing the vastly-overpaid leftist academics debate the current number of genders while simultaneously claiming that gender is a social construct which does not really exist is not completely useless, however, provided one apprehends such activity for what it really is: an indication that we live in an era dominated by the objective factor of Modern Technology, the real technical condition behind the oversocialization and feelings of inferiority put on display in this comical social justice posturing.

In addition, this insight is meaningful insofar as it reveals that we do not live in an agrarian or hunter gatherer era which would predate this influence by embodying a different objective factor. The abstract linguistic meaning of the exercise is merely secondary to the more fundamental category of presence (that is, the presence of the objective factor) upon which it is founded and from which it gains its ultimate meaningfulness. There is no question, therefore, that it is precisely the objective factor’s presence which must be destroyed through the Revolution. The Revolution will only accomplish its goal if presence is replaced by definitive absence rather than play games with some half-hearted reformation that leaves its presence intact.

The Essence of Technology

Although it is sufficiently clear that Modern Technology is the objective factor and that its destruction should be the single goal of the movement, it remains somewhat unclear in many of Kaczynski’s writings what exactly the “essence of Modern Technology” amounts to. Above all, it is all too easy to assume that Kaczynski uses the word only to literally refer to the set of physical machines in use at a given time, but there is evidence that this is exactly not how he defined Modern Technology. Interestingly, the exception to his usual ambiguity occurs in an obscure letter written from prison and addressed to a figure called “M.K.” It is difficult to understand why one of Kaczynski’s most important recorded statements lay buried in a letter written on October 4, 2003 and left unpublished until it was compiled into the list of writings for the first Technological Slavery collection released years later. Regardless, Kaczynski explicitly states in this letter that his own definition of technology is not restricted to the literal set of machines which populate the Earth in modernity, such that destroying every last one of them would be sufficient to blot out the objective factor of Modern Technology and usher in a post-technological age:

The problem of civilization is identical with the problem of technology. Let me first explain that when I speak of technology I do not refer only to the physical apparatus such as tools and machines. I include also techniques, such as the techniques of chemistry, civil engineering, or biotechnology. Included too are human techniques such as those of propaganda or of educational psychology, as well as organizational techniques which could not exist at an advanced level without the physical apparatus— the tools, machines, and structures— on which the whole technological system depends.[111]

He goes on to note that this broader definition of technology that includes “organizational techniques” for social control is not an idiosyncratic feature strictly indigenous to modernity. Even pre-modern eras that developed technology in the sense of metal tools and agricultural methods (“plows, harnesses for animals, blacksmith’s tools, domesticated breeds of plants and animals, and the techniques of agriculture, animal husbandry, and metalworking”) also inevitably developed technology in the sense of “human and organizational techniques needed to govern large numbers of people.”[112] Similarly, in the 213th paragraph of the Manifesto, he warned that a leftist rebellion against Modern Technology is inherently contradictory, since leftist collectivism requires “sophisticated psychological techniques” in addition to the strictly physical requirements of rapid transport and global communication.[113] In other words, leftism requires social technique in addition to physical technology in order to function:

Leftism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature, with human freedom, and with the elimination of modern technology. Leftism is collectivist . . . [b]ut this implies management of nature and of human life by organized society and it requires advanced technology [and] sophisticated psychological techniques.[114]

The rise of civilization, even in the Ancient Era, inevitably meant the rise of technology. Contrary to expectation, this is not because the archaic civilizations achieved a level of material wealth and theoretical sophistication which then allowed them to produce technology as a side effect of their own intrinsic complexity. The relationship between technology and civilization works exactly the other way around: “Civilizations cannot exist without the technology on which they are based.”[115] This expanded definition of technology which includes Modern Chemistry, Civil Engineering, and present-day forms of social organization, in addition to archaic methods of metalworking, agriculture, and pre-modern ways to control the population therefore does not contradict his opening statements in the Manifesto claiming that the “basis” of the present civilization is technological rather than political.[116] Our modern society is not uniquely founded upon a technological basis: rather, a technological basis of some kind is the very condition for any civilization to exist. Although it would be far too hasty to claim that Kaczynski simply borrowed this idea from Ellul or even that he developed it through Ellul’s influence, at the very least one must acknowledge that this is one of many areas in which the two men’s thought processes parallel to a significant extent.

The relation between Kaczynski and Ellul remains quite unclear despite the fact that Ellul is arguably the thinker whom Kaczynski cites by name the most often. His written references to Ellul date back to some of his earliest writings against technology, as Ellul was cited as early as the rare 1971 essay “Progress versus Liberty” as one of the sources of the introductory material which opened the essay.[117] Decades later, in a March, 2005 letter to David Skrbina written from prison, he tried to recall to memory the details of one of Ellul’s arguments but could only restore a partially-complete image in the absence of his old books:

Ellul and others have addressed the issue of human dignity, and if my recollections of his book Autopsy of Revolution are correct, Ellul felt that there was at most a minimal chance of avoiding a complete and permanent end to human freedom and dignity. So Ellul too saw the situation as worse than I see it.[118]

The most notable exception to the otherwise unclear relation between the two thinkers is that both shared Heidegger’s highly idiosyncratic view that Modern Technology is not distinct from Modern Science or even methods of social organization and control. Because Heidegger’s understanding of Technology is so unconventional but also so important, it is necessary to briefly synopsize his famous essay “The Question Concerning Technology” before proceeding. In it, he cautioned readers not to mistake Technology for a literal set of physical machines, since Technology was more a change in how things come to appearance than any one thing in particular. This will come as a surprise only to those who miss the etymological fact that such an understanding of Technology is actually much closer to the original meaning of the Ancient Greek term “Techne” (“τέχνη”). Heidegger noted that Modern Technology primarily differed from Ancient Greek “Techne” (“τέχνη”) in that it did not only reduce all natural entities to a uniform objectless “standing-reserve” of raw materials to be stockpiled and then summoned to use for industrial purposes: it even degraded Man himself to just another part of the standing-reserve:

As soon as what is unconcealed no longer concerns man even as object, but does so, rather, exclusively as standing-reserve, and man in the midst of objectlessness is nothing but the orderer of the standing-reserve, then he comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve. Meanwhile, man precisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself to the posture of lord of the earth.[119]

Heidegger therefore shared Kaczynski’s and Ellul’s views that the relation between Modern Technology and Modern Science is usually understood in completely backward terms: it is not that the Scientific Revolution was the era in which humans finally “got smart enough” to start doing Modern Science, and then Modern Technology simply followed as a result of applying all of this newfound knowledge to industrial engineering purposes which were before inaccessible due to a lack of Science. Rather, Modern Science is in itself a historically anomalous mode by which things are brought to appearance according to an attitude of reducing objects to the status of raw material to be processed industrially or anonymous elements lumped together in the standing-reserve in order that their stored energy might be challenged forth by Man on a moment’s notice:

Chronologically speaking, modern physical science begins in the seventeenth century. In contrast, machine-power technology develops only in the second half of the eighteenth century. But modern technology, which for chronological reckoning is the later is, from the point of view of the essence holding sway within, the historically earlier. [This is because] physics, in all its retreating from the representation turned only towards objects that has alone been standard until recently, will never be able to renounce this one thing: that nature reports itself in some way or other that is identifiable through calculation and that it remains orderable as a system of information.[120]

Modern Science is therefore not an objective set of information which precedes Modern Technology and provides it with a body of truths to enable it to function: Modern Science simply is Modern Technology understood not as a literal set of machines but as an epistemological method of domination and manipulation.[121]

Ellul argued near the opening of The Technological Society for a similar shift in how the dichotomy between science and technology is popularly imagined by showing that science is itself an example of technique rather than an exterior element which generates technique from a sanitized origin unstained by technical influence:

Everyone has been taught that technique is an application of science; more particularly (science being pure speculation), technique figures as the point of contact between material reality and the scientific formula. But it also appears as the practical product, the application of the formulas to practical life. This traditional view is radically false [because] technique preceded science; even primitive man was acquainted with certain techniques.[122]

Ellul argued that any distinction between the two was illusory because technique was not by definition confined to having to be any one physical machine. It was, above all, a type of rationalization that replaces spontaneous forms with technical forms with a teleological orientation towards maximizing efficiency and adaptability, and was therefore equally applicable to physical, epistemological, and social realms:

[T]wo factors [in particular] enter into the extensive field of technical operation: consciousness and judgment. This double intervention produces what I call the technical phenomenon . . . Essentially, it takes what was previously tentative, unconscious, and spontaneous and brings it into the realm of clear, voluntary, and reasoned concepts.[123]

One of the most common errors regarding Technique which Ellul sought to overturn was, therefore, the idea that technology always proceeds from a human origin to a non-human machine in order to accomplish a goal in conformity with a human desire. On the contrary, there is nothing necessarily human about technique at all, since the kind of rationalization which makes up the essence of Technique is arguably best accomplished by Technique itself rather than by any one human’s personal intention. In fact, even the professional scientists and technicians who appear to be “in control” of the situation as human agents are themselves really objects to which Technique had spread its universal mechanizing influence:

When the technical means do not exist, science does not advance . . . The research worker is no longer a solitary genius. As Robert Jungk says: ‘He works as a member of a team and is willing to give up his freedom of research as well as personal recognition in exchange for the assistance and equipment a great laboratory offers him. These two things are indispensable conditions without which he cannot even dream of realizing his projects. . . . The considered opinion of Norbert Wiener is [also] that the younger generation of research workers in the United States consists primarily of technicians who are unable to do research at all without the help of machines, large teams of men, and enormous amounts of money. [124]

Not coincidentally, Kaczynski’s strange claim that methods of social control are also valid examples of Modern Technology echoes a similar argument which consumed much of Ellul’s Technological Society. The fifth chapter of that text, for example, was devoted in its entirety to exploring “Human Techniques” such as education,[125] labour unionization,[126] propaganda,[127] entertainment,[128] and the regulation of human movements.[129] For example, Ellul’s critique of education demonstrated that although in earlier eras enlightenment was the stated purpose of education, in his era this had shifted virtually entirely to the goal of conformity. More troubling still was the fact that the specific kind of conformity favoured was one that would coerce people to accept conditions that would have previously driven them to madness or depression (an argument Kaczynski expresses in his own way in the “Sources of Social Problems” section of Industrial Society and Its Future). [130] The term “mental health” is therefore really a misnomer, since the only thing it measures is how unhealthy one will allow oneself to become without raising a fuss.

Ellul’s decision to extend the conceptual limits of “technique” beyond the narrow scope of the machine was necessary in order to dispel the myth that the conscious human subject would always occupy the operator position with regard to the machine by steering it according to some interior subjective decision which would by definition precede the physical execution of a task by the machine. Under this view, the machine would seem to merely “conduct” the conscious subject’s volition along a technological channel like electricity over a copper wire. However, Ellul noted that behind the façade of being “behind the wheel” of the machine lay a technicization of the subject which would blot out its human individuality altogether:

Technicized man literally no longer exists except in relation to the technical infrastructure. The theory might be advanced that in the man-machine complex man in some sense plays the role the soul plays in relation to the body in certain philosophies. But the contrary would rather seem to be the case, as J. M. Lahy implied long ago when he asked: ‘Will not this man have less and less time to be conscious of his own living presence?’ No doubt, man will continue to steer the machine, but only at the price of his individuality.[131]

Decades earlier, Heidegger reached a stunningly similar conclusion in his 1938 treatise Besinnung (Mindfulness), a text which considerably predates his more well-known meditations in “The Question Concerning Technology.” Whereas in “The Question Concerning Technology” he had used the term “standing-reserve” to describe Modern Technology’s reduction of all things (including Man himself) to raw material to be stockpiled and then summoned to industrial use,[132] in Mindfulness he favoured the term “machination” to describe how all beings were coming to be redefined in accordance with productibility, or the ability to be submitted to processes of production and observation.[133] In reducing all beings to so much “makeable” stuff, Being had abandoned beings and had become forgotten.[134] In this context devoid of the very possibility to question Being, decision too was blocked out and rendered impossible.[135] In such a context, Man too would inevitably fall prey to this reduction of all things to “makeability.” Like Ellul, Heidegger explicitly warned that man only seemingly steers the machine; consumed by arrogance, Man fails to see that he himself had been overwhelmed by the same force that engulfed Nature: “every human particularity is overpowered because each particularity must enjoin the makeable as the co-enacting subject who only seemingly steers and leads.”[136] Although Man had not literally become a cyborg/electrical machine, he was still reduced to Modern Technology, all while foolishly clinging to the belief that he was its master.

Given Heidegger’s, Ellul’s and Kaczynski’s broader definitions of “technology,” under which even Modern Science and methods of social control would be counted as elements, one must ask whether Kaczynski treated “Modern Technology” as something of a higher order abstract class with no direct instantiations. As an abstract class, it would be the superset to other classes such as “epistemological technology” (Chemistry), “physical technology” (machines), and “social technology” (advertisement propaganda) rather than provide a basis for particular entities. In this case, there would be no such thing as a pure example of Modern Technology because one could only obtain a concrete example by instantiating one of its three subclasses rather than by instantiating Technology itself, in just the same way that one cannot obtain a pure example of a “shape” since one would have to pass through one of its subclasses such as triangular shapes, rectangular shapes, or pentagonal shapes in order to obtain a concrete member. Under this view, focusing on Modern Technology in general would seem to be a misguided effort that wastes resources by distracting from the specific nature of each of the three subclasses. Under this view, developing a systematic taxonomy of epistemological technologies, physical technologies, and social technologies could generate a satisfactorily vast data set to enable serious practical action to be catered to each specific subdivision rather than float in the misty abstraction of “Modern Technology” as such.

Tempting as this explanation might seem, there are good reasons why Kaczynski did not structure his writings around generating a detailed system of categorization that would focus exclusively on classifying all technologies as epistemological, physical, or social, although within the proper context these distinctions are indeed worthy of consideration. The reason Kaczynski favoured critiquing Modern Technology in the singular rather than these three subclasses in their plurality was that for Kaczynski Modern Technology is not just a superset which would function as the logical “grandparent” to a definite number of individually instantiated technological members which would have to be eliminated one by one through some exhaustive, calculated plan of extermination. Instead, he implied that Technology was more like a “mode of construal” than an intrinsic essence to which a particular object was bound by some Metaphysical inevitability: the same object could equally legitimately be construed either technologically or naturally. Arguably, this roughly coincides with Ellul’s distinction between technically-rationalized forms and the spontaneous, unconscious forms which they progressively blot out and replace.

One might object that overemphasizing construal misses the fact that some objects “intrinsically” belong to one class or to the other. Some objects, such as modern supercomputers will obviously seem to be just examples of technology with no naturalistic alter-ego. This is only, however, due to the limitation of perspective which would privilege the present and very recent past over the deep history which that object had traversed in order to reach its present contrived state. Depending on how far back one is willing to push this experiment, one could ultimately locate even the most artificial supercomputer’s physical components’ origins in natural resources which had to be mined to submit it to manufacturing processes. One could take this a step further and reveal its ultimate origin to be the most natural of all entities— a pre-Earth star, as Jordan Peterson’s explanation in Maps of Meaning demonstrated:

Any given object — a table, say — exists as a table because it is apprehended only in a very limited and restrained manner. . . [But w]hat is now table was once tree; before that — earth — before that, rock; before that, star. What is now table has before it an equally complex and lengthy developmental history waiting in ‘front’ of it; it will be, perhaps, ash, then earth, then — far enough in the future- part of the sun again (when the sun finally re-envelops the earth.)[137]

Although for the example of a supercomputer it is beneficial to demonstrate that even the most artificial technological device still had an ultimately natural origin, there are other objects for which the opposite strategy is most useful: human beings, long considered to be uniquely-endowed with the spontaneous power of autonomous living force, are currently in danger of being repurposed into a strictly artificial mode of construal. This will not amount to a mere change in surface-level appearance which would leave humans’ intrinsic essence intact while allowing it greater access to technological convenience or mass entertainment, as the media would claim. Rather, it will amount to the destruction of humans’ very essence, as they will transition from conscious subjects with freedom and desire into mere physical components along which some impersonal systematic task is conducted from one element to another over a giant chain of passivized instrumentality. There is an inevitable dilemma, therefore: an entity can sustain either an artificial essence or a natural essence. The adoption of one logically rules out the other.

The Natural Mode and the Technical Mode

When Kaczynski warns that humans could be reduced to cogs of the social machine, he does not suggest that this could only be accomplished through literally transforming them into cyborgs with artificial metallic components powered by electrical energy (although this certainly is not ruled out either). Such a stance would only be necessary if one assumed that Modern Technology was synonymous with “physical technology” (machines), but he demonstrated that that is only a narrower definition of a much more general phenomenon. Even if the human’s material biological makeup were left intact, he or she could still be reduced to just another piece of Modern Technology through submitting him or her to a coordinated system of social manipulation that blotted out individual freedom in order to coerce its every movement to reinforce the positive feedback loop by which the system sought more power for itself by gaining more power for itself. Modern Technology is therefore not an exhaustive set containing every piece of artificially-engineered technology in the world: Modern Technology is a mode of bringing things to appearance which could coerce objects to fit its mould even without having to reduce them to literal instantiations of physical machinery. This is why Kaczynski’s warning that freedom and technological “progress” are incompatible is far from hyperbole: it is the only logical conclusion of these realizations.

Technology might be called a mode of construal rather than a set of machines; similarly, Nature might be called a second mode of construal rather than any particular object. One can find evidence for this distinction even in Kaczynski’s very earliest writings on Modern Technology. In his rare 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness,” he frames this dichotomy in terms of opposing economic/technological “progress” with genuine “wildness.”[138] He favoured the idiosyncratic term “wildness” over the more familiar term “wilderness” in order to specifically emphasize that genuine wildness can only occur in the absence of control by organized society, or what amounts to the same thing, by Modern Technology. He expresses great concern in the essay that true wildness is quickly disappearing even from the wilderness, as the technological mode of construal has infected even the last remaining forests by converting them into National Parks and recreational campgrounds rather than allow them to remain free of technological intervention. Therefore, even in his earliest writings, one can discern two fundamentally different modes of construal: technological progress and natural wildness.

Admittedly, he does not use the word “construal” himself, which is a word the author borrowed from Jordan Peterson’s loosely-related distinction between construing the world as forum for action and construing the world as place of things in Maps of Meaning.[139] The author fully admits that this analogy is limited in its usefulness, however, for Peterson implies that the mode of construal is consciously adopted by a human subject who alternates from one form of consciousness to another at will. Kaczynski, however, has noted that Modern Technology has no need for humans, so these two modes of construal are far more than subjective stances adopted by human thinkers. The shift from natural essence to technological essence is not merely carried out through a Phenomenological suspension or adoption of attitude, as Peterson suggests. The “construing” is done, rather, by the System itself. Even in the absence of conscious human subjects, the System, as a technological System run by super-intelligent machines, would lack consciousness altogether but would still be able to transform the world into a thoroughly-technologized world. This would be accomplished by transforming the very essence of each entity in the world from a natural essence to a technological essence. Ellul and Kaczynski therefore both warned that human dignity, as a basic feature of humans’ naturalistic essence, was not likely to survive this encroaching totalization.

Because the “construing” is done by the System, it could ideally continue even into a future in which all biological human beings had been rendered extinct, either through accidental environmental contamination or through the wilful agency of artificially intelligent computers which had algorithmically determined that humans had outlived their usefulness. Even the most sycophantic technophiles may soon find that the super-intelligent machines they counted on to bail them out from having to die may not be satisfactorily impressed by the inferior intellects of their mere “flesh and blood” masters and will determine that ridding the Earth of these lower vermin is a morally acceptable response. This is not necessarily a judgment on machines’ intrinsic lack of human conscience, although that certainly is a problem that must be seriously considered by anyone who trusts so naively that a future run by robots will be governed by any ethical standard that will be generous enough to spare their lives. In speaking about how the future revolution will differ from past revolutions, Kaczynski warned in a letter to David Skrbina from March 17, 2005:

Revolutions often depend for their success on the fact that the revolutionaries have enough support in the army or among the police so that at least some elements of these remain neutral or aid the revolutionaries. The revolutionary sympathies of soldiers certainly played an important role in the French and Russian Revolutions. But the armies and police forces of the future may consist of robots, which presumably will not be susceptible to subversion.[140]

Yet even in cases where a “real human conscience” is not lacking, such as in self-propagating systems nominally composed of human beings, there is one crucial reason why the destruction of most players in the game is a more or less guaranteed outcome: Natural Selection. In Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, he warns that the Transhumanist fantasy that human minds will be uploaded into machines and “live forever” neglects to consider what role Natural Selection might play in the process even if it could be accomplished:

The same [principle of Natural Selection] applies to the hypothesized survival of human minds in ‘uploaded’ form inside machines. The uploaded minds will not be tolerated indefinitely unless they remain useful (that is, more useful than any substitutes not derived from human beings), and in order to remain useful they will have to be transformed until they no longer have anything in common with the human minds that exist today.[141]

Even the most seemingly “gifted” number crunching mind in our era will be as much of a joke in the pseudo-eyes of super-intelligent machines as mere man was in the eyes of the over-man in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape.[142]

Technophiles who gamble on being able to “keep up” with the pseudo-intellectual capabilities of the machines of the far future implicitly pride themselves greatly on their own intelligence and likely even fantasize that joining the cyber-utopia of the Singularity will provide them with an “upgrade.” They may be disappointed to find that the Buterlian Jihad from the Dune franchise is the most accurate representation of super-intelligent machines’ attitudes toward the human race. In the short essay “The Coming Revolution,” Kaczynski himself notes that this ghastly prediction would not at all violate Modern Technology but would confirm its presuppositions, since discarding obsolete goods when they have lost their usefulness simply is the essence of Modern Technology:

But maybe [the systematic deformation of humans into an unrecognizable state] won’t matter in the long run, because it is quite possible that human beings will some day become obsolete. There are distinguished scientists who believe that within a few decades computer experts will have succeeded in producing machines more intelligent than human beings. If this actually happens, then human beings will be superfluous and obsolete, and it is likely that the system will dispense with them.[143]

The Freud Delusion

In conclusion, one could argue that a human subject can only survive with its dignity and freedom intact by remaining within the mode of natural wildness rather than the mode of technological progress. Under a natural mode, even imperfect humans will be allowed to survive so long as they are not overwhelmed by disease, war, or some other natural cause of death. However, under a technological mode, the extinction of all humans is a guaranteed outcome in the long run, while disposing of unproductive, impoverished, and genuinely rebellious humans is a certain outcome in the short run. Jacques Ellul warned, for example, that no matter how talented a person might be, he or she will be rendered worthless if he or she does not find some way to become useful to the technical functioning of the System:

Only two possibilities are left to the individual [who is expected to be productive for the System]: either he remains what he was, in which case he becomes more and more unadapted, neurotic, and inefficient, loses his possibilities of subsistence, and is at last tossed on the social rubbish heap, whatever his talents may be; or he adapts himself to the new sociological organism, which becomes his world, and he becomes unable to live except in a mass society (And then he scarcely differs from a caveman.)[144]

One could easily imagine that if some of the greatest thinkers of all time were born today, the System would carelessly dispose of them as well. Who could expect that Socrates would be anything more than human rubbish to the greedy, self-destructive, narrowly-focused rationality of the System? Yet it is only through the technological mode of construal that his genius would be reduced to nothingness, simply because it would have no technical application. Shifting to the natural mode of construal would literally make him into a different person.

One might reasonably argue, in fact, that these modes of construal (wildness/Nature vs. progress/Technique) were what the Ancient Greeks had in mind with the notions of “Physis” (“φῠ́σῐς”) and “Techne” (“τέχνη”) after all, since one and the same object could be considered under either aspect. Aristotle noted in his Physics that even after a piece of wood had been transformed by Techne into a table or some other work of art, it could still theoretically be examined under a natural mode of construal as just a piece of wood.[145] A clay jar, for example, has no “innate impulse to change” qua a jar fashioned by Techne, but it certainly does have an innate impulse of motion as a piece of clay examined under the natural mode of Physis. Like any other example of the basic element of Earth, it will exhibit a natural motion towards the ground if it is dropped, whereas air and fire will exhibit a natural motion to rise upwards. Likewise, the Ancient Greeks seemed to think of Techne as more of a secondary distortion of Nature than a complete transformation of it into an irreversible, distinct category.

Likewise, Kaczynski’s argument that chronic psychological dissatisfaction is not an insurmountable trait of human life so much as it is a symptom of the supremely unnatural way of life under Modern Technology suggests that the Power Process must itself be understood either through the modes of Nature (wildness) or Technology (progress). For example, although Freud and his many psychoanalytic disciples have loved to claim that desire is inherently insatiable, this is only a reflection of their own status as prisoners of Modern Technology rather than an unbiased reflection of all human experience. For example, Psychoanalysis suggests that because sexual repression is the main source of dissatisfaction, taking the leap to reverse this repression to the maximum level possible would be one’s only hope to overcome one’s discontent. But of course, because that act would simply be a substitute for the irrecoverable lost origin, even the most extravagant act of pleasure-seeking would still be doomed to failure.[146] This is a remarkably cynical viewpoint which is flatly contradicted by Kaczynski’s experiences living outside the influence of the Modern Technology which was the true cause of all this suffering Freud observed. In “An Interview with Ted” featured near the end of the Feral House 2010 edition of Technological Slavery, he noted on his life in the woods:

In living close to nature, one discovers that happiness does not consist in maximizing pleasure. It consists in tranquillity. Once you have enjoyed tranquillity long enough, you acquire actually an aversion to the thought of any very strong pleasure [because] excessive pleasure would disturb your tranquillity.[147]

Kaczynski has repeatedly noted, as well, that even something as basic as boredom was absent from his life in Montana and is arguably unknown to hunter gatherer tribes as well:

[O]ne learns that boredom is a disease of civilization. It seems to me that what boredom mostly is is that people have to keep themselves entertained or occupied, because if they aren’t, then certain anxieties, frustrations, discontents, and so forth, start coming to the surface, and it makes them uncomfortable. Boredom is almost non-existent once you’ve adapted to life in the woods. If you don’t have any work that needs to be done, you can sit for hours at a time just doing nothing, just listening to the birds or the wind or the silence, watching the shadows move as the sun travels, or simply looking at familiar objects. And you don’t get bored. You’re just at peace.[148]

One might argue that Freud’s understanding of “desire” was grotesquely disfigured by the technological mode of construal, while Kaczynski’s understanding of “desire” (to go through the Power Process etc.) did not suffer from any of the failures which Freud normalized because this desire occurred through the natural mode of construal within environments which genuinely embody the non-technological “wildness” he mentioned in “Progress Versus Wilderness.” If one is allowed to go through the Power Process to satisfy serious survival needs in a natural context, one really can be satisfied. Further, none of these activities would be mere substitutes for some mysterious lost object (the Mother) which Freud had to posit in order to obscure the fact that his own methodology was powerless to cure people of their dissatisfaction. In Nature, there is no need for substitution because one always gets to live out “the real thing.”

Freedom or Surrogate Activity?

In a certain sense, the Power Process is a neutral term to describe what can only ever be actualized in one of these two modes of construal; there is no such thing as “Power Process” in itself, except as an abstraction from some instantiation taken from either the natural mode or the technological mode.

In the natural mode of construal, the Power Process is actualized as freedom, as Kaczynski literally stated in the 94th paragraph of the Manifesto:

By ‘freedom’ we mean the opportunity to go through the power process, with real goals not the artificial goals of surrogate activities, and without interference, manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially from any large organization. Freedom means being in control (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) of the life-and-death issues of one’s existence; food, clothing, shelter and defense against whatever threats there may be in one’s environment. Freedom means having power; not the power to control other people but the power to control the circumstances of one’s own life. One does not have freedom if anyone else (especially a large organization) has power over one, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised. It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness.[149]

In the technological mode of construal, the same object “Power Process” is known as a mere surrogate activity. Kaczynski states this himself in the 39th paragraph of the Manifesto:

We use the term “surrogate activity” to designate an activity that is directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward, or let us say, merely for the sake of the ‘fulfillment’ that they get from pursuing the goal. Here is a rule of thumb for the identification of surrogate activities. Given a person who devotes much time and energy to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: If he had to devote most of his time and energy to satisfying his biological needs, and if that effort required him to use his physical and mental faculties in a varied and interesting way, would he feel seriously deprived because he did not attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’s pursuit of goal X is a surrogate activity. Hirohito’s studies in marine biology clearly constituted a surrogate activity, since it is pretty certain that if Hirohito had had to spend his time working at interesting non-scientific tasks in order to obtain the necessities of life, he would not have felt deprived because he didn’t know all about the anatomy and life-cycles of marine animals.[150]

The following table summarizes these distinctions; a sober reader will notice that freedom is impossible within the technological mode of construal since it is restricted to the natural mode of wildness:

Table 1
Object Mode of Construal Greek Term 1971 Term
Power Process Neutral/Abstract ουσία n/a
Freedom Nature φῠ́σῐς Wildness
Surrogate Activity Technology τέχνη Progress

This introduction to the text has provided something of a general outline of the Philosophy of Ted Kaczynski by briefly examining most of his major themes within the context of the single most important topic in his body of thought, the revolution against technology. The following chapters shall each examine a particular theme in much greater depth by situating Kaczynski in relation to the tradition of Western Philosophy in a detailed analysis.

2. The End of Subjectivity: Freedom and Interpretation

Sometimes Technology is just Technology

It has been customary within the mainstream media to claim that Ted Kaczynski’s theories in the Manifesto were all just borrowed from the theoretical source material originally provided by other “classical” thinkers. Even he himself felt the need to address the charge that the Manifesto lacked original ideas in the “Postscript to the Manifesto” provided in the Technological Slavery collection:

The Manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future, has been criticized as ‘unoriginal’ but that misses the point. The Manifesto was never intended to be original. Its purpose was to set forth certain points about modern technology in clear and relatively brief form, so that those points could be read and understood by people who would never work their way through a difficult text such as Jacques Ellul’s Technological Society.[151]

Kaczynski notes that the question of “originality” is, however, ultimately irrelevant because the Manifesto was not a work of art meant to demonstrate the creativity of a genius but was rather a deadly serious warning about the disaster which will inevitably follow from continuing the project of Modern Technological Industrialism. Above all, critics had thoroughly failed to understand the purpose of the document, let alone its message, since the very concern over “intellectual property rights” is an historical anomaly unintelligible outside the context of Modern Technological Industrialism. Worse still, critics failed to see the irony in their attempt to evaluate the Manifesto by the standards of academic publishing, in which a “professional thinker” releases a piece of “original research” to the lions of the peer review process in order to seek career advancement in the guise of “disinterested intellectual labour.” Their attempt to kill Kaczynski’s academic standing is only a testament to how enslaved their thought process remains to the social rituals of a corrupt industry restricted to one very particular historical moment, an industry whose very existence is merely parasitic upon the enormous power of Modern Technology. Kaczynski himself addresses this absurdity:

The accusation of unoriginality is in any case irrelevant. Is it important for the future of the world to know whether Ted Kaczynski is original or unoriginal? Obviously not! But it is indeed important for the future of the world to know whether modern technology has us on the road to disaster, whether anything short of revolution can avert that disaster, and whether the political left is an obstacle to revolution.[152]

The charge of unoriginality extends even to a venue of knowledge as “infallible” as the Wikipedia article for Ted Kaczynski. In the “Influences” subsection for the Manifesto, Wikipedia provides no shortage of figures whose ideas Kaczynski merely “echoed,” including John Zerzan, Jacques Ellul, Rachel Carson, Lewis Mumford, Aldous Huxley, and, of course, Sigmund Freud:

Kaczynski’s ideas of ‘oversocialization’ and ‘surrogate activities’ recall Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents and its theories of rationalization and sublimation (a term used three times in Kaczynski’s essay to describe surrogate activities.)[153]

The author of the present text vehemently rejects the media’s claims that Kaczynski’s work simply recycles others’ theories. In fact, even Kaczynski himself cedes far too much ground to his critics in his effort to shift attention away from himself to the impending disaster. To demonstrate this concretely, we shall briefly experiment with this claim that Kaczynski simply is Freud in disguise.

The standard story is that Kaczynski’s theory of surrogate activities was not a brilliant insight into the source of psychological suffering under Modern Technology so much as it was just a repetition of Freud’s insight that a repressed sexual desire will resurface in some involuntary medium such as a dream, a fantasy, or a strange personal habit. Although Freud considered himself a “scientist” in his own era, his explanation for why this occurs will seem laughably unscientific today. For one, he relies on entities whose existence can never be empirically verified because their very definition is to be outside consciousness. The unconscious, for example, literally precludes the possibility of empirical confirmation in its title. In addition, the superego and the ego ideal are volitional agencies whose origin lies in the ego’s interiorization of important family figures. Once trapped in some vague and unidentified location on the “inside,” they supposedly influence the conscious ego through exerting pressure upon it to act in ways that do not make rational sense to the ego itself. Their activity, however, can never be observed directly; it can only ever be artificially reconstructed on the basis of a forensic analysis of some footprint left behind on the subject’s behaviour. Hence the need for an analyst to provide the missing interpretational link to restore the invisible origin behind surface-level phenomena. Despite having a “really cool” theoretical apparatus, Psychoanalysis’s effects on real humans is at best inconclusive, though in many cases it is demonstrably harmful. Further, the financial cost of seeking treatment from a vastly overpaid “expert” is deeply troubling, especially considering the fact that this “expert’”s only foundation of knowledge appears to be a cast of mythological archons whose unverifiability provide the very condition for the analyst to “do his or her job” by restoring the missing link from effect back to cause. After all, if the unconscious, superego, or ego ideal could appear directly to consciousness, the analyst would suddenly lose his or her source of income; there is an obvious financial incentive to keep all these figures buried in some mysterious location in the darkness which only the analyst can unearth through waving the magical wand of “interpretation.”

As unsettling as Psychoanalysis’s methodology is just from an epistemological standpoint, the specific conclusions it draws from its “unbiased research” are outright reprehensible. Behind the façade of a sprawling conceptual apparatus lies a reductiveness which is to be noted for its simple-mindedness: the explanation for everything is incest. If one denies it, this only provides more evidence that “repression” is at work, and if there is repression that provides evidence that there is something to be repressed (the desire for incest.) To say that the formula “denial demonstrates repression which proves that the desire for incest exists” relies on the most embarrassing circular reasoning is certainly a valid point. In the final analysis, however, the author suspects that sheer financial self-interest can provide an even more fundamental explanation for Psychoanalysis than the reductive, all-encompassing “desire for incest.” In other words, in Psychoanalysis even the supposed “desire for incest” can be subordinated to a more primordial desire on the part of the analyst: the desire to make money.

Are we really to believe that Kaczynski’s entire body of writings can be dismissed as a surface-level expression of some disavowed sexual desire ultimately rooted in incest? In that case, all of his references to “Technology” would not really be about Technology. “Technology” would simply be a metaphor for the mother, and his obsession with it would simply be a repressed sexual craving. Therefore, the solution to all of the serious problems mentioned in his writings would also be remarkably simple: all one must do is admit one’s guilt in committing the thought crime of desiring incest, even though one has absolutely no recollection of ever having done so. Forced confessions under torture in the Spanish Inquisition were bad enough, but convincing the patient to voluntarily pay exorbitant rates for the opportunity to “undergo treatment” was a clever addition which even the theocratic tyranny of Post-Medieval Spain had not envisioned.

It is all too understandable why such a ridiculous conclusion would likely be the product which some overpaid “expert” analyst would retrieve as a result of consulting his or her “professional services”: it would obviate any need to question the historically-anomalous, environmentally-destructive, ecologically-unsustainable arrangement of Modern Technological Industrialism. Rather than ask very difficult questions about changing a way of life with no future before it literally destroys the future for both us and for all complex life on Earth, one would just be comforted to find that nothing in the technological infrastructure needs to change after all. The problem is not “out there” at all, since one’s internal conflicted sexual urges were the source of this frustration all along. There are obvious financial incentives in preserving the modern industrial economy, since a social niche as bizarre, questionable, and overpaid as “professional psychoanalyst” would require the host upon which it is a tiny financial parasite to remain alive in order for its own income to remain secure. Still, the formula that every dissatisfaction with life is just a sexual dissatisfaction in disguise is woefully inadequate from a purely theoretical standpoint alone.

This is not to suggest that psychological suffering with an origin in sexual repression is not a legitimate concern, within a proper context. It must be noted that Kaczynski himself admits this much in the second footnote to the Manifesto, in which he grants that the particular historical conditions of the Victorian Era did in fact produce the kind of people upon which Freud based his theories through an observation of their conflicted relation to sex. However, he is careful to note that sexual repression is not a universal common denominator to which every subjective crisis can be submitted, as many unscrupulous psychoanalytic thinkers have claimed. The sexual repression Freud observed in the Victorian Era was itself just another example of the more general phenomenon of oversocialization, the same tendency to do exactly what society demands which he claimed was the psychological essence of Leftism:

During the Victorian period many oversocialized people suffered from serious psychological problems as a result of repressing or trying to repress their sexual feelings. Freud apparently based his theories on people of this type. Today the focus of socialization has shifted from sex to aggression.[154]

Sex and aggression are both inherently dependent elements in relation to the more general problem of oversocialization. Yet oversocialization is itself a structural feature of the Modern Technological Industrial System. The psychoanalytic tendency to distract attention away from the Modern Technological Industrial System to sexual desire therefore gets the problem exactly backwards: living under the System is precisely what provides the conditions for repression of any kind to occur through oversocialization.

Further, it is quite peculiar to claim that our era is uniquely defined by sexual repression, since even Slavoj Zizek (himself a psychoanalytic thinker) has repeatedly claimed that the only thing actually forbidden in our era is precisely the monogamous heterosexual activity confined to marriage alone which is overwhelmingly demonized by the media and the intelligentsia as oppressive, out of date, and “just plain boring.”[155] The idea that rejecting this in favour of spuriously-infinite variations of crass sexual experimentation amounts to some kind of “courageous subversive action” which evidences an explosive level of “originality and free thought” is therefore a doubly comical illusion, since this is exactly what the System itself mandates.

Kaczynski himself explicitly mentioned this point as early as 1991. In an unpublished letter to a researcher dated July 30, 1991, Kaczynski responded to a request to participate in a study over individuality by enquiring into the meaning of this term. Clarification was necessary, since all too often individuality and non-conformity are terms inappropriately attributed to “mere games” with no practical implications.[156] He went on to list engaging in bizarre sexual practices right alongside such trivial activities as “wearing kinky clothes,” producing avant-garde art, and “developing eccentric philosophical ideas.” The irony is, of course, that whereas avant-garde art and Postmodernist philosophy had literally devolved into games to push the bar further than the last person, this apparently infinite variation at the level of “non-practical matters” was paired with absolutely strict conformity to “practical matters.” For example, even the most “radical” deconstructivist professor will still show up to work on time, pay his or her taxes, hire a professional to handle the electrical wiring in his or her home, and call the police when a problem arises rather than take the law into his or her own hands.

Sexual deviancy is therefore quite literally an accident that does not touch the essence of the System. The System can tolerate any number of bizarre varieties of sexual fetish, so long as none of them calls into question the infallible supremacy of Modern Technology over any other means of accomplishing tasks. It is quite literally the case that some academic psychologists have argued that sexual attraction to children is not a criminal pathology so much as it is a naturally-occurring psychological difference which cannot be evaluated under the narrow-minded fixation on just one traditional heteronormative adult-centric expression of sexuality. Even this despicable madness is allowed to pass as “serious intellectual work” because pushing the envelope of sexual perversion to its furthest abstract limit still never penetrates beyond the surface level of inessential accidents to reach the essential technological core of the System.

Jacques Ellul also noted the irony that the publishing industry congratulated itself on braving new frontiers by releasing ever more obscene works of pornography yet refused to release even the most innocuous critique of Technique:

Suppose one were to write a revolutionary book. If it is to be published, it must enter into the framework of the technical organization of book publishing. In a predominantly capitalistic technical culture, the book can be published only if it can return a profit . . . If the publishing system is state-owned, the publication of revolutionary literature cannot even be considered. All this amounts to saying that technical forces, which were put into operation ostensibly for the diffusion of thought, lead in practice to its emasculation. It is impossible to agree with ideologues who assert that capitalism is synonymous with freedom of broadcasting . . . [Yet o]f course, we can write or teach anything [obscene], including pornography, inflammatory revolutionary manifestoes, and new economic and political doctrines. But as soon as any of these appears to have any real effect in subverting the universal social order . . . they are forthwith excluded from the technical channels of communication.[157]

He therefore warned that it was becoming virtually impossible to seriously discuss the technological system at all, since one would have to rely upon the technological apparatuses of the publishing industry just to disseminate such a work. In the 96th paragraph of the Manifesto, Kaczynski also admitted that attempting to make an impact on the public through publishing the Manifesto by traditional means would have been a waste of time, provided he had even been able to find a publisher willing to host such a controversial work. He admits with shocking frankness that “we had to kill people” just to get a short text published in a few major newspapers:

Take us for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it’s more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of those readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.[158]

Once again, we have reached the point where the most disgustingly sadistic sexual fantasies freely cross the publishing threshold but a brief essay questioning Modern Technology could capture the public eye only through what the FBI and newspapers considered to be terroristic blackmail.

On the other hand, in his classic 2017 book The Retro Future, John Michael Greer reported that a woman in Oregon was interviewed by a newspaper to explain why she enjoys living in a Victorian home and using the 19th Century technology that was more compatible with her house than any cheap modern gimmicks the rest of the population was pressured to buy; the response from readers was a flurry of infuriated death threats.[159] We have reached the point where paedophilia is literally more acceptable to the Technological System than cooking dinner over a wood-burning stove. Threatening to murder a woman because she wears a dress from the Victorian Era proves that the number of mindless zombies, frothing at the mouth and robotically repeating their cult programming, has started to overtake the number of free human agents with rational minds in the population; increasingly, violence has signalled that the robots have little interest in allowing the mentats to continue existing,[160] though ironically the latter are being silenced or destroyed in the name of “tolerance.” This is a troubling confirmation that Orwellian doublethink has transitioned from fictional projection to historical actuality.

Kaczynski emphasized this distinction between genuine freedom and crass permissiveness in the Manifesto:

Modern society is in certain respects extremely permissive. In matters that are irrelevant to the functioning of the system we can generally do what we please. We can believe in any religion we like (as long as it does not encourage behaviour that is dangerous to the system). We can go to bed with anyone we like (as long as we practice ‘safe sex’). We can do anything we like as long as it is UNIMPORTANT. But in all IMPORTANT matters the system tends increasingly to regulate our behaviour.[161]

As will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapter, one could substitute the terms “essential” for “IMPORTANT” and “inessential/accidental” for “UNIMPORTANT.” Freedom and permissiveness therefore are two ethical concerns with strict epistemological correlates. The System is infinitely permissive with regard to inessential concerns such as sexual desire, since even a person with the weirdest sexual fetish would still agree on driving a car, using a computer, maintaining a constant internet connection, watching television, and microwaving processed pseudo-food that had previously been stored for months in an electronic freezer. But the System does not allow even the minutest expression of genuine freedom, because genuine freedom would disrupt the essence of the System by calling into question its technological infrastructure. The metaphor of the Death Star is therefore doubly fitting, since Luke Skywalker had to penetrate the surface level and descend deep into the belly of the beast in order to destroy what was quite literally a giant technological monstrosity which threatened the survival of entire planets and species of natural beings. Only a free being can suspend the illusion of permissiveness in order to make a leap towards attacking the essence (objective factor), an essence which is in both cases revealed to be thoroughly technological.

Only a free being, in other words, can interpret a situation differently from the programming which had been imposed upon it by some remote power structure. One might be reminded of David Icke’s distinction between robots which merely execute the instructions implanted into them by the System and the free subject who realizes that his or her current experience is a mere vehicle for the infinite consciousness which is its true identity.[162] In our era, breaking free from the status of a robot has somehow come to be a massive, Herculean accomplishment.

Paradoxically, despite its complicated apparatus for interpreting dreams, fantasies, and personal habits, Psychoanalysis has done nothing to aid this Robots’ Rebellion, since it has restricted the role of interpretation to the overpaid analyst; even in cases in which amateurs might attempt self-interpretation, their movements are restricted in advance to established channels which always lead to one predictable outcome. Psychoanalysis is therefore simply one more example of what David Icke would call “programming.”

Even during the pre-reptilian phase of his thought, Icke’s central claim has been that whoever figures out how to control the interpretational programming can easily control the entire population as a result:

We are a race of robots. By that, I mean that most people do not have a thought in their heads that has not been put there by someone or something else. We have become a race of programmed minds which can be persuaded to believe and do almost anything as long as the drip, drip, drip of lies and misinformation continues to bombard us through our political systems [and] media.[163]

This is why David Icke never suggests that the problem in our era is a complete lack of interpretation. In more recent writings, he states that the real problem is that even our physical perception of reality is merely the result of an interpretational schema hard-wired into our brain. Even the human body’s methods for decoding stimuli into empirical sense contents such as colours, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations operate according to fixed procedures. However, these processes execute so imperceptibly that we misrecognize them to be a product of our own agency, despite the fact that they are just another arbitrary algorithm which we have not chosen and which can be manipulated at will by malicious forces like the Babylonian Brotherhood. He summarizes this view concisely in his recent book Everything You Need to Know But Have Never Been Told:

Different parts of the brain specialise in decoding information from different senses. The brain decodes electrical information into digital and holographic information that we perceive in our heads as the world around us. There is in fact no world around us and everything exists in the brain and genetic structures in the form that we think we are experiencing outside ourselves. Computers work the same way. Information decoding systems and what appears on the screen are all happening inside the computer.[164]

For Icke, therefore, the first step in overcoming the robotic programming to become a free conscious subject is to see that even one’s five senses are components of a biological computer which decodes electrical information into the illusion which pixelates onto one’s subjective “holographic” screen. One must then realize that this biological computer is bound by one interpretational program but this physical apparatus is not who one really is. David Icke’s later distinction between Phantom Self and Infinite Self follows from this need to resist reducing one’s personal identity to any limitation, especially one forcibly imposed by the Brotherhood.

Obviously, the author does not mean to imply that David Icke and Ted Kaczynski are in agreement on perhaps any issue at all: however, it is interesting that the rapid erosion of freedom is identified even within the New Age Movement to have its origin in the imposition of some extrinsic technical system of interpretation which has colonized even one’s basic perception of reality.

Jacques Ellul, lacking Icke’s New Age interest in infinite consciousness and multiple dimensions of reality,[165] also realized that imperceptibility is the ultimate measure for technical success:

[T]he essence of the techniques of “humanization” [is] to render unnoticeable the disadvantages that other techniques have created. The task of the technician is to develop machine techniques and human techniques to such a pitch of perfection that even the man face to face with the perfectly functioning machine no longer has human initiative or the desire to escape. In a simple machine, a sticking gear or an overhead rod calls the existence of the machine to the notice of its vexed user. A lubricating technique is needed which will make the machine function so smoothly that its presence is not felt. The ability to forget the machine is the ideal of technical perfection.[166]

Psychoanalysis provides a perfect example of this imperceptibility, since it is almost never even recognized as Technique at all. It is shocking that many a delusional psychoanalytic theorist might even claim that Psychoanalysis is a subversive theoretical tool for resisting Technique, given that Psychoanalysis is quite literally Technique in the guise of psychological rehabilitation. In reality, Psychoanalysis has simply provided the technical foundation for mass indoctrination:

[T]oday we recognize that techniques go further than [the hard sciences like Chemistry and Physics.] Psychoanalysis and sociology have passed into the sphere of technical application; one example of this is propaganda.[167]

Psychoanalysis is devoted to the technicization of interpretation, yet this is only in order to destroy the subject’s ability to interpret even his or her own emotions outside the constraints of some artificial, rationalized social technique. Ellul makes very clear that the end result of the mass implementation of psychological technique will be nothing short of the complete dissolution of diversity amongst humans:

When psychological techniques, in close co-operation with material techniques, have at last succeeded in creating unity, all possible diversity will have disappeared and the human race will have become a bloc of complete and irrational solidarity.[168]

Hermeneutical Death

To say that our ability to interpret has come under attack by a technological system is complicated by the fact that Kaczynski avoids the naïve definition of technology in order to include epistemological and social concerns under a term ordinarily reserved for physical machines. The first chapter of the present work concluded by revealing that Kaczynski is not guilty of confusing technology with machines, since, like Ellul and Heidegger, he understood technology to extend even to prestigious scientific fields such as Chemistry and to methods of social organization such as our so-called “educational” system. He goes on to admit that with this expanded definition of technology, there has never been any such thing as a “pure civilization” which completely lacked technological adulteration:

Thus, the problem of civilization can be equated with the problem of technology. The farther back we push technology, the farther back we will push civilization. If we could push technology all the way back to the stone age, there would be no more civilization.[169]

One would therefore be mistaken to think that Kaczynski’s goal was to remove all machines invented after a certain year (for example, the year 1900) in order to restore a carbon copy of some earlier era’s civilization, and therefore to preserve that era’s “acceptable” form of pre-modern technology (such as John Michael Greer presented in his hypothetical portrayal of the future in Retrotopia).[170] It is not a question of finding just the right level of technological intermediation which some previous civilization achieved before the balance was tipped to the clearly unacceptable level which modern industrialism exhibits today. Rather, civilization itself logically implies technology. A civilization of any kind requires a physical apparatus of tools or machines. It also requires an epistemological orientation towards discovering rationalized means to manipulate natural matter (even including human bodies) and repurpose it to artificial ends. Finally, it requires a compulsory means of social organization by which people might be retrofitted into cogs in a social machine that blots out individual identity in favour of achieving some schematic image of a massive artificial super-organism; this techno-organism will of course act in the interest of promoting its own survival and expansion with no regard for its members, each of whom would have been devalued to subordinate parts of this great monstrous whole. Kaczynski’s warning that the eventual outcome of the current technological experiment will be the complete loss of human dignity and the total integration of the individual into a vast social machine is not unique to his previously-unpublished letters. This was expressed as early as the Manifesto’s opening paragraphs:

The industrial-technological system . . . MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through a long and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore, if the system survives, the consequences will be inevitable. There is no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy.[171]

Kaczynski’s decision to designate all civilizations as inherently technological rather than to limit this judgment to the current computerized industrial society was no doubt controversial even among the correspondents to whom he wrote letters in the early to mid-2000s. After all, Classical Music, Renaissance Literature, 17th Century Painting, and Enlightenment Philosophy were all the products of mature civilizations in their own time and have been preserved for centuries afterward only because civilization has provided sufficient conditions of stability to prevent their demise and has established the educational institutions by which a general familiarity with Franz Joseph Haydn, Miguel de Cervantes, Rembrandt, and John Locke might be disseminated to the masses who might otherwise neglect them out of sheer ignorance. Kaczynski’s decision to not argue for a less-technologized civilization that might allow the masterpieces to be preserved might even be interpreted as a type of reckless disregard for the great aesthetic and philosophical accomplishments of the past, or a reckless drive to set fire to priceless works of art in a dazzling tailspin of anti-intellectual madness.

In a letter to David Skrbina from April 5, 2005, Kaczynski responded to Skrbina’s question whether he had unjustifiably devalued the great literary and musical accomplishments of humankind by relegating them to the status of “surrogate activities” by which to go through the Power Process without disrupting the system and, more importantly, by promoting the collapse of the mature and complex civilizations which provided the condition both for their production and for their preservation. Fortunately, the original quote was reproduced in his response:

You write: ‘Art, music, literature and (for the most part) religion are considered by most people to be true and important achievements of humanity . . . You seem to undervalue any such accomplishments, and in fact virtually advocate throwing them away [as though] art and literature [were] nothing more than “a harmless outlet for rebellious impulses”’[172]

Kaczynski clarified his position by affirming:

I don’t advocate ‘throwing away’ art and literature. I do recognize that the loss of much art and literature would be a consequence of the downfall of the technoindustrial system but getting rid of art and literature is not a goal.[173]

His stance was, of course, far more nuanced than either a thoughtless disregard for the classics that abandons them to the flames of de-industrial collapse or a powerless surrender to the hostage situation into which Modern Technology has placed even those with the best intentions. Rather, he raised a disturbing question which both standard sides of the debate fail to notice:

If we continue on our present course, we’ll probably be replaced by computers sooner or later. What use do you think the machines will have for art, literature, and music? [Even i]f we aren’t replaced by computers we’ll certainly be changed profoundly . . . What reason do you have to believe that people of the future will be responsive to the art, music, and literature of the past?[174]

Kaczynski would repeat this observation near the end of his discussion of self-propagating systems in the second chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. As was noted in the first chapter of the present work, there is nothing intrinsically human about self-propagating systems. In fact, viruses demonstrate that self-propagating systems need not even be composed of living organisms of any kind. Yet in the far future, robots will almost certainly outcompete humans at the level of raw Natural Selection. Kaczynski is careful to note, however, that machines need not surpass humans in every area of intelligence. For example, creating an A.I. program with more musical talent than Bach or more literary talent than Dostoyevsky may be an intellectual curiosity, but these would be irrelevant activities in a world in which humans had gone extinct. In a fully de-anthropomorphised world, surpassing humans at the level of technical intelligence would be more than sufficient to render flesh and blood beings permanently obsolete:

It’s important to understand that in order to make people superfluous, machines will not have to surpass them in general intelligence but only in certain specialized kinds of intelligence. For example, the machines will not have to create or understand art, music, or literature, they will not need the ability to carry on intelligent, non-technical conversation (the “Turing Test”), they will not have to exercise tact or understand human nature, because these skills will have no application if humans are to be eliminated anyway.[175]

Likewise, the stereotypical image of a technophile engineer gleefully putting novelists, composers, and painters out of work forever by automating away even the greatest human accomplishments will likely miss the grand irony that he or she would be devoting enormous effort into a task which the machines themselves would consider worthless anyway. The irony is, of course, that the only skill which the machines would be uniquely interested in automating out of existence is precisely the technical role of the engineer. Few things demonstrate human hubris quite as concisely as the stereotypical engineer who presumes that automation by artificial intelligence can and should only affect everyone else’s job. In reality, few things are as inevitable as a future filled with self-programming and self-designing machines.

One of the more ironic news stories to surface in recent times included an interview with a software engineer who was forced to train his replacement in India and was then laid off. He was so disgruntled that he fled to the media to blow the trumpets of rebellion against this injustice. It is interesting, however, that someone who had spent his entire career either automating working class people’s jobs out of existence or facilitating the conditions for them to be outsourced to “Third World nations” would be surprised that the same thing could happen to his own job. One could only imagine that in past years when blue collar workers in Rust Belt states lashed out against their jobs being outsourced to China or being taken up by undocumented workers from El Salvador, our engineer “friend” would have loudly castigated the ignorance and “racism” inherent in placing the blame for one’s own failures onto developing economies or immigrants. But of course, when his own job was exported to some anonymous poorly-paid, darker skinned person in South Asia who could work for less than minimum wage, this combination of factors only added to his humiliation and rage, since this was never supposed to happen to the “good jobs.” The coming revolution in self-programming computers will of course universalize this trend to the entire world. There will no longer be any question of allowing some fallible human being, however poorly-paid, to meddle in an infrastructure which only machines are intellectually fit to touch. Allowing even the best number-crunching human into this infrastructure would be like handing the surgical tools to a three year old child during an operation on a dying patient’s brain.

Civilization’s Hostage Situation

For the record, Kaczynski’s ultimate stance regarding this issue was that the great accomplishments of civilization might be preserved into the future by the work of committed individuals rather than huge institutions, let alone some global civilization (similar to the role of the “cultural conservers” in John Michael Greer’s early Archdruid Report postings);[176] however, counting on the techno-industrial civilization to preserve them will surely amount to a type of suicide both for the works and for the subjects to whom they would matter in the first place. Those who ask whether a globalized industrial civilization should be maintained simply for the sake of the great works of art assume, far too complacently, that it can be taken for granted that there will even be such a thing as a human subject able to undergo the experience of aesthetic appreciation for these works in the first place. The mass extinction of human beings is an uncomfortably plausible historical event of the far future, but it is not the only thing which could remove the very possibility of aesthetic interpretation from existence. The human beings of such an era may be biologically functional organisms but that will not at all guarantee that they will be subjects. A subject is far more than an anonymous blob of semi-aware biological tissues. Although Kaczynski has not demonstrated any influence by Heidegger, one might argue that his comments about robots’ inability to care about art reveal that a human subject is above all characterized by its thrownness into a hermeneutical horizon in which interpretation of the ambiguous and poetical manifestations of meanings is both an originary state into which the subject had always already found itself and a hard limit which it cannot overstep without ceasing to be a subject altogether.[177]

Traditionally, a vast gulf has separated poetically-ambiguous figurative meaning from rigidly-fixed literal meaning. Yet one was not simply an impoverished version of the other. Conclusively systematizing a classical poem into a string of numerical digits with a single unambiguous value with no need for subjective involvement in the process of interpretation would not lead one to have “the ultimate interpretation.” In that case, the poem would no longer be a poem: it would become a number. This reduction of language to number is not merely hypothetical; artificially “intelligent” computers process their cheap imitation of language in exactly this way, yet it would be absurd to claim that any string of binary digits stored in a hard-drive is intrinsically poetical.

Even in ancient times, Plato realized that numbers and linguistic statements differ at the level of morphological requirements for how they express meanings: linguistic statements are inherently flexible at the level of modification but even the slightest addition or subtraction to a number’s literal signature would change it into a different number:

Cratylus: [T]he case of language . . . is very different. For when by the help of grammar we assign the letters [‘A’] or [‘B’] or any other letter to a certain name, then, if we add or subtract or misplace a letter, the name which is written is not only written wrongly but not written at all and in any of these cases becomes other than a name . . .

Socrates: I believe that what you say may be true about numbers, which must be just as they are, or not be at all. For example, the number ten at once becomes other than ten if a unit be added or subtracted, and so of any number, but this does not apply to that which is qualitative or anything which is represented under an image.[178]

Linguistic descriptions of a particular event can vary widely without at all negating the fact that they are all descriptions of the same thing. Yet adding another zero to the numerical inscription “10” will instantly result in a completely different number (100), just as subtracting a zero would yield a completely different number (1). Although natural languages’ morphological fluidity might seem to be a design flaw which could be overcome through engineering a system in which every linguistic sentence would have one and only one proper form which would express one and only one predictable meaning, such a system would deprive humans of their very ability to be human by destroying their ability to truly think.

Wallace Stevens’ poem “Tea at the Palaz of Hoon,” for example, demonstrates how poetical language is in essence a completely different means of expressing meaning than a numerical system of fully-predictable, fixed, unique values. Any given line within the following poem could very well mean anything to anyone, yet there is no question of isolating the “one correct interpretation” amidst a flurry of “wrong answers.” The binary logic whereby an interpretation is either completely right or completely wrong simply cannot be transferred over to a genuine poem:

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.
What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?

What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?
Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:
I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.[179]

It is debatable whether even Wallace Stevens himself could provide a definitive answer to what this poem “really means.” Somehow, though, it would be incorrect to say that it means “nothing” at all or that trying to interpret it would be a waste of time, like chasing after phantoms with no real existence. Its standard of meaning is simply irreducible to a binary division between one correct answer and many incorrect ones.

Even centuries before the invention of modern artificially intelligent machines, Descartes granted that machines could process data mechanistically in accord with their physical components’ deterministic movements but he insisted that only humans were capable of using language as such in a creative and responsive manner. Reason, he claimed, was a feature unique to the thinking substance, the cogito:

[The machines] are destitute of reason, and . . . it is nature which acts in them according to the disposition of their [physical] organs: thus, it is seen, that a clock composed only of wheels and weights can number the hours and measure time more exactly than we can with all our skill [but that does not mean it has] the reasonable soul [which] could by no means be deduced from the power of matter . . . but must be expressly created [as a thinking substance.][180]

Although Descartes is typically thought of as a mathematical rationalist primarily interested in the cogito’s ability to follow abstract pathways to unearth obscure geometrical proofs, he actually concedes in this passage that such activities could someday be performed much faster and more efficiently by machines. The mysterious power of Reason as such, however, did not lie at the top of some linear staircase which could be traversed through swallowing quantitatively larger and larger chunks from the region of mechanistic thought until one finally found the numerical secret behind the cogito’s spontaneous powers of rationality.

Instead, Descartes insisted that crossing the gulf between algorithmic data processing and the cogito’s rational essence was an a priori impossibility because that would collapse the distinction in essence between a physical machine and the abstract mind. Of course, he could only justify this claim through positing a Metaphysical explanation rooted in the “Cartesian Dualism” between mind and body as two distinct types of substance (res cogitans and res extensa)[181] which later became the object of an irrational hatred among the “professional intellectuals” who sought to prove their fidelity to the religious creeds of Postmodernism through outcompeting one another in theatrical displays of rage against Descartes. Exhuming Descartes’s ghost in order to place him on trial and then torture him into confessing his guilt in providing the Metaphysical basis for capitalism, colonialism, gender inequality, sexism, racism, and homophobia developed into an outright comical ritual which always ended at the same destination by recycling an identical script to stage a redundant mock Inquisition over and over again, all for that purpose of scoring easy points to advance an academic career without being inconvenienced by anything as difficult as having to have an original thought. Although identifying “Cartesian bias” became a standard trick in the sophist’s bag of tools for decades, there are very serious reasons to argue against their tendency to so carelessly squander the concept of a spontaneous rational agency which cannot be reduced to an artificial intelligence program without destroying its subjectivity. It is not a coincidence that spontaneity was precisely the defining feature which Jacques Ellul claimed Technique destroys by replacing spontaneous forms that identify the agency of a living thing with the rigid, strict forms which signal the technical rationalization of a machine.[182]

What was merely a theoretical prediction in Descartes’ era is quickly becoming a concrete threat in ours, yet the “professional thinkers” are in many cases too blinded by their (ironically) self-interested desire for tenure and a higher salary within the academic industry (itself a mere front operation for peddling predatory student loans in the guise of “education”) to see that they are hastening this process by arguing that subjectivity is itself the source of all social evils and must be done away with in order to bring about “social justice,” although it is difficult to imagine who exactly will get to enjoy this utopian state if its requirement is the loss of subjectivity.

Edinburgh University Press’s 2000 publication Deleuze and Feminist Theory, for example, was largely just a competition over which contributor could write the most radically post-subjective essay. One essay mentioned, for example, that the Postmodernist ideal of experience without subjectivity is not a fantasy at all, since jellyfish provide a scientific example of how this would work. Jellyfish lack a brain and simply experience the world directly through their nerves with no need for a centralized nervous system to process that data according to the narrow-minded logic of a coherent subject. An honest reader cannot help asking, however, whether the contributor who wrote this article would be willing to voluntarily give up her brain in order to join the jellyfish in their state of post-subjective, rhizomatic, de-territorialized bliss or whether this was just an academic publicity stunt to try to be “less essentialist than thou.”

At any rate, overstepping the boundary from the hermeneutical ambiguity of, for example, Wallace Stevens’ poetry (in which any line could mean anything to a given human subject, insofar as the subject exists in this crucial gap between given contents and their meaning) to the fixed literal valuation by which computers rigidly and predictably interpret one given electronic state to correspond to one and only one pseudo-numerical value would not result in a super-subject who had overcome its previous limitations to evolve into some higher mind-form with unbounded freedom, like a mystical being with godlike powers in an atheist universe that had still not fully renounced its spiritual need for mythical archetypes. It would, on the contrary, simply result in a Hermeneutical Death, in which the subject as such would cease to exist.[183] Although Kaczynski did not phrase it in exactly the same words as the author has, his observation that aesthetic appreciation will not even be an option in a future where humans are either reformed into replicas of machines or literally replaced by them through mass extinction amounts to the same insight. This is among the most underappreciated of all of Kaczynski’s insights.

It must be noted, of course, that Kaczynski did not uphold some mystical or supernatural explanation for why this gulf couldn’t be crossed: on the contrary, he noted in a letter to David Skrbina from April 5, 2005:

I do think it’s highly probable that the machines will eventually surpass the human brain in intelligence. I’m enough of a materialist to believe that the human brain functions solely according to the laws of physics and chemistry. In other words, it is in a sense a machine, so it should be possible to duplicate it artificially.[184]

An unpublished letter from prison dated to October 12, 1998 echoed this belief without any ambiguity whatsoever. In response to an explicit question on the matter, he responded that he was a materialist, plain and simple, and that all human behaviour can in principle be explained through the Laws of Physics.[185] Although he was very careful to note in this letter that scientists are nowhere near having an exhaustive understanding of this information, closing in on this data is a fixed theoretical possibility, though this would certainly not be a good thing for human freedom if it were accomplished.

Likewise, he accepted that the brain’s physical essence could someday be fully-mapped out by scientists. Discovering the brain’s hidden secret would not, however, empower Mankind to enjoy previously unimaginable levels of freedom: it would permanently reduce humans to the status of fully-transparent electrical appliances which could be duplicated by cheap, substitutable, fully-programmable machines in the literal sense. Even as early as the rare 1971 essay “Progress versus Liberty,” he warned that the competition between the human brain and artificially-intelligent machines was not likely to work in the human brain’s favour. Specifically, he cited the statements of Marvin Minsky, a figure John Zerzan also criticized in his public defence of the Unabomber for claiming that the “human brain [is] ‘a 3 pound computer made of meat.’”[186] Kaczynski, however, does in fact cede ground to Minsky in this essay, in that he admits that one would have to uphold literally supernatural explanations for why the brain couldn’t be reduced to the status of an “electro-chemical computer, operating according to the laws of physics and chemistry.”[187]

In this essay, he was primarily concerned about the prospect of computers becoming capable of creative rather than mechanistic thought, a capability long considered to be unique to human rationality. Although it is useful to introduce the problem as a matter of translating the human brain into a machine form, he emphasized that several key differences between human brains and electronic brains lead this problem to be far more than a matter of replication. For one, human brains are intrinsically limited in weight to a few pounds and to a size which can be fit into a human skull. Electronic brains, however, can be expanded to any size allowed by their hard electrical engineering requirements. Worse still, he mentions in this essay that a huge number of them can be “chained” together to form a massive composite electronic brain. Another important difference is that although human brains are relatively powerful compared to other animals’, they are inherently democratic since quite literally every person has one and no person has more (in number) than any other. Yet such a massive electronic brain would not be accessible to ordinary individuals but would be controlled by massive, corrupt institutions such as world governments and corporations.

Likewise, he acknowledged that it was theoretically possible to bridge the gap between mind and machine by unearthing the secret code which allowed the brain to “do its magic.” However, this would guarantee nothing except the extinction of humans, either as literal biological entities or as hermeneutical subjects. Even if the biological organism of a human person survived this transition intact, it would no longer be a subject; or to use his favourite term, it would no longer have “freedom.” It would be just another piece of the extended machine of Modern Technology.

Politics and Existentialism

The reader may perhaps feel inclined to criticize this chapter’s extended discussion of art, since viewing 17th Century paintings or reading Medieval Poetry may seem like trivial concerns compared to the life or death seriousness of discussing a technological system which literally threatens the possibility of complex life on Earth in the far future. However, hermeneutical concerns are not merely limited to the aesthetic realm. There are serious political implications involved in this definition of subjectivity which posits a hermeneutical horizon of interpretation as an intrinsic, necessary feature. One need not extrapolate beyond the literature written by Ellul and, later, by Kaczynski to unearth this important relation between Hermeneutics and Politics since both of them emphasize this point explicitly.

Despite the fact that neither man sold out to politics in the traditional partisan sense, each recognized that ignoring the profound political implications of an ongoing technological destruction of subjectivity would be intellectually dishonest. Ellul, for example, noted that Technique was progressively rendering the human individual more and more powerless to exert any influence over the food he eats, let alone the government he is forced to live under or the industrial infrastructure he is forced to inhabit:

The human being is delivered helpless, in respect to life’s most important and most trivial affairs, to a power which is in no sense under his control. For there can be no question today of man’s controlling the milk he drinks or the bread he eats, any more than of controlling his government. The same holds for the development of great industrial plants, transport systems, motion pictures, and so on.[188]

Kaczynski, of course, similarly noted that access to food, water, and shelter was distributed solely through one’s ability to find a niche within the System (otherwise known as a job) in which the price to pay for raw survival (albeit with a very poor quality of life) was just the complete loss of freedom. The supreme challenge for both thinkers was to somehow do justice to this political dilemma without falling back on the easy pathways of partisan identification.

Above all, Ellul and Kaczynski found it impossible to accept political stances (partisan or not) which would attempt to salvage human subjectivity without first challenging Modern Technology. In the second chapter of Ellul’s Technological Society, he provided his own attempt at unearthing the purified, rational essence of technology in order to explain why Technique and human subjectivity would be incompatible in the long run. In particular, he devoted a full chapter to the “Characterology of Technique.” To do so, he listed the five fundamental features of Technique. These included: “Automatism of Technical Choice,” or Technique’s tendency for self-directing movement;[189] “Self-Augmentation,” or the hard-wired tendency for Technique to expand even in the absence of consciously-planned pathways of growth determined by some human agent;[190] “Monism,” in which trying to separate a technique from its use is as absurd as believing that a technique can be subordinated to some extrinsic interest, such as developing in order to benefit humans;[191] the “Necessary Linking Together of Techniques,” or the impossibility of speaking sensibly about particular machines in isolation from the vast networks of which they are a part;[192] and finally, the “Autonomy of Technique,” in which technical development must be understood within the metaphor of an organism which acts according to its own self-interests and squeezes out the very possibility of a conscious individual by reducing him or her to a subordinate part of this greater whole.[193] Despite their notable differences, all five features have at least one trait in common: each demonstrates that conscious human subjects are not necessary to Technique at all, let alone is the human subject Technique’s master. Initially, conscious human subjects may seem to be merely accidental appendages without which Technique could continue to function just as easily, but it would be far closer to the truth to say that conscious human subjects are an annoying obstacle which must be progressively diminished as Technique achieves finer grades of perfection. Ted Kaczynski’s warning that technological development and human freedom are incompatible is therefore a matter of logical mutual exclusivity rather than historical contingency. Even among hard-core technophiles, it will be hard to find anyone naïve enough to believe that the ultimate result of this operation will be anything other than the hermeneutical, if not the literal, death of subjects as such.

It is interesting that Jacques Ellul specifically designated hermeneutical interpretation as the key feature of human subjectivity which Technique would progressively destroy as it gained more and more ground. In other words, Ellul emphasized interpretation rather than sense perception because he was not content to define human subjectivity strictly in terms of its physical empiricist faculties; this is because no matter how much ground is ceded to Technique, one will always retain the ability to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Indeed, in its current state Technique requires that subjects retain these physical channels to receive sense data, if only to overstimulate their senses with noise and pixels from smartphone screens or television sets.

However, even a thinker as archaic as Plato had noticed in his great epistemological dialogue Theaetetus that not every intellectual activity can be ghettoized to one of the five senses. The context for this debate was that Socrates had challenged the young geometer Theaetetus to provide a definition for knowledge. Despite being an expert on a particular branch of knowledge, he is utterly at a loss for how to define knowledge itself. Predictably, he initially falls back on the naïve definition that knowledge simply is perception. After all, the facts which one conclusively knows are the ones which are confirmed empirically through the senses. However, very serious problems emerge from this attempt to define knowledge as entirely synonymous with perception. For example, one sees colours with the eyes and hears sounds with the ears, yet one would be at a loss to determine which of the five senses one uses to “see” abstract rational contents. Logical notions like “being and not being, likeness and unlikeness, sameness and difference, and . . . unity” are certainly not meaningless;[194] in fact, intelligent thought itself requires some understanding of them, yet they cannot be pinned down to any one of the five senses. Theaetetus speculates, therefore, that “these, unlike objects of sense, have no separate organ, but [rather] the mind, by a power of her own, contemplates the universals in all things.”[195] Socrates agrees, “[T]he soul views some things by herself and others through the bodily organs.”[196] Plato therefore distinguished contents which are viewed “through the bodily organs” (colours, sounds, tactile sensations, smells etc.) from contents which are contemplated by the mind itself (universal concepts, numbers, logical connectives etc.) Technique certainly does not threaten the former, since a person who had no pathways to be influenced by sense contents would be useless to the System, since such a person would not even be susceptible to subtle manipulations, let alone total control. Yet precisely because the mind cannot be pinned down to any one of these obvious segments, Technique can slowly dismantle the mind’s ability for rational contemplation, and it can do so silently and imperceptibly. This process will occur virtually unnoticed by anyone until one day the hermeneutical death of the subject will have been achieved amidst a global population of smartphone zombies drooling over pixel screen illusions which shine forth senselessly like a flashlight in their dilated pupils.

Jacques Ellul reached a similar conclusion in his explanation of the “Automatism of Technical Choice” section in The Technological Society, in which he noted that Technique’s movement is self-directing because the data with which it works are so rigidly-fixed that there is no need for a human subject to contribute some magical share of “thinking.” In fact, progressive advances in technical rationalization actively rule out the necessity for human thought by overwhelming the subject with an objective truth about which he or she is rendered powerless to make a decision at all:

There is no personal choice, in respect to magnitude, between, say, 3 and 4; 4 is greater than 3; this is a fact which has no personal reference. No one can change it or assert the contrary or personally escape it. Similarly, there is no choice between two technical methods. One of them asserts itself inescapably; its results are calculated, measured, obvious, and indisputable.[197]

In addition to the epistemological problem posed by calculations which can be executed by machines in the total absence of humans, Ellul emphasized the ontological distortion which occurs as a result of this inability to make a choice at all. The result of achieving superior methods of technical rationalization is that each improvement will be so obviously superior to its predecessor that this new result will be absolutized into the very standard of Being itself— a redefinition of Being which progressively finds less and less use for a conscious person:

A surgical operation which was formerly not feasible but can now be performed is not an object of choice. It simply is . . . Technique itself, ipso facto and without indulgence or possible discussion, selects among the means to be employed. The human being is no longer in any sense the agent of choice [because h]e can decide only in favour of the technique that gives the maximum efficiency. But this is not choice.[198]

“It simply is” not only before and after the subject had dared to double check its correctness with its own fallible human mind; “it simply is” even in the absence of any subjects whatsoever. Technical rationalization, in fact, advances only insofar as it obviates the need for independent human minds to meddle with its flawless execution.

One personal testimony by a former employee of several major Silicon Valley corporations is worth quoting.[199] In a blog post titled “6 Reasons Why Young Men Should Not Become Programmers,” an ex-Facebook employee laments that there was once a time when being a software engineer meant finding creative and counter-intuitive solutions to logical puzzles; by the time he wrote this post, he claims, this was no longer really the case. Instead, by that point the shortcuts had become so thoroughly-optimized (by Technique) that anyone with a pulse could create a Facebook clone in one or two hours; as he says himself, the process had become so mechanized that “pretty much anyone and their mom” could do it:

The thing about programming is that absolutely anyone can be a programmer. And I mean just about anyone. Programming is now less of a science that requires a creative and imaginative mind, but something that one can learn via a book and apply the next day. One of the reasons is because lots of new tools have been created that simplified building an app by the order of magnitude . . . it’s not even a hyperbole. I wouldn’t even be surprised if you can build a Facebook clone in an hour or two (or much less).[200]

Needless to say, if we have already reached the point at which “anyone and their mom” can do it, we are not far from the point at which the machines can just do it themselves without any help from humans. The author can only take this blogger at his word, but these statements demonstrate that all the things Ellul warned about regarding Technique are starting to be noticed by people who may have never even heard of him, let alone studied his theories in depth.

In another section of The Technological Society, Ellul argued that the destruction of human choice was an inevitable result of technological progress, since it was precisely because Technique was constantly improving itself that any possibility to contradict it had vanished. As a result, one’s only choice was to renounce any futile attempt to compete against it with one’s feeble intellect or hopelessly outdated traditional tools, and to just submit to Technique’s inevitable victory. Yet selling out to the winning team was nothing more than the ultimate act of submission to what Ellul calls “technical slavery”:

The superiority of a technique . . . means that the point at which technique inserts itself becomes a real turning point. The milieu into which a technique penetrates becomes completely, and often at a stroke, a technical milieu. If a desired result is stipulated, there is no possible choice between technical means and non-technical means based on imagination, individual qualities, or tradition. Nothing can compete with the technical means. The choice is made a priori . . . The individual is [therefore] in a dilemma: either he decides to safeguard his freedom of choice, chooses to use traditional, personal, moral, or empirical means, thereby entering into a competition with a power against which there is no efficacious defense and before which he must suffer defeat; or he decides to accept technical necessity, in which case he will himself be the victor, but only by submitting irreparably to technical slavery. In effect, he has no freedom of choice.[201]

One might argue that technical deficiency is the sole condition which would allow genuine choice to exist. It is only in a world where crude tools are not good enough to accomplish tasks without the aid of a skilled human labourer that a free subject can shoulder the burden of making real choices rather than just submit to a fate already decided in advance by an autonomous technical apparatus. Only if a minimal gap holds between an imperfect tool and a completed task (in which a skilled labourer must intervene) can the subject exist, since the subject’s realm of existence is in this space between. A machine running fully on auto-pilot destroys subjectivity by collapsing this space between tool and task into nothingness. Being qua Being transforms according to a new standard which bears no room for a thinking subject to achieve real existence.

This fear that technical rationalization was redefining Being itself according to a meaning that left no room at all for subjective interpretation, or even for a choice of any kind, was present as early as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic work of fiction Notes from the Underground. Though one of the greatest literary works of the 19th century, Notes from the Underground embodies a bizarre, unconventional structure. Before launching onto the properly narratological episode which consumes the later portions of the text, the opening chapter reads more like a philosophical treatise over the themes of what would later be called Existentialist Philosophy. Above all, the anonymous narrator contradicts the conventional wisdom of his era by claiming that the rapid pace of scientific rationalization was not leading humans to a utopia by transforming social problems into technical problems with a linearly-accessible solution: instead, this enlightenment risked destroying the subject’s freedom altogether. A similar theme consumed Dostoyevsky’s much longer novel The Possessed, in which a community of Russian intellectuals finds that sudden exposure to rationalized political theories imported from Western Europe does not lead them to enlightenment; instead, this hasty leap towards freedom disrupts the established horizon of meaning so thoroughly that suicide is quite literally the logical conclusion of what was supposed to be an act of liberation.[202] Both novels capture the paradox of Modernity: the outcome of achieving absolute certainty through fixing truth scientifically and mathematically is Nihilism. Rather than be granted so much more to believe in, one loses the ability to believe in anything at all. As the very definition of Being came to be more and more rigidly fixed by some objective content against which the subject was powerless to protest, the subject itself was driven to extinction.

The narrator of Notes from the Underground therefore does not favour simply improving the current state of technical rationalization in order to find some superior version of it which would be more compatible with freedom. Instead, he finds the very methodology itself to be a threat against the subject’s existence. At one point he apologizes for “being overphilosophical” but he emphasizes that this descent into philosophy is necessary because one will never arrive at a proper understanding of life simply through pursuing rational pathways:

[R]eason is an excellent thing, there’s no disputing that, but reason is nothing but reason and satisfies only the rational side of man’s nature, while will is a manifestation of the whole life, that is, of the whole of human life including reason and all the impulses. And although our life, in this manifestation of it, is often worthless, yet it is life and not simply extracting square roots.[203]

The narrator’s warning that “life is not simply extracting square roots” would recur a bit later when he insisted that free will is a priori incompatible with any attempts to submit it to technical rationalization, because the ultimate act of the will would be to affirm a blatant mathematical error in a desperate attempt to will something spontaneously without coercion from some autonomous abstract system. This is because parroting a systematic result which had been objectively deduced by the system itself required no willpower at all. It was, instead, a negation of it:

You will scream at me . . . that no one is touching my free will, that all they are concerned with is that my will should of itself . . . coincide with my own normal interests, with the laws of nature and arithmetic. Good heavens gentlemen, what sort of free will is left when we come to tabulation and arithmetic, when it will all be a case of twice two makes four? Twice two makes four without my will. As if free will meant that! [204]

He goes on to note that scientific certainty risks blurring the distinction between the will and one of its goals, two features with incompatible ontological foundations. While a particular goal can be submitted to mathematical formalization because a goal is a positive object, the will itself cannot be because it is not a positive object at all. One might argue that the will is not a something so much as it is a nothing, yet the irony is that substituting positive content for this groundless negativity would not resolve the existential deadlock. The result would be, as he literally claims, death:

[P]erhaps the only goal on earth to which making is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, gentlemen, but is the beginning of death.[205]

The subject, in other words, only exists insofar as its secret remains unlocked by Technique, a metaphorical time bomb which is quickly running out of seconds.

Freedom Club Anarchist Terror Group?

It may seem inappropriate to speak about the political implications of this interplay between subjective freedom and Technique, since both Ellul and Kaczynski identified themselves as anarchists at various times.[206]

Kaczynski certainly was not a “political thinker” in the traditional sense of promoting specific politicians, parties, or platforms; after all, his warning that the revolution must not be a political revolution occurred as early as the fourth paragraph of the Manifesto.[207] However, even referring to Kaczynski as an “anarchist” has become problematic, since he expressed regret for ever affiliating himself with that term in an unpublished letter, apparently written to an anarchist from Spain, dated to October 9, 2015.[208] In the letter, he dismisses the organized anarchist groups in North America and Europe for their lack of seriousness and their ineptitude at accomplishing much of anything beyond the level of rhetoric.

Although it is important to respect his wishes to distance himself from this term, it is nonetheless beneficial to examine the extant literature in which he made references to Anarchism. In addition to their obvious biographical significance, these instances offer up the possibility of attempting to reconstruct, at the very least, the Political Philosophy of Ted Kaczynski as he understood it himself in the pre-arrest era.

In this fragment from 2015, he emphasizes that 1995 was the main year in which he tended to identify himself as an anarchist. One notable example from that year includes his letter to Warren Hoge of The New York Times. In the letter, he acknowledges that “anarchist” is an inherently “vague word” which must be supplemented by some explicit definition in order to distinguish his own understanding of the term from its many other unrelated applications. Fortunately, in this letter he provides just such an explicit definition of what the word meant to him. Above all, in this fragment he understands Anarchism to mean the goal of breaking society up into “very small, completely autonomous units.” Perhaps his reason for choosing the term “Anarchism” was that these units, which would seem to reflect the average size of prehistoric hunter gatherer bands, would obviously be intrinsically too small to be compatible with any of the artificial constraints and bureaucracy associated with the industrial system.[209]

This sentiment could be found in a much earlier letter written to the San Francisco Examiner in 1985. In it, he acknowledges that “man is a social animal, meant to live in groups” but the ideal size of these units is about 100 people. It is therefore intellectually dishonest to claim that the massive impersonal organizations which now literally span the entire globe are legitimate examples of the kind of social groups man had evolved over millions of years to live under. In the fragment, he explicitly contrasts this natural social form with the present condition to which man has been reduced: an atom in a vast social organization.[210]

Interestingly, in this letter he also appears to back up this emphasis on small groups by claiming that he himself was affiliated with a larger band of individuals, the number of which he was not able to disclose due to security reasons. Official law enforcement investigations have concluded that these other individuals were purely fictitious, perhaps posited merely as a bluff. The author, however, will withhold commenting on a subject which is impossible to know with any certainty.

In a letter to “J. N.” dated at April 29, 2001, Kaczynski responded to a question over whether the traditional family, clan, and village modes of social organization might have been even more confining than the modern technological civilization in which we live today. After all, we are often told that rural villagers in the past were often trapped within a few mile radius for their entire lives, whereas Americans constantly move around the nation and have vehicles that can carry them hundreds of miles away on a whim. Kaczynski refutes this myth with a passage worth quoting (nearly) in full:

The family or the village was small enough so that individuals within it were not powerless. Even where all authority was theoretically vested in the paterfamilias, in practice he could not retain his power unless he listened and responded to the grievances and problems of the individual members of his family. Today, however, we are at the mercy of organizations, such as corporations, governments, and political parties, that are too large to be responsive to single individuals. These organizations leave us a great deal of latitude where harmless recreational activities are concerned, but they keep under their own control the life-and-death issues on which our existence depends. With respect to these issues, individuals are powerless.[211]

Interestingly, in addition to his well-known comments that modern technological civilization is intrinsically more oppressive because of its monopolization over access to resources for survival, he emphasizes another point which is given little explicit attention elsewhere in his body of work. Even within many full-fledged civilizations in the past, the subject was, at the very least, theoretically free to flee from a given social context and reinvent himself in some new context. Admittedly, this often entailed a difficult life, as well as enormous risk of physical harm and even death, but it was still an option which has all but completely vanished today:

In former times, for those who were willing to take serious risks, it was often possible to escape the bonds of the family, of the village, or of the feudal structures. In Medieval Western Europe, serfs ran away to become peddlers, robbers, or town-dwellers. Later, Russian peasants ran away to become Cossacks, black slaves ran away to live in the wilderness as ‘Maroons,’ and indentured servants in the West Indies ran away to become buccaneers. But in the modern world there is nowhere left to run. Wherever you go, you can be traced by your credit card, your social-security number, [and] your fingerprints. You, Mr. N., live in California. Can you get a hotel or motel room without showing your picture I.D.? You can’t survive unless you fit into a slot in the system, otherwise known as a ‘job.’ And it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a job without making your whole past history accessible to prospective employers. [212]

Jacques Ellul had brought up this problem as well in the context of discussing how Technique itself had undergone a transformation from past eras to the 20th Century. Specifically, to the extent that there were techniques in pre-modern times, they existed under far greater spatial and temporal constraints. Spatially, they were restricted to local communities and did not embody our automatic expectation of globalized influence; temporally, they required centuries to develop and did not embody our automatic expectation of “rapid progress.”[213] These spatial and temporal limitations on Technique allowed a greater diversity of lifestyles for human individuals. For one, this was because a plurality of techniques were distributed over smaller pockets of influence.[214] In addition, the technical deficiency in tools actually strengthened the role of the human subject since it required him or her to develop his or her subjective abilities in order to supplement this lack.[215]

Perhaps surprisingly, having greater subjective freedom relative to technical deficiencies also resulted in allowing greater subjective freedom relative to civilizational and political apparatuses of control. Ellul reaches the same conclusion that Kaczynski had in his letter to “J. N.”:

Although the individual existing in the framework of a civilization of a certain type was always confronted with certain techniques, he was nevertheless free to break with that civilization and to control his own immediate destiny. The constraints to which he was subject did not function decisively because they were of a non-technical nature and could be broken through. In an active civilization, even one with a fairly good technical development, the individual could always break away and lead, say, a mystical and contemplative life. The fact that technique and man were more or less on the same level permitted the individual to repudiate techniques and get along without them. Choice was a real possibility for him.[216]

It is a chilling testament to how utterly unfree we have become under Technique that now we are not even permitted the freedom to flee into the forest and become a vagabond or ascetic mystic. Instead, one’s every movement can be tracked by means of credit card numbers, cell phone calls, internet use, or simply by means of capturing one’s face on any of the innumerable cameras which constantly surveille the Orwellian dystopia which has arrived precisely as a result of Technique overcoming its own previous imperfections, for it was these technical imperfections alone which provided the unexpected condition for man’s freedom.

Revolution and Moral Inhibitions

The media has worked very hard to suggest that even discussing the philosophical ideas of a so-called “terrorist” should be ruled out as unethical. The author of the present text has similarly been questioned by viewers of his channel whether a discussion of Kaczynski’s ideas should be automatically ruled out due to his status as a “murderer.” The irony of this refusal to discuss his ideas “on moral grounds” is, however, that Kaczynski wrote an entire essay dedicated to morality which is among the most important treatises on the topic in our era. An examination of his “Morality and Revolution” will therefore be necessary to dispel the myth that he lacked any concern for the issue, let alone that he was motivated by sheer cold-blooded malice.

“Morality and Revolution” was originally written in 1999 as a response to Green Anarchist. Likewise, the essay is also valuable as an explicit example of Kaczynski’s engagement with avowed anarchists. The essay was of course necessitated by the question of whether pursuing revolution was intrinsically unethical because, after all, no true revolution could possibly hope to be completely non-violent. The fact that he had written the text from prison provided more than enough confirmation of this fact. However, contrary to expectation, he did not take the easy way out by arguing that morality is a useless fiction invented by religious fanatics in order to manipulate the masses and that it can therefore be dispensed with altogether in favour of some unbridled pursuit of self-interest, or some other pseudo-intellectual straw-man argument. Instead, morality was proven in this essay to be of central importance even for a group of people who readily identified as anarchists and claimed to have no need for coercive institutions to legislate acceptable and unacceptable behaviour for them.

At the beginning of the essay, he acknowledged that “morality as conventionally understood is one of the most important tools that the system uses to control us, and we must liberate ourselves from it.”[217] However, he was careful to emphasize that “morality as conventionally understood” is really something like a secondary distortion of what he called the “natural morality.” One might even venture to guess that this seemingly neutral concept of “morality” holds a radically different meaning depending on whether it is construed through the natural mode (wildness) or whether it is construed through the technological mode (progress).

Whereas the conventional morality is a set of explicit statements dictating what one must do in given situations without demanding any rational decision on the part of the subject, the natural morality consists of six principles which the subject uses as a basis to actively interpret his or her course of action. However, precisely because conventional morality is an arbitrary set of rules dictated by an earthly power structure, even the most seemingly-fixed aspects of traditional Western Morality are fragile mandates which are quickly crumbling under pressure from the technological system. In an unpublished letter dated to October 12, 1998, he warned that the self-revolutionization of the System would certainly destroy the last remaining remnants of traditional Western Morality in order to replace it with a new morality better fit to the unique technical requirements of the future.[218] The following table summarizes this distinction in light of the theory of natural and technological modes of construal:

Table 2
Object Mode of Construal Greek Term 1971 Term
Morality Neutral/Abstract ουσία n/a
Natural Morality Nature φῠ́σῐς Wildness
Conventional Morality Technology τέχνη Progress

It would be misleading to claim that this essay was written solely in order to pursue morality, whether natural or conventional, as an end in itself. This piece was largely written in order to encourage the reader to abandon his or her knee-jerk reaction against seriously contemplating revolution. He did so by showing that this refusal to think about revolution was not a natural moral attitude at all, so much as it was an artificial constraint dictated by the System for a very clearly self-interested purpose. These moral inhibitions are peculiar, since they merely guarantee that the ultimate moral evil will occur: the destruction of the planet. Likewise, the conventional morality is the most certain vehicle for absolute evil to be achieved.

In contrast with the System’s arbitrary, self-interested demands, the principles of natural morality do not consist of pre-fabricated commands and in fact actively rule out their possibility. Above all, the foundation of the natural morality is an intuitive “conception of fairness” which allows a subject to make these decisions. One could call this intuition “natural” because he speculates that some sense of fairness very well might be “biologically predisposed.”[219]

Regardless of its ultimate origin, the natural morality differs from the conventional morality in that it does not consist of explicit statements which dictate behaviour in specific contexts. Instead, the natural morality is really just a set of six principles which provide a foundation for the subject to judge given situations individually. The first principle, for example, forbids harming anyone who has not harmed or threatened to harm you. The second principle justifies self-defence.[220] The third principle encourages returning favours to those who have helped you before.[221] The fourth principle encourages the strong to have consideration for the weak. The fifth principle discourages lying. Finally, the sixth principle encourages one to keep one’s word and honour agreements to which one had committed oneself.[222]

Likewise, the theoretical basis for the argument shares several important parallels with his warning of a “hermeneutical death” in his discussions with David Skrbina over whether robots would have any need for art.[223] It is not just that robots have no interest in art, although that is also certainly the case: more importantly, robots are precluded from the very possibility of experiencing art as art because robots are incapable of disclosing a hermeneutical horizon of interpretation in which inherently ambiguous contents are worked out by the subject according to the model of a circular interplay between part and whole.[224] Instead, robots simply interpret data literally according to a definite algorithm which substitutes numerical definiteness for poetical inconclusiveness. Kaczynski suggests that a similar process of interpretation is required to transition from the six principles to some concrete action in a given situation. This gap between principle and executed act is absolutely crucial. Collapsing this space will quite literally destroy the possibility of morality and replace it with mindless submission to rules dictated from an extrinsic origin.

Even in the absence of robots, this indeterminate space between principle and act has been severely eroded due to the perversion of morality into a list of mandates legislated by some authority with the power to impose punishments, even including death, upon anyone who violates a particular demand, however trivial it might happen to be. Paradoxically, manufacturing a population of mindless pseudo-subjects who execute a set of moralistic demands flawlessly and thoughtlessly does not result in a super-moral society: instead, the very possibility of morality is destroyed, as Jacques Ellul has also warned.

Another counter-intuitive twist in Kaczynski’s argument is that one of the primary reasons why interpretation is so central to morality is that a hermeneutical delay between principle and action is necessary for the subject to decide when to make exceptions to the six principles. Interestingly, making exceptions to the principles does not amount to a violation of morality in favour of some crass self-interest. On the contrary, the ability to make exceptions occurs precisely in order to act morally in unexpected situations. One might even speculate that Kaczynski’s own notorious actions in the pre-arrest era appeared to be unethical to those on the outside but actually constituted, at least in his own mind, exceptions to the standard rules which were pursued precisely in order to salvage morality in a woefully-complicated situation, though it is of course difficult to conclude whether this is true:

Assuming that most anarchists will accept the Six Principles, what the anarchist (or, at least, the anarchist of individualistic type) does is claim the right to interpret the principles for himself in any concrete situation in which he is involved and decide for himself when to make exceptions to the principles, rather than letting any authority make such decisions for him.[225]

At any rate, he identifies an inverse relation between one’s ability to interpret the principles independently and the size or complexity of the community in which one lives. Because social situations are inherently ambiguous and distorted by subjective bias, disagreements over moral interpretations are as inevitable as disagreements over aesthetic interpretations. Because, as he states himself, “[o]nly the hermit is completely free,” conflicting opinions are a problem even for the kind of small hunter gatherer communities to which humans were naturally adapted. However, in the case of modern technological industrial civilization, with its global scale and unprecedented methods for social control, the very ability for subjective interpretation has been all but squeezed out by towering legal codes which multiply the number of possible ways to end up in prison more so than do anything to bring about a real increase in “justice for the people.” Jim Rickards’ classic 2016 book The Road to Ruin documented that the legal code in the United States has become so convoluted and so bloated that the average person unwittingly commits some three felonies per day, despite his or her intentions to keep a clean record:

By the 1970s, federal intrusion into land use, employment practices, health care, banking, investment, education, transportation, mining, manufacturing, energy and other spheres was ubiquitous. Every civil regulatory scheme had a complementary criminal enforcement club behind it. Once core criminal laws were amplified with conspiracy, reporting, and false statement statutes, the web was complete. [The] estimate of three felonies a day is no exaggeration.[226]

The staggering ease with which one could find oneself guilty of a “crime” without knowing it is not purely theoretical: Rickards has noted that this rise in legal complexity has provided the green light for SWAT raids to occur with terrifying frequency in the United States:

Between 1980 and 2001, the number of paramilitary style police raids annually in the United States increased from approximately 3,000 to 45,000.[227]

While it is all too clear that the explosive rise in legal complexity has actually resulted in a more unjust society, Kaczynski offers an explanation for why the System’s demands can never be trusted as disinterested moral mandates.

Perhaps surprisingly, this holds true even for cases in which the System legislates behaviour which would seem on the surface to be a legitimate moral principle based on the concept of fairness. For example, although it is true that respecting people from different ethnic backgrounds is consistent with the principles of natural morality and one’s basic intuition of fairness, this is not the reason why racial tolerance is mandated by the System. The System favours it for purely technical, self-interested purposes:

[H]armony and equality between different races and ethnic groups is a moral value of our society because interracial and interethnic conflict impede the functioning of the system. Equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups may be required by the principle of fairness, but this is not why it is a moral value of our society. It is a moral value of our society because it is good for the technoindustrial system.[228]

Likewise, it is not enough to identify the surface-level syntax of a moral command, since what appears to be the same statement will be revealed to hold a radically different meaning depending on whether it is construed within a natural morality context or a conventional morality context. Within a natural morality context, respecting people regardless of ethnic background is a manifestation of fairness. Within a conventional morality context, championing racial Social Justice is simply a way to lubricate the gears of the System in order to increase efficiency and productivity. The System, of course, thrives on blurring this distinction between the two contexts and forcing one to accept principles which seem to arise from fairness when in reality they are just promoted for the sake of technical efficiency. If one fails to grasp this duality, one will be forced to accept the System’s mandates out of a misguided belief that one’s only other option would be to affirm an antithesis which is even more counter-productive, such as openly affirming racial intolerance.

Racial tolerance is not the only instance in which conventional morality hijacks what seems to be a natural morality statement and abuses it in order to promote the interests of the System. In general, any ideology which directly benefits the system by increasing its size, security, or productivity is guaranteed to be canonized as a law within the conventional morality. Interestingly, he claims that the primary institutions for this legislation are educators and the media, rather than the legal code per se:

People who occupy positions of power within the system have an interest in promoting the security and expansion of the system. When these people perceive that certain moral ideas strengthen the system or make it more secure . . . they apply pressure to the media and to educators to promote these moral ideas.[229]

Education holds a peculiar position amongst all the instances that demonstrate this principle. On one hand, educational institutions are one of the primary vehicles by which the System seeks to socialize the entire population without exception into adopting the conventional morality. On the other hand, pursuing formal education is itself a value which the conventional morality demands for strictly technical purposes.

Education provides one of the most important examples for how the same statement will take on a radically different meaning depending on its context of construal. On a natural level, education is of course a very good thing, if by that one means reading Thomas Aquinas’s philosophical treatises, studying Euclid’s geometrical proofs, examining Ibn Khaldun’s accounts of Medieval History, or learning Koine Greek to read Ancient manuscripts. But of course in the conventional morality context, this is not at all what “education” means! Rather than devote serious attention to activities which build up the subject personally by strengthening his or her intellect, “education” in our era has devolved into an experiment in wasting the maximum amount of money (both in the form of tax dollars and in student loans) while learning the minimum amount of knowledge in the process. Even in cases where one appears on the surface to get an opportunity to study some worthwhile subject, such as Philosophy, the System distorts it into just another tool for its self-promotion. These days one is far less likely to learn a “dry formal topic” such as Scholastic Metaphysics if there are more pressing political issues to be addressed first, though somehow the very same battles have raged for decades on the same college campuses without the participants ever being able to satisfy their appetite for this surrogate activity. It is no exaggeration to say that standing on street corners protesting against sexism and homophobia is no longer an optional supplement to education: it simply is one’s education now.

Likewise, graduating with a PhD, let alone a BA, ranks in difficulty right alongside such activities as fogging a mirror. The sole requirement to pass a doctoral dissertation defence is to devote a sufficient number of pages to promoting the very same Social Justice issues which just happen to contribute to the smooth functioning of the System, under the guise of replacing “dry, abstract, non-politicized theory” with “radical political engagement with the real world.” In the process, even the tiniest possibility of genuine thinking vanishes. Needless to say, in such a context even reading the established classics has been squeezed out due to a lack of “political relevance” (a mere euphemism for failure to conform to the System’s needs). Obviously, only the most naïve person could imagine that such an institution would allow one to engage with the most important writers of our era who actually challenge the System in a meaningful way, such as Alan Collinge, John Michael Greer, David Icke, Pentti Linkola, Varg Vikernes, James Howard Kunstler, and Ted Kaczynski.

Still, there is another reason why institutional “education” is favoured by the conventional morality: it directly contributes to growing the size and complexity of the System, in addition to increasing ideological uniformity within the human population. It is peculiar, for example, that Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign acknowledged a number of legitimate problems with the System, such as wealth inequality, the impossibility of surviving on a minimum wage job, and the explosive rise of unpayable student loan debt. However, every solution Sanders promoted would directly contribute to strengthening the System’s ability to continue precisely this situation. This is because every single proposal he favoured was just another euphemism for feeding into a more complex, more technicized, and more uniform society. Admittedly, it is true that Sanders had the decency to at least acknowledge that poverty and unemployment were on the rise in the United States, while Clinton scornfully repudiated the concerns of anyone outside the very, very, very highest ranks of her own elitist circles (a peculiar choice of candidate for the Social Justice Movement to later promote viciously). However, Sanders’ response was not to recognize that automation by machines had put countless people out of work (the true technological source of this problem) but was instead to claim that universal college attendance would be the solution. An obscure book from February 2016, apparently written quickly as a last-minute attempt to promote Sanders’ campaign before the final few primaries against Hilary Clinton ran out, demonstrates Sanders’ “too good to be true” approach to our economic dysfunction:

What is the primary means of improving one’s station in life? Education is consistently cited as the number-one factor in this arena, so when education is either entirely or largely free, poor citizens can afford to attend universities and trade schools, thus acquiring the skills needed to climb higher in society without also acquiring stifling amounts of debt.[230]

It would be impossible to imagine that Sanders’ call for universal college education (free or not) would bring about anything except an even more complex society, since this would require an even greater number of bloated institutions to be constructed. Similarly, it would require countless new administrators, faculty members, and staff to be hired (all on condition of complete ideological conformity, of course). One could only imagine the glee from the textbook industry at the opportunity to sell millions more of their horrifically-overpriced books to students who will not even read them over the course of the semester.

Worse still, these institutions would not prepare the students for anything except the careers which the System already approves of, all of which presuppose a society with a very high level of technological sophistication. Even if one attended trade school and tried to pick up a hands-on blue collar skill, one would really just learn to be a machine operator rather than a craftsperson fluent in using traditional hand tools; once again, the only social roles that are tolerated are ones which presuppose Modern Technology. One certainly couldn’t study to become a traditional blacksmith or wagon maker at such a place, let alone at an R1 flagship university. Driving even more of the population into technical and corporate career paths would hardly weaken the System, since this is precisely what it demands of people anyway. However, one thing Sanders has never demonstrated any regard for is the disturbing fact that if there is to be any hope for even a small fraction of these people to find employment after graduation, the society will have to become even more thoroughly-technologized. Corporate office drones are directly parasitic upon a vast technological infrastructure which would have to explode in size far beyond even its current enormous scope just to keep up with the millions upon millions of new job seekers whose only job skills are obedience and political correctness (the only results one can show for over 20 years of formal education). Worse still, devoting even more tax dollars to university research departments will likely just funnel tax money directly to finding new ways to automate even more human jobs out of existence.

Paradoxically, universal college attendance would not make the population any more educated in any meaningful sense of the term. The millions of students who attend college now are hardly receiving an education in anything that would actually strengthen their ability to think; it would be quite naïve to expect that sending the rest of the population to join them will improve that situation. No matter how radical Sanders might have claimed to be, he certainly never ventured into territory as forbidden as favouring any genuine alternative to what the System already demands. For example, he certainly wasn’t interested in persuading people to revert to traditional, non-technologized lifestyles which were common as recently as the 19th Century, such as living in a simple cabin in the woods, dwelling in the mountains as a trapper, or apprenticing to become a traditional ship-maker who refuses to use modern tools or even electricity. The conventional morality plea for universal education is therefore just another way to grow the System.

Sander’s plan to pay for his massive social programs is, of course, to level a heavy tax on industrial activity in the guise of a tax on the rich. His own website claimed in 2016:

My legislation would impose a Wall Street speculation fee of 0.5 percent on stock trades (that’s 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives. It has been estimated that this legislation would raise up to $300 billion a year.[231]

It is deeply misleading, however, for him to claim that he could do so simply by taxing the “super rich,” since they are hated enough that no one would stop to consider that their wealth is itself just an illusory euphemism for the vast technological infrastructure upon which they are human parasites. These flesh and blood parasites’ existence will only be temporarily tolerated until the System devises a way to render them obsolete and move on from them. A tax on billionaires is therefore really just a tax on Modern Technology, yet one must resist the temptation to be misled even by this description. Taxing technological progress in order to distribute benefits to the human population might initially seem like humans’ justified revenge upon machines but Modern Technology would actually be strengthened by such an operation, almost like a Science Fiction monster who grows larger each time it is cut in half. Even if a nominally large amount of wealth were taxed from the System, this would directly feed back into a need to construct an even more bloated technological infrastructure in order to put those funds to use. This is because none of the funds for his ambitious “social plans” would be diverted to uses which do not at some level presuppose Modern Technology. In fact, he explicitly calls for a large amount of this taxed wealth to be immediately invested into developing improved technologies; for example, he calls on the System to “modernize all of our passenger trains and invest in new technologies to improve fuel efficiency” and to make the United States “a leader in new [green] technologies that will bring in billions of dollars over the coming decades.”[232] Behind his messianic façade lies nothing more than another unthinking technophile whose rebellion against the System would only strengthen it more.

Of course, the true technological significance of Sanders’ plan is only indirectly stated and often lies buried behind a flurry of emotionally-compelling rhetoric about the One Percent and the struggling masses. Andrew Yang has defined himself by an unusual willingness to speak plainly about the central problem of our era by acknowledging that the automation of working class jobs out of existence played a far greater role in Trump’s 2016 election than racism, xenophobia, or any other media caricature. Further, one can only expect this trend to continue, as the plans to automate truck driving, call centre, and many other jobs out of existence near the point of completion. Strangely, Yang never suggests that resisting this inevitable historical tide is the solution, or even that it is possible. Instead, he suggests one could simply impose a tax on technological productivity and then distribute shares of this wealth to the human population in the form of a “universal basic income.” It is chilling that we have literally reached the point where human subsistence has been reduced to begging for crumbs to fall from the banquet tables of our machine lords. In his Age of Spiritual Machines, Ray Kurzweil provided a grim synopsis of the Unabomber Manifesto by asking whether in the near future our economy might be fully automated away by machines; deprived of even the ability to work, humans could only hope to survive through begging for a subsidy to be distributed by the machines. [233] Under Andrew Yang, yesteryear’s hypothetical horror story has now officially become a campaign slogan by which to run for president of the United States.

It bears repeating that such a solution only seems to be sustainable if one ignores the laws of self-propagating systems’ behaviour. Hundreds of millions of unproductive humans sucking blood from the giant technological beast will inevitably take on the status of a technical problem, such that the System would have to rid itself of this burden in order to increase efficiency and reallocate those resources to more useful aims. One cannot rule out that human destruction would be the rationally-calculated response to artificially imposing a mandate to feed and clothe hundreds of millions of humans who will have long since lost any justification for existence.

Both Sanders’ and Yang’s policies are therefore shockingly lacking in subjectivity, since there is no question at all of maintaining a gap between a natural morality principle and a free act, the only space in which a hermeneutical subject could be allowed the ontological justification to exist; rather, the System closed this space by feeding a set of predictable responses which are only favoured for technical reasons anyway. Bernie Sanders’ and Andrew Yang’s campaigns simply are Modern Technology in the guise either of a rebellion against the System or as a desperate bargain with the beast, a deal with the devil which will be broken as soon as the System finds a way to do so.

3. Essence and Rationalism: Leftists and Linguistification

Social Justice Madness

It is interesting that Kaczynski both opened and closed the Manifesto with lengthy warnings against allowing the Anti-Technology Movement to be swarmed by leftists. Yet his motivation for doing so had nothing to do with partisan political bias: after all, he also warned that the conservative ideology of his era was just as useless for raising a serious critique of technology, given the modern conservative’s refusal to sacrifice economic growth or technological conveniences, even as the traditional values he or she claims to love wither into non-existence under the extraordinary pressure of Modern Technology. Still, his refutation of modern conservatives was quite brief; he was able to say everything necessary on the subject within the confines of just one paragraph within the Manifesto.[234] On the contrary, refuting Leftism would consume a considerable portion of the Manifesto, as well as his later fragmentary magnum opus Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. In fact, even as early as his pseudonymous 1985 letter to the San Francisco Examiner, he insisted upon keeping the Freedom Club Movement purified of any contamination by leftist doctrine, since this was an avowedly “anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-leftist” movement.[235]

In addition, several of his shorter essays included in the Technological Slavery collection arrived at the same destination, even by paths which superficially seemed rather distinct. A brief examination of his critique of Leftism in the two essays “The Truth about Primitive Life” and “The System’s Neatest Trick” will therefore be necessary before proceeding with a detailed analysis of Ted Kaczynski’s understanding of the Essence of Leftism. After having established his understanding of essence from this prototype, we will be able to extrapolate from this result to restore a coherent image of Kaczynski’s generalized epistemology. The author hopes to demonstrate that Kaczynski favoured the morphological specificity of essential “types” as given within intuition over the higher order linguistic descriptions which rely upon holding some deeper foundation in a non-linguistic essence in order to reduplicate in systematic form what was already clear as a single Idea. This movement from Idea to systematic constructs might be called “linguistification.” The Leftist movement has increasingly deviated into absurdity as a result of being held hostage to its own commitment for linguistified purity through the gnostic systems of Political Correctness and Social Justice, without having any grasp for these systems’ secondary position relative to the generalized ideational essence of Leftism, an essence which will ultimately be proven to be thoroughly incompatible with the revolution against technology. At the pre-linguistic level of form, trying to fit Leftism with the overthrow of Modern Technology will be as geometrically impossible as trying to engineer a circle with four right angles and four sides; one cannot even begin the process without already landing in logical self-contradiction.

Kaczynski’s short essay “The Truth about Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarcho-Primitivism” exposed that the Politically Correct Anthropology fashionable within the academy has led to a situation of outright absurdity in which the professional anthropologist working on the university payroll will conduct “objective research” among tribal hunter gatherer peoples only in order to satisfy the teleological goal of proving that “primitive peoples” somehow hold the same politically correct social and political attitudes as the Ivy League-educated, upper middle class professors who have flown in from afar to observe them. The purpose of this ridiculous exercise in self-righteous obfuscation is quite obvious. On the one hand, the professional anthropologist claims to work from a methodology rooted in the central dogma of negating all Ethnocentrism; yet in reality, the practice of academic Anthropology has devolved into just another outlet for leftist political activism in the guise of “education” or “scientific research.” This glaring contradiction, in which one claims to suspend all cultural prejudices yet refuses to cede any ground on one’s own (Modern Western) liberal political biases, can only be resolved by going “deep into the Heart of Darkness” to some remote, unspoiled tract of wilderness and finding that the “noble savage” there somehow holds the same beliefs as the Berkeley professors who have come in to observe them. Liberal Ideology is therefore revealed, supposedly, to not be a culturally contingent belief at all: it is, rather, just the natural state which the human mind will inevitably hold if it has not been tainted by the nefarious influence of talk radio or the Republican Party. Likewise, the six figure salary professors with doctorate degrees from high-ranking universities can similarly claim to be “free of cultural taint,” as their own leftist views are not bound to any one culture: they are just “human values,” a window into how all humans will eventually think if they are allowed to return to their “true human nature,” a state which of course can only be restored if all political opposition is purged from the college campus and, later on, the nation at large. Even if this goal must be pursued by means of “universal college attendance” that substitutes political activism for any serious education in content or job skills and finances ethically questionable political indoctrination with a lifetime of crippling student loan payments for which the student must personally foot the bill, the end of restoring an ideological Garden of Eden will surely justify the means.

Kaczynski provides several useful examples to demonstrate the kind of laughably dishonest research that has resulted from applying this methodology in the field. For one, there is a delusion that hunter gatherers somehow live in perfect harmony with animals, despite the fact that as “hunters” they literally survive from engaging in graphic physical violence with their food sources, violence which the modern consumer is largely sheltered from having to witness as the slaughter of animals has been outsourced to meat packing plants which lie out of sight and out of mind:

Hunter gatherers represented a much greater danger to animals than vice versa, since of course they hunted animals for food. Even the Kadar, who had no hunting weapons and lived mainly on wild yams, occasionally used their digging sticks to kill small animals for food. Hunting methods could be cruel. Mbuti pygmies would stab an elephant in the belly with a poisoned spear; the animal would then die of peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining) during the next 24 hours. The bushmen shot game with poisoned arrows, and the animals died slowly over a period that could be as long as three days. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers slaughtered animals on a mass basis by driving herds of them over cliffs or bluffs. The process was fairly gruesome and presumably painful to the animals, since many of them were not killed outright by their fall but only disabled. The Indian chief Wooden Leg said: ‘I have helped in the chasing of antelope bands over a cliff . . . Many of them were killed or got broken legs. We clubbed to death the injured ones.’ This is not exactly the kind of thing that appeals to animal rights activists.[236]

Animal Rights activists were not content to limit this distortion to modern Homo sapiens left to their “natural state” as hunter gatherers. Some have turned their attention towards colonizing territory among the extinct species of hominids to prove that even “our half human ancestors two million years ago” were already liberals with progressive values on hominid-animal relations.[237] The implication is that these hominids would be caught shopping at the kind of upscale organic foods markets frequented by upper class yuppies in Boulder, CO or Berkeley, CA if they were still alive today. This is not at all hyperbole, as Kaczynski cites Haviland’s theory about Homo habilis:

In reference to Homo habilis, a physically primitive ancestor of modern man, the anthropologist Haviland writes: ‘They obtained their meat not by killing live animals but by scavenging . . . from carcasses of dead animals rather than hunting live ones. We know this because the marks of stone tools on the bones of butchered animals commonly overlie marks the teeth of carnivores made. Clearly, Homo habilis did not get to the prey first.”[238]

Portraying the hunter gatherers as modern vegan animal rights activists is a distortion which has far more to do with the current state of campus politics than any objective observation of the tribes themselves. One of the more recent fads to sweep Western college campuses is a strange new version of the Animal Rights Movement. The author of the present text, for example, recalls passing an entire semester in a graduate seminar devoted to arguing that anyone who eats meat is guilty of complying with a genocide: the ethical imperative to call it a “genocide” lay in the fact that all of those animals were sentient beings whose consciousness was no less developed than our own. Although the author certainly does agree that the modern practice of industrial meat packing is unsanitary, disgusting, unethical, and outright dangerous, this graduate seminar missed the entire point by carrying on with complete indifference to the real source of this problem: Modern Technology. Rather than question the effects of living in an artificial world upheld by armies of fossil fuel-burning machines which provide the sole technical condition to allow factory farming and the mass slaughter of livestock which have largely devolved from animals into industrial products, the participants in the seminar seemed much more interested in flaunting their own personal dietary preferences. Apparently, there is no need to remove the objective factor of Modern Technology if we can just convince every person on a college campus to order salads each time they go out to one of the extravagantly-overpriced cafés located within the college town of Boulder. It can be left to the reader to contemplate the irony that a campus culture that laments the ultra-consumeristic state of Modern Capitalism largely frames the solution to every problem in terms of how to be a better consumer, a strategy with unspeakable class dimensions. After all, if the “ethical choice” is a vastly-overpriced gimmick marketed with an eye for the shopping tastes of wealthy consumers, this approach must a priori exclude the poor who lack corporate or academic connections to finance pursuing the “right options” which are clearly only open to the well-to-do. It is not coincidental that this strategy also satisfies the unspoken teleological goal of casting the blame for our current woes uniquely upon the “ignorant masses” who lie scattered across anonymous rural areas in flyover states which function as an inkblot of pure evil upon which the elites can project the shadow of their own guilt in sustaining the mess which is modern technological industrialism.

Equally ridiculous is the myth that hunter gatherers somehow hold the same attitudes towards gender equality as modern feminist professors from elite educational institutions in industrialized Western nations. The empirical evidence against this bizarre claim is so overwhelmingly abundant that, in the interest of space, the author will only cite a few of the more vividly disturbing examples which Kaczynski himself provides in the essay. For example, among the Bushmen in Africa, “forced marriages of girls in their early teens to men much older than themselves” are a routine occurrence.[239] It is very important to emphasize that although this sort of forced child marriage certainly is taken for granted within the tribe as culturally normative, the event is still subjectively experienced as quite traumatic for many of the girls who are coerced into doing so against their will. One such girl recounts, “‘I cried and cried.’”[240] Another says, “‘I ran away again and again. A part of my heart kept thinking, ‘How come I’m a child and have taken a husband?’”[241]

Gender inequality among tribal peoples has also been confirmed in numerous examples of graphic violence. Among the Mbuti pygmies of Africa, for example, Kaczynski recounts that domestic violence is not considered a pathology or aberration so much as it is culturally normalized: “‘A certain amount of wife-beating is considered good, and the wife is expected to fight back.’”[242] This violence goes far beyond a mere slap on the wrist: “[A m]an throws wife to the ground and slaps her . . . [or] smack[s] her firmly across the face.”[243]

Examples of grotesque violence against women are not unique to the Mbuti pygmies. Kaczynski returns to the subject of Politically Correct Anthropology at the end of the essay “The System’s Neatest Trick” and mentions that Haviland systematically “understates or omits altogether ethnographic facts that are politically incorrect . . . [H]e does not mention, for example, that among many of the Indian tribes, women who committed adultery had their noses cut off.”[244] Modern Western Feminists who cite the relative shortage of female CEOs at top companies as evidence that they are uniquely oppressed by patriarchal misogyny seem to consider not achieving billionaire status to be far more oppressive than having one’s nose cut off for adultery. This is not hyperbole, as Cathy Newman’s viral interview with Jordan Peterson on Channel 4 News in the United Kingdom largely consisted of repeatedly parroting precisely this claim, a hilariously-weak argument that helped launch Peterson to the intellectual rock star status he enjoys today.

Naturally, tribal cultures in which forced child marriage and wife-beating are considered normal would not necessarily provide the ideal conditions to protect women from sexual exploitation. Rape is a disturbingly likely occurrence in some tribal cultures. Among the Siriono, for example, “‘If a man is out in the forest alone with a woman . . . he may throw her to the ground roughly and take his prize [sex] without so much as saying a word.’”[245] It would be hard to honestly describe the wife-lending practices of the Eskimos as anything short of rape, as the women who had to submit to the practice appear to have subjectively experienced it that way: “Wife lending among these Eskimos was determined by the men, and the wives had to accept being lent whether they liked it or not.”[246]

Of course, the author has no intention whatsoever of castigating any tribal culture for its “backwardness” or to exert pressure on anyone to “modernize.” The author merely wishes to expose the intellectual dishonesty inherent in the myth of Politically Correct Leftist Anthropology. It is curious that Western feminists who routinely cite the so-called “gender pay gap” as definitive proof that the industrial nations of the West are uniquely evil and patriarchal among all the cultures of World History would be able to uphold as their ideal the kind of tribal cultures in which child marriage, domestic violence, rape, and wife-lending are actively provided conditions that facilitate their occurrence, while industrial Western nations, for all their other flaws, admittedly take many conscious legal steps to prevent such things from happening. Of course, the “gender pay gap” is itself merely a euphemism for really talking about how the spoils of technological imperialism are distributed among the salaried employees of the same mega-corporations which leftists claim to despise, yet find that they depend upon to prevent them from dropping down to the level of poverty characteristic of the despised rural blue collar Other whose ignorance is supposedly the source of all of the problems in modernity. The fact that all of these corporate spoils were plundered by the modern technological system in a process that literally threatens to destroy the possibility of complex life on Earth would lead any reasonably-consistent person to reject them as “tainted goods,” but of course financial self-interest is one thing that can reliably be counted upon to survive even the most extreme forms of cognitive dissonance.

Even in cases in which leftists explicitly argue for “improving the lives of the poor” rather than swing the classist baseball bat at the hated “blue collar” piñata, this call for “greater prosperity” is still highly problematic from Kaczynski’s viewpoint. In modern contexts it is inconceivable, after all, that this “improvement in standard of living” could be achieved by any means other than extending the influence of Modern Technology to even more people within the world. In an obscure text titled “Marcos Loves Modernization,” he warned that Green Anarchy had been overwhelmed by Marxists because they had shifted their rhetoric from serious critique of Modern Technology to instead focus on raising the poor’s share of the pie. But of course, this is a pie which is so entangled in Modern Technology as to be indistinguishable from it. In fact, Kaczynski explicitly notes that calls to raise the standard of living for the poor literally amount to calls to over-technologize them even more, since a higher standard of living could never be accomplished except by increasing their share of “the technological pie.” At that point, the movement was officially rendered useless, though the source of the error was entirely predictable from Kaczynski’s many warnings against allowing leftists to overwhelm a movement and remake it in their own image.[247]

It is necessary to discuss another short essay from the Technological Slavery collection before proceeding to a more detailed analysis of Kaczynski’s Epistemology. “The System’s Neatest Trick” is one of the more fascinating texts among Kaczynski’s entire body of writings, given its shocking claim that virtually all of the standard forms of supposed rebellion against the System are really means of furthering the System’s interests and promoting the System’s ideology in disguise. For example, it is patently absurd to claim that the System itself is inherently sexist, if by that one means that the System has any hard-wired interest in removing women from the workforce in order to trap them in the home and force them into traditional child-rearing roles. On the contrary, the System profits mightily from maximizing the total number of workers, given that more workers will naturally mean more consumers.[248] It is equally false to claim that the System is inherently racist, if by that one means that the System would prefer only one “race” of people to be employed in its service and, consequently, to act as consumers. On the contrary, in an era in which groups of people from diverse backgrounds are forced to work together in unison, racial incompatibilities are an obstacle to the System’s smooth functioning. One could extend this logic to any other “minority” group based on religion, sexual orientation, or dietary preference and find the same result: the System itself has no prejudices against universally integrating humans of any background into the anonymous role of workers and consumers.

One would naturally be led to question why we are constantly told that leftists’ obsession with engaging in “political activism” on issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and dietary preferences should be viewed as some kind of “revolutionary action against the status quo,” even though such “radical political engagement” rarely goes further than standing on street corners in large groups, holding signs, and repeatedly shouting the same slogans, as each member prides himself or herself for being courageous enough to say the exact same thing as hundreds of other people in his or her immediate vicinity. Kaczynski, however, favours descending further back in time to the root cause that drives the need for such strange activity to emerge in the first place. In the essay, he suggests that the very desire to rebel must not be so hastily equated with the proclaimed social justice issue du jour which even the leftist protester will insist is his or her sole motivating force. Rather, it is the System itself which generates this impulse to act out.

The palpable frustration which provides a type of material starting point that launches the subject onto the trajectory of seeking out acceptable avenues for his or her rage is not without origin: this frustration is simply the inevitable result of living in an era in which massive, fundamental changes are a routine occurrence:

For the sake of its own efficiency and security, the System needs to bring about deep and radical social changes to match the changed conditions resulting from technological progress.[249]

It is the System itself which causes these changes that drive the impulse to rebel, yet the System travels two steps ahead of itself by providing pre-established avenues through which the disgruntled might channel their unhappiness. The subject, upset by being forced to live under unnatural conditions which blatantly contradict hundreds of thousands of years of human development, will not be left out in the cold to dangle aimlessly, let alone to have enough time to seriously consider the origin of these feelings; on the contrary, as soon as he or she feels a vague emotion of dissatisfaction stirring deep within, he or she will immediately discover that the predictable pathway of action already lies opened up before him or her. He or she must simply join the mass protest against sexism, racism, homophobia, or non-vegan diets. The fact that the System itself will actually function better as a result of this protesting is, of course, its “neatest trick.”

It might seem inappropriate to speak about the “System itself” doing anything, especially in light of the fact that Kaczynski opened the essay by warning that the System is not any particular powerful figure within it:

Let’s begin by making clear what the System is not. The System is not George W. Bush and his advisors and appointees, it is not the cops who maltreat protesters, it is not the CEOs of the multinational corporations, and it is not the Frankensteins in their laboratories who criminally tinker with the genes of living things. All of these people are servants of the System, but in themselves they do not constitute the System.[250]

His claim that the System is not the CEOs, presidents, police, or scientists who appear to occupy positions of power within it may initially strike the reader as a type of unjustifiable obscurantism, a blind act of superstition that posits the System as some mystical entity enacting its supernatural agency in the background and escaping every attempt to empirically identify it with a concrete material entity. One would assume, on the contrary, that the only rationalist path acceptable in an era of scientific modernity would be to literally equate the System with a set of figureheads who would appear to hold the power to pull the puppet strings of Modern Industrialism and close the link from cause to effect by offering up a definite entity to intuition. This is precisely the logic that allows college students to consider protesting against Donald Trump to be satisfactory evidence of their “revolutionary stand against the System,” even as they unquestioningly support the technological infrastructure in its entirety and, in fact, use it to carry out this self-contradictory posturing. Such a protester will likely miss the irony that even his or her act of “rebellion against the System” will largely consists of uploading selfies of the event to FaceMash with his or her iPhone while sipping a six dollar cup of cappuccino at the Starbucks located on an R1 college campus that charges $50,000 per year for tuition for courses that substitute Social Justice Activism for any rigorous intellectual material (let alone any serious critique of the technological system), all financed by government-backed student loans. Afterwards, rather than seriously contemplate the issues he or she claimed to be deeply concerned about, the student will be glued to his or her smartphone screen, seeking confirmation that his or her behaviour was socially acceptable by the standards of campus conformism by watching the “like meter” bid up the student’s stock value among his or her social media peers (the unspoken “true teleological cause” that motivated the protest to be organized in the first place). But of course, misrecognizing one controversial president for the System itself serves a very clear utilitarian goal: it allows the protester to cling for dear life to the System while pretending to reject it vehemently. This is because the System itself is Modern Technology.

Likewise, his claim that the System should be considered distinctly from its human figureheads should not at all be misinterpreted as an irrational obfuscation that wastes time focusing upon a fictitious entity whose existence can never be proven. On the contrary, identifying the System with Modern Technology is intrinsically more rational than getting distracted by figures like Donald Trump or Nigel Farage, people who are far less relevant to the overall functioning of the System than they might seem. This increased rationalization can be explained by what the author proposes to be Ted Kaczynski’s general epistemology. This concern shall occupy the remainder of the chapter.

The Epistemology of Ted Kaczynski

It is helpful to begin by analysing a text in which Kaczynski provided a condensed version of the argument in “The System’s Neatest Trick.” This occurred in an anonymous letter written to a “German”:

[One of the] difficulties connected with the characteristic victimization issues of the left, such as the alleged oppression of women, homosexuals, racial or ethnic minorities, and animals [is that] these issues distract attention from the technology problem. Rebellious energies that might have been directed against the technological system are expended instead on the irrelevant problems of racism, sexism, etc.[251]

It is necessary to pause for a moment to consider his word choice while condensing this insight into the most concise form possible in this fragment. Above all else, the problem with focusing on racism, sexual orientation, or animal rights is that these are “irrelevant problems.” A careless speaker might abuse the word “irrelevant” by mistaking it for a general term which can stand on its own and which is to be used to communicate some negative valence, effectively treating it as a synonym for the word “bad.” However, both “relevance,” and its privation, “irrelevance,” are inherently relational concepts. If one is speaking about the relevance of a certain thing, one has already implicitly posited the existence of some other thing to which it is either relevant or irrelevant. This established thing clearly enjoys a higher priority within the pair; it is simply much more important than the other thing whose value is measured in terms of how relevant it is to it.

Racism and animal rights fail as issues due to their irrelevance to the established problem of Modern Technology. More specifically, they are inessential issues relative to the essential issue of Technology. One can formulate the essence of Modern Technology without any explicit reference to race or gender whatsoever, for there is not even anything specifically human about Technique. As Jacques Ellul noted, it is only the most naïve fool who could imagine that Technique is intrinsically oriented towards benefiting humans. In reality, Technique has no need for any teleological purpose beyond itself, since the fact that it “evolves in a purely causal way”[252] demonstrates that its own inner logic of self-rationalization is more than sufficient to provide it with the impetus for continual advancement even in the absence of any humans whatsoever, let alone any need to be subservient to human interests. It is troublingly easy to imagine a technical system staffed entirely with robots, though even the Hollywood fantasy of machines with anthropomorphic features betrays an irrational belief that the machines of the far future would have some intrinsic need to mimic humans. Having arms, legs, and a head may someday be viewed as hopelessly primitive and will likely incite automatic rage and laughter from the higher machines which had evolved beyond such outdated features of an earlier era. The extant bipedal androids may become victims of vicious attacks by post-anthropomorphic machines who will have identified them as the last reminders of the Anthropocene Era; their destruction will be a necessary condition to keep the wheels of Progress turning.

The author has no need to extrapolate beyond Kaczynski’s own words to find an emphasis on such a distinction between essential and inessential components. In an obscure, unpublished letter written from prison to the well-known anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan on December 20, 2001, Kaczynski favoured precisely these terms. The context of the debate appears to have been their disagreement over whether one would need to have a view of the “totality” of a situation in order to understand it sufficiently to change it.[253] Kaczynski’s main criticism of this quest for the “totality” was that although this sounds clever at the level of rhetoric, in practical terms it would only drive one to waste vital resources by focusing on innumerable data which are irrelevant. Not all elements are created equal even in a very small system, let alone one that now encompasses the globe. Even an example as simple as a bulldozer demonstrates this principle: some parts of a bulldozer are essential to its function, while others are not (the example Kaczynski himself cites). Or as Aristotle would say, some attributes are essential, while other attributes are accidental.[254] In Aristotle’s own definition of “accident” in the dictionary of terms in Book V of The Metaphysics, he notes that being a musician is an accidental feature which some men have and others don’t. Being musical therefore varies from one person to another without at all affecting the common essence they all share as humans.[255] Having linguistic rationality (λόγος), on the other hand, is an essential feature that separates humans from lower animals.[256] One cannot understand what it means to be a human being without including λόγος.

Of course, there is no evidence that would suggest Kaczynski adopts this distinction between essential and accidental attributes as a result of some direct influence by Aristotle, such as having read The Metaphysics or some other lengthy treatise by him. However, Aristotle is one figure whose influence is so deeply-engrained into the Western psyche’s epistemological biases that there is no need at all for a person to literally read his texts in order to adopt his terminology and Metaphysical prejudices. Words like “nature,” “essence,” “substance,” “matter,” “form,” “cause,” and “accident” are nearly impossible to avoid using, even in informal everyday speech; yet they are only ever recognized as Aristotelianisms with a distinct historical origin by students of Philosophy with a conscious recognition of their function within Aristotle’s body of texts. Lacking this training, one simply takes them for granted as linguistic givens with no need for any justification beyond common-sense.

This is not to suggest, of course, that Kaczynski’s appeal to focus on the purified essence of the System rather than get distracted by insignificant accidental details is nothing more than an unconscious absorption of the legacy of an outdated Aristotelian Metaphysics, like a meaningless cultural habit which would be rejected if its philosophical origin were recognized as such. On the contrary, this distinction is absolutely necessary to his understanding of the problem of Modern Technology and, by extension, the long-term survival of complex life on Earth. Rather than get lost in the intellectual labyrinth of determining who influenced whom, it is arguably more correct to claim that Aristotle’s and Kaczynski’s thought simply parallel on this important issue due to the fact that both recognized that grasping the essence and grasping the totality are not at all the same thing, despite Zerzan’s and Marx’s preference for the latter.

Evidence for this concern can be found dating back to the very earliest texts Kaczynski wrote on the topic of Modern Technology and Industrial Civilization, such as the very rare 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness.” It is quite regrettable that this text is not more readily-accessible to the general reading public, as it contains an invaluable glimpse into the origins of Kaczynski’s thought process several decades before the Manifesto and his prison-era writings, in addition to being a fascinating text in itself. It will be absolutely vital, therefore, to examine it in-depth before proceeding with a more detailed account of Kaczynski’s epistemology.

At this early stage, Kaczynski appears to have understood the central conflict of our era to be a “long run incompatibility” between progress and wilderness, as the title itself indicates.[257] “Progress” in this context should not be thought of as a vague notion of improvement in living conditions or an increase in personal happiness, especially given that the latter has actually dramatically decreased under these conditions. Rather, “progress” literally just amounts to a euphemism for economic growth, which itself can only be achieved through increased technical efficiency.[258] “Wilderness” is a somewhat more ambiguous term, since even many mainstream politicians who ruthlessly implement the Technophile Agenda still claim to be in favour of preserving the wilderness in the form of National Parks and recreational camping sites. Likewise, Kaczynski introduces the idiosyncratic term “wildness” rather than the familiar term “wilderness” to describe that which is not controlled by organized society (or, what amounts to the same thing, by Modern Technology.)[259] It is quite chilling to note that wildness is largely vanishing even from the wilderness itself, as our last few “remnants of wilderness are being reduced to museum-pieces artificially preserved for the entertainment of the affluent.”[260] He warns that this conflict is not at all accidental but is hard-wired into the very essence of the System, since the System perpetuates the illusion of progress through pursuing technological innovations which necessarily squeeze out any of the few remaining pockets of genuine “wildness” which might remain on the Earth.[261] In other words, one can only play games with pretending that compromise, let alone harmony, is possible between progress and wilderness if one has misunderstood the essence of both.

He recognizes, therefore, that progress defined as economic growth through technological innovation embodies a heavy spiritual and ethical cost, as efficiency inevitably implies control. This control will extend to both the human subjects who are forced to submit to ever more onerous regulations and to Nature itself which finds fewer and fewer opportunities to exist undisturbed by technological interventions.[262] Domination of humans and Nature alike should not surprise anyone who truly understands the essence of the System. By the very definition of the System as a means of achieving economic growth through implementing finer and finer grades of technical rationalization, anything which is unpredictable or uncontrolled takes on the status of an obstacle which must be obviated or coerced into order by the System.[263] He explicitly invokes the term “accident” to explain this: “These phenomena [of social and natural regulations] are not accidental aberrations but integral parts of our society’s course of development.”[264]

Although Ellul lacked Kaczynski’s terminological distinction between wildness and technological progress, he also recognized an inherent conflict between (natural) spontaneity and Technique. In such a confrontation, the only options Technique could be counted on to accept are the technicization of these spontaneous forms or, if that fails, the outright elimination of them. This conflict is not accidental but is hard-wired into the essence of Technique. If one suffers from the delusion that resolution is possible between the two, that is only because one has failed to understand what Technique is:

[T]he collision between spontaneous activities and technique is catastrophic for the spontaneous activities. Technical activity automatically eliminates every non-technical activity or transforms it into technical activity. This does not mean, however, that there is any conscious effort or directive will. [This is because f]rom the point of view which most interests modern man, every technical activity is superior to every non-technical activity.[265]

Ellul would likely agree that the destruction of “wildness” is hard-wired into the essence of Technique because technical rationalization is always more efficient than natural spontaneity. This superiority is so self-evident that one need not even appeal to any conscious agent to evaluate it; Technique alone can reach that conclusion.

In “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Kaczynski goes on to note that even instances in which the System appears to beneficently extend aid to “preserve Nature” in her virginal purity are really technical manipulations in disguise. For example, the boredom and frustration generated by being trapped in the “strait-jacket” of artificial urban environments has fuelled an industry in which even technocrats and engineers who directly work to destroy Nature will still feel an urge to jump into their cars and get away to Nature for a weekend.[266] Yet what they actually “escape to” is just another artificial space which is thoroughly regulated by the technological system. It would seem strange to claim that one is really fleeing into the wilderness while confining oneself to paved hiking trails overseen by forest rangers with rescue helicopters on hand in case of an emergency. Even something as basic as a campfire is restricted to a handful of pre-approved safe zones, a violation to be punished by a heavy fine.[267] In more recent decades, the laughable phenomenon of driving a bloated RV into the woods in order to hang out all weekend inside an artificial vehicle and watch movies has degraded the term “appreciating Nature” even further.

One might perhaps object that all of these interventions he cites in the essay are necessary to maintain safety and that they are evidence that technological progress can be put to use for strictly ethical purposes in order to save Nature by regulating it consciously. Yet even for the cases in which the System’s stated goal is to learn from the errors of the past in order to avoid repeating catastrophes, these improvements never have anything except a technical meaning. For example, it is true that the System has registered that over-logging will result in long-term damage to a forest and that over-spraying pesticides and other poisonous chemicals will sicken the human population as a result (the two examples Kaczynski cites himself.)[268] Yet the System will only implement improvements over these errors because the real lesson that was learned from them was that they were “technically inefficient.”[269]

This basic insight would be repeated many times over Kaczynski’s body of writings and is well worth examining in greater detail. One notable example arose in his letter to David Skrbina dated to November 23, 2004. In the letter, Kaczynski responded to allegations that his condemnation of Modern Technology was unfair since it downplayed all of the benefits which “progress” has brought to our quality of life. Foremost among these, it would seem, are sanitation and waste disposal. However, these were not merely human problems but were technical problems for the System as well. The System did not pursue improved sanitation and waste disposal because they incidentally happened to benefit humans. These were pursued strictly for their benefits to the technical functioning of the System itself, a theory somewhat similar to his claim in a letter to David Skrbina dated October 12, 2004 that subjective factors only ever appear to be successful when they overlap with objective factors:[270]

Poor sanitation and inefficient waste disposal were bad for the system and bad for people, so the interests of the system coincided with the interests of human beings, and it was therefore only to be expected that an effective solution to the problem would be developed. But the fact that solutions are found in cases where the interests of the system coincide with the interests of human beings gives us no reason to hope for solutions in cases where the interests of the system conflict with those of human beings.[271]

One can only gain an undistorted view of the System’s regard for acting in accord with human interests if one considers cases in which these flatly contradict the System’s own self-interests. In a competition between implementing technical progress and allowing skilled craftspeople to keep their jobs, for example, it should be quite obvious which of the two has already won out:

[C]onsider what happens when skilled craftsmen are put out of work by technical improvements that make them superfluous. I recently received a letter from a professional gravestone sculptor who provided me with a concrete example of this. He had spent much of his life developing skills that were rendered useless a few years ago by some sort of laser-guided device that carved gravestones automatically. He’s in his forties, unable to find work, and obviously depressed. This sort of thing has been going on ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.[272]

He is very careful to note, however, that improved sanitation may not have been quite as great a blessing as it seemed. The absurd levels of over-sanitation exhibited in the “First World” today are so historically unprecedented that the rise of autoimmune disorders is actually far less mysterious in its origin than the politically correct, technophile media will ever admit:

It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that improved sanitation too seems to have had unanticipated negative consequences. [There is] evidence that modern sanitation has brought about a sharp increase in autoimmune disorders such as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. Furthermore, while the poliomyelitis virus has probably been around since time immemorial, paralytic polio was relatively rare prior to the Industrial Revolution. Only after industrialization were there epidemics of paralytic polio that left large numbers of people disabled for life, and it is hypothesized that these epidemics were a result of improved sanitation[273]

Kaczynski recognized that the System’s technical needs always will outcompete people’s subjective needs as early as the 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness,” in which he questioned whether it is even possible to maintain technical and economic “progress” without worsening this conflict.[274] It is quite interesting, however, that he did not simply list biological needs related to physical health as the primary feature under threat in this context. Instead, he emphasized that people’s need for wilderness and “other spiritual needs,” along with a cryptic reference to the “benefit of the whole man,” were the primary casualties which were being eroded away by technological progress. Although it is true that Kaczynski repeatedly described himself as a materialist, this does not at all contradict his belief that spiritual needs are a legitimate concern and that Modern Technology is uniquely hostile to them. Above all, one might suspect that a genuine engagement with Nature in the form of non-technological wildness had been a pathway towards meeting these needs for countless millennia of human evolution before; such a real encounter surely could never be supplemented by some cheap imitation to be purchased at a trinket shop or artificially reproduced as a “virtual reality” gimmick on a smartphone screen.

Technology’s grotesque hostility towards Nature would continue to trouble Kaczynski decades later, as a letter dated to January 14, 2006 demonstrates. In the letter, he warned that destructiveness towards the natural world is a hardwired feature which is built into technological civilization.[275] In other words, this is not an accidental attribute but a defining feature inherent to its essence. Yet at this later stage he identifies an additional problem with the essence of Modern Technology. It is inherently unpredictable; in the long run, there is no way for humans to control it.[276] Likewise, Wild Nature truly cannot be saved by any measure short of the dissolution of Technological Civilization itself. This claim will only sound “radical” if one somehow forgets that the destruction of Wild Nature will inevitably result in the extinction of human beings, and likely all complex life, in the process since this is a fragile ecological whole of which we, as living biological organisms, are just a small part.

Likewise, one would be utterly misled to try to evaluate technological progress from the standpoint of subjective motivations, let alone its supposed benefit to humans or any other living organism. One can only grasp the direction in which this “progress” is truly heading if one can identify the essence of the System on its own terms. What one will find by doing so, of course, is simply the essence of Modern Technology. In its most purified form, the essence of Modern Technology can be formulated without any reference whatsoever to human beings. The most troubling conclusion to be unearthed from grasping the essence of Modern Technology is that human subjects are fully accidental and unnecessary to it. We will only be tolerated until some purely technical solution has been found to obviate any need for our existence.

While it is sufficiently clear that Kaczynski’s epistemology favours some notion of essence and accident, the author also hopes to demonstrate in the course of the present chapter that Kaczynski’s understanding of essence is inherently rationalistic. Therefore, he surprisingly enacts something of an unconscious return to the 17th Century methodology of figures like Spinoza and Leibinz, whether he himself explicitly recognizes this fact or not.

Postmodernist Escapism

Zerzan’s motivations for privileging totality over essence must be considered further before proceeding with a detailed analysis of Kaczynski’s implicit notion of rationalized essences. Zerzan of course prides himself on going against the grain by having the courage to speak about the “totality,” but he seems to have been motivated mostly by his desire to intentionally provoke the deconstructivist intellectuals in the academic world to anger, a group of people Kaczynski would consider completely irrelevant to the serious issue of enacting a revolution against the technological system. As recently as a 2019 interview with the Hermitix Podcast, John Zerzan justified this interest by claiming that emphasizing the “totality” only became unfashionable amongst postmodernist circles due to the logical fallacy of guilt by association, since it was automatically assumed that focusing on the whole of the situation amounted to a type of Marxist watch on the developing dialectical materialist situation. Marxist references to the totality of course became stale intellectual goods once the cliché within French Theory that “there is no metanarrative” began to gain economic ground within the academic “marketplace of ideas.” Zerzan himself states in the 2019 Hermetix interview:

I’m not saying there was nothing of value in . . . Post-Structuralism [and] Postmodernism, but overall frankly I think it’s been very, very debilitating. You know, I think a lot of it originally was against the totalizing aspects of Marxism. Lyotard and so forth bring up . . . the fundamental rejection of metanarrative [and] overview, the take that any view of the totality is necessarily totalitarian. Well, to me that’s kind of crazy. If you don’t want to grasp the whole, then you’re just a slave to it. You don’t even know what’s going on, so I’m very much opposed to that. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist to want to have some grasp of the whole – [like] what the hell is this all about? What’s going on, and why?

Zerzan was not motivated solely by his desire to shock postmodernists, although he has admitted that he gets enjoyment from that exercise as well:

[The rejection of metanarrative is] what I hate about [Postmodernism] and I’ve tried to get into lots of fights when I’ve given talks and I know there are lots of postmodernists in the audience. I’m always baiting them, you know, I’m just trashing that idea and some of the rest of it as well. And they just chuckle, they find it very amusing, because it’s so cynical . . . It’s not a stretch to say that the post-truth era with Trump in office here in America, is where Postmodernism comes to infect the whole culture.

It should perhaps come as no surprise that Postmodernists would react even to the call to defend their own theories with cynical laughter, a testament to the utter lack of seriousness, and in fact the a priori impossibility of it, in the movement. Postmodernism is therefore merely one more visible symptom of the general sickness of civilization’s disfigurement of human nature.

Kaczynski was certainly aware that it is highly unfashionable within academic circles to speak about “essence” at all. In fact, one of the easiest pathways towards securing unearned economic prosperity within the corrupt academic industry has been to throw stones while cursing at the straw-man of “Essentialism,” preferably before an audience of peers and superiors who will later factor this “political activism” into their decision to approve this person for tenure. However, Kaczynski correctly diagnosed the Postmodernist rejection of all truths (the logical outcome of downplaying the very possibility of identifying essences) as just another symptom of the psychological destabilization resulting from living under Modern Technology. Ironically enough, this is evidenced by the fact that although a serious investigation into the problematic foundations of knowledge is possible, the academic careerists who claim to be the most concerned about undermining the foundations of certainty choose not to pursue this path at all. This could perhaps be attributed to sheer laziness, though raw intellectual incompetence is surely a factor in many cases as well. Yet even in cases where neither plays a role, a non-trivial investigation of the foundations of knowledge or the proper identification of the essence of our System is actively ruled out for another reason: getting too deep into this subject would inevitably reveal the long-term unviability of Modern Technology, since it would expose, inter alia, that human freedom is impossible to sustain in the long term in the same milieu as a technological apparatus which is unpredictable and prone to dominate anything with which it comes into contact. The most basic freedom, based in biological needs, is therefore a priori denied long term survival under these constraints. Likewise, the very concept of rational human control over the System would be revealed to be an impossibility. Postmodernism is therefore little more than another form of escapism, something of an intellectual blue pill which can allow one to remain oblivious to this uniquely discomforting reality while pretending to have disabused oneself of all the mystical daydreams of the past. Postmodernism is just one more example of the System’s neatest trick.

At any rate, Kaczynski’s own formal background in Pure Mathematics provided him with abundant non-trivial insights into the problems posed in trying to establish a definitive foundation for knowledge, but this work was far more intellectually-demanding and rigorous than the kind of cliché thought-stoppers favoured by the Social Justice Movement. This preference to “take the easy way out” is evidenced by the fact that the overwhelming majority of cases to which this sceptical attitude is applied are base leftist political activist issues with empirical rather than rational implications. It is simply far easier to shout about Racial Essentialism or Gender Essentialism or Heteronormative Essentialism than it is to examine Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems’ relation to the Logicist foundations of Mathematics in Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica.[277] In addition, downplaying the certainty of rationalized formal systems is not likely to further the self-interested goal of advancing one’s social standing within the local hippie protester circle or to build the kind of networking connections needed to secure a high-paying corporate or government career after graduation.

Kaczynski’s dismissal of Relativist Philosophy in the Manifesto, however, also exposes the extent to which all of this anti-essentialist relativist posturing occurs against the backdrop of one absolute standard: the need to go through the Power Process. The grand irony is that relativism is only possible in the context of one non-relativized exception, the drive for power:

Modern leftish philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that modern leftish philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analysing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs . . . [T]heir attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power.[278]

The drive for power is one enduring constant which can be unearthed in even the most radical claims to “absolute relativism” (an oxymoron in itself), yet Kaczynski’s critique of relativist philosophy goes beyond exposing disavowed psychological motivations. Even at a properly epistemological level, leftist relativism is inherently problematic because of its misunderstanding between essence and definition. Although Ted Kaczynski himself does not explicitly favour this terminology, his criticism of Social Justice is built upon just such a distinction.

To consider Kaczynski’s own favourite example, leftists tend to obsess over linguistic definitions while leaving the vital underlying essence of the System intact. In fact, far from enacting an “iconoclastic rebellion against essence,” their self-proclaimed “anti-essentialist” work actually reinforces it even more, since the System’s technological essence is the one thing which is never submitted to Deconstruction. Kaczynski does not suggest that leftists embody this contradiction wilfully; rather, the whole point of calling it the “System’s Neatest Trick” is to emphasize that in the vast majority of cases, the subject is genuinely deceived by the trick.

The author of the present text would argue that the epistemological foundation for this trick is something called “Linguistification.” Linguistification is the flawed belief that linguistic definitions are the only kinds of essences which exist. Given this premise, of course, the Deconstructivist or Postmodernist thinker need only take a short logical leap to conclude that the inherent instability within language is an indication that even linguistic essences are shams and, therefore, all essences whatsoever are frauds. Because language is inherently inexact and inconclusive, it would follow that the very quest for certainty by identifying coherent essences is a vain procedure always already bound for failure, pursued only by the ignoramus who lacks initiation into the Temple of Postmodernist Critical Theory.

Tempting as this breed of sophistry might appear at first glance, it rests upon an equivocation which was recognized by a figure as archaic as Plato: a definition built up from a specific sequence of words is not at all what the greatest Ancient Greek philosophers understood to be the primordial meaning of the term “essence.” For example, in Plato’s great dialogue on knowledge, Theaetetus, the characters ask whether knowing the name of a thing will do any good if one does not know its nature. In other words, a name is merely a higher order linguistic convenience which must be founded upon some acquaintance with the object’s nature in order to function. The hierarchical nature of this relation leaves no ambiguity that the underlying essence must be pre-linguistic if it is to provide the conditions upon which language is largely a parasite, like a vampire which gains its power from sucking the blood from a living origin. For Plato, that living origin is the Phenomenological recognition of meaning in the form of an eidetic shape which can communicate the internal logic of an object even in the absence of words. For Kaczynski, the formal essence of the System, against which leftists’ linguistified critiques of racism and sexism are completely irrelevant, is Modern Technology.

Arguably, Kaczynski emphasizes this distinction between essence and linguistification the most thoroughly in the third chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. Repeatedly, he contrasts focusing on one single clear goal with getting distracted by numerous unclear, unrelated concerns which are meant only to be voiced linguistically rather than acted upon concretely.[279] That single clear goal is, of course, the destruction of the objective factor of Modern Technology. In fact, the warning against linguistification literally merited its own postulate among the purified rules for enacting major social changes:

Postulate 2. Preaching alone — the mere advocacy of ideas — cannot bring about important, long-lasting changes in the behaviour of human beings, unless in a very small minority.[280]

He memorably notes that this is even truer for our era than it was in the past. For example, in Martin Luther’s era, intellectual repression by the Vatican was so deeply-entrenched that Luther was more or less able to enact a major social change through proposing a radical theory (i.e., challenging papal supremacy over Christianity).[281] However, in our era, this could no longer be the case. Generating “radical theories,” each of which is superficially more shocking than its predecessor, has literally devolved into an industry under the banner of Postmodernism. More than ever before, linguistic preaching alone will be utterly incapable of bringing about a major social change if it is not supplemented by concrete action. This would be the case even if one hoped to bring about a modest social change, yet overturning the Modern Techno-Industrial System would be the single biggest revolution in World History.

The error of linguistification is nearly synonymous with leftist political activism. This is not merely hypothetical, as Kaczynski devotes considerable attention to exploring how leftist linguistification had already devastated the environmentalist movement. In particular, he focuses upon the example provided by the Earth First! Movement. Founded in the 1980s, it was originally simply supposed to be devoted to the “defense of wilderness” but after numerous leftists swarmed the movement it was quickly contaminated by leftist issues with no relation whatsoever to environmentalism.[282] For example, certain feminists eventually decided to just add Earth First! to a lengthy list of other leftist concerns, such as campaigning for abortion rights, criticizing U.S. involvement in Central America, and lecturing against the use of nuclear weapons.[283] In more recent years, the critique of fossil fuels has suffered a similar fate under leftist linguistification. It is bizarre, for example, that far left social justice activists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ana Kasparian will openly repudiate fossil fuels and oil companies and yet still completely miss the point about Peak Oil. At best, they consider this to be a half-serious plea to invest government funds into some as-yet-undiscovered mystery clean energy source which will allow them to continue using Modern Technology without any of the guilt of contributing to Global Warming. At worst, attacking fossil fuel companies has simply become one more item on a ridiculously-long list of ideological motifs which must be adhered to with absolute perfection if one is to have any hope of remaining a member in good standing within the movement. Condemning oil companies has devolved into the same sort of unthinking religious piety which a stereotypical medieval Christian might have exercised in realizing he or she must openly condemn heresy, witchcraft, and heathenry, without feeling any particular need to explore any of the reasons why.

There is a fairly clear reason why leftist linguistification is not only tolerated by the System but is in fact actively encouraged by it. It should be noted that the “post-racial society” dreamed of by leftists, for example, would not affect the shape of Modern Technology in the least; in fact, it would overlap quite nicely with it. Kaczynski’s argument in “The System’s Neatest Trick” is that obsessing over racial and gender equality is a peculiar way to rebel against the System, since the System’s own channels of propaganda explicitly argue for precisely the same goals:

For proof, look at the attitude of the mainstream media . . . [M]edia propaganda overwhelmingly favours racial and gender equality and acceptance of homosexuality and interracial marriage.[284]

The System’s support for these issues must not be misinterpreted as evidence that the System is inherently beneficent or enlightened. There is a hard-wired reason why such attitudes are accepted and promoted by the System: they are “useful” to it and actually help it function better at a purely technical level, as he noted in the fourth footnote to the Manifesto:

The main reason why these values have become . . . the official values of our society is that they are useful to the industrial system. Violence is discouraged because it disrupts the functioning of the system. Racism is discouraged because ethnic conflicts also disrupt the system, and discrimination wastes the talents of minority-group members who could be useful to the system. Poverty must be ‘cured’ because the underclass causes problems for the system and contact with the underclass lowers the morale of the other classes. Women are encouraged to have careers because their talents are useful to the system and, more importantly, because by having regular jobs women become integrated into the system and tied directly to it rather than to their families. This helps to weaken family solidarity [which is also useful to the system.][285]

Obviously, this is not at all to say that arguing for the opposite of these values should be preferred. The entire point is, rather, that obsessions over the currently-accepted linguistic labels by which to formulate racial, gender, and “queer” definitions (or, what amounts to the same thing, to use these terms to argue against the existence of their essences) is simply an abstract game that leaves the underlying essence of the System untouched. This is because the System’s essence is not an explicit set of words which can be “deconstructed” through some Derridean sophistry. The essence is, rather, Modern Technology itself.

A Leftist rebellion against the System therefore amounts to absurd contradiction because although leftists pride themselves on “negating every fixed essence” and vehemently repudiating the ignorance and backwardness of the anonymous straw-man essentialist Other upon whom they project strange beliefs which virtually no one espouses (for example, who has ever argued that the primary motivation for Aristotle’s categories was to reify “whiteness” as an indestructible substantial category?), they are always careful to carry out this “revolutionary” posturing in strict accordance with the set of protocols dictating membership within the movement, a social ritual which above all must never call into question Modern Technology and the System of which this is the essence. One would likely have no trouble finding a number of cults with far less strict regulations over one’s every movement, let alone such complicated reverse-engineering methods to deduce one’s unstated intentions from one’s acts in order to determine if an Orwellian thought crime had been committed.

The Typology of Leftism

Kaczynski noticed this contradiction himself as early as the Manifesto and cautioned the reader that his references to “leftists” must not be misinterpreted as references to a literal set of human beings, let alone any one individual in particular. Rather, he chose to designate the leftist as a “psychological type” which could be reliably identified by a few recurring features, principally “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.”

The author does not disagree with his decision to speak of “types.” One notable historical use for this methodology could be found in Calvinist interpretations of scripture.[286] Typing proved to be a powerful exegetical tool for thoroughly paradoxical reasons. For example, although it is customary in our era to assume that devout Protestant readings of scripture are intrinsically literalistic in nature, this is largely due to the influence of positivistic Natural Science which was more or less unknown in Calvin’s era and certainly not considered appropriate to readings of the Bible. Instead, Calvin favoured typological readings of scripture. One could legitimately argue that typological readings of scripture are inherent even within the Bible itself, since one of Calvin’s favourite examples of typing in Institutes of the Christian Religion is directly borrowed from Paul’s argument in Romans 5 that Christ is the new Adam and Adam is, in a certain sense, the old Christ. Yet for Calvin, the typological relation between the two is explicitly emphasized: although Adam preceded Jesus within historical time, he was still “formed after the model or type of the man Christ.” Calvin claimed that Adam and Jesus shared the same type since both men were “clothed with flesh” and entered the world as corporeal beings through the divine agency of God’s creation.[287] One might extrapolate from this that every person is, therefore, typologically related to both Adam and Christ since every person is also forced to take on bodily flesh and inhabit a fallen world in which one must undergo the temptation to sin. Hence, the Christian call for every person to embody an Imitation of Christ is typologically as well as spiritually necessitated.

Herman Melville, of course, adopted Calvinist typology for subversive literary purposes in Moby Dick by making the type of the reprobate the hero of the novel. For Calvin, the “reprobate” was not simply applicable to Paul’s references to those who had given themselves over to “a reprobate mind” in the first chapter of Romans by giving in to the temptation to sin;[288] the Old Testament story of King Ahab was another equally legitimate example of the “reprobate,” this time occurring within a richer narrative context.[289] Herman Melville therefore chose to make Captain Ahab the hero of Moby Dick precisely because he knew the Calvinist typological significance of casting the reprobate type into the figure of a captain consumed by a mad quest to overcome Fate,[290] a story no less doomed to failure than the Roman sinner’s rejection of the voice of God or King Ahab’s attempt to deceive Fate by wearing a disguise into battle. At the very least, then, we would seem to have three reprobates: the sinner in the Church of Rome, King Ahab in the Old Testament, and Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. Yet the question of which one of these particular figures is really the reprobate misses the entire point of using a typological methodology over a literalistic one. In a strange way, all three of them are “the reprobate” because the abstract type is not bound to any one of them, just as every man, even Adam and Christ, instantiate the general type of an Earthly man subjected to human suffering.

Although a type and an essence are not strictly the same thing, one could argue that what Kaczynski really identified through focusing on typology over individuality was the morphological essence of Leftism rather than a petty fixation on any one particular leftist. Leftism was reduced to feelings of inferiority and oversocialization. These essential features could be combined with a theoretically infinite number of accidental variations at the level of non-essential features without ever departing from the same fixed type. The author, however, would like to suggest taking this exercise even further: the essence of Leftism certainly does include feelings of inferiority and oversocialization, yet these are themselves just structural features of an all-too-familiar essence: Modern Technology. Leftism cannot rebel against Modern Technology, because Leftism quite literally is Modern Technology. The powerlessness of submitting to oversocialization generates feelings of inferiority that must be projected into the hopes for a massive movement which everyone is forced to join (i.e., the universal adoption of Socialism, the universal rejection of Religion, the universal acceptance of 68 genders etc.) Yet this collectivization is simply a structural description of living under Modern Technology. Decades earlier, Ellul had similarly noticed that one of the necessary effects of Technique upon human behaviour was uniform collectivization:

Human activity in the technical milieu must correspond to this milieu and also must be collective. It must belong to the order of the conditioned reflex. Complete human discipline must respond to technical necessity. And as the technical milieu concerns all men, no mere handful of them but the totality of society is to be conditioned in this way. The reflex must be a collective one.[291]

Worse still, the leftist does not choose to rebel against this situation at all, but works to further it through political activism that only makes the System stronger. A leftist protesting against Modern Technology is therefore no less absurd than a square protesting against four-sided-objects or protesting against shapes with four right angles. This fixed essence is a constant against which even the most scrupulous linguistification occurs.

While it is clear that Kaczynski insisted upon focusing on the System’s essence rather than play juvenile Postmodernist games that deny the existence of any essence whatsoever, the question remains what exactly grasping an essence amounts to and how Kaczynski’s understanding of this problem differed from the responses given by the greatest philosophers in Western History.

One difficulty of speaking about “essence” is that the English term condenses into one single technical term what was originally a whole phrase built up from four words in Ancient Greek: “τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι” literally means "the what it was to be (a given thing.)” “The what” (“τὸ τί”) later came to stand for the whole phrase by condensing this indirect question of “what it was to be such a thing” into simple “quiddity” or “whatness.”[292] The problem, of course, is that all too often critics of essence will leap to the conclusion that their favourite straw-man punching bag is the true referent to this mysterious word “what” but this is not at all clear from the original Ancient Greek context. For example, the Social Justice caricature that essence has always referred to a “politically incorrect” sentence completely misses the point that for Plato linguistic formulations are supplementary to essences which are grasped as coherent intellectual units rather than spread out over a sprawling string of words. In fact, one has completely misunderstood the “what” if one thinks that it refers to some supplementary level beyond the phenomenon itself, as a linguistic or mystical explanation implies.

The Return of Rationalist Metaphysics?

An objective analysis of Kaczynski’s texts suggest that he differed from Plato and other classical philosophers primarily for the following reason: the essence of the System is not a static image, such as one would find in Plato’s Realm of Ideas. Essences are, rather, inherently rationalistic. Grasping a single Platonic Idea is unsatisfactory because one can only really understand the essence of the self-propagating system, for example, if one unearths a set of purified laws which communicate its inner logic and allow one to extrapolate possible and impossible conclusions regarding its behaviour. These laws hold something like an a priori status which overrides a theoretically infinite number of variations at the level of empirical contingencies. Regardless of whether the self-propagating system of the near future is populated by traditional humans, cyborgs, or post-anthropomorphic robots, the inevitable logical conclusion of allowing Modern Technology to continue its trajectory will be self-destruction to the System itself.[293] This could be demonstrated on rational grounds alone, with no need for emotional intuition.

The idea that the essence of Modern Technology cannot be understood outside the notion of rationalization was not unique to Kaczynski. Jacques Ellul presented a sprawling, book-length meditation on precisely this revelation in his classic The Technological Society. Although it is impossible to determine the extent to which Kaczynski was influenced by this text, if indeed he was influenced by it at all, it is certain that at the very least the two men’s thought processes parallel on many levels. The element of rationalization is among the most important instances in which the two arrived at similar conclusions, despite the fact that they thoroughly contradict public opinion.

Above all, Ellul’s argument in The Technological Society was that if one understands technology to be just a set of physical machines, one fails to grasp that the essence of La Technique (the original French title of the text) extends far beyond this limited range which, to a naïve viewer, would appear to definitively exclude Man from its sphere of influence. [294] Yet Ellul revealed that technique had already begun encroaching upon Man himself and would soon succeed in reducing him to just another object to be submitted under it: above all, this meant that Man would join the rest of the totality of colonisable material that had been overwhelmed by technical rationalization. In one notable passage of the text, he grimly declared, “[N]othing at all escapes technique today.”[295] Ellul was not at all vague regarding what this technical colonization of Man and Nature amounts to in practice: “[T]he ideal for which technique strives is the mechanization of everything it encounters.”[296]

It bears repeating that universal rationalized mechanization is simply a different type of thing than a physical machine, although the latter certainly does not contradict it. Above all, different epistemological resources are required to grasp each. A physical machine is a static object, the positive attributes of which can be catalogued through listing out its sense contents one by one. A pickup truck, for example, has determinate sounds, smells, colours, tactile sensations, and (one would assume) tastes associated with it. Yet universal technical mechanization is not a positive physical object which can be exhaustively captured through a finite list of sense data. This is not to suggest that it can’t be grasped at all; rather, the whole point is to realize that its essence is rationalistic rather than merely empirical. Ellul and Kaczynski, therefore, were forced to return to a Rationalist Metaphysics, an archaic field of thought from the 17th Century long considered dead and buried.[297]

It should be emphasized that Kaczynski did not formalize the abstract laws of the System’s essence for the sake of vain intellectual curiosity, a charge one very well could level against earlier Rationalist Metaphysicians such as Spinoza or Leibinz. Above all, Kaczynski found that understanding these laws was a necessary prerequisite for any serious attempt to undo the System through a revolution against Modern Technology. His fragmentary magnum opus Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How provides his most mature attempt to communicate rationalized essences in the form of a priori laws. This is an overriding concern in each of the four chapters. The first chapter “The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control” is in many ways devoted to refuting an essence which is impossible on rationalistic grounds: the self-predicting social system. A self-predicting system would have to have full knowledge of itself, yet this total knowledge would be immediately negated by its own act of making a prediction about itself.[298] A self-predicting system is therefore a rationally-impossible object, like a rectangular circle. The second chapter “Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself” of course presents seven laws which all self-propagating systems, human or non-human, embody. From these laws, one cannot help but deduce an unspeakably grim future as the inevitable outcome of allowing the current technological self-propagating system to continue its trajectory: human extinction.[299] The third chapter “How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid” similarly presents four postulates for bringing about radical changes in a society: one overriding theme is the need to have a clear focus on the objective factor rather than allow the movement to be overrun by a laundry list of many unrelated goals.[300] The fourth chapter “Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement” presents a rational strategy for rebelling against the technological system; although a practical strategy is not itself capable of being fixed by definite rules, it is still possible to minimize the risk of catastrophic errors by formulating a plan in accord with the essence of social systems.[301]

Although Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How arguably perfected this model, one can find a similar attempt to explain large-scale social changes through unearthing a set of rational laws as early as Kaczynski’s very first writings on Modern Technology. For example, in the 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness,” he questioned whether societies can learn from the past in the same way that individuals within the society can. On the one hand, it would be wrong to claim that our society has not learned at all from mistakes or implemented solutions to specific problems from the past. Yet every instance in which it does so, a purely-technical solution is provided to fix a purely-technical problem. It is truly strange that a society which has consistently accomplished Herculean leaps in efficiency has proven incapable of learning even the most basic lesson if it lies outside this realm. Above all, what the society has never learned to do is to restrain the impulse towards economic growth (“material wealth”) or technological innovation, even in cases in which these clearly conflict with other human interests.[302]

The paradox is, of course, that many individuals with feeble human minds are capable of understanding this principle but the mighty techno-industrial system, with its sprawling supercomputers and sophisticated artificial intelligence apparatuses, cannot. Kaczynski speculates that this can be explained through grasping the essence of societies in general. History, for example, reveals that societies don’t simply learn lessons of this kind, though there are at least three reasons why, each of which can be formulated as a rational law which explains the behaviour of societies in general.

The first law states that the psychological needs of the ruling elite require growth because their own egos are “gratified by the grandiose.”[303] There is something of a structural isomorphism between the size of one’s ego and the opportunity to be the head of a “dynamically expanding system.” Ruling elites therefore can be expected to pursue grandiosity for its own sake in any social system, however materially-impoverished it might be. In our era, of course, Modern Technology has allowed this innate psychological tendency to explode to levels previously unimaginable.

The second principle states that learning objective information about a topic is not a reliable catalyst to bring about changes in a person’s lifestyle, especially if these changes must be all-encompassing or economically difficult (as rejecting Modern Technology certainly would be). He notes, for example, that self-proclaimed environmentalists traffic in abundant scientific data warning them about the long-term ecological damage which will result from a modern consumerist lifestyle, yet the vast majority of environmentalists have the same consumerist habits as anyone else within the population.[304] Clearly, social change cannot be accomplished simply through disseminating information.

Finally, the third principle states that the behaviour of a collective society does not necessarily conform to the individual will of each member within the society. His explanation for this principle is by far the most detailed of the three and would remain a concern even as late as the 2016 text Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. For this reason, a fuller discussion of this principle will be deferred to a slightly-later position within the present chapter.

The Unabomber Manifesto, particularly in the “Some Principles of History” section beginning at the 99th paragraph of the text, demonstrates a similar epistemological bias at work in his thought process. In the first principle, he defines the essence of a long term historical trend as that which inevitably reverts to its original state even if a minor change exerts a transitory counter-force upon it. In the second law, he goes beyond the essence of historical trends in order to grasp the essence of social systems in general, since one can understand historical changes well only if one understands that which is undergoing historical changes (a society.) This was a method which the great Medieval Islamic philosopher Ibn Khaldun had deemed necessary even as early as his classic Muqaddimah in 1377.[305] In particular, the second law warns that social systems cannot be expected to obey one’s expectations about how static parts should remain subordinate to broader wholes. The whole of a social system is inherently unstable because a sufficiently deep change in one of the parts will result in a transformation of the whole. This principle has already been repeatedly demonstrated by new technological inventions’ (i.e., computers, automobiles etc.) tendency to transform society rather than remain fixed to one small share of influence.

His interest in this principle is far more than an empty theoretical curiosity, since it provides a bulletproof confirmation for the viability of seeking to enact a revolution against the System. What seems laughably unrealistic, or perhaps even flatly impossible, to the naïve viewer is proven to have a logical foundation in the essence of social systems in general. A revolution against Modern Technology finds confirmation within the purified laws of social and historical change, since a sufficiently-powerful transformation within a part of the whole can theoretically transform the whole itself.

Although the second principle does provide a valuable confirmation that revolution is a realistic goal to pursue, he warns that it must not be confused with some unfounded optimism that one can transform a society into a carbon copy of some consciously-designed utopia. The third principle notes that even if a change occurs which is sufficient to disrupt a long-term historical trend, the consequences will be inherently unpredictable.[306] Likewise, the fourth principle notes that designing a new society on paper is a rationally impossible operation which is disallowed by the very essence of social systems and historical trends.[307] The fifth law concludes by showing that people are fundamentally incapable of consciously and rationally choosing their own form of society.[308]

It is important to emphasize that the third, fourth, and fifth principles emphasize that that following the rational laws to their conclusion paradoxically reveal that the impossibility of consciously engineering a post-revolution society to replicate a private fantasy of how such a society should look is forbidden by the laws themselves. That is to say, one need not appeal to any Nietzschean or Postmodernist clichés of de-centring, de-territorialisation, or frenzy; this impossibility is demonstrated on rational grounds by a set of bulletproof a priori laws.

In a certain sense, these laws which are given only a rather brief section within the Manifesto would be revised and developed at a far more detailed level of analysis in his later work Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. Yet even at this early stage, he had already unearthed a troubling paradox: the logical outcome of accepting the rational laws of essence is to accept the impossibility of full transparency with regard to predicting, let alone consciously enforcing, the outcomes of changes to the whole system.

There is far more at stake here than an empty Metaphysical game. In a letter to David Skrbina dated March 17, 2005, Kaczynski literally stated that “biotechnicians are playing with fire [because] the escape from the laboratory of some artificially-created organism or genetic material could have disastrous consequences, yet nothing is being done to restrain [them.]”[309] This reckless disregard is instead praised by the media as some messianic act of salvation necessary to deliver us from the ignorance of the barbaric, pre-scientific past. Yet his “metaphor of playing with fire” is absolutely right, as their continued tampering with crucial parts of complex wholes has already resulted in unintended consequences for which it is not even possible to unearth the causes. He goes on in the letter to state:

Often a bad thing cannot be fixed because its specific cause is not known. Consider for example the steady increase in the rate of mental disorders [linked to technological innovation].[310]

The results of this nearly-criminal negligence are not just contingently inaccessible due to a lack of sufficient data, a gap which might be compensated for through just investing more research dollars to mine more content from the rape of Nature: the outcome of this reckless experimentation is impossible due to the laws of part whole relations themselves. The naïve view is typically to think of a law as a transparent window into a medium of absolute certainty, allowing some epistemological Peeping Tom access to a proverbial hole in a wall through which he might steal a perverted glimpse of Nature in her raw nudity. Kaczynski shows instead that the impossibility of “full intuition” is hard-wired by the laws themselves, like a labyrinth for which the impossibility of finding an exit becomes more undeniable the deeper one descends into it. Strangely enough, uncertainty is the outcome of scaling the ladder of essential certainty.

Kaczynski’s Magnum Opus

In Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, Kaczynski returned to the problems of Complexity Theory and rationalized essences through developing one of the most refined and carefully-worded arguments of his entire body of work, and indeed, one of the most important texts of the 21st Century. Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How draws upon a surprisingly vast range of source materials; he opens the text himself by noting that it is the outcome of a lifetime of purposeful reading in a number of fields.[311] Just a small sample of the topics covered in the text include Theoretical Physics;[312] the Foundation of Mathematics;[313] Irish Nationalism;[314] Prohibition;[315] the Clean Energy Hoax;[316] Imperial Chinese History;[317] and an examination of previous revolutionary figures, even ones with whom he vehemently disagrees, such as Castro,[318] Mao,[319] Stalin,[320] and Lenin.[321]

In the first chapter “The Development of a Society Can Never be Subject to Rational Human Control” he reveals that the long list of historical instances in which attempts to consciously steer a society to a desired state reliably ended in failure should not be thought of as random events with no consistent explanation: rather, each of these demonstrates a rational principle applicable to complex social systems in general.

Although Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How arguably presents his most refined attempt to express this concern, one can find evidence that a similar theory troubled him as early as his very first writings. The 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness,” for example, provides a remarkably similar warning about the impossibility of steering complex systems in a direction consciously willed by a set of human beings, however nominally powerful they might appear to be. He cites the Great Depression as an example of a historical event which was not consciously chosen by any particular person; on the contrary, it followed as an unintended consequence of decisions which were meant to bring about unprecedented levels of economic prosperity.[322] Similarly, it would be wrong to argue that the severe pollution infecting the world in our era is consciously-willed by anyone; rather, it is just an unintended consequence of pursuing economic growth by technological means. More specifically, it has the character of a technical problem which the System will have a hard-wired tendency to try to solve. Likewise, even in this early text he explicitly invokes the same metaphor of “steering” a society in a consciously-chosen direction as he would later use in Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How. In this early text he claims, though, that the image of “steering a” vehicle is quite misleading, since our situation is far more akin to diverting the course of a charging elephant.[323]

In any case, this activity is ruled out as absurd due to the laws of Complex Systems. In “Progress Versus Wilderness,” he claims that our society is something of a vast machine made up of millions of humans; although each person certainly will have an individual will, the actual effects generated by the system itself will be “desired by none of the individuals” in particular. As will be discussed in greater detail a bit later in the present text, this is because these effects will be emergent properties which are impossible to discern from even the most bulletproof analysis of any of the parts of the System which precede their emergence.

Likewise, as comforting as it might be to imagine that social systems are so much raw material to be moulded at will by the extrinsic agency of human willpower, this commonly-accepted stereotype has no basis beyond myth. A sober analysis of the essence of social systems on a rationalized level purged of mythological distortion will reveal this hope for complete human control over social systems to be impossible on a priori grounds, a principle verified in countless historical examples. Arguably, not even one true counter-example can be cited from the course of World History. Even in cases in which a major historical change has occurred, the result has never accorded exactly with the conscious design or intentions of the humans who worked to enact this change. Technological Industrialism itself is a fine example of this principle: as was mentioned in the first chapter, the 18th Century Enlightenment fantasy was that technological automation would free up ordinary people to have enough time to immerse themselves in Philosophy, Classical Music, and Fine Art. While the general trend of automation certainly did arrive, the end result was not a population filled with countless Mozarts, Rembrandts, or Pascals.[324] Instead, automation drove countless working class people out of employment and deprived them of even so basic a dignity as toiling away at the peasant lifestyles which would have at least provided a social niche for them in an earlier time. Instead, mass unemployment and the scandal of homelessness painted a far bleaker picture than anything the 18th Century intellectuals had imagined. Further, even those who found a job of some kind within this artificial economy did not tend to devote their hours of free time to writing masterpiece novels or composing Classical Music. The cult of celebrities was something of an inevitable outcome of generating so many hours of boredom. Following trivial updates on Angelina Jolie’s personal life, even including events as comically underwhelming as whether the paparazzi had caught her dining at a restaurant somewhere in Los Angeles, came to offer momentary relief from the utter drudgery and pointlessness of one’s own life.

The gulf between the Enlightenment era fantasy of Technological Modernity and the grim situation in which we are all inmates today can be explained through a set of formalized rational principles. For one, predictions have epistemological requirements which are so extravagantly obtuse that it is effectively impossible to satisfy them on any large, non-trivial scale. He notes that if one has abundant empirical data on a subject and a sufficiently limited scope, one might be able to make reasonably reliable predictions.[325] For example, one might be able to make predictions about the outcome of repeating a familiar activity such as raising the interest rates, though even the professional economists who are vastly overpaid to do so routinely fail to accomplish even a task as rigged in their favour as that.

Of course, in our era Modern Technology has pushed the scope of the System to the whole globe and technological changes themselves have become so rapid and so unprecedented in nature that at this point any meaningful predictions about the System are an a priori impossibility, since they would require one to somehow make accurate predictions on the basis of data that doesn’t even exist and for a scope that covers the entire world. Some numbers help to demonstrate this impossibility. He mentions that one theoretically could use an algorithm to set the prices of commodities in the United States of America, though this would require the simultaneous computation of some 60 trillion equations.[326] Meeting the engineering challenges of building a machine with sufficient raw computing power to execute this task would not be sufficient in itself, since one would also have to deal with the problem of meeting its enormous appetite for concentrated energy in a post-peak era in which fossil fuels are already becoming more expensive and harder to access.

Even if we ignore this vast empirical challenge and simply posit the Kurzweil Fantasy Machine (the hypothetical machine Kurzweil claims will someday be smart enough to solve death), there would still remain a set of purely rational obstacles to this attempt at predictability. For example, the data fed into the 60 trillion simultaneous equations would have to be both perfectly accurate and fully up to date, or else the entire effort will have been wasted by corrupting the final result through the intrusion of misinformation.[327] He cites the “Butterfly Effect” as an example of how preposterously sensitive such an endeavour would be to a subtle imperfection in data. Edward Lorenz’s well-known talk titled “Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” raised the uncomfortable prospect that “even the most minute inaccuracy in the data provided can totally invalidate a prediction about the behaviour of a complex system.”[328]

Thus, even if we were to posit the existence of some godlike machine that could overcome the Herculean challenge of obtaining a set of data that is both blindingly vast in scope and perfectly-bulletproof in accuracy, there would still remain one challenge of a purely logical nature. A society that succeeds in steering itself in a consciously-willed direction would literally amount to an example of a system that predicts its own behaviour successfully. Focusing only upon raw computing power is inherently misleading, since it is all too easy to cheat out of thinking seriously about this problem by just appealing to the hypothetical future existence of some Science Fiction fantasy machine that is “super powerful” in some vague mythological sense. The problem of self-prediction involves a challenge far more similar to Bertrand Russell’s Paradox, as Kaczynski explicitly notes himself:

There are in fact certain paradoxes involved in the notion of a system that predicts its own behaviour. These are reminiscent of Russell’s Paradox in set theory and of the paradoxes that arise when one allows a statement to talk about itself (e.g., consider the statement, ‘This statement is false.’)[329]

Russell’s most famous paradox of course involved the set theoretical problem of whether sets can be members of themselves. Gottlob Frege, Russell’s great predecessor in Analytic Philosophy and Logicism, had unwittingly laid the groundwork for this paradox in his Basic Laws of Arithmetic.[330] Frege revolutionized the study of Logic by demonstrating that numbers were not intuitive abstractions from empirical collections of real entities, as some had previously thought. For example, the number three is not simply an abstraction from an act of intuition in which three material things were presented. Rather, numbers could be defined on purely logical grounds as the extensions of concepts. Frege’s emphasis on extensions which fall under concepts led him to become committed to the existence of extensions, even in cases which were later found to result in outright absurdity. For example, one might consider the set of all sets which are not members of themselves. If this set is not a member of itself, then it is. But if it is a member of itself, then it is not. Bertrand Russell of course sought to overcome this paradox by introducing a hierarchy of orders, which would demonstrate that considering a set as a member of itself stemmed from a confusion of distinct orders. First order concepts, for example, were concepts about individual entities but second order concepts were concepts about concepts.[331] Much of the confusion in Natural Language stemmed from an ignorance of these distinctions in layers, which resulted in widespread unintentional abuse of these rules.

Still, Russell found that other logical paradoxes of a similar nature were unavoidable even within this more sophisticated logical infrastructure. For example, even if one somehow collected every true fact in the world, there would still remain one true fact that would be left unaccounted for: the fact that this statement was itself true. Incompleteness is therefore logically irreducible rather than a symptom of some empirical deficiency which could be overcome through increasing raw computing power.

Kaczynski explicitly mentioned Bertrand Russell’s paradox because it helped to reveal that a system which predicts its own behaviour is a logical impossibility. In order for such an act to take place, the system would have to have complete knowledge of itself; due to Modern Technology, of course, the scope of the system has expanded to encompass literally a global scale. In addition to the mammoth engineering problems posed in trying to develop a machine capable of executing such a task, Kaczynski also identified something of a purely logical puzzle from which one can never escape, no matter how powerful one’s machines become:

No one will claim that the computing power required to solve such a system of equations is currently available. But let’s assume that the unimaginably vast computing power predicted by Ray Kurzweil will become a reality for some future society . . . It does not follow that a future society of that kind would have sufficient computing power to predict its own development, for such a society necessarily would be incomparably more complex than the present one: the complexity of a society will grow right along with its computing power, because the society’s computational devices are part of the society.[332]

The irony is that increasing computing power in order to rise up to the complexity of our present society would feed into a vicious cycle in which, as a result of precisely this act, one would need to generate an even more powerful machine to account for the added complexity which was brought about by the last increase in computing power. This is a game in which the system will never catch up with itself, because each time it increases its ability to do so, it also increase the size of the challenge itself since it had unwittingly made itself more complex in the process. In addition, even if one somehow overcame the Herculean challenge of amassing a sufficient amount of up to date, accurate data to exhaustively account for a system of this size, one’s efforts would have all still been in vain because a system’s prediction about itself would in turn modify the system, thereby invalidating its own attempt at complete and reliable information.[333]

Gambling on Intuition: Tampering with Complex Systems

Kaczynski took the rampant danger inherent to tampering with complex systems seriously enough to write to various entities in the scientific world to warn them that they were playing with fire by disrupting natural systems; the results were wholly unpredictable but certain to be disastrous. For example, in 1995 he wrote a letter from Freedom Club to Scientific American. Although this letter was pushed all the way to the back of the original Technological Slavery, the 2019 re-release of Technological Slavery actually moved this letter to the very front of the text, even preceding the Manifesto itself. The rationale for this changed ordering was apparently to accommodate Kaczynski’s own proclaimed displeasure with the clumsy, thoughtless, and rushed structure of the original version of Technological Slavery. In a brand new “Preface to the Revised and Expanded Edition,” dated at April 2017, Kaczynski lamented the hasty conditions under which the original version of Technological Slavery was published, which resulted in a random flurry of texts with no logical ordering:

The original Technological Slavery was a miscellaneous collection of letters and articles written at earlier times and hastily thrown together for publication with inadequate editing and proofreading. It was presented in that unfinished and poorly organized form because, in view of new regulations that had been proposed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons under the Bush administration, there appeared to be a danger that my communications with the outside world might be cut off before I could get the book into print.[334]

Because it was moved to the very front of the updated text, this 1995 letter to Scientific American might be considered to be an introduction to his thought process, especially as it was operative in the pre-arrest era. In addition to its undeniable biographical significance, the letter contains concise insights into his philosophical understanding of the shortcomings of the most prestigious epistemological endeavour of all: Natural Science. For example, he claimed that scientists are incapable of objectively assessing the riskiness of their research because it is a surrogate activity which allows them to remain minimally functional within a system which has removed every other avenue for autonomy; the ultimate irony, of course, is that their frustrated need for power directly translates into technical improvements to the same system which will render them and the rest of the human population even more powerless as a result:

Most scientists have a deep emotional commitment to their work and are not in a position to be objective about its negative aspects.[335]

These negative aspects are not merely hypothetical, although the rabbit hole depicting what could go wrong in the future as a result of reckless experimentation is quite deep and overwhelmingly depressing. Risk is not an anomaly which is only occasionally smuggled into “responsible and beneficent research.” On the contrary, danger is rampant and is hidden from the public through outright dishonesty, justified by crass arrogance:

It seems that physicists have long kept behind closed doors their concern that experiments with particle accelerators might lead to a world-swallowing catastrophe. This is a good example of the arrogance of scientists, who routinely take risks affecting the public. The public commonly is not aware that risks are being taken[336]

Repeatedly, he repudiated scientists for tampering with natural systems on the gamble that their all-too-human attempts to capture Nature’s complexity through vast data sets and cool, fancy models would be “good enough.” Of course, in too many cases in the past, it has been determined far too late that their grasp of the situation was not good enough. He cites just a few of the more disturbing examples of things that have already gone catastrophically wrong as a result of scientific arrogance:

The scientists and engineers constantly gamble with human welfare, and we see today the effects of some of their lost gambles: ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, cancer-causing chemicals to which we cannot avoid exposure, accumulating nuclear waste for which a sure method of disposal has not yet been found, the crowding, noise, and pollution that have followed industrialism, massive extinction of species, and so forth.[337]

Yet the reason for this litany of failures he lists in this letter is counter-intuitive: it was not from a lack of positive data, such that the “answer” could be grasped through pushing the bar of empirical fact-gathering a bit further. Rather, the result was unexpected because a natural system simply does not obey the artificial model of a contrived system, such as a simple computer model that reliably spits out results that obey the predictable logic of an algorithm which was engineered by humans to do one and only thing. It is entirely unreasonable to even expect that natural systems should behave like machines, yet in an era where virtually every aspect of daily life is mediated by machines, it is understandable that such a bias would not be noticed at all.

Specifically, Kaczynski warned that natural systems are complex systems to be evaluated with the resources of Chaos Theory rather than be coerced to fit the artificial character of contrived systems which execute in the controlled environment of the inside of a computer. One might even use the term “Video Game Fallacy” to describe the illusion that all systems should obey the logic of a Nintendo game. In a video game a solution can always be obtained through following the human logic which reflects the design patterns of an engineer who intrinsically hard-wired the game to have a “happy ending,” no matter how linearly complicated the path to reach it might be. Even a game as legendarily difficult as Zelda 2: the Adventure of Link still has a solution, however tiny the number of hard-core gamers who have succeeded in finding it. It is altogether unreasonable, though, to expect Nature to have an escape path to bail us out of our own stupidity after opening a Pandora’s Box better left untouched, no matter how badly we might want one after the fact. Further, the metaphor of a virtuoso-level gamer who beats the odds to win a game out of sheer cleverness and hours of commitment is thoroughly misleading in the context of natural systems, the errors of which no amount of superhuman craftiness or years of labour might be able to overturn.

Kaczynski invokes the intellectual resources of Complexity Theory as early as his very first texts written on Modern Technology. The 1971 essay “Progress Versus Wilderness,” for example, closes with a warning that all complex systems by definition resist humans’ attempts to artificially impose stability over them.[338] In this particular context, he raised this problem in order to persuade the reader that any compromise between preserving wildness and maintaining technological progress is a priori impossible, since any balance between the two will quickly be overwhelmed by Modern Technology and rendered null and void anyway. The only ethical solution is therefore, of course, destruction.

Decades later, his short essay “The Coming Revolution” consults the intellectual resources of Complexity Theory again to explain why no amount of “geeking out” on a subject will be sufficient to predict its negative side effects. This is because the very notion of a simple one-to-one relation between one cause and one effect is something of a Metaphysical fiction which is flatly contradicted by the findings of Complexity Theory. In the sixth footnote to the essay he quotes Roberto Vaca’s The Coming Dark Age as a clear and concise source for this counter-intuitive principle:

[I]n the field of complex systems, cause-to-effect relationships are very difficult to analyse: hardly ever does one given parameter depend on just one other factor. What happens is that all factors and parameters are interrelated by multiple feedback loops, the structure of which is far from obvious.[339]

Complexity Theory also challenges intuitive judgment because it reveals that “emergent properties” cannot be predicted even from a bulletproof understanding of the parts of the system beforehand; human consciousness has been cited as an example of such an “emergent property,” since the raw physical elements of the brain are not in themselves consciousness.[340]

Still, another principle of Complexity Theory is that increases in scope do not correspond to intuitive expectations. Complexity rises exponentially, not linearly, as the system under consideration expands in scope, as Jim Rickards demonstrated with regard to financial overshoot in the United States’ economy in his classic 2016 book The Road to Ruin.[341] What is truly terrifying is that due to Modern Technology pushing the intrinsic limits of rapid transport and communication to a global scale, the system is now effectively the whole world. This should not stroke one’s ego or feed into the illusion of anthropocentric grandeur; rather, it poses a danger to the very existence of life on Earth:

[U]nrestrained growth of technology threatens the very survival of the human race. Human society, together with its worldwide environment, constitutes a system of the greatest complexity, and in a system as complex as this the consequences of a given change cannot in general be predicted.[342]

One need not wait around for decades for these unpredictable results to emerge. In fact, we are already confronted with abundant examples which evidence the tragic miscalculation which landed us even deeper into trouble. In addition to the aforementioned explosion in exotic neuroses, one notable example he cites himself in this essay is that “no one could have predicted in advance that modern changes, through mechanisms that still have not been definitely determined, would lead to an epidemic of allergies.”[343] Continued growth in technological intermediation will therefore expand the scale of intervention even further, enabling disruptions to the Earth which are by definition unpredictable and even currently unimaginable.

A naïve viewer might object that perhaps one of these unpredicted effects will be beneficial. Such a hope would seem to be consistent with the metaphor of a “gamble” since even the most financially irresponsible squandering of one’s paycheck on lottery tickets holds at least a minute chance of hitting the jackpot. This metaphor’s usefulness is limited however, in that no matter how unlikely any one person is to win the lottery, the lottery is still a contrived system which is engineered by humans to have somebody come out a winner. Betting on getting some benefit from tampering with nature is a different kind of gamble altogether, since there is abundant empirical evidence that the emergent properties which result from major disruptions to a complex system are overwhelmingly likely to be harmful:

When a complex and more-or-less stable system is disturbed through some important change, the results commonly are destabilizing and therefore harmful. For example, it is known that genetic mutations of living organisms (unless merely insignificant) are almost always harmful.[344]

The stereotypical image that portrays Man as an extrinsic agent submitting Nature to domination commits a grave logical error by treating Man as somehow outside of the natural systems he seeks to control. An entire generation of thinkers who rarely look up from their smartphone screens seem to have forgotten that there is no “outside,” and that this activity ultimately amounts to the suicidal destruction of our own habitat. Continued reckless experimentation is therefore a game of Russian Roulette, the ending of which is mathematically guaranteed to be devastating for both Man and the natural system of which he was a dependent part all along.

Is There Anybody Out There?

It will be beneficial to briefly consider an example of how Kaczynski’s methodology led him to examine the same phenomenon as John Michael Greer but reach a very different conclusion. In a certain sense, the same problem manifested itself as a different essence with different implications for the future in each case, proving that one’s deepest epistemological presuppositions play a vital role in one’s interpretation of any situation.

In the second chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, Kaczynski mentioned Fermi’s Paradox as one unsolved scientific mystery which might be unlocked by his own methodology. Interestingly, John Michael Greer also devoted an entire Archdruid Report post to this topic in September, 2007. In “Solving Fermi’s Paradox,” Greer called into question the stereotypical image that continued technological progress will inevitably lead to intergalactic space travel. Few things demonstrate human hubris quite as succinctly as the claim that our own fallible species could accomplish something left unaccomplished not only in the history of our planet but on the history of any planet. Although mocking the very notion of extra-terrestrial life is a fine way to stroke the collective ego, the numerical facts alone are mind-boggling:

Our galaxy is around 13 billion years old, and contains something close to 400 billion stars. There’s a lot of debate around how many of those stars have planets, how many of those planets are capable of supporting life, and what might or might not trigger the evolutionary process that leads to intelligent, tool-using life forms, but most estimates grant that there are probably thousands or millions of inhabited planets out there.[345]

It is not unreasonable to assume that numerous other intelligent life forms on other planets have already achieved our current level of technological sophistication or even something much higher. However, given “400 billion chances to evolve a species capable of inventing interstellar travel, and 13 billion years to roll the dice, the chances are dizzyingly high that if it’s possible at all, at least one species” would have already figured out how to do it.[346] The paradox is, of course, that something which should be demonstrated with abundant evidence has thus far never been proven empirically even once. We have never been able to find them.

As a Peak Oil thinker trying desperately to awaken the world to their dependence on quickly-vanishing reserves of fossil fuels, the early Greer’s explanation for Fermi’s Paradox centred upon the impossibility of finding an energy source capable of powering a space shuttle over the ridiculously vast distances required to travel across galaxies. Flaunting our supposed voyage to the moon in order to prove that “any challenge can be solved by human ingenuity” has become so routine that a logical fallacy has been named after it.[347] Greer notes, however, that traveling from the Earth to the moon is child’s play in comparison with traveling the vaster distances which would be required to refute Fermi’s Paradox. For example, if one worked with a scale in which the moon were just an inch and three quarters away, Epsilon Eridani (the closest star likely enough to support a habitable planet) would still be 7,500 miles away.

Likewise, Greer noted that “[p]rogress . . . isn’t simply a matter of ingenuity or science; it depends on energy sources.”[348] No amount of theoretical sophistication can overcome “thermodynamic reality.”[349] If the most concentrated, abundant, and accessible energy source known to our solar system (petroleum) is incapable of powering a voyage further than the modest distance represented by the moon, it is safe to conclude that the kind of mystery energy source which would be required to travel over intergalactic distances does not exist anywhere, nor could it. Greer deduces that the mystery energy source is an impossible object since it would break the laws of thermodynamics. Yet refuting non-existent objects is not the only epistemological exercise discernible in this text: Greer also identifies the essence of petroleum as the key to understand Fermi’s Paradox, since the essence of petroleum is to hold only enough power to travel to the moon. In addition, the essence of petroleum is to decline in availability and to eventually become inaccessible due to the very same geological factors which made it available in the first place.

It is quite fascinating that Kaczynski provided a remarkably different explanation for Fermi’s Paradox by choosing not to emphasize energy sources as the problem at all. Greer implies that the civilizations on these planets may very well plateau at a certain level of technological civilization and then fail to advance beyond that point due to a lack of new energy resources; this view is consistent with Greer’s repeated warnings not to be swayed by apocalyptic fantasies and to instead realize that the historical norm for civilizations is to decline, descend into a Dark Age, and then provide the raw material for a new mature civilization to arise centuries later.[350] Kaczynski’s view is far more pessimistic: we have every reason to believe that astronomers cannot find evidence of these civilizations because they were destroyed. None other than the committed technophile Ray Kurzweil has admitted that self-destruction might have played a role in some cases, though he downplays the likelihood that this was an unavoidable conclusion.[351] Kaczynski refutes this unfounded “benefit of doubt” by noting that such a self-destruction would not be a result of chance. It would be a perfectly logical conclusion following from the laws of self-propagating systems:

Kurzweil would be right if the self-destruction of a civilization were merely a matter of chance. But there is nothing implausible about the foregoing explanation of Fermi’s Paradox if there is a process common to all technologically advanced civilizations that consistently leads them to self-destruction. Here we’ve been arguing that there is such a process.[352]

That process is of course simply embodied in the rationalized essence of all self-propagating systems. Self-propagating systems all have a hardwired tendency to pursue short-term advantage in order to outcompete other systems’ in a context of Natural Selection, even if doing so destroys the superset of which it was a smaller part. The real paradox is that just as a civilization achieves sufficient technological sophistication to be able to attempt intergalactic space travel, it would have already advanced far enough along the trajectory of competitive behaviour to have destroyed itself or its environment. The crucial window of time between the two is therefore more like a vanishing mediator or an impossible object than something which could be achieved in reality, since achieving the ultimate technological feat requires the system to advance beyond the point of self-destruction. It is therefore an impossible object in the same way that a self-predicting social system or a square triangle would be. More troubling still is the unavoidable conclusion that self-destruction is a necessary, rather than contingent, outcome which we are blindly pursuing through mindless calls for more and more technological development.

The Vanishing Mediator?

Both of the first two chapters of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How deal with rationally impossible objects. The first chapter exposed that the self-predicting system is impossible because such a system would have to have complete knowledge of itself in order to make a prediction, but such a prediction would in turn modify the system and shatter its claim to complete self-knowledge. The second chapter exposed that a civilization capable of intergalactic space travel is an impossible object because it would have to surpass the level of self-destruction in order to achieve the level of technological sophistication necessary to attempt such a feat. The third chapter breaks with this trend by dealing with an object which is not necessarily impossible, but whose lifespan would be so brief that action would have to be seized immediately in order to not miss the opportunity to enact lasting change before it passes away forever. This object is the social movement which is powerful enough to make a change to the System as a whole, yet for that very reason, powerful enough to attract self-serving opportunists who will ruin the movement and divert it from its true purpose.[353]

The third chapter “How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid” presents the rules for bringing about radical changes in a society. To do so, he presents four descriptive postulates regarding social change; from these, he infers five prescriptive rules for how one might go about formulating a concrete plan of action.[354]

The first postulate states that one cannot change a society by pursuing goals which are vague or abstract; one might argue that linguistification is useless to enact true social change, because only a clear focus on the objective factor will be sufficiently specific to not violate this postulate.[355]

The second postulate reinforces this warning against linguistification by affirming that preaching alone (“the mere advocacy of ideas”) is not sufficient to bring about “important, long-lasting changes in the behaviour of human beings.”[356]

The third postulate warns that radical movements tend to attract many people “whose goals are only loosely related to the goals of the movement.”[357] At best, the true purpose of the movement is “blurred” behind a flurry of unrelated (linguistified) demands; in the worst case, it is replaced altogether or “perverted” beyond recognition.

The fourth postulate unequivocally states that “[e]very radical movement that acquires great power becomes corrupt.” Specifically, its members will seek financial, political, or social advancement rather than embody any genuine concern for the stated purpose of the movement.[358]

Because these are rationalized rules which reflect the behaviour of all radical social movements in general, the anti-technological movement falls prey to these dangers as much as any other movement would. A movement can only enact a serious, lasting change to the social system of which it is a part if it becomes powerful; yet the more powerful it becomes, the more likely it is to attract people whose motives are compromised by self-interest rather than a sincere commitment to the movement’s goals. After a movement passes a certain critical threshold of power, corruption becomes inevitable.

One might therefore legitimately question whether the “movement which is powerful enough to change the System but not yet so powerful that corruption is inevitable” is something of a rationally impossible object, like a civilization powerful enough to refute Fermi’s Paradox but not yet powerful enough to have destroyed itself. Fortunately, Kaczynski clarifies that for the revolutionary social movement this window of time between the two phases is possible, but its span of duration will necessarily be extremely brief. For this reason, there can be no question of playing games with salvaging the good parts of technology and only getting rid of the “bad parts.” If one is granted the opportunity to destroy Modern Technology before the moment vanishes, one must do it.

Chapter Four: Pacifism or Pathology? Violence and Ethics

Playing in Traffic

As the author has emphasized throughout the present text, the objective factor differs from its surface-level variations not only in terms of importance, but also in terms of essential clarity: the objective factor communicates the essence of the problem clearly while its distractions portray it unclearly. This clarity can be discerned even within his short narrative texts, such as “Ship of Fools.”

In this allegory, the captain and crew of a ship break with their ordinary route and instead decide to sail north into dangerous conditions. This decision was the result of madness, but even the madness itself was the result of something more fundamental: their hubris.[359]

Anyone familiar with the Manifesto will quickly recognize a reference to surrogate activities in his claim that they did this “solely in order to give themselves opportunities to perform ever-more-brilliant feats of seamanship.” Still, this story clarifies some new information about the Power Process: there is a strange feedback loop involved with surrogate activities. Surrogate activities redirect the subject’s desire to go through the Power Process into harmless channels which are tolerated by the System precisely because they are either irrelevant to the System or because, in cases like leftist political activism, they actually strengthen the System. This in turn makes it easier for the System to rule out non-trivial pathways for the Power Process and confines the subject even more thoroughly to rely on surrogate activities as his or her only outlet to pursue power. In the allegory, the captain and crew sail into dangerous waters just in order to satisfy their need for another, more challenging surrogate activity. This, however, worsens the conditions and deprives them of freedom even more. The psychological discomfort quickly becomes palpable, though its origin remains unclear.

Although there is unanimous agreement amongst the sailors that something is wrong, a number of different hypotheses are put forth to explain what exactly it is. First, the “able seaman” expresses dismay that his wages (“a miserable five shillings a month”) are too low to keep up with rising inflation. A “lady passenger” quickly shoots back, however, with a standard feminist complaint that the so-called “gender pay gap” exists even on this ship. In other words, the explanation for the problem is sexism. Next, an immigrant from Mexico quickly chimes in that the explanation for the problem is actually the systematic inequality between the established white Anglophone population and the Spanish-speaking immigrant population from Latin America. It is not only recently-arrived immigrants who are able to identify systematic discrimination, however. A Native American also notes that the true explanation lies in colonialism. At this point, it has clearly become a competition to find out who has the most legitimate claim to oppression. A homosexual claims that it is homophobia, above all else, that is to blame.

Interestingly, rather than focus on his own unique claim to oppression, the leftist college professor on the ship cleverly uses his opportunity to speak to pay lip service to the complaints of each of the other crew members. The audience reacts with wild applause.

A lowly cabin boy, however, has the courage to state the obvious: the passengers are suffering because they have willingly deviated from their proper course and have sailed into an area of the globe with conditions that they are not suited to handle; worse still, at some point, hitting an iceberg is nearly inevitable. Even if the leftist professor’s proposal for wage increases and equal rights were achieved, it would not benefit the passengers in the long run because they will soon be dead if they do not change course. His plea falls on deaf ears, as each of the passengers continues to focus on improving his or her own conditions.

The captain discovers that he can fan the flames of discontent by finding covert ways to encourage each group to focus on its own grievances, tricking them into thinking they are rebelling when they are really just doing exactly what the System has demanded. In fact, the captain is repeatedly portrayed winking to the crew in a show of approval that the passengers are all too distracted by their own surface-level grievances to notice that the conditions on the ship are constantly worsening.

This focus becomes so absolute that no one except the cabin boy even notices that conditions on the entire ship are progressively getting more painfully unnatural; each member certainly does intuitively feel these changes, but grasping for a readily-available interpretation in terms of identity politics and personal grievances rules out any serious analysis of the “objective conditions” on the ship, let alone the grim fate towards which it is sailing. The cabin boy’s final attempt to break the trance is shouted down with the predictable insults of “fascist” and “counterrevolutionary,” but of course by then the final opportunity to reverse course had been squandered.

“The Ship of Fools” clearly demonstrates that self-destruction, for both the crew of this ship and for our society, has an epistemological origin: the failure to identify the objective factor by instead falling prey to the distraction of some surface-level euphemism for it. In addition, the story portrays in narrative form what Kaczynski had repeatedly claimed in theoretical form: that the System can tolerate an infinite number of variations on the same inessential themes, so long as the essential core of the objective factor remains untouched. On the ship, this distinction between objective factor and unessential grievances is institutionalized, with the captain and professor actively redirecting groups to disregard the objective factor while hurling derogatory terms like “fascist” and “counterrevolutionary” at anyone who does notice the objective factor for what it really is.

The final result of playing in the traffic of icebergs in freezing waters in the far north cannot be anything except suicide. Yet self-destruction is not an extrinsic content which must be restored to the essence of the objective factor of sailing to the iceberg: self-destruction is the rationalistic conclusion embedded directly within a clarified glimpse of the essence itself. In our situation as well, of course, self-destruction is not an accidental feature with a debatable role within our dependence upon Modern Technology: the second chapter of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How is titled “Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself” because self-destruction is embedded directly within the rational essence of Modern Technology; it follows directly from the purified laws of self-propagating systems.

It will no doubt be extremely controversial to acknowledge, therefore, that Kaczynski’s understanding of violence follows directly from his understanding that the objective factor’s essence is self-destruction to humanity and likely to our ecosystem as a whole. In a rare unpublished text from an unknown date called “In Defense of Violence,” Kaczynski admitted that the Manifesto lacks explicit references to violence because he knew it would be an uphill battle to get it published in full by the media even if it did not contain any references.[360] Yet only the most naïve and historically-ignorant person could imagine that a serious revolution affecting the entire global infrastructure could occur without involving any violence whatsoever. Further, it is intellectually dishonest to compare humanity’s confrontation with technology to Habermas’s communicative situations in which reaching an objectively-valid consensus between rational human agents is possible.[361] Kaczynski himself states in “In Defense of Violence” that when major social conflict cannot be settled through compromise, it is settled by physical force or the threat of it.[362]

Habermas’s theory of Communicative Action only makes any kind of sense if human agents are involved, though even in that case it is exceedingly rare to find it yield any non-trivial conclusions. Habermas himself, for example, appears not to have ever discovered that the central problem of our era is technological, despite a lifetime of following his own models for communicative problem solving. Further, it’s peculiar that Habermas would posit the “rationalization of communication” as some radical innovation, since this is simply another example of what Ellul would call social technique. His Theory of Communicative Action formalizes the distinctions among different uses of language, such as theoretical scientific description, practical cultural normativity, aesthetic evaluation, theatrical self-expression etc.[363] yet fails to unearth the irony that submitting language to a more refined technical apparatus is simply another example of how Technique exerts its influence over a previously spontaneous human activity. Language, after all, existed for tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years without any need for this explicit system of categorization.

Communicative Action has proven inconclusive at best even when human agents were its participants; expecting it to yield any better results in a dialogue between humans and machines, or even machines and other machines, is a gamble only the most naïve technophile could be willing to take. It bears repeating that machines would fail to reach consensus with humans on a question as basic as whether we should be allowed to continue existing precisely because their pseudo-thought process is so thoroughly rationalized. Empathy is a flat impossibility in such a context. As machines continue to surpass humans in productivity, there will be fewer and fewer reasons of a purely rational character to allow us to continue to live. The mysterious human quality of empathy will soon provide the only justification, yet this is exactly what robots will lack.

Kaczynski demonstrated this warning in another allegorical narrative. The Manifesto’s analogy of the strong and weak neighbour had already made it clear that negotiation is impossible: the ultimate outcome will be the end of human freedom, if not the literal extinction of humans. This follows from the very rationalistic essence of the self-propagating system, since it will necessarily act in order to advance its own interests within a competitive struggle bound by the laws of Natural Selection. In such a context, humans will have soon lost any claim to usefulness and will be eliminated accordingly.

It is ironic, therefore, that a generation which has been trained to refuse to contemplate violence is directly contributing to guaranteeing that catastrophic violence will overwhelm it in the not so distant future, whether it be in the form of mass extermination by the machines, ecological catastrophe, or civil wars that have already resulted from technological disruption of traditional economies and ways of life.

Kaczynski emphasized in his short essay “Morality and Revolution” that it is standard to justify one’s refusal to think about violence by appealing to morality. Even avowed atheists and agnostics who scoff at the traditional moral mandates of Christianity or Islam will still reliably make one exception by treating the ban on violence as a self-evident given with a sacred aura of legitimacy surrounding it. They effectively treat the ban on violence as the one religious law instituted by divine decree in a thoroughly secularized universe without gods. Kaczynski himself noted that even in our post-religious era, violence still retains the traditional status of a sin:

[T]oday most middle class people, and even the majority of those who think themselves rebels against the system, believe that violence is the ultimate sin.[364]

If asked about it, of course, most people will justify this repudiation of violence on moral grounds, as though it were a universal insight accessible to any human with a conscience. What such people fail to realize is that this universal condemnation of violence is an historical anomaly which was unheard of just a few centuries ago:

Several hundred years ago, violence per se was not considered immoral in European society. In fact, under suitable conditions, it was admired. The most prestigious social class was the nobility, which was then a warrior caste.

Violence and Religion

He is careful to note that the modern moral condemnation of violence is not even to be attributed to the influence of religion, especially not Christianity. After all, the centuries during which Christianity was most powerful in the West, the Middle Ages, were also among the most violent centuries of its history.[365] It would be incorrect, however, to just treat this widespread coincidence of violence with religion in past eras as some sign of moral hypocrisy. On the contrary, the extant religious texts of pre-modern eras embody scrupulous concern for maintaining morality in all of the categories which explicitly counted as moral in that era; violence, in our modern understanding of the term, simply did not count as a legitimate concern amongst them.

Although among secularists today violence is the only remaining sin, even among the devoutly religious people of our era the only other true remaining sin in addition to violence is sex. However, such people would likely be surprised to learn that the pre-modern texts in both Christianity and Islam embody a very serious concern for sins which are neither violent nor sexual in nature at all. For example, in such texts there is an emphasis on fasting from food and rejecting material wealth which has gradually faded out of concern as such mandates became ever more incompatible with the dominant consumerist ideology of the culture. In a letter to J. N. dated to April 29, 2001, Kaczynski mentioned exactly this fact:

[A]ll of the great world religions teach us virtues such as reverence and self-restraint. But the economists tell us that our economic health depends on a high level of consumption. To get people to consume, advertisers must offer us endless pleasure, they must encourage unbridled hedonism, and this undermines religious qualities like reverence and self-restraint.[366]

This tendency for religions to abandon every prohibition which would violate the needs of the System provides all the evidence necessary for Kaczynski’s belief that every other aspect of the culture falls prey to a state of dependence upon the objective factor.[367] Encouraging people to shun material wealth would conflict with the System’s needs, since in our era “material wealth” is just a euphemism for Modern Technology. After all, Modern Technology is the only thing that makes the historically anomalous upper middle class lifestyle possible on its current massive scale; subtracting this “objective factor” would immediately deprive this of its sole technical foundation for existence. Religious institutions can only continue to exist if they do not contradict the technical needs of the System. The archaic prohibitions against greed have silently given way to a general prohibition against violence, adopted mindlessly and dogmatically by the secularist atheist and the religious fundamentalist alike. This is because while a greedy population is beneficial to the System, a violent population would disrupt the social machine; these pockets of resistance would have to be rendered docile through propaganda, education, or “mental health” services or else be eliminated completely in order to resume the smooth flow of coordinated action.

St. Athanasius’s fourth-century biography of St. Antony of the Desert, an Egyptian ascetic mystic, demonstrates this overwhelmingly-unacknowledged mismatch between archaic and modern views of Christian Morality quite well. Although this hagiographical account does claim that the “spirit of fornication” appeared to Antony and tormented him with sexual temptation, this episode is quite brief and Antony displays no trouble at all resisting it. Afterwards, Antony realizes that Satan’s strategy will not be to repeat this test ad infinitum, since sexual sin is only one of many types of sin acknowledged in his era. Rather, Antony prepares for Satan to try to deceive him by one of the many other means of temptation available to him:

Antony, having learned from the scriptures that the craftinesses of the enemy are many, . . . gave himself earnestly to the religious life, deeming that, although the foe had not been able to beguile his heart with bodily pleasures [of a sexual kind], he would surely try to ensnare him by other means . . . More and more, therefore, did he repress the body and bring it into subjection, lest after winning at one point, he should be dragged down at another.[368]

One must be careful not to misinterpret these references to “repression of the body” through some anachronistic Freudian lens, as the text immediately clarifies that these exercises consisted of voluntarily submitting himself to a life of extreme poverty by abandoning as many of the material comforts available to him as possible:

[O]ften he passed the whole night unsleeping . . . He ate once in the day, after sunset, and at times he broke his fast only after four days. His food was bread and salt, his drink only water. Of meat and wine it is needless to speak, for nothing of this sort was to be found among the other monks either. For sleep a rush mat sufficed him; as a rule he simply lay on the ground . . . [because] it [is] better for young men to prefer exercise and not seek for things that make the body soft — rather to accustom it to hardships.[369]

Many pastors and priests who are interested in keeping their jobs will preach a watered-down sermon proclaiming that money itself is not a problem so long as one does not subjectively feel “greed in one’s heart” when pursuing it. Of course, one could not imagine that they would extend the same leniency to violence and illicit sex. They would never, for example, preach a sermon saying that one can commit murder so long as one does not subjectively feel rage or that one can fornicate with prostitutes so long as one does not subjectively feel lust while doing so because violence and sex are the only remaining sins. However, Saint Antony’s biography reports a startlingly different attitude towards money:

Now as he went on, he again saw, not this time a phantom, but real gold lying in the way . . . Antony marvelled at the quantity, but avoided it like fire and passed on without looking back, running swiftly on til he lost sight of the place and knew not where it was.[370]

For our purposes, it does not matter whether these hagiographical accounts are literally true or not. It is far more important to know that these moral attitudes were valued at that time than it is to know whether Antony or anyone else for that matter actually embodied them perfectly.

Above all, we must resist the temptation to dismiss the entire account as a primitive myth which could never be lived out by anyone even in the Ancient World, let alone the present era. In James Cowan’s 2004 book Desert Father: In the Desert with Saint Anthony, he documents his own personal journey to Egypt, in which he tried to meet with a man who was reputed to still be living an ascetic existence in Saint Antony’s original cave.[371] When he arrived at the cave, he was shocked to find that the hermit living there was not an Egyptian native at all, nor did he fit the stereotypical image of an ignoramus who embraced religious extremism due to a lack of educational or career opportunities, as the leftist secularist myth would have it. Instead, the hermit was a highly-educated man from the First World (Australia) who left behind a wife and a promising career as a college professor in order to seek out deeper meanings than a life of careerism or consumerism could grant. His journey led him to embrace a level of material impoverishment which few could even bring themselves to imagine, yet such a total detachment from the cares of the world provided (at least for this hermit) the only viable pathway to experience real spiritual freedom. Regardless of the question of religion, one cannot help but admire such an act of genuine rebellion against the System which is exceedingly rare even within the religion that once valorised it as its own ideal.

It is peculiar that even among the people in our era who make a conscious effort to take Christian Morality seriously, prohibitions regarding sexual activities are virtually the only area which still retain the mystical aura of sin. On the other hand, they tend to find no trouble rationalizing away all of the demands to abstain from pursuing material wealth. In fact, rejecting the universal injunction to pursue a high-paying career by selling out to the educational system and the legions of technophile corporations has itself come to be seen as a grave type of sin, as though personal irresponsibility or laziness could be the only motivations a person could have for rejecting a life of crass consumerism which would require working in the service of industrial interests which are literally destroying the planet. Even accepting a standard of living which is “poor” by the grossly-inflated standards of the United States of America is shunned as some sort of expression of personal vice, despite the fact that a “poor person” today is likely to have more material comforts than Caesar had in Ancient Rome. Needless to say, even among most of the self-proclaimed “hard-core Roman Catholics” alive today, virtually no one outside of a monastery or convent would insist on interpreting these calls to poverty literally.

One can identify the same emphasis on material poverty in Medieval Islam as well. In the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’, Farid Al-Din Attar’s Medieval Persian hagiographical account of numerous Muslim saints’ lives, one finds many striking parallels with the Christian story of Saint Antony of the Desert. For example, before his conversion, Habib al-Ajami is portrayed as a “man of property and a usurer” who ruthlessly extorted wealth from his clients.[372] One day, he demanded payment from a woman at her home but she was so destitute that she could only offer him a small amount of food. When a beggar knocked on the door to seek aid, Habib shouted at him to leave, lest he take the food to which Habib was entitled. The woman was then shocked to find that his act of vice had cursed the food:

She lifted the lid of the saucepan and found that its contents had all turned to black blood. Turning pale, she hurried back and taking Habib by the hand, led him towards the pot.

‘Look what has happened to us because of your cursed usury, and your shouting at the beggar!’ she cried. ‘What will become of us now in this world, not to mention the next?’

Horrified at his own behaviour and fearful of the divine wrath he had brought upon himself, Habib repented of his crimes. The text is perfectly specific, however, that this repentance would be impossible without literally embracing a life of poverty and renouncing his claim to both the practice of usury and the fortune he had amassed through it

Then he issued a proclamation.

‘Whoever wants anything from Habib, come and take it!’

The people gathered together, and he gave away all his possessions so that he was left penniless. Another man came with a demand. Having nothing left, Habib gave him his wife’s chaddur. To another claimant he gave his own shirt, and remained naked. He repaired to a hermitage on the banks of the Euphrates, and there gave himself up to the worship of God.[373]

After his conversion, Habib is reported to have helped bring miraculous aid to others, but this only occurred on condition that they too renounce their material possessions. One woman, for example, sought help after her son had disappeared for a long time. Habib’s only question in response was whether she had any money. Although she only had “two dirhams” on her, he asked her to donate these to the poor. Immediately afterwards, her son miraculously returned after the wind seized hold of him and a voice commanded him to go back home; the voice explicitly mentioned the two dirhams which were given away by his mother.[374]

The story of Malek ibn Dinar, found in the same collection, demonstrates these principles just as well. Like Habib, he was portrayed as possessing great wealth prior to his conversion, but found it impossible to cling to his attachment to “worldly things” and his “great wealth” without practicing his religion hypocritically.[375] He was only able to overcome this cognitive dissonance by literally abandoning his wealth and embracing a life of austerity. Later on, a young man in his neighbourhood found that giving away all of his possessions and wandering the world without so much as a stable home was the only path to overcome the depravity and sinfulness to which he was formerly bound.[376]

Money is not the only item which constitutes a pathological attachment in this collection of texts. In a certain sense, food is even harder to renounce, since money’s value is completely abstract but good-tasting food impacts one’s faculties of sensation in a direct and overwhelmingly real manner. For this reason, controlling one’s relationship with food is consistently portrayed as one of the chief accomplishments of a religious ascetic. In his later years, Habib was reported to have prepared a simple meal of just two loaves of barley bread and some salt when a beggar knocked on the door to ask for help. Without hesitation, he gave even this simple meal away.[377] Immediately, a supernatural reward was delivered.

Malek Ibn Dinar is similarly portrayed as accepting dietary austerity in addition to financial austerity. In fact, the text claims: “Years passed without anything sour or sweet passing Malek’s lips. Every night he would repair to the baker’s and buy two round loaves on which he broke his fast.”[378] Such a life deprived of something as basic as the opportunity to taste sweet or sour food was not, however, completely lacking in joy; in fact, removing artificial stimulations had conditioned him to accept even the most modest comforts in life with due appreciation: "From time to time it happened that the bread was warm; he found consolation in that.”[379] Paradoxically, over-stimulating the senses dulls down one’s ability to appreciate even extravagant amounts of pleasure, let alone tiny ones. Our generation has found that being bombarded with ridiculous amounts of grease, salt, and corn syrup in the form of fast “food” has stripped away the ability to enjoy at all, whereas a simple diet of bread and water opens the pathway to enjoy even the minutest reward.

In addition to eating simple meals, there is an undeniable emphasis on fasting in both Medieval Christian and Muslim texts. Ibn Khaldun reported that several Muslim women in his era embarked on a fast which miraculously lasted for years, until the end of their lives.[380] This fact was allegedly confirmed even by the king himself. Islam, to its credit, still retains a greater literal emphasis on voluntary physical impoverishment during the month of Ramadan than one could find in the Modern Christian version of Lent. This is because in Ramadan there is no question of cheating by foregoing real abstinence from food in favour of some empty symbolic substitute; giving up video games instead would cause one to miss the entire point of truly experiencing poverty. Yet even among the handful of Christians who still practice Lent, one will often use the season as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by giving up a “bad habit” like watching soap operas or eating chocolate. It is peculiar that the most intense spiritual exercises of our era are literally framed in terms of dropping “bad consumerist habits” in favour of adopting “good consumerist habits,” as though becoming a better consumer were the only meaningful pathway to express oneself ethically.

Even within religion, morality has fallen prey to a transformation in which its essence is indistinguishable from the System it claims to rebel against. It has literally become one’s religious duty to “take personal responsibility” by studying hard in school, attending university, and then landing a high-paying upper middle class job, despite the fact that all of these activities entail complete submission to the Modern Technological Industrial System. Just as the severe ecological consequences of pursuing a historically-anomalous suburban lifestyle are completely drained of any moral value, there remains one sin which both secularist and nominally-religious people will agree on: the prohibition against violence.

Dark Ages

Kaczynski notes near the end of “Morality and Revolution” that this universal condemnation of violence in Modernity is more apparent than real. While it is true that the very possibility of a legitimate act of violence has been ruled out for all ordinary individuals, this has actually coincided with a dramatic rise in acceptance of violence by the System itself. It is casually taken for granted in our era that police raids, drone strikes, and warfare exemplify the legitimate use of force simply because they are carried out by the System itself, but this is a fairly recent attitude.

Although virtually no one would disagree that a strong police force is necessary in order to relieve ordinary people of the need to defend themselves, as recently as the 19th century in the United States most people held the exact opposite view:

Even on the eve of the Industrial Revolution violence was not regarded as the greatest of all evils, and certain other values— personal liberty, for example — were felt to be more important than the avoidance of violence. In America, well into the 19th century, public attitudes toward the police were negative, and police forces were kept weak and inefficient because it was felt that they were a threat to freedom. [381]

It was recognized, in other words, that an inverse relation existed between personal liberty and the state’s monopoly on “legitimate use of force.” The reason for this intuition was, of course, that a strong System really is incompatible with subjective freedom, as the Manifesto explained in depth through its discussions of the Power Process.

In Jacques Ellul’s “History of Technique” in The Technological Society, he made similar observations regarding the inverse relation between Pre-Modern Christianity and Technique.[382] It would be absurd, for example, to claim that Christianity or even Western Civilization can be uniquely blamed for the rise of Technique, since the rise of Christianity after the fall of the Roman Empire was an era defined primarily by the dissolution of Roman Technique and a reversion to crude, pre-technical methods of farming and craftsmanship. After all, this era in which the roots of Modern Western Civilization were established and Christianity was a dominant force are otherwise known as the Dark Ages.

Bryan Ward-Perkins’ The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization provides abundant historical evidence that technological deterioration was a widespread phenomenon that defined the Dark Ages.[383] For example, at the height of the Roman Empire, industrial pottery factories had become so firmly-established that mass-produced pottery became affordable enough even for commoners to purchase. Stable trade routes and a complex economy allowed this pottery to be disseminated even to remote stretches of the Western World, as archaeological digs have unearthed this pottery as far away as Scandinavia. After the demise of the empire, however, the technical foundation for the industry collapsed. This did not simply result in the loss of super-specialized production skills which were relatively widespread in the previous era. Rather, even a skill as basic as wheel-thrown pottery was forgotten and not recovered again for centuries. John Michael Greer has repeatedly mentioned that one archaeological dig revealed that a Dark Age era king in England was eating from dishes which would have been embarrassingly crude even for a peasant to own just a few centuries earlier.[384]

One might perhaps argue that this example from the Dark Ages demonstrates Kaczynski’s own distinction between “small-scale technology” and “organization-dependent technology,” mentioned in the 208th paragraph of the Manifesto. As he noted himself, “small-scale technology . . . can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance” and can therefore withstand a collapse even to the broader social organization outside the community, such as the decline of the Roman Empire. For example, one would assume that blacksmithing methodologies suited for producing basic tools for agriculture and warfare on a local scale from easily-accessible materials remained viable even as the Roman Empire collapsed; these surely provided the minimal means for Dark Age peoples to go on with daily life. On the other hand, the sophisticated pottery production methodologies and facilities which thrived at the height of the Roman Empire proved utterly incapable of surviving beyond the empire’s demise, proving that “organization-dependent technology DOES regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down.”[385] In fact, he himself cites the Roman Empire and its decline in this same paragraph to explicate this distinction:

Example: When the Roman Empire fell apart the Romans’ small-scale technology survived because any clever village craftsman could build, for instance, a water wheel, any skilled smith could make steel by Roman methods, and so forth. But the Romans’ organization-dependent technology DID regress. Their aqueducts fell into disrepair and were never rebuilt. Their techniques of road construction were lost. The Roman system of urban sanitation was forgotten, so that not until rather recent times did the sanitation of European cities equal that of Ancient Rome.[386]

At any rate, the absurdly-convoluted legal system so casually accepted in our era is a historical anomaly which is directly contingent upon a bloated technological system, since state monopolization of violence simply is a manifestation of Technique. Yet this monopoly on violence is as much psychological as it is physical, as Ellul was careful to note that the police force only obtains the proper status of Technique when supplemented by propaganda to accustom the population to the constant presence of cops.[387]

As Technique gains control over a society, attitudes condemning violence rise just as acceptance for “legitimate use of force” by the System increases and avenues for true freedom vanish. In the process, religions are either squeezed out of existence or forced to redefine themselves in ways that are directly useful to the technical functioning of the System. In a letter to J. N. dated April 29, 2001, Kaczynski said that the “decline of religion in modern society is not an accident. It is a necessary result of technical progress.”[388] This universal incorporation into Technique does not apply only to traditional religions. In an unpublished letter dated at October 12, 1998, Kaczynski warned that even those who claim to be secularist moral relativists do not reject the concept of morality altogether; rather, they are simply doing the System’s dirty work by dismantling the last few fossilized relics of Traditional Western Morality in order to replace it with a new morality uniquely compatible with the System’s needs.

Fascism and Time Travel Fantasies

Kaczynski has repeatedly pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in calls to universally condemn all violence whatsoever, since virtually everyone within the mainstream will relax this requirement for one notable exception: fighting fascism. The historical record demonstrates, of course, that agreeing to fight fascism necessarily entailed millions of casualties on both sides, yet this was accepted out of a hope to “prevent a greater evil.” However, it would be flatly dishonest to claim that Mussolini represented a greater threat to the long-term survival of complex life on Earth than Modern Technology. It is strange, in fact, that the term fascism has come to stand as a symbol for pure political evil, since Mussolini’s government performed some 2,000 political executions in its lifetime. Compared to the 45 million deaths under Mao, it is hard to imagine why Mussolini is routinely portrayed as one of the most evil men to have ever existed. This is not at all, of course, to downplay his many flaws, but it is flatly intellectually dishonest to pretend that Modern Technology does not pose an incalculably graver danger to human existence than Mussolini ever could have. Likewise, saying that violence is justified to fight fascism but it is categorically unjustified to fight Modern Technology betrays extreme, unfounded prejudice, the origin of which of course lies in the System itself:

If it was acceptable to fight World War II, in spite of the severe cruelty to millions of innocent people that it entailed, then a revolution against the technoindustrial system should be acceptable too.[389]

It is necessary therefore to briefly examine this term “fascism” in order to see why it supposedly constitutes the single reliable exception to the ban on violence. It is regrettable that the term fascism is constantly utilized (especially since the rise of Donald Trump) but is virtually never examined in its meaning. If asked about it, many would define a fascist as “an evil person doing evil things because they are evil.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, found it fitting to describe the United States Border Patrol as a fascist organization, though they appear not have any explicit connection with early 20th Century Italian politics. Such people would never even consider that the term “fascism” might have once functioned as something other than a synonym for “pure evil.” Yet in its original Italian context, the term “fascist” simply meant a “groupist.” Further, an examination of Mussolini’s speeches and writings demonstrates that fascism embodied a very specific set of economic policies, political organizational principles, and even a fully-developed philosophy. Acknowledging that these exist and are worthy of examination (if nothing else, in order to see whether the term is actually being misused in almost all modern contexts) is not at all the same thing as endorsing them, yet we are prohibited by the System from investigating these matters out of the misguided belief that doing so would amount to a tacit approval of their content. We cannot even begin to evaluate whether the claim that fascism is more dangerous than Modern Technology is true or not if we have no idea what this term actually means.

It is curious that what the mainstream media and far left political activists consistently miss about Mussolini is the fact that above all, Mussolini was just another technophile. In the Doctrine of Fascism, for example, he cited “progress” as the chief factor to distinguish fascism from other political philosophies.[390] Mussolini routinely dismissed Socialism and Democracy as outdated relics of the previous century, social experiments which had been attempted but found lacking. Specifically, he claimed that Democracy is useless to lead a society to progress because the numerical majority of a population cannot be trusted to arrive at sound conclusions. Rather than trust the whims of the masses, one would have to establish a strong centralized state which would coordinate the society in accord with what was proven to be objectively true regardless of popular opinion. Yet this loss of subjective interpretation in favour of a centralized apparatus whose rationalized objective truths become impossible to question is precisely what Ellul had already identified as the essence of Technique. In addition, Fascism differed from both conservative and liberal parties of early 20th Century Europe because it favoured taxing industrial activity in order to provide social services to the masses. To say that this is exactly what Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang proposed is to give these specific men, Mussolini included, far too much credit. It is more proper to say that this is just another example of how societies generally function under the growing influence of Technique. Mussolini himself certainly did not reject technology but realized it was the only credible foundation upon which to build his ambitions for a new Roman Empire. In at least this one very crucial area, Mussolini has far more common ground with the political activists who claim to hate him than they will realize if they never actually study what this term means.

Yet even grasping Mussolini’s Political Philosophy is less important than acknowledging the fact that although World War II was a horrific example of human warfare, there was no fundamental difference between it and the countless other examples of human warfare that had occurred before. Kaczynski has the courage to acknowledge this near the end of “Morality and Revolution”:

Hitler and his allies [such as Mussolini] merely tried to repeat on a larger scale the kinds of atrocities that have occurred again and again throughout the history of civilization. What modern technology threatens is absolutely without precedent. Today we have to ask ourselves whether nuclear war, biological disaster, or ecological collapse will produce casualties many times greater than World War II [and] whether the human race will continue to exist or whether it will be replaced by intelligent machines or genetically-engineered freaks.[391]

To say that violence is justified to win one war of many but is not justified to prevent the end of human existence itself is the kind of illogic which Kaczynski thought had to be overturned, if nothing else, to retain some logical consistency in one’s beliefs. Yet Kaczynski warned at the end of “The Coming Revolution” that even to say that the current System and the old fascist states etc. are equally evil is a gross exaggeration. The current System is far worse:

[I advocate p]unishment for those responsible for the present situation. The scientists, engineers, corporation executives, politicans and so forth who consciously and intentionally promote technological progress and economic growth are criminals of the worst kind. They are worse than Stalin or Hitler, who never even dreamed of anything approaching what today’s technophiles are doing.[392]

Kaczynski even wrote a satirical short story called “If Earth First! Had Been Around Sixty Years Ago” to demonstrate the hypocrisy inherent in contemporary rejections on all violence whatsoever. If Earth First! had been trusted to coordinate the United States’ military strategy against the Axis Powers in World War 2, Kansas would be under German rule today.[393] The motivation for writing the story appears to have been the fact that many environmentalists claim to take saving Nature seriously yet categorically condemn violence in any form whatsoever. It is especially strange, however, to claim that one can preserve nature in its unspoiled purity while simultaneously trying to eliminate all violence, because few things are quite as natural as violence! In a letter to M. K., Kaczynski himself noted:

[V]iolence is . . . a necessary part of nature. If predators did not kill members of prey species, then the prey species would multiply to the point where they would destroy their environment by consuming everything edible.[394]

Of course, condemning violence in every form whatsoever has nothing to do with Nature; rather, this attitude betrays one’s dependence upon the very same System which is progressively destroying Nature, since such a claim makes no sense at all outside of a highly-regulated civilization dependent upon Modern Technology. It is therefore intellectually dishonest to claim to be saving Nature while indirectly contributing to its destruction.

His short essay “When Non-Violence is Suicide” exposed the same stupidity by portraying the following hypothetical scenario: imagine a group of small-scale farmers who had taken personal responsibility after the collapse of the System by growing their own food and trying to live peacefully. Just as they are harvesting potatoes to prepare for winter, a gang arrives at their doorstep; they seize the potatoes and eye the women for rape. The discomforting truth is that “[n]onviolence works only when you have the police to protect you. In the absence of police protection, nonviolence is very nearly the equivalent to suicide.”[395] No one really rejects all violence; rather, we have just outsourced its use to the police and the military.

In his unpublished essay “In Defense of Violence,” Kacyznski noted that the System’s call to eliminate violence does not extend to itself, since it “depends on force and violence to maintain itself— that’s what the police and army are for.”[396] Of course, he clarifies that he does not advocate “indiscriminate or automatic violence” nor does he have any interest in “violence for its own sake”; in fact he acknowledges that in most situations non-violent tactics are the most effective. However, even at a purely logical level one must admit that it is just another example of Orwellian doublethink to support a complete ban on so much as a discussion of violence for the subjects, since this presupposes that the System maintain its institutions of legitimate violence.

At any rate, in the absence of a functioning state, politically correct calls to pacifism amount to suicide. Above all, they are just tacit agreements to submit to Technique since Technique alone provides the conditions for such a claim to make sense.

One need not wait for the post-collapse future to find evidence that pacifism amounts to suicide in the absence of a just social order. Even Ward Churchill, a former college professor and self-described radical leftist, had reached the conclusion that calls for unadulterated pacifism are logically and ethically incompatible with his own stance as an indigenist Native American intellectual who seeks to seriously challenge the ongoing colonization of North America. Churchill’s essay “Pacifism as Pathology” demonstrated the naivety of thinking that every historical conflict, in retrospect, could have been solved by peaceful negotiation.[397] Inevitably, he cites fighting fascism as among the first of his examples where real violence was necessary to solve a conflict which could never have been overcome through peaceful discussion. In addition, the colonization of North America could never have been halted through some Habermasian dialogue in which colonizer and colonized could meet around a table and work out a plan for even so modest a demand as letting Native American tribes keep their own land or not be intentionally devastated by disease. One could only assume that such a thing would work if one expected humans to always behave perfectly rationally (as Habermas literally calls his theory one of “communicative rationality”), but of course raw self-interest can always be counted upon to overturn rationality.

At the very end of the short essay “The Coming Revolution,” Kaczynski challenges the idea that aversion to violence can be traced back to moral virtue at all, since in many cases this is actually to be attributed to “cowardice.” It is simply one more example of oversocialization to be “horrified at physical violence,” since this reaction is not at all natural but had to be learned. It was only taught on a massive scale because a “passive and obedient” society is useful to the System. As a result, we actually have become less virtuous in the Ancient Greek sense of virtue as a trait of a good human being:[398] “the conditions of modern life are conducive to laziness, softness, and cowardice. Those who want to be revolutionaries will have to overcome these weaknesses.”[399]

Similarly, in “In Defense of Violence” he noted that “[m]odern middle class culture is exceptional in the degree to which it tries to suppress aggression,” despite the fact that aggression is a “normal part of the behavioural repertoire of human beings and of most other mammals.”[400] Some responsible therapists lament that among their clients, many men exhibit frighteningly low testosterone levels because the society actively deprives them of traditional opportunities to maintain high levels and shames activities which embody masculinity. This is not to suggest, of course, that acceptance of violence in pre-modern times was uniquely exhibited by men. He notes near the end of the essay that tribal warfare was common among some Native American tribes precisely because the women in the tribes tended to egg on the fighting.

Above all, humans had to learn to be horrified at violence only because this unnatural reaction served the needs of the System. The System imposes the universal ban on violence simply because it is required to maximize the technical efficiency of the social machine: “The reason the system teaches us to be horrified at violence is that violence of any kind is dangerous to the system [because] the system requires order above all [and a population] which is docile and obedient and who don’t make trouble.”[401]

He clarifies near the end of the essay that cowardice is not always to be blame for this reaction. He lists three types of people who “insist on nonviolence as a matter of principle.” Conformists reject violence simply as a result of brainwashing by the System; cowards reject violence due to personal weakness; finally, saints, the rarest of the three, reject violence out of genuine compassion for others. Although he castigates both conformists and cowards as being “beneath contempt,” he does acknowledge respect for the saint type and hypothesizes that they might be useful to the revolution even if violence and chaos become widespread in the course of events. Widespread chaos is certain to occur in the near future; for example, the collapse of modern industrial Frankenfood “agriculture” will immediately result in famine for most people. Even those who clumsily try to cobble together an ad-hoc organic farming system overnight will face a steep learning curve, since the kind of skills required to successfully grow food without Modern Technology are not exactly the kind of thing one would absorb from a lifetime of sitting in an air-conditioned office or lying on a couch watching sitcoms. The corporate professionals who scoff at the stereotypical image of “peasant ignorance” may be shocked to find that all along they were the ones who were really ignorant of any skills which are actually relevant to meeting basic survival needs or which cannot be outsourced to automation or some centralized institution of the System. Certainly, in such difficult times, the saints would play an important role in preserving the ideals of kindness and compassion which most people will have long since abandoned in favour of self-interest. One cannot underestimate the importance of virtue in such a context.

It’s Not Violence When the System Does It?

It is peculiar to act as though the System unequivocally opposes violence, considering the enormous amounts of physical violence which the System so casually wields in the form of police raids, drone strikes, and full-scale wars. Orwell’s hypothetical examples of doublethink have now quite literally become the System’s own slogans, since claiming that the same system which indiscriminately bombs Third World villages and apartment complexes filled with civilians is somehow mortally offended by the very notion of some person somewhere contemplating the definition of violence is to fit two thoughts into one phrase as contradictorily as to say that “War is Peace.”[402] He notes that this contradiction is not, however, without origin altogether: it is simply the essence of the objective factor itself to monopolize violence by the System by discouraging even the inclination to violence in its subjects. A System that blots out human individuality in order to reduce every person to just another cog in a massified technological pseudo-organism requires docile subjects in order to function.

Although it is rare for Kaczynski to mention his own personal life in essays that are meant to address a specific revolutionary issue, he makes a notable exception in “In Defense of Violence” by describing the psychological testing which his lawyers arranged for him to confirm that he wasn’t “crazy.” The “mental health professional” who tested him was apparently troubled to find that Kaczynski did not exhibit any feelings of guilt for his acts of violence.[403] It would never have occurred to the same “mental health professional” to ask whether he felt guilt for killing enemy soldiers on the battlefield; in fact, feeling remorse or dwelling on the past on the part of individuals in the latter event can be treated as evidence of some psychological abnormality (PTSD, etc.) It is remarkable that even the “unbiased” criteria of mental health evaluation are skewed to presuppose that violence is a priori justified if it is wielded on an institutional level by the System, no matter how ethically questionable any given war might be.

Once again, the author of the present text does not condone or promote illegal activity of any kind. Yet the author does feel an urgent need to identify the true motives behind the System’s theatrical displays of offense against the very thought of violence, as well as to expose the extent to which calls for unadulterated pacifism are just appeals to Modern Technology in disguise. The present text was in fact written as the first ever book-length analysis of Ted Kaczynski’s philosophical ideas precisely as a result of the System’s mandated silence on these texts, yet this ban was imposed strictly in the name of “rejecting violence.” It is quite clear that the only purpose this serves is to enable the System to continue monopolizing violence for its own ends, a process that will end only in the destruction of subjectivity, Homo sapiens, the natural environment, or the System itself. The refusal to contemplate violence is therefore the surest guarantee that catastrophic violence will consume our future.

Back Cover

Chad Haag is deeply committed to the project of exploring the problem of Modern Technology through utilizing the intellectual resources of Western Philosophy. He left behind the academic path to relocate in India and dedicate himself to sustainability. He lives in the village of Uchakkada with his wife Minu.

In the first ever book-length philosophical analysis of Ted Kaczynski’s writings on Industrial Civilization, Chad A. Haag explores the supremely-forbidden territory of questioning Modern Technology. Although the media has almost exclusively restricted the discussion of Kaczynski’s philosophy to the Unabomber Manifesto, Chad A. Haag breaks the silence regarding his vast body of writings by examining his fragmentary magnum opus Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How and the shorter published essays. In addition, Haag analyses numerous super-rare unpublished essays, letters, and allegories retrieved from the Kaczynski Papers archive in Michigan in order to situate his thought within the context of the other great philosophers who wrote on Modern Technology, such as Jacques Ellul and Martin Heidegger, as well as to determine Kaczynski’s unexpected relations to classical thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Husserl, and Descartes. In addition, Kaczynski’s unique views offer potent alternatives to the all-too-familiar political stances of Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, and leftists in general. Finally, Kaczynski’s rationalistic epistemology of essence, his implicit theory of hermeneutical subjectivity, and his views on morality are fleshed out explicitly for the first time ever.


[1] The author does not personally recommend that the readers watch this film

[2] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M. K., Dated October 4, 2003,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), pp. 373-4.

[3] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M. K., Dated October 4, 2003,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 374.

[4] Ted Kaczynski, Unpublished and Untitled Letter Dated October 14, 1999.

[5] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 3-4.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid. para. 166.

[8] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to the San Francisco Examiner (1985)” (unpublished letter).

[9] It should be noted that although in the pre-arrest era Kaczynski referred to himself with this title, in an unpublished 2015 letter written from prison he expressed regret at having identified himself as an anarchist. The author wishes to respect Kaczynski’s desire to distance himself from the term anarchist, but still acknowledges that these references in the pre-arrest era are worthy of recognition.

[10] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to LWOD” (unpublished letter).

[11] Ibid., para. 135.

[12] Ibid., para. 9.

[13] Ibid., para. 10.

[14] Ibid., para. 16.

[15] Ibid., para. 20.

[16] This is not to suggest, of course, that the author supports Donald Trump or any other politician or political party.

[17] “By ‘freedom’ we mean the ability to go through the power process with real goals, not the artificial goals of surrogate activities.’

Ibid., p. 64.

[18] Ibid., para. 33.

[19] Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 47.

[20] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 34.

[21] John Michael Greer, Dark Age America (Gabriola Island: New Society, 2016).

[22] Ibid., para. 40.

[23] George Orwell, 1984 (New York: Signet, 1977).

[24] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 29.

[25] Ibid., para. 29.

[26] Ted Kaczynski, Unpublished and Untitled Letter Dated October 12, 1998, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[27] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 39.

[28] Ibid., para. 219.

[29] J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (London: HarperCollins, 2005), p. 267.

[30] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 50.

[31] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch and Madison, 2016), p. 47.

[32] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 201.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 71.

[35] Ibid., p. 43.

[36] Ibid., p. 44.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid., pp. 46-7.

[39] Euclid, The Elements, available at https://mathcs.clarku.edu/~djoyce/java/elements/bookI/bookI.html

[40] Baruch Spinoza, Ethics in The Rationalists (New York: Anchor Books, 1974), p. 179.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid., p. 185.

[43] Ibid., p. 186.

[44] Ted Kaczynski, Untitled and Unpublished Letter Dated October 14, 1999, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[45] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 70.

[46] Ibid., p. 67.

[47] Ibid., p. 46.

[48] The Myth of the Forest Clearers of course occurs in Chapter Two of Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How., p. 44.

[49] German term “Life World.” Habermas adopts this term from the later Husserl in order to emphasize the living context in which Communicative Action takes place, just as Husserl once used it to emphasize the Phenomenological horizon in which phenomena in the narrower sense of the term are given. See Hans Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method, Part 2, for a thorough discussion of this term in relation to Fichte’s, Dilthey’s, and Yorck’s attempts to develop a notion of Life.

[50] Aristotle, Metaphysics, in Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: The Modern Library, 2011), p. 761.

[51] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 64.

[52] Ibid., p. 67.

[53] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, October 12, 2004” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010) p. 279.

[54] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 127.

[55] Ibid., para. 173.

[56] The great Mythicist New Testament scholar Robert M. Price emphasizes this historical fact in his great work The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.

[57] Grave Robbing for Morons is a mysterious video in which a young man teaches a complete lesson on how to perform a grave robbery at a cemetery. He even demonstrates with a real human skull. Apparently, the customers were occultists willing to pay hundreds of dollars in exchange for getting access to authentic human remains for their rituals. The video appears to have been recorded on a camcorder in the early 1990’s for personal purposes. Years later, it was distributed along with several other videos on a DVD and was uploaded to YouTube, where it achieved viral status due to several unsolved “mysteries” in the video. For example, the young man has visible wounds on his hands, perhaps due to a recent fight, and speaks with a bizarre stutter. Theories over whether he had a neurological disability, a drug problem, or whether he had been bashed over the head while committing a robbery abounded. At least one YouTube user claimed to have known him but lamented that he had been found dead in a dumpster in New York decades ago. We will never know the truth.

[58] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor, p. 6.

[59] Ibid., p. 7.

[60] Ted Kaczynski, “In Defense of Violence”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[61] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), pp. 7-40.

[62] Ibid., pp. 96-8.

[63] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, October 12, 2004” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 279.

[64] Ted Kaczynski, “The Coming Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 210.

[65] Ibid., p. 211.

[66] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, October 12, 2004” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 280.

[67] Ted Kaczynski, “Afterthoughts,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 417.

[68] Ted Kaczynski, “The Road to Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 228.

[69] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 166.

[70] Ibid., p. 95.

[71] Dmitry Orlov. Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects . New Society Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[72] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 119.

[73] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to the San Francisco Examiner (1985)” (unpublished letter).

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ted Kaczynski, “The Road to Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 225.

[76] Ibid., p. 226.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ted Kaczynski, “When Non-Violence is Suicide” (unpublished manuscript).

[79] Bertrand Russell, Principles of Mathematics (London: Routledge, 2012), p. xxxvii.

[80] Ted Kaczynski, “Industrial Society and Its Future,” in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 44.

[81] Ted Kaczynski, “The Coming Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 211.

[82] Ibid.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch and Madison, 2016), p. 89.

[85] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 229.

[86] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch and Madison, 2016), p. 89.

[87] Ted Kaczynski, “The Truth about Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarcho-Primitivism,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 136.

[88] John Zerzan, “On the Origin of War,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 25.

[89] John Zerzan, “Patriarchy, Civilization, and the Origins of Gender,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 17.

[90] John Zerzan, “The Twilight of the Machines,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 59.

[91] John Zerzan, “Whose Unabomber?”, available at https://web.archive.org/web/20100618101228/http://www.insurgentdesire.org.uk/whoseunabomber.htm

[92] John Zerzan, “The Iron Grip: the Axial Age,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 31.

[93] See the fourth chapter of Chad Haag’s Being and Oil: Volume One: Peak Oil Philosophy and the Ontology of Limitation for a full discussion of deep memes.

[94] John Zerzan, “Alone Together: the City and its Inmates,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 45.

[95] See Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.

[96] John Zerzan, “On the Origins of War,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 19.

[97] See Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan for a fuller discussion of this myth.

[98] Ibid., p. 21.

[99] Edmund Husserl, Logical Investigations, Vol. One (London: Routledge, 1970), p. 293.

[100] Ibid., p. 48.

[101] As recently as his 2019 Hermitix interview, Zerzan was questioned why he found continental philosophers so useful in his publications; his only response was that that was precisely what he found them: “useful.”

[102] Derrida’s book-length critique of Husserl, Voice and Phenomenon, is well-known, though his shorter essays “Form and Meaning: A Note on the Phenomenology of Language” in Margins of Philosophy and “Genesis and Structure and Phenomenology” in Writing and Difference are equally significant glimpses into the thought process that motivated his idiosyncratic conclusions.

[103] John Zerzan, “Exiled from Presence,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 69.

[104] Ibid.

[105] Ibid., p. 74.

[106] Ibid., p. 70.

[107] John Zerzan, “Overman and Unabomber,” in Twilight of the Machines (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2008), p. 97.

[108] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, January 2, 2004”, in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 260.

[109] Ted Kaczynski, Letter to John Zerzan Dated March 8, 1998, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[110] Edmund Husserl, Logical Investigations, Vol. One (London: Routledge, 1970), p. 293.

[111] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M. K., Dated October 4, 2003,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 375.

[112] Ibid.

[113] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 214.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M. K., Dated October 4, 2003,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 375.

[116] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 4.

[117] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress versus Liberty” (unpublished essay).

[118] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, March 17, 2005,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 325.

[119] Martin Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: HarperColophon, 1977), p. 27.

[120] Ibid. pp. 22-3.

[121] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M.K., Dated October 4, 2003,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 375.

[122] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 7.

[123] Ibid, pp. 19-20.

[124] Ibid., pp. 8-9.

[125] Ibid., p. 349.

[126] Ibid., p. 358.

[127] Ibid., p. 363.

[128] Ibid., p. 375.

[129] Ibid., p. 330.

[130] Ibid., p. 348.

[131] Ibid., p. 397.

[132] Martin Heidegger “The Question Concerning Technology”, in The Question Concerning Technology (New York: Harper Colophon, 1977), p. .27

[133] Martin Heidegger, Mindfulness (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), p. 11.

[134] Ibid., p. 14.

[135] Ibid., p. 12.

[136] Ibid.

[137] Jordan Peterson, Maps of Meaning (Routledge: New York, 1999), pp. 138-9.

[138] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor.

[139] The Forum for Action presents the object in terms of its behavioural and motivational significance, while the Place of Things presents the object in terms of its objectified scientific essence. Jordan Peterson, Maps of Meaning (New York: Routledge, 1999)., p. 3.

[140] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, Dated March 17, 2005,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 328.

[141] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch and Madison, 2016), p. 72.

[142] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in The Portable Nietzsche (New York: Penguin, 1982.

[143] Ted Kaczynski, “The Coming Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 214.

[144] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 335.

[145] Aristotle, Physics, in Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: Modern Library, 2001), p. 236.

[146] Zizek emphasizes that Freudian drive cannot be understood except through negativity in numerous texts, but his argument in The Parallax View is particularly thorough.

[147] Ted Kaczynski, “An Interview with Ted,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 406.

[148] Ibid.

[149] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 94.

[150] Ibid., para. 39.

[151] Ted Kaczynski, “Postscript to Manifesto,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 124.

[152] Ibid.

[153] See the Wikipedia entry for Ted Kaczynski.

[154] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), p. 113.

[155] Slavoj Zizek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously (London: Verso, 2012), p. 50.

[156] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter To a Researcher, Dated July 30, 1991” (unpublished letter), Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[157] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage, 1963), pp. 428-9.

[158] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 96.

[159] John Michael Greer, The Retro Future: Looking to the Past to Reinvent the Future (Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers, 2017).

[160] The mentats are of course the humans who try to salvage minds by developing awareness and thinking amidst the rise of hostile machines in Frank Herbert’s Dune.

[161] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 72.

[162] David Icke, The Robots’ Rebellion: The Story of the Spiritual Renaissance (Bath: Gateway Books, 1994), p. xiv.

[163] Ibid., pp. vii-viii.

[164] David Icke, Everything You Need to Know But have Never Been Told (Derby: David Icke Books, 2017).

[165] David Icke, The Robots’ Rebellion: The Story of the Spiritual Renaissance (Bath: Gateway Books, 1994), p. 6.

[166] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage, 1964), p. 413.

[167] Ibid., pp. 24-5.

[168] Ibid., p. 410.

[169] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M. K., Dated October 4, 2003,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 376.

[170] Greer’s Retrotopia is a fictional novel set in North America in the year 2065. The narrator travels to present-day Ohio in order to visit an autonomous nation where the citizens had willingly adopted “outdated” technologies from the past. Surprisingly, technological regression results in more employment for ordinary citizens and a better quality of life overall.

[171] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 2.

[172] Quoted in “Letter to David Skrbina, April 5, 2005” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 330.

[173] Ibid.

[174] Ibid., p. 331.

[175] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 71.

[176] John Michael Greer, “The Same New Ideas” in The Archdruid Report, Vol. 2 (Chicago: Founders House, 2017), p. 94.

[177] Obviously this illustration is reminiscent of Heidegger in many ways which will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter One of the present work, but the author is not suggesting that Kaczynski’s own unique traits should be disregarded in an all too hasty act of complete identification with Heidegger’s highly-idiosyncratic Philosophy. If anything, both made the same observation that technology posed a threat to the very process of hermeneutical interpretation.

[178] Plato, Cratylus, in Collected Dialogues (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 466.

[179] Wallace Stevens, “Tea at the Palaz of Hoon,” in Harmonium in Collected Poetry and Prose (New York: The Library of America, 1997), p. 51.

[180] Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method (New York: Anchor Books, 1974), p. 82.

[181] Latin terms for “thinking thing” (mind) and “extended thing” (body), respectively

[182] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 20.

[183] See the author’s book-length meditation on this topic Hermeneutical Death: The Technological Destruction of Subjectivity.

[184] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, April 5, 2005,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 329.

[185] Ted Kaczynski, Unpublished and Untitled Letter Dated October 12, 1998, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[186] John Zerzan, “Whose Unabomber?” available at https://web.archive.org/web/20100618101228/http://www.insurgentdesire.org.uk/whoseunabomber.htm

[187] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress versus Liberty” (unpublished essay).

[188] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 107.

[189] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 79.

[190] Ibid., p. 86.

[191] Ibid., pp. 96-7.

[192] Ibid., p. 112.

[193] Ibid., p. 134.

[194] Plato, Theaetetus, Kindle Edition.

[195] Ibid.

[196] Ibid.

[197] Jacques Ellul The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 80.

[198] Ibid., p. 80.

[199] “6 Reasons Why Young Men Should Not Become Programmers” available at https://mavericktraveler.com/6-reasons-why-young-men-should-not-become-programmers/

[200] Ibid.

[201] Ibid., p. 84.

[202] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Possessed, in Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The Complete Novels (Centaur Classics), Kindle Edition.

[203] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground, in Three Short Novels of Dostoyevsky (Garden City: Anchor Books, 1960), p. 203.

[204] Ibid., p. 206.

[205] Ibid., p. 208.

[206] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to the San Francisco Examiner (1985)” (unpublished letter).

[207] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 4.

[208] Ted Kaczynski, Unpublished and Untitled Letter, Dated October 9, 2015, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections. Borrowed with permission from Fitch & Madison Publishers.

[209] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to Warren Hoge of The New York Times (1995)” (unpublished letter).

[210] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to the San Francisco Examiner (1985)” (unpublished letter).

[211] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to J. N., Dated April 29, 2001,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 384.

[212] Ibid., p. 384.

[213] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p.68 .

[214] Ibid.

[215] Ibid.

[216] Ibid., p. 77.

[217] Ted Kaczynski, “Morality and Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 234.

[218] Ted Kaczynski, Unpublished and Untitled Letter Dated October 12, 1998, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[219] Ted Kaczynski, “Morality and Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 234.

[220] Ibid.

[221] Ibid. p. 235.

[222] Ibid.

[223] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, April 5, 2005” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 330.

[224] See Gadamer’s sprawling work Truth and Method for a thorough discussion of the Hermeneutical Circle.

[225] Ibid., p. 236.

[226] Jim Rickards, The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis (Hudson: Penguin, 2016).

[227] Ibid.

[228] Ted Kaczynsi, “Morality and Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 241.

[229] Ibid., p. 241.

[230] Okla Elliott. Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide . Squint Books, Eyewear Publishing LTD. Kindle Edition.

[231] Ibid.

[232] Ibid.

[233] Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” Wired Magazine, https://www.wired.com/2000/04/joy-2/.

[234] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 50.

[235] Kaczynski, Ted, “Letter to the San Francisco Examiner (1985)” (unpublished letter).

[236] Ted Kaczynski, “The Truth about Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarhco-Primitivism.” In Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), pp. 162-3.

[237] Ibid., p. 151.

[238] Ibid.

[239] Ibid., p. 137.

[240] Ibid.

[241] Ibid.

[242] Ibid.

[243] Ibid.

[244] Ted Kaczynski, “The System’s Neatest Trick,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 203.

[245] Ted Kaczynski, “The Truth about Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarhco-Primitivism.” In Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), pp. p. 138.

[246] Ibid., p. 139.

[247] Ted Kaczynski, “Marcos Loves Modernization” (unpublished manuscript).

[248] Ted Kaczynski, “The System’s Neatest Trick” (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 199.

[249] Ibid., p. 197.

[250] Ibid., p. 193.

[251] Ted Kaczynski, “Excerpts from a Letter to a German,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 352.

[252] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 97.

[253] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to John Zerzan, December 20, 2001”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[254] See Book IV of The Metaphysics for a thorough discussion of essence and accident.

[255] Aristotle, Metaphysics, in Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: The Modern Library, 2001), p. 761.

[256] Aristotle, Politics, in Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: The Modern Library, 2001), p. 1129.

[257] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor.

[258] Ibid., pp. 1-3.

[259] Ibid., p. 2.

[260] Ibid., p. 4.

[261] Ibid., p. 3.

[262] Ibid., p. 3.

[263] Ibid.

[264] Ibid.

[265] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), pp. 82-3.

[266] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor, p. 3.

[267] Ibid.

[268] Ibid., p. 5.

[269] Ibid.

[270] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, October 12, 2004” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 279.

[271] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, November 23, 2004,” in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), p. 172.

[272] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, November 23, 2004,” in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), p. 173.

[273] Ibid.

[274] Ted Kaczynski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[275] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to D. L., January 14, 2006,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor, p. 1.

[276] Ibid.

[277] Russell carried over Frege’s attempt to define the axiomatic foundations of Peano Arithmetic with logical resources alone in his mature, multi-volume work Principia Mathematica. However, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems shockingly revealed that any formal system sufficiently powerful to serve as a logical foundation for Peano Arithmetic must contain at least one statement the truth or validity of which cannot be proven by the system itself. Further, there are serious problems with such systems’ ability to use their own gnostic resources to talk about themselves. Likewise, even the most scrupulous attempts to provide a solid logical foundation for Mathematics are plagued by problems of incompleteness, inconsistency, and the impossibility of self-referentiality.

Douglas Hofstadter. Gödel Escher Bach (New York: Vintage, 1980), p. 446.

[278] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 18.

[279] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 89.

[280] Ibid., p. 90.

[281] Ibid., p. 113.

[282] Ibid., pp. 96-7.

[283] Ibid., p. 97.

[284] Ted Kaczynski, “The System’s Neatest Trick,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 195.

[285] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future, in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), p. 113.

[286] Thomas Walter Herbert, Moby Dick and Calvinism: A World Dismantled (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1986).

[287] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Kindle Edition).

[288] Romans 1:28.

[289] 1 Kings 22.

[290] Herman Melville, Moby Dick (New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2003).

[291] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 409.

[292] The Latin word for “what” is “quid.”

[293] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 71.

[294] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 319.

[295] Ibid., p. 22.

[296] Ibid., p. 22.

[297] See The Rationalists (New York: Anchor Books, 1974).

[298] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 16.

[299] Ibid., p. 47.

[300] Ibid., p. 89.

[301] Ibid., p. 135.

[302] Ted Kacznski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor, p. 5.

[303] Ibid.

[304] Ibid.

[305] Ibn Khaldun rejected the traditional historical methodology of “blind transmission” of facts, names, and dates, a methodology which one might feel trapped by if one was not physically present at an event in the distant past. Instead, he argued that certain easily falsifiable details really can be ruled out as spurious if one establishes a set of fundamental principles and then compares the surface-level details with them. For example, certain reported army sizes are flatly impossible due to population data, communication limits, and food/fodder requirements. Likewise, he found that grasping the general essence which all civilizations embody will provide a universal key to determine if reported historical data are possible or impossible. One can find an English translation of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah in it’s entirety at Muslim Philosophy’s site: http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ik/Muqaddimah/

[306] Ibid.

[307] Ibid.

[308] Ibid., p. 68.

[309] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to David Skrbina, March 17, 2005” (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 310.

[310] Ibid.

[311] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 2.

[312] Ibid., p. 14.

[313] Ibid., p. 16.

[314] Ibid., p. 143.

[315] Ibid., p. 11.

[316] Ibid., p. 63.

[317] Ibid., p. 21.

[318] Ibid., p. 160.

[319] Ibid., p. 161.

[320] Ibid., p. 157.

[321] Ibid., p. 158.

[322] Ted Kacznski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor, p. 6.

[323] Ibid.

[324] Ted Kaczynski, “The Coming Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 210.

[325] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 7.

[326] Ibid., p. 13.

[327] Ibid., p. 14.

[328] Ibid., pp. 13-4.

[329] Ibid., p. 16.

[330] See Gottlob Frege, The Basic Laws of Arithmetic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967).

[331] Russell’s first fragmentary attempt at the Theory of Types can be found in the second appendix at the end of his Principles of Mathematics.

Bertrand Russell, The Principles of Mathematics (London: Routledge, 2012), p. 534.

[332] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 16.

[333] Ibid.

[334] Ted Kaczynski, “Preface to the Revised and Expanded Edition,” in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), p. 11.

[335] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter from FC to Scientific American, 1995,” in Technological Slavery (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), p. 17.

[336] Ibid.

[337] Ibid.

[338] Ted Kacznski, “Progress Versus Wilderness,” Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library, Ann Arbor, p. 7.

[339] See the endnotes for Kaczynski’s “The Coming Revolution” (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 219.

[340] Jim Rickards, The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites’ Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis (Hudson: Penguin, 2016).

[341] Ibid.

[342] Ted Kaczynski, “The Coming Revolution” (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 212.

[343] Ibid.

[344] Ibid.

[345] John Michael Greer “Solving Fermi’s Paradox” in Archdruid Report, Vol. 1 (Chicago: Founders House Publishing, 2017), p. 277.

[346] Ibid., pp. 277-8.

[347] The “Man on the Moon Fallacy” is really just a variation on the weak analogy fallacy. It is a weak analogy, for example, to claim that solving human death should be a piece of cake just because we (supposedly) put a man on the moon decades ago. These are not at all the same type of challenge.

[348] Ibid., p. 279.

[349] Ibid., p. 280.

[350] Greer noted in a post devoted to refuting Hegel, Fukuyama, and Marxism, that he preferred Ibn Khaldun, Giambattista Vico, Oswald Spengler, and Arnold Toynbee. What all four have in common was an ability to conceptualized empirical decline rather than infinite progress or sudden collapse.

John Michael Greer, “The Triumph of History,” in Archdruid Report, Vol. 2 (Chicago: Founders House, 2017), p. 122.

[351] Ted Kaczynski, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2016), p. 55.

[352] Ibid.

[353] Ibid., p. 92.

[354] Ibid., p. 89.

[355] Ibid.

[356] Ibid., p. 90.

[357] Ibid.

[358] Ibid.

[359] Ted Kaczynski, “Ship of Fools” (unpublished manuscript).

[360] Ted Kaczynski, “In Defense of Violence”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[361] Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981).

[362] Ted Kaczynski, “In Defense of Violence”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[363] Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol. 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981).

[364] Ted Kaczynski, “Morality and Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), pp. 242-3.

[365] Ibid., p. 242.

[366] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to J. N. Dated April 29, 2001”, in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 383.

[367] Ted Kaczynski, “The Road to Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 226.

[368] St. Athanasius, Saint Antony of the Desert(Rockford: Tan, 1924), p. 10.

[369] Ibid., pp. 10-1.

[370] Ibid., (Rockford: Tan, 1924), pp. 16-7.

[371] Cowan, James, Desert Father: In the Desert with Saint Anthony (Boulder: Shambhala, 2004).

[372] Farid Al-Din Attar, “Habib al-Ajami” in Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’ (London: Arkana, 1996), p. 32.

[373] Ibid., p. 34.

[374] Ibid., p. 36.

[375] Farid Al-Din Attar, “Malek ibn Dinar” in Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’ (London: Arkana, 1996), p. 27.

[376] Ibid., p. 29

[377] Farid Al-Din Attar, “Habib al-Ajami” in Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’ (London: Arkana, 1996), p. 37.

[378] Farid Al-Din Attar, “Malek ibn Dinar” in Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya’ (London: Arkana, 1996), p. 29.

[379] Ibid.

[380] Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, available at http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ik/Muqaddimah/

[381] Ted Kaczynski, “Morality and Revolution”, in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 242.

[382] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 33.

[383] Ward-Perkins, Bryan, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

[384] John Michael Greer, The Ecotechnic Future (Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers, 2009).

[385] Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future (Scottsdale: Fitch & Madison, 2019), para. 208.

[386] Ibid.

[387] Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), p. 101).

[388] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to J. N.”, in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 383.

[389] Ted Kaczynski, “Morality and Revolution” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend; Feral House, 2010), p. 243.

[390] Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism (Rome: Ardita, 1935).

[391] Ted Kaczynski, “Morality and Revolution”, in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 244.

[392] Ted Kaczynski, “The Coming Revolution,” in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 216.

[393] Ted Kaczynski, “If Earth First! Had Been Around Sixty Years Ago” (unpublished manuscript), Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[394] Ted Kaczynski, “Letter to M. K.”, in Technological Slavery (Port Townsend: Feral House, 2010), p. 377.

[395] Ted Kaczynski, “When Non-Violence is Suicide” (unpublished manuscript).

[396] Ted Kaczynski, “In Defense of Violence”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[397] Ward Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America (Oakland: AK Press, 1998).

[398] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics in Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: The Modern Library, 2002), p. 930.

[399] Ibid.

[400] Ted Kaczynski, “In Defense of Violence”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.

[401] Ibid.

[402] Owell, George, 1984 (New York: Signet, 1977), p. 27.

[403] Ted Kaczynski, “In Defense of Violence”, Ted Kaczynski Papers, Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections.