John H. Richardson
Ted Kaczynski's Letter Correspondence With John H. Richardson
Two decades after his last deadly act of ecoterrorism, the Unabomber has become an unlikely prophet to a new generation of acolytes.
“It’s certainly an oversimplification to say that the struggle between left & right in America today is a struggle between the neurotics and the sociopaths (left = neurotics, right = sociopaths = criminal types),” he said, “but there is nevertheless a good deal of truth in that statement.”
“The current political turmoil provides an environment in which a revolutionary movement should be able to gain a foothold.” He returned to the point later with more enthusiasm: “Present situation looks a lot like situation (19th century) leading up to Russian Revolution, or (pre-1911) to Chinese Revolution. You have all these different factions, mostly goofy and unrealistic, and in disagreement if not in conflict with one another, but all agreeing that the situation is intolerable and that change of the most radical kind is necessary and inevitable. To this mix add one leader of genius.”
Kaczynski was Karl Marx in modern flesh, yearning for his Lenin. In my next letter, I asked if any candidates had approached him. His answer was an impatient no — obviously any revolutionary stupid enough to write to him would be too stupid to lead a revolution. “Wait, I just thought of an exception: John Jacobi. But he’s a screwball — bad judgment — unreliable — a problem rather than a help.”
“What is bad about an article like the one I expect you to write is that it may help make the anti-tech movement into another part of the spectacle (along with Trump, the ‘metoo movement,’ neo-Nazis, antifa, etc.) that keeps people entertained and therefore thoughtless.”
“A hypothesis: ITS is instigated by some country’s security services — probably Mexico. Their real task is to spread hopelessness, because where there is no hope there is no serious resistance.”
“If you’ve read my Anti-Tech Revolution, then you haven’t understood it,” he scolds. “All you have to do is disable some key components of the system so that the whole thing collapses.” I do remember the “small core of deeply committed people” and “Hit Where It Hurts,” but it’s still hard to fathom. “How long does it take to do that?” Kaczynski demands. “A year? A month? A week?”
And Fidel had only 19 in the jungles of Cuba, as Kaczynski likes to point out.
Lindsey: I suppose it was inevitable that the two of you spent some time discussing politics and the idea of political revolution. Certainly 2020 has been a year fraught with charged politics. Did Kaczynski have anything to say about the current moment?
John: Well, he's not a big admirer of Trump, and I've sort of spoke of his administration as grifters, thieves. Those are not his exact words. He he once said that if he had been able to vote in 2016, he would have voted for Hillary, which I thought was kind of funny. I think that although he devotes a lot of time to hating liberals or leftists, rather in his his manifesto. But his sympathies are probably more in that direction than done it with conservatives. At least today's version. He's very interested in developments in technology and stuff like that. He that's one of the ways that I got his interest, I guess is I would write to him about developments and data mining and surveillance technology and things like that.