Ted Kaczynski's Correspondence with the Majority Leader of the US Senate
Researching the Unabomber for three years for my podcast Project Unabom, I kept stumbling upon new and underreported stories. Some, like the saga of the Dungeons & Dragons suspects in Episode 3, I got by making calls, getting lucky, and slowly finding the right sources. But quite a few I got simply by visiting the Joseph A. Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan, where 79 boxes full of papers relating to Ted Kaczynski and the UNABOM investigation are kept. One small story that really surprised me, told in Episode 2 of the show, is this:
In 1972, Ted Kaczynski engaged in a letter writing campaign trying to stoke a movement to stop technological progress. One of the people he contacted was Montana Senator Mike Mansfield, the long-serving majority leader of the U.S. Senate, best remembered today for shepherding the Civil Rights Act through Congress. In his letter to Mansfield, Kaczynski warned of a fast-approaching dystopian future in which genetic engineering and brain electrodes would turn human beings into sheep-like automatons. Mansfield had the power to do something, Kaczynski said: he could use his power as the leader of the Senate to stop funding all scientific research.
You might expect such a quixotic letter would be promptly tossed into a trashcan by some junior Mansfield aide, but instead the senator actually wrote Kaczynski back and told him his ideas were “well developed and worthy of every consideration.”
Then Mansfield forwarded the letter to Dr. Bertram Brown, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health to get his scientific opinion on Kaczynski's ideas. Brown wrote back: “Behavior control in some form or other is the basis of which any organized society rests.”
In the copy of this letter I found at the University of Michigan, Kaczynski circled that sentence and wrote in the margins “so fuck organized society.”
Five-and-a-half years later, Kaczynski would send his first bomb.
Mathew to Ted - December 5, 1972
United States Senate
Office of the Majority Leader
Washington D.C. 20510
December 5, 1972
Mr. Theodore J. Kaczynski
1001 Sixth Avenue North
Great Falls, Montana 59401
Dear Mr. Kaczynski:
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 19 in which you discuss your concern with current research activities in the area of human behavior control.
Your views are well developed and certainly worthy of every consideration. So that you may be fully informed on the extent of Federal financial commitment to research of this type, I am taking the liberty of bringing your letter to the attention of the appropriate authorities here in Washington. When I am in receipt of any details, I will write to you further.
With best personal wishes, I am
Mathew to the House of Representatives w/cc to Ted - December 16, 1972
Mathew to Ted with attached copy of a letter from Dr. Bertram Brown - January 4, 1973
Dr. Bertram Brown Letter
[Housing, Education and Welfare - Bertram S. Brown, M.D. Director.]
... complex one. Behavior control in some form or other is the basis of which any organized society rests. ...