Ethical Philosophy

Moral Nihilism


... By the time I was, say, 12 years old, my system of morality had evolved into an abstract, artificial construction that could not possibly be applied in practice. I never told anyone about this system, since I knew they would never take it seriously ...

... After I had skipped 6th grade and began feeling a great deal of hostility toward many of my schoolmates, I developed a habit of trying to find ways of justifying my hatred in terms of my moral system ...

... One day when I was 13 years old, I was walking down the street and saw a girl. Something about her appearance antagonized me, and, from habit, I began looking for a way to justify hating her, within my logical system. But then I stopped and said to myself, "This is getting ridiculous. I'll just chuck all this silly morality business and hate anybody I please. Since then I have never had any interest in or respect for morality, ethics, or anything of the sort ...

... nevertheless on an instinctive animal level I was still the slave of my early conditioning, so that I was very much afraid to act contrary to the precepts of authority ...

I believe in nothing. Whereas I don’t even believe in the cult of nature-worshippers or wilderness-worshippers. (I am perfectly ready to litter in parts of the woods that are of no use to me—I often throw cans in logged-over areas or in places much frequented by people; I don’t find wilderness particularly healthy physically; I don’t hesitate to poach.)

Case Study Examples

Ted's Plan to Disfigure the Face of a Romantic Interest


July 17, 1978: For 2 or 3 weeks I have been working at Foam Cutting Engineers, where my father and brother work (my father got me the job there). The shop superior is a 30-year old woman named Ellen Tarmichael.

She has a beautiful face but a very mediocre figure (too much fat on her ass and thighs). Nevertheless she is very attractive because she has charm; her personality, so far as it is exhibited to the world at large, is very attractive, she is apparently very intelligent, and probably quite competent. The result was that I got infatuated - an unfortuante weakness to which I am occasionally subject.

I am now cured of the infatuation; but the story is interesting and possibly is not yet finished. ...

July 29. Yesterday I took Ellen Tarmichael to an expensive restaurant for supper. She then invited me to her apartment, where, she hastened to add, we would not be alone. ...

Aug 23. Despite the negative conclusions about Ellen that I reached, as stated above I couldn't help thinking about her constantly, especially since I was exposed to her charms every day at work, and especially since she seamed quite friendly to me. ...

There is only one way left to wipe out this shame, and that is with blood. Tommorrow I am going to get that bitch and mutilate her face.

Aug 26. (Sat.) Last Thursday morning I drove to the plant and parked in the lot, waiting for Ellen. When she arrived, I ran over to her car, said I wanted to speak to her briefly, and told her to move over so I could get out of the rain. This she did slowly and grudgingly, and I got into the drivers seat. I carried with me a knife concealed in a paper bag. I began by saying that she had intentionally humiliated me on Sunday. In the brief discussion that followed, she said that the reason she had been so cold on Sunday was that it “just struck her” at the beginning of the date that there was nothing between us no future in anything between us, because we had nothing in common. She also said that the first 2 times she went out with me she did so because she “really thought there might be something in it; friendship, or …” I had then, and still have, grave doubts about the truth of this last statement, because she has often seemed insincere in the past, and because the statement is contradicted by things she said earlier. Nevertheless, the statement cooled my anger, because if true, it would mean she was not just using me as a toy. So that was the end of that.

All I feel now about the whole thing is a kind of wistful melancholy about the whole affair, brought on by the thought of what a woman with some of Ellen's best qualities might have meant to me, if she'd been sincere, and if we'd had some common aspirations. I sent Ellen a long letter explaining everything from my point of view.

Ted's Sadism towards People in Montana


A few days ago I finished making a twenty-two caliber pistol. ... I want to use the gun as a murder weapon.


We had this logger that was learning to log with Belgian horses. So, they're huge animals. And, um, when he brought the logs off the hill, it tore up the grass, and so, one day, Butch said, go seed that area up there. And Tessa (my daughter) was maybe three years old. And so, I was up there seeding. And the trees were about 3 feet high, so she was just a toddler and she would disappear into 'em. And the hair on the back of my neck went up, and I thought it was a mountain lion, and so I told her, It's time to leave. But it turned out it was Ted. He had a... a gun on her. And I asked the FBI after they figured out it was Ted, he had written in his journals. He had written something about… ‘it would be easy to take the little bitch out, but then the big bitch could get away.’ Or ‘if I shoot the big bitch, then the little bitch would be, um, left on the hill.’ But it's too close to his home, and that's, you know, he didn't want to bring attention to himself. It's probably the only thing that saved us.

Ted's Sadism towards Animals in Montana

Content warning: Graphic recounting of animal torture and cruelty.

Chris Waits:[6]

Betty and I were married and she moved into our McClellan Gulch home. In the old days, Ted and I were the only ones hiking, hunting, and exploring in my gulch. Then suddenly here was Betty, petite, but an athletic Lincoln native who also loved outdoor activities, and maybe more importantly, here was her dog, Jigger.

Jigger was a … black Labrador retriever who soon became protective of his new home. While we were away working Jigger would lie on the lawn or the porch and guard his domain.

Betty was usually the first one home each day, around 3 P.M., since her work day started at 7 A.M. Jigger would be waiting patiently and then he’d jump up and run out to greet her. He took his watchdog job seriously, and even though he was good natured and loved to chase sticks, he was on guard for intruders and quickly sounded the alarm.

Jigger’s and Ted’s first encounter while Betty and I were away working must have startled them equally, because they immediately established a mutual dislike. Jigger had no way of knowing Ted had permission to be in the gulch, and Ted didn’t realize this was now Jigger’s home. The dog loved everyone except Ted, who provoked an immediate growl and a flash of sharp yellowish teeth. Jigger didn’t pretend to hide his feelings; neither did Ted.

That first summer Betty and I were together, I was welding on a neighbor’s truck in my Lincoln shop when Betty called crying, in great distress. She had driven up into the yard after work and Jigger hadn’t run out to welcome her. She found him lying hurt on the grass, unable to get up … bleeding from knife wounds and groaning and crying in misery. It was a guttural noise, something you never forget.

I quickly locked up and headed for home. Ten minutes later I found Betty in tears, cradling Jigger’s head and comforting her companion of fourteen years. Jigger was crying and groaning, tearing at our souls as only an animal in misery can do.

[S]omeone had repeatedly stabbed and gouged the entire area under his tail, shredding his colon, hips, and rectal area. Whoever attacked Jigger may have tried to make the wounds look like he had been in a fight with a bear or coyote, but unmistakably the cuts were made with a very sharp knife or spearlike instrument. There were no other marks or wounds anywhere else on the dog.

Aging and suffering from hip dysplasia, Jigger wasn’t very agile anymore. He must have been stalked, pursued, and stabbed many times while he tried to run feebly back to the safety of his porch.

The poor dog wouldn’t live long enough to make it to the veterinarian’s office in Helena, an hour away, so I went into the house and got my pistol. After we said our good-byes and shed plenty of tears, Betty went into the house and I put Jigger out of his misery. We took him up the gulch and buried him in a beautiful spot near some maple bushes. The household was especially quiet the rest of that evening.

Jigger had been successfully removed from the gulch by someone. But other dogs would take his place and he would not be the last canine of ours to meet a mysterious fate.

Several weeks later we bought a purebred female Alaskan malamute pup to raise, not only to fill the void left by Jigger’s absence, but also to be our watch dog. We named the new arrival Tasha, and she soon felt right at home.

After Tasha turned two, Betty still missed her Lab, so we adopted two, year-old male Labs from the Lewis and Clark Humane Society in Helena. Soon after, we purchased a purebred golden retriever pup and named him Boomer.

Our stable of dogs was growing, but why not? We both loved animals and they had plenty of room to roam. Tasha had a great time with the new retriever pup, and with Buddy and Lucky, the pound mates.

Not only did the dogs play outside every day, but it soon became impossible for anyone to enter the gulch without their giving ample notice, whether it was us arriving home from work, the UPS truck or the Montana Power Company meter reader driving up to the house, or Ted hiking through. Although Ted traveled a discreet route when entering the gulch, he was unable to enter from the west and walk along the steep hillside above the tailings, his usual path, without the dogs howling.

Four dogs just didn’t seem like enough, so we bred Tasha with another malamute. After we sold all the litter except for a male and female, the McClellan Gulch canine forces reached six. So, by 1986, a dozen alert dog eyes were constantly watching every area of the lower gulch. Sneaking in would prove to be an exercise in futility.

When I explained to Ted the dogs wouldn’t bother him and he was always welcome, he passed it off as no big deal. But it wasn’t hard to imagine his frustration as the pack berated him for fifteen or twenty minutes every time he walked along the mountain trail above our home. We could sense the intense animosity he felt for our dogs, knowing they infringed on his privacy and anonymity.

It seemed like the dogs had a special bark for Ted, and they’d sound it often. Ted’s movement through our area was apparent and became a usual topic of conversation. The dogs would run, barking madly, over to the west side of the stream and follow his scent along the trail.

I’d say to Betty, “Oh, that’s just Ted going on up,” and I’d walk out the door and whistle, calling them back—at least when we were home.

Betty and I didn’t have any problems with our pets again until 1987, when strange incidents increased both in frequency and in evil.

After Betty’s retirement in August 1986, she and all the dogs had fallen into a routine of walking up the gulch together. The daily pattern was fairly predictable. They’d either move up along the bottom and the small streambed for the first mile and then backtrack down on our road along the east bank, or switch and hike the routes in reverse.

As our Stemple Road neighborhood continued to become more populous—new cabins, more people—the dogs informed us of Ted’s increased presence in our gulch. It was easy to understand why he wanted to avoid the noisy weekend gatherings at the cabins scattered in the small pockets of private land across from our gulch. No longer was he able to hike the area near his cabin without seeing four-wheelers and motorcyclists scooting across every trail and open spot that could be found.

In McClellan, only the dogs were an infringement on Ted’s privacy.

One July day during 1987, when I arrived home from working in the woods Betty disgustedly told me the dogs had crossed the gulch and later returned covered with human excrement, smeared into their coats more deeply than if the animals had merely rolled in a find. She had just given them all a bath, and said there was little doubt it was from a human rather than a wild animal. It’s easy to tell the difference.

The dogs continued to be the targets of mean-spirited acts. Quite often, one or more of them would limp home with cuts or deep rock bruises.

The next two dogs to meet their demise were both Shar-Peis, a male and a female. The two incidents occurred within the same year. After refusing to eat, they both died the same day they became sick, also victims of poisoning.

One of the hardest losses for me to deal with was the death of our aging malamute, Tasha. Betty told me one summer afternoon Tasha had stopped eating and was lethargic. After going to the porch and checking her over, I told Betty there wasn’t anything wrong with her and attributed her lack of movement to the heat.

Tasha’s condition deteriorated rapidly. I tried to hand-feed her roast beef, but she refused even that and just lay on her side with lungs working heavily in the summer heat. I stayed with her and comforted her. She tried to twist her head back and lick herself, so I checked the area and found a small string of loose hide where she was trying to clean.

What I then saw made me extremely furious. There was a small-caliber bullet wound in the rectal area. It seemed someone had carefully shot Tasha with a .22 caliber sized bullet there, perhaps thinking the wound wouldn’t be noticed. She was bleeding internally, intestines pierced by the slug, and she was dying a slow and agonizing death.

It was late that night before the wound was discovered, and I planned to take her to the vet first thing in the morning. But she didn’t make it through the night.

Then during the early 1990s we lost four more dogs, all poisoned.

In the spring of 1996 all the gruesome dog incidents stopped. Since that time we’ve never had any of our dogs plastered with human waste nor have we had any injured and die from strange wounds or poison.

One summer day a few months after Ted’s arrest in 1996, neighbor Butch Gehring and I talked about our dogs while out hiking together. He said one of his dogs got violently ill, but he managed to get it to the vet for treatment in time. The vet examined the dog, took blood samples, and discovered it had been poisoned with strychnine. Even though the dog’s life was saved, its immune system was destroyed and up until its death it was never the same.

As we talked about symptoms and how many of our dogs had died, I realized their deaths must have been caused by the same poison.

Then something clicked in my mind, jarring loose a detail I hadn’t thought of for at least fifteen years. There was a small bag of strychnine-laced oats I brought home from a farm where I had done a lot of welding years ago. Strychnine wasn’t illegal at the time and there were many pack rats nesting in my equipment and chewing up and destroying fan belts, wiring, and hoses, so I placed a small dish of poisoned oats in each machine that fall.

Other things took priority and I didn’t plant more of the poison. But a year or two later I went to the old van where the oats were stored, away from the house, and they were gone.

I had removed the oats from their canvas bag because it was rotting, and then poured them into a plastic bottle and capped it securely. I didn’t want to spill any for fear squirrels or birds might eat them and be killed.

I remember writing in bold letters on a piece of paper, “Poison—Strychnine Oats,” and taping it to the outside of the container.


L-9—Black pepper can containing several metal pieces and a plastic bottle labelled “Strychnine Oats”

It had been so long since I had even thought of those oats. As Butch listened to the story, I shuddered to think how easy it would have been for someone to prepare a lethal cocktail or a deadly snack of meat and oats to feed to an unsuspecting dog.

Things were starting to make sense. Some answers were surfacing in the wake of Ted’s arrest. I still wondered how anyone could be so totally and remorselessly cruel.

Jamie Gehring:[7]

“But as horrible as these were, that wasn’t the worst of it. The death that tore me apart was my dear Tasha. She was an older malamute and we loved her dearly. One day I noticed her lying on the porch, labored breath and lethargic. She kept trying to clean the fur on her hind end. But wasn’t moving other than that. Once I was able to inspect her, I found something that made my stomach turn and my chest ache.”

“A bullet wound right in her rectum. A horrible way to kill an animal. So painful. A slow death caused by internal bleeding.”

“Awful,” I said through tears, picturing a younger Chris Waits cradling his struggling dogs, ending their suffering with a pistol at close range, and watching as the light drained from their eyes.

“There were more after Tasha. But the violence against my dogs came to a stop in 1996.”

I can’t say for sure, but what I do know is that Ted was always around here, going through my things. ...

“You know, Wiley-dog was poisoned. Such a slow death.” “Oh, that doesn’t surprise me one bit,” Chris concluded.

In my research, I found that in 1999 Ted Kaczynski wrote a fourteen- page letter from his prison cell to a local newspaper. The inspiration? To denounce various statements within the book written by Chris Waits. However, within that correspondence, he admits to killing a neighborhood dog. I was nineteen when the letter was published in a local Montana paper called the Missoulian, but I was unaware of its existence until drafting this book. I read the words that Kaczynski had penned from his Supermax prison cell, recounted in the published article. In such circumstances, it would be much easier and safer to simply kill the dog and get rid of a pest, Kaczynski wrote in reference to Waits’s allegations, acknowledging that he had killed a dog that snuck into his garden at night, but it wasn’t one of Waits’s dogs. ...

The conversation then shifted to our dogs that were brutally killed. They both shook their heads as I described the gruesome details of how our malamute, Tasha, had been shot by a .22 caliber in the rectal area and had bled to death internally. She was no doubt killed by Ted, using his .22 pistol or his homemade .22 zip gun.

One day, presumably on a whim Kaczynski decided to shoot a cow:[8]

Summer ’77 up South Fork Humbug, I shot a cow in the head with my .30-30, then got the fuck out of there. I mean a rancher’s cow, not an elk cow.

Special hatred was reserved for small animals that he felt had wronged him, such that he delighted in getting an opportunity to torture them:[9]

More woodrat trouble last night. A rat kept running over me, tugging at the blankets, etc., and so kept me awake half the night. Couldn’t get a shot at it, because it disappeared every time I stuck my head out of the blankets to look. Worse, I found in the morning that it had chewed up my knife sheath so badly as to pretty well ruin it. I have set 2 deadfalls, with figure-4 triggers, baited with raisins, sugar, and oil, in the hope of catching that rat tonight. If I catch the fucker alive I will see that it dies a slow, painful death.

Last night the rats chewed a piece out of the edge of my blanket and tarp, and ruined another piece of string. But I caught one in one of my deadfalls—worked like a charm. Most regrettably, this rat was spared the auto-da-fe, because the rock smashed its face so that it died soon. Bait was partly eaten on other deadfall, but I don’t know whether rats or ants ate it. I have set up the deadfalls again. This time I have foxed the ants, I hope, by putting insect repellent on the stick they’d have to crawl over to get to the bait. In a short time I will learn what rat tastes like. Ha! Revenge is sweet! Later: According to Kaphart, it is the testimony of gourmets who survived the siege of Paris that cats, rats, and mice are the most prized of all animals from a culinary point of view. If domestic rats are up to woodrat standards, I quite agree. That rat was [expletive] good eating. Provided about as much meat as a red squirrel.

I hadn’t previously been troubled by rats around here, but I just discovered that my pack has been chewed up so badly that it is nearly ruined, though I guess I can patch it up well enough to get my gear home…. This means some deadfalls are going to be set. I hope I catch one of those [expletive] alive—I will torture it to death in the most fiendish manner I can devise.

Minimalist Morality

Regret for attacks on people he now views as innocent


In one case we attempted unsuccessfully to blow up an airliner. The idea was to kill a lot of business people who we assumed would constitute the majority of the passengers.

But of course some of the passengers likely would have been innocent people -- maybe kids, or some working stiff going to see his sick grandmother. We're glad now that that attempt failed.

We don't think it is necessary for us to do any public soul-searching in this letter. But we will say that we are not insensitive to the pain caused by our bombings.

A bomb package that we mailed to computer scientist Patrick Fischer injured his secretary when she opened it. We certainly regret that. And when we were young and comparatively reckless we were much more careless in selecting targets than we are now.

But even though we would undo some of the things we did in earlier days, or do them differently, we are convinced that our enterprise is basically right. The industrial-technological system has got to be eliminated, and to us almost any means that may be necessary for that purpose are justified, even if they involve risk to innocent people. As for the people who willfully and knowingly promote economic growth and technical progress, in our eyes they are criminals, and if they get blown up they deserve it.

Regret for torturing animals he now views as innocent


... I now (Feb, 1996) Feel very sorry about the fact that, in a few cases, I tortured small wild animals (two mice, one flying squirrel, and one red squirrel, as far as I can remember offhand) that caused me frustration by steeling my meat, damaging my belongings, or keeping me awake. There were two reasons why I tortured them. (1) I was rebelling against the moral prescriptions of organized society. (2) I got excessively angry at these animals because I had a tremendous fund of anger built up from the frustrations and humiliations imposed on me throughout my life by organized society and by individual persons. (As any psychologist will tell you, when you have no means of retaliating against whomever or whatever it is that has made you angry, you are likely to vent your anger on some other object.) When I came to realize that I had taken out on these little creatures the anger that I owed to organized society and to certain people, I very much regretted having tortured them. They are part of nature, which I love, and therefore they are in a way my friends, even when they cause problems for me. I ought to save my anger for my real enemy, which is human society, or at least the present form of society. I have not tortured an animal for many years now. However, I have no hesitation about trapping and killing animals that cause problems for me, provided they are animals of the more common kinds.

Ted's Essay on Morality & Revolution


“Morality, guilt and fear of condemnation act as cops in our heads, destroying our spontaneity, our wildness, our ability to live our lives to the full.... I try to act on my whims, my spontaneous urges without caring what others think of me.... I want no constraints on my life; I want the opening of all possibilities.... This means... destroying all morality.” — Feral Faun, “The Cops in Our Heads: Some Thoughts on Anarchy and Morality.”

It is true that the concept of 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.

But suppose you’re in a bad mood one day. You see an inoffensive but ugly old lady; her appearance irritates you, and your “spontaneous urges” impel you to knock her down and kick her. Or suppose you have a “thing” for little girls, so your “spontaneous urges” lead you to pick out a cute four-year-old, rip off her clothes, and rape her as she screams in terror.

I would be willing to bet that there is not one anarchist reading this who would not be disgusted by such actions, or who would not try to prevent them if he saw them being carried out. Is this only a consequence of the moral conditioning that our society imposes on us?

I argue that it is not. I propose that there is a kind of natural “morality” (note the quotation marks), or a conception of fairness, that runs as a common thread through all cultures and tends to appear in them in some form or other, though it may often be submerged or modified by forces specific to a particular culture. Perhaps this conception of fairness is biologically predisposed. At any rate it can be summarized in the following Six Principles:

  1. Do not harm anyone who has not previously harmed you, or threatened to do so.

  2. (Principle of self-defense and retaliation) You can harm others in order to forestall harm with which they threaten you, or in retaliation for harm that they have already inflicted on you.

  3. One good turn deserves another: If someone has done you a favor, you should be willing to do her or him a comparable favor if and when he or she should need one.

  4. The strong should have consideration for the weak.

  5. Do not lie.

  6. Abide faithfully by any promises or agreements that you make.

To take a couple of examples of the ways in which the Six Principles often are submerged by cultural forces, among the Navajo, traditionally, it was considered “morally acceptable” to use deception when trading with anyone who was not a member of the tribe (WA. Haviland, Cultural Anthropology, 9th ed., p. 207), though this contravenes principles 1, 5, and 6. And in our society many people will reject the principle of retaliation: Because of industrial society’s imperative need for social order and because of the disruptive potential of personal retaliatory action, we are trained to suppress our retaliatory impulses and leave any serious retaliation (called “justice”) to the legal system.

In spite of such examples, I maintain that the Six Principles tend toward universality. But whether or not one accepts that the Six Principles are to any extent universal, I feel safe in assuming that almost all readers of this article will agree with the principles (with the possible exception of the principle of retaliation) in some shape or other. Hence the Six Principles can serve as a basis for the present discussion.

I argue that the Six Principles should not be regarded as a moral code, for several reasons.

First. The principles are vague and can be interpreted in such widely ways that there will be no consistent agreement as to their application in concrete cases. For instance, if Smith insists on playing his radio so loud that it prevents Jones from sleeping, and if Jones smashes Smith’s radio for him, is Jones’s action unprovoked harm inflicted on Smith, or is it legitimate self-defense against harm that Smith is inflicting on Jones? On this question Smith and Jones are not likely to agree! (All the same, there are limits to the interpretation of the Six Principles. I imagine it would be difficult to find anyone in any culture who would interpret the principles in such a way as to justify brutal physical abuse of unoffending old ladies or the rape of four-year-old girls.)

Second. Most people will agree that it is sometimes “morally” justifiable to make exceptions to the Six Principles. If your friend has destroyed logging equipment belonging to a large timber corporation, and if the police come around to ask you who did it, any green anarchist will agree that it is justifiable to lie and say, “I don’t know”.

Third. The Six Principles have not generally been treated as if they possessed the force and rigidity of true moral laws. People often violate the Six Principles even when there is no “moral” justification for doing so. Moreover, as already noted, the moral codes of particular societies frequently conflict with and override the Six Principles. Rather than laws, the principles are only a kind of guide, an expression of our more generous impulses that reminds us not to do certain things that we may later look back on with disgust.

Fourth. I suggest that the term “morality” should be used only to designate socially imposed codes of behavior that are specific to certain societies, cultures, or subcultures. Since the Six Principles, in some form or other, tend to be universal and may well be biologically predisposed, they should not be described as morality.

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.

However, when people interpret the Six principles for themselves, conflicts arise because different individuals interpret the principles differently. For this reason among others, practically all societies have evolved rules that restrict behavior in more precise ways than the Six Principles do. In other words, whenever a number of people are together for an extended period of time, it is almost inevitable that some degree of morality will develop. Only the hermit is completely free. This is not an attempt to debunk the idea of anarchy. Even if there is no such thing as a society perfectly free of morality, still there is a big difference between a society in which the burden of morality is light and one in which it is heavy. The pygmies of the African rain forest, as described by Colin Turnbull in his books The Forest People and Wayward Servants: The Two Worlds of the African Pygmies, provide an example of a society that is not far from the anarchist ideal. Their rules are few and flexible and allow a very generous measure of personal liberty. (Yet, even though they have no cops, courts or prisons, Turnbull mentions no case of homicide among them.)

In contrast, in technologically advanced societies the social mechanism is complex and rigid, and can function only when human behavior is closely regulated. Consequently such societies require a far more restrictive system of law and morality. (For present purposes we don’t need to distinguish between law and morality. We will simply consider law as a particular kind of morality, which is not unreasonable, since in our society it is widely regarded as immoral to break the law.) Old-fashioned people complain of moral looseness in modern society, and it is true that in some respects our society is relatively free of morality. But I would argue that our society’s relaxation of morality in sex, art, literature, dress, religion, etc., is in large part a reaction to the severe tightening of controls on human behavior in the practical domain. Art, literature and the like provide a harmless outlet for rebellious impulses that would be dangerous to the system if they took a more practical direction, and hedonistic satisfactions such as overindulgence in sex or food, or intensely stimulating forms of entertainment, help people to forget the loss of their freedom.

At any rate, it is clear that in any society some morality serves practical functions. One of these functions is that of forestalling conflicts or making it possible to resolve them without recourse to violence. (According to Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’s book The Harmless People, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, 1989, pages 10, 82, 83, the Bushmen of Southern Africa own as private property the right to gather food in specified areas of the veldt, and they respect these property rights strictly. It is easy to see how such rules can prevent conflicts over the use of food resources.)

Since anarchists place a high value on personal liberty, they presumably will want to keep morality to a minimum, even if this costs them something in personal safety or other practical advantages. It’s not my purpose here to try to determine where to strike the balance between freedom and the practical advantages of morality, but I do want to call attention to a point that is often overlooked: the practical or materialistic benefits of morality are counterbalanced by the psychological cost of repressing our “immoral” impulses. Common among moralists is a concept of “progress” according to which the human race is supposed to become ever more moral. More and more “immoral” impulses are to be suppressed and replaced by “civilized” behavior. To these people morality apparently is an end in itself. They never seem to ask why human beings should become more moral. What end is to be served by morality? If the end is anything resembling human well-being then an ever more sweeping and intensive morality can only be counterproductive, since it is certain that the psychological cost of suppressing “immoral” impulses will eventually outweigh any advantages conferred by morality (if it does not do so already). In fact, it is clear that, whatever excuses they may invent, the real motive of the moralists is to satisfy some psychological need of their own by imposing their morality on other people. Their drive toward morality is not an outcome of any rational program for improving the lot of the human race.

This aggressive morality has nothing to do with the Six Principles of fairness. It is actually inconsistent with them. By trying to impose their morality on other people, whether by force or through propaganda and training, the moralists are doing them unprovoked harm in contravention of the first of the Six Principles. One thinks of nineteenth-century missionaries who made primitive people feel guilty about their sexual practices, or modern leftists who try to suppress politically incorrect speech.

Morality often is antagonistic toward the Six Principles in other ways as well. To take just a few examples:

In our society private property is not what it is among the Bushmen — a simple device for avoiding conflict over the use of resources. Instead, it is a system whereby certain persons or organizations arrogate control over vast quantities of resources that they use to exert power over other people. In this they certainly violate the first and fourth principles of fairness. By requiring us to respect property, the morality of our society helps to perpetuate a system that is clearly in conflict with the Six Principles.

Among many primitive peoples, deformed babies are killed at birth (see, e.g., Paul Schebesta, Die Bambuti-Pygmäen vom Ituri, I.Band, Institut Royal Colonial Belge, Brus- sels, 1938, page 138), and a similar practice apparently was widespread in the United States up to about the middle of the 20th century. “Babies who were born malformed or too small or just blue and not breathing well were listed [by doctors] as stillborn, placed out of sight and left to die.” Autl Gawande, “The Score,” The New Yorker, October 9, 2006, page 64. Nowadays any such practice would be regarded as shockingly immoral. But mental-health professionals who study the psychological problems of the disabled can tell us how severe these problems often are. True, even among the severely deformed — for example, those born without arms or legs — there may be occasional individuals who achieve satisfying lives. But most persons with such a degree of disability are condemned to lives of inferiority and helplessness, and to rear a baby with extreme deformities until it is old enough to be conscious of its own helplessness is usually an act of cruelty. In any given case, of course, it may be difficult to balance the likelihood that a deformed baby will lead a miserable existence, if reared, against the chance that it will achieve a worthwhile life. The point is, however, that the moral code of modern society does not permit such balancing. It automatically requires every baby to be reared, no matter how extreme its physical or mental disabilities, and no matter how remote the chances that its life can be anything but wretched. This is one of the most ruthless aspects of modern morality.

The military is expected to kill or refrain from killing in blind obedience to orders from the government; policemen and judges are expected to imprison or release persons in mechanical obedience to the law. It would be regarded as “unethical” and “irresponsible” for soldiers, judges, or policemen to act according to their own sense of fairness rather than in conformity with the rules of the system. A moral and “responsible” judge will send a man to prison if the law tells him to do so, even if the man is blameless according to the Six Principles.

A claim of morality often serves as a cloak for what would otherwise be seen as the naked imposition of one’s own will on other people. Thus, if a person said, “I am going to prevent you from having an abortion (or from having sex or eating meat or something else) just because I personally find it offensive”, his attempt to impose his will would be considered arrogant and unreasonable. But if he claims to have a moral basis for what he is doing, if he says, “I’m going to prevent you from having an abortion because it’s immoral”, then his attempt to impose his will acquires a certain legitimacy, or at least tends to be treated with more respect than it would be if he made no moral claim.

People who are strongly attached to the morality of their own society often are oblivious to the principles of fairness. The highly moral and Christian businessman John D. Rockefeller used underhand methods to achieve success, as is admitted by Allan Nevin in his admiring biography of Rockefeller. Today, screwing people in one way or another is almost an inevitable part of any large-scale business enterprise. Willful distortion of the truth, serious enough so that it amounts to lying, is in practice treated as acceptable behavior among politicians and journalists, though most of them undoubtedly regard themselves as moral people.

I have before me a flyer sent out by a magazine called The National Interest. In it I find the following:

“Your task at hand is to defend our nation’s interests abroad, and rally support at home for your efforts.

“You are not, of course, naive. You believe that, for better or worse, international politics remains essentially power politics-- that as Thomas Hobbes observed, when there is no agreement among states, clubs are always trumps.”

This is a nearly naked advocacy of Machiavellianism in international affairs, though it is safe to assume that the people responsible for the flyer I’ve just quoted are firm adherents of conventional morality within the United States. For such people, I suggest, conventional morality serves as a substitute for the Six Principles. As long as these people comply with conventional morality, they have a sense of righteousness that enables them to disregard the principles of fairness without discomfort.

Another way in which morality is antagonistic toward the Six Principles is that it often serves as an excuse for mistreatment or exploitation of persons who have violated the moral code or the laws of a given society. In the United States, politicians promotetheir careers by “getting tough on crime” and advocating harsh penalties for people who have broken the law. Prosecutors often seek personal advancement by being as hard on defendants as the law allows them to be. This satisfies certain sadistic and authoritarian impulses of the public and allays the privileged classes’ fear of social disorder. It all has little to do with the Six Principles of fairness. Many of the “criminals” who are subjected to harsh penalties--for example, people convicted of possessing marijuana--have in no sense violated the Six Principles. But even where culprits have violated the Six Principles their harsh treatment is motivated not by a concern for fairness, or even for morality, but politicians’ and prosecutors’ personal ambitions or by the public’s sadistic and punitive appetites. Morality merely provides the excuse.

In sum, anyone who takes a detached look at modern society will see that, for all its emphasis on morality, it observes the principles of fairness very poorly indeed. Certainly less well than many primitive societies do.

Allowing for various exceptions, the main purpose that morality serves in modern society is to facilitate the functioning of the technoindustrial system. Here’s how it works:

Our conception both of fairness and of morality is heavily influenced by self-interest. For example, I feel strongly and sincerely that it is perfectly fair for me to smash up the equipment of someone who is cutting down the forest. Yet part of the reason why I feel this way is that the continued existence of the forest serves my personal needs. If I had no personal attachment to the forest I might feel differently. Similarly, most rich people probably feel sincerely that the laws that restrict the ways in which they use their property are unfair. There can be no doubt that, however sincere these feelings may be, they are motivated largely by self-interest.

People who occupy positions of power within the system have an interest in promoting the security and the expansion of the system. When these people perceive that certain moral ideas strengthen the system or make it more secure, then, either from concious self-interest or because their moral feelings are influenced by self-interest, they apply pressure to the media and to educators to promote these moral ideas. Thus the requirements of respect for property, and of orderly, docile, rule-following, cooperative behavior, have become moral values in our society (even though these requirements can conflict with the principles of fairness) because they are necessary to the functioning of the system. Similarly; harmony and equality between different races and ethnic groups is a moral value of our society because iterracial and interethnic conflict impede the functioning of the system. Equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups may be required by the principles 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. Traditional moral restraints on sexual behavior have been relaxed becausethe people who have power see that these restraints are not necessary to the functioning of the system and that maintaining them produces tensions and conflicts that are harmful to the system.

Particulary instructive is the moral prohibition of violence in our society. (By “violence” I mean physical attacks on human beings or the application of physical force to human beings.) 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. Even on the eve of the Industrial 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 nineteenth 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. People preferred to see to their own defense and accept a fairly high level of violence in society rather than risk any of their personal liberty

Since then, attitudes toward violence have changed dramatically. Today the media, the schools, and all who are committed to the system brainwash us to believe that violence is the one thing above all others that we must never commit. (Of course, when the system finds it convenient to use violence--via the police or the military--for its own purposes, it can always find an excuse for doing so.)

It is sometimes claimed that the modern attitude toward violence is a result of the gentling influence of Christianity, but this makes no sense. The period during which Christianity was most powerful in Europe, the Middle Ages, was a particularly violent epoch. It has been during the course of the Industrial Revolution and the ensuing technological changes that attitudes toward violence have been altered, and over the same span of time the influence of Christianity has been markedly weakened. Clearly it has not been Christianity that has changed attitudes toward violence.

It is necessary for the functioning of modern industrial society that people should cooperate in a rigid, machine-like way, obeying rules, following orders and schedules, carrying out prescribed procedures. Consequently the system requires, above all, human docility and social order. Of all human behaviors, violence is the one most disruptive of social order, hence the one most dangerous to the system. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, the powerful classes, perceiving that violence was increasingly contrary to their interest, changed their attitude toward it. Because their influence was predominant in determining what was printed by the press and taught in the schools, they gradually transformed the attitude of the entire society, so that today most middle-class people, and even the majority of those who think themselves rebels against the system, believe that violence is the ultimate sin. They imagine that their opposition to violence is the expression of a moral decision on their part, and in a sense it is, but it is based on a morality that is designed to serve the interest of the system and is instilled through propaganda. In fact, these people have simply been brainwashed.

It goes without saying that in order to bring about a revolution against the technoindustrial system it will be necessary to discard conventional morality. One of the two main points that I’ve tried to make in this article is that even the most radical rejection of conventional morality does not necessarily entail the abandonment of human decency: there is a “natural” (and in some sense perhaps universal) morality--or, as I have preferred to call it, a concept of fairness--that tends to keep our conduct toward other people “decent” even when we have discarded all formal morality.

The other main point I’ve tried to make is that the concept of morality is used for many purposes that have nothing to do with human decency or with what I’ve called “fairness”. Modern society in particular uses morality as a tool in manipulating human behavior for purposes that often are completely inconsistent with human decency.

Thus, once revolutionaries have decided that the present form of society must be eliminated, there is no reason why they should hesitate to reject existing morality; and their rejection of morality will by no means be equivalent to a rejection of human decency.

There’s no denying, however, that revolution against the technonindustrial system will violate human decency and the principles of fairness. With the collapse of the system, whether it is spontaneous or a result of revolution, countless innocent people will suffer and die. Our current situation is one of those in which we have to decide whether to commit injustice and cruelty in order to prevent a greater evil.

For comparison, consider World War II. At that time the ambitions of ruthless dictators could be thwarted only by making war on a large scale, and, given the conditions of modern warfare, millions of innocent civilians inevitably were killed or mutilated. Few people will deny that this constituted an extreme and inexcusable injustice to the victims, yet fewer still will argue that Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese militarists should have been allowed to dominate the world.

If it was acceptable to fight World War II in spite of the severe cruelty to millions of innocent people that that entailed, then a revolution against the technoindustrial system should be acceptable too. Had the fascists come to dominate the world, they doubtless would have treated their subject populations with brutality, would have reduced millions to slavery under harsh conditions, and would have exterminated many people outright. But, however horrible that might have been, it seems almost trivial in comparison with the disasters with which the technoindustrial system threatens us. Hitler and his allies 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 those of World War II; whether the human race will continue to exist or whether it will be replaced by intelligent machines or genetically engineered freaks; whether the last vestiges of human dignity will disappear, not merely for the duration of a particular totalitarian regime but for all time; whether our world will even be inhabitable a couple of hundred years from now. Under these circumstances, who will claim that World War II was acceptable but that a revolution against the technoindustrial system is not?

Though revolution will necessarily involve violation of the principles of fairness, revolutionaries should make every effort to avoid violating those principles any more than is really necessary--not only from respect for human decency, but also for practical reasons. By complying with the principles of fairness to the extent that doing so is not incompatible with revolutionary action, revolutionaries will win the respect of nonrevolutionaries, will be able to recruit better people to be revolutionaries, and will increase the self-respect of the revolutionary movement, thereby strengthening its esprit de corps.

Political Ideology


Ted's 1958 Autobiography:[13]

If I could remodel the world to my heart’s content, I would be an absolute hereditary monarch. I would relegate the routine tasks of governing to ministers and spend most of my time in the pursuit of both physical and intellectual pleasures. I would gather together scholars from all over my realm and study and discuss science and mathematics, for the sake of intellectual stimulation rather than for the purpose of applying it. Also, I would have court musicians always at hand to provide music when I wanted it. I would perhaps also attempt military conquests.


From age, say, 15 - 18 I went through a certain phase. It had its beginnings before I went to Harvard, came on strong during my Freshman year, and had largely faded out by about the middle of my Junior Year. This was what I may call a romantic phase. I wanted to let loose my passions and express them freely, rather than being stoical as formerly. I began to put great emphasis on music and certain kinds of literature.

Both before and after this phase I always enjoyed music and certain kinds of literature. The difference was that during the phase

I considered art to be something important, whereas before and after after the phase, I considered art to be merely an embellishment of life, not something really important ...

... I dislike most modern art, music, and literature, because it arouses too many feelings of a negative or "sick" type, whereas older art concentrated on the beautiful or the heroic ...

... In music I generally prefer Haydn and earlier composers. Vivaldi is one of my favorites ... I strongly prefer instrumental to vocal music. I prefer wind instruments, especially trumpets, trombones, French horns, oboes, and bassoons ...

... During my romantic phase I continued to have fantasies of a primitive life, but I tended strongly to embellish this with romantic details like horns resounding through the forest, savage-looking tunics of bear-skin, and so forth. During this period I was attracted to German Romanticism. I also read Alan Bullock's biography of Hitler and became interested in Nazism. I used to fantasy myself as an agitator rousing mobs to frenzies of revolutionary violence.

Thereby I would become a dictator, and I would send my Gestapo out to round up all the people I hated - and there were plenty of those ...

... When, in my teens, I had fantasies of becoming a dictator, it was not exactly social dominance that rested me. I dreamed of getting revenge on those I hated; I dreamed of being an orator rousing mobs to a frenzy of revolutionary violence; I dreamed of manipulating vast world-shaking forces. I did not dream of dominance in personal relationships. I wasn't interested in personal relationships to any great extent ...

... Either I would imagine myself getting power and rebuilding society so as to guarantee maximum individual autonomy; this accomplished, I would retire to spend the rest of my life in some isolated wilderness. Or else I would imagine myself becoming a dictator then wiping out the human race by means of an atomic war or some such thing ...

(As I became more and more aware of the extreme difficulty of reforming society so as to guarantee what I consider sufficient individual autonomy without wiping out 99.99% of the human race, I leaned more and more toward the second type of dictator fantasy.) ...


Project Unabom:[15]

On the trip, Ted talked a lot about technology, particularly a book he'd recently read called the Technological Society by a French philosopher named Jacques Ellul. It was scholarly, dense, but also a dire warning to humanity. Ellul said that technology was now becoming so powerful. So omnipresent that the relationship between humans and their tools had been flipped a little. Wrote that technology was no longer face to face with man. It progressively absorbs him. It wasn't a crazy idea. Even in the late 60s. That was the summer of the moon landing. Television was creating a truly mass culture as never before. The ultimate the first mass network of computers was switched on that year and plenty of smart people thought overpopulation and all the technology fueled consumption that came with it was going to decimate humanity. In 1967, Esquire magazine ran a piece warning of the perils of runaway growth, titled, The Human Race has maybe 35 years left.


Back about 1972, I wrote sort of a preliminary essay on the subject of technology, and that was one of the things that made me most hopeless because I assumed that the power of technology would just keep increasing and closing everything down.

Project Unabom:[17]

He was largely. Worried about behavior modification from genetic engineering, mass media and scientists inserting electrodes and KEMET roads into human brains to control human emotions, and he had a solution. Stopped funding scientific research. He started sending his essay around, looking to Stoke a movement. He even outlined his concerns in a letter to one of his senators, Mike Mansfield. Then the Majority Leader of the US Senate. And Mansfield wrote Ted back, told him his views were “well developed and worthy of every consideration.” Then Mansfield forwarded Ted's letter to Doctor Bertram Brown, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, to get his scientific opinion on Ted's ideas. Grammar wrote back. “Behavior control in some form or another is the basis of which any organized society rests.” In the copy of this letter in the Michigan. Archive Ted circled that sentence and wrote in the margins. So, fuck organized society.

He sent this essay arguing for the government barring funding for scientific development, which he sends to politicians. Some members of the FBI called this document an early version of the manifesto, which led to them taking seriously Ted as a suspect:[18]

In these pages it is argued that continued scientific and technical progress will inevitably result in the extinction of individual liberty. I use the word “inevitably” in the following sense: One might—possibly—imagine certain conditions of society in which freedom could coexist with unfettered technology, but these conditions do not actually exist, and we know of no way to bring them about, so that, in practice, scientific progress will result in the extinction of individual liberty. Toward the end of this essay we propose what appears to be the only thing that bears any resemblance to a practical remedy for this situation. …

I can think of only two possibilities that are halfway plausible. The discussion of one of these I will leave until later. The other, and the one that I advocate, is this: In simple terms, stop scientific progress by withdrawing all major sources of research funds. In more detail, begin by withdrawing all or most federal aid to research. If an abrupt withdrawal would cause economic problems, then phase it out as rapidly as is practical. Next, pass legislation to limit or phase out research support by educational institutions which accept public funds. Finally, one would hope to pass legislation prohibiting all large corporations and other large organizations from supporting scientific research. Of course, it would be necessary to eventually bring about similar changes throughout the world, but, being Americans, we must start with the United States; which is just as well, since the United States is the world’s most technologically advanced country. As for economic or other disruption that might be caused by the elimination of scientific progress—this disruption is likely to be much less than that which would be caused by the extremely rapid changes brought on by science itself.

I admit that, in view of the firmly entrenched position of Big Science, it is unlikely that such a legislative program could be enacted. However, I think there is at least some chance that such a program could be put through in stages over a period of years, if one or more active organizations were formed to make the public aware of the probable consequences of continued scientific progress and to push for the appropriate legislation. Even if there is only a small chance of success, I think that chance is worth working for, since the alternative appears to be the loss of all human freedom. …

Let us try to summarize the role of technology in relation to freedom. The principal effect of technology is to increase the power of society collectively. Now, there is a more or less unlimited number of value-judgments that lie before us: for example: whether an individual should or should not have puritanical attitudes toward sex; whether it is better to have rain fall at night or during the day. When society acquires power over such a situation, generally a preponderance of the social forces look upon one or the other of the alternatives as Right. These social forces are then able to use the machinery of society to impose their choice universally; for example, they may mold children so successfully that none ever grows up to have puritanical attitudes toward sex, or they may use weather engineering to guarantee that the rain falls only at night. In this way there is a continual narrowing of the possibilities that exist in the world. The eventual result will be a world in which there is only one system of values. The only way out seems to be to halt the ceaseless extension of society’s power.

I propose that you join me and a few other people to whom I am writing in an attempt to found an organization dedicated to stopping federal aid to scientific research. It would be a mistake, I think, to reject this suggestion out of hand on the basis of some vague dogma such as “knowledge is good” or “science is the hope of man.” Sure, knowledge is good, but how high a price, in terms of freedom, are we going to pay for knowledge? You may be understandably reluctant to join an organization about which you know nothing, but you know as much about it as I do. It hasn’t been started yet. You would be one of the founding members. I claim to have no particular qualifications for trying to start such an organization, and I have no idea how to go about it, I am only making an attempt because no better qualified person has yet done so. I am simply trying to bring together a few highly intelligent and thoughtful people who would be willing to take over the task.


David recalled that around this time, Ted had become enamored with a book written by Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, which was first published in French in 1954 and later translated into English and several other languages. The subject matter so moved him that he began a correspondence with Ellul, telling the author he had read his work multiple times. Later, Ted drafted an essay in which he argued that the never-ending push for scientific and technological progress was wrong and would bring about the end of individual liberties. In Ted’s view, society’s power to control individuals was quickly expanding and would ultimately make it impossible for men and women to follow their own paths. He wrote about propaganda, educational guiding of children’s emotional development, operant conditioning, and “direct physical control of emotions via electrodes and “cheminrodes” (sic). Ted proposed founding an organization dedicated to stopping federal aid to scientific research, thereby preventing the “ceaseless extension of society’s powers.”

Ted wanted David to head up the organization because Ted did not work well with people, but David declined.

Human Exterminationism


... between the ages of about 20 and 30, I used to have a fantasy that I found extremely pleasant, and at times I would wish ardently that it were possible: I dreamed of waking up in the morning and finding that every human being but myself had disappeared from the face of the earth. Then I would have the whole world all to myself ...

Some people imagine primitive hunters must be crude, bestial, or degraded. I have argued against this elsewhere. It can be argued that primitive hunters have more of what we call "noble" qualities than modern man. But, whether this "noble savage" idea has any truth to it or not, it is of minimal interest to me, because, to me, all of mankind (with possible rare individual exceptions) is contemptible. It is true that recently I've come to be more tolerant of human failings, but I am still strongly aware of these failings, and despise them, even though I may feel friendly toward certain individuals exhibiting those failings. The failings to which I principally refer are irrationality, unclear thinking, and inability to liberate oneself from values and assumptions that one has been trained to accept. Some people imagine that modern man are more liberated from the "official" value of their society than are men of traditional societies. To one like me, who is a social outsider, this is not so clear, since, to a real outsider, it is obvious that most of those who imagine themselves to be nonconformists are really slavish conformists. (Imagine people who believe in racial equality, sexual equality, nonviolence and the transcendent value of art and philosophy, describing themselves as nonconformists! Do they imagine that they invented these ideologies themselves?) However it may be that there really is more psychological freedom in today's society than in a hunting society, because our society is transitional: traditional psychological controls are breaking down, while the far more effective psychological controls that technique is providing have not yet come close to being fully supplemented. I wouldn't venture to say which kind of society offers more psychological freedom, not having any personal experience in a hunting society. Also, it is possible I may even be wrong in assuming that a hunting society provides more physical freedom, because, not having lived in such a society, I can't be absolutely certain.

In any case, even the most primitive society carries in it the seeds of what I consider evil, since all societies have the potential for eventual "progress" toward civilization. Thus I am more inclined to wish that the human race would become extinct.



Anti-tech radicals and environmental radicals have different attitudes towards violence in large part because they have different ideals. As Bron Taylor argues, environmental radicals share ‘general religious sentiments – that the earth and all life is sacred – that lessen the possibility that [environmental] movement activists will engage in terrorist violence’. As he correctly points out, there is ‘no indication that Kaczynski shared the sense, so prevalent in radical environmental subcultures, that life is worthy of reverence and the earth is sacred’. Kaczynski is instead committed to the ideal of wild nature, which serves to naturalize violence. He argues, and ITS concurs, that ‘a significant amount of violence is a natural part of human life’. Part of what it means to be a wild human being is to be a violent one, unencumbered by the fetters of civilized morality.

The ideal of wild nature helps to explain anti-tech radicals’ target selection. For Kaczynski and ITS, living things have value only insofar as they are wild, and to be wild is to be ‘outside the power of the system’. When human beings become instruments of the system, they forfeit any value or dignity that they might have had. Scientists and technicians are permissible targets of violence because they have betrayed their wild nature, and they are desirable targets because they symbolize the technological system. Whereas environmental radicals’ reverence for life tends to steer them away from violence, towards destruction of property, anti-tech radicals’ ideal of wild nature serves to justify their violence.


I believe in nothing. Whereas I don’t even believe in the cult of nature-worshippers or wilderness-worshippers. (I am perfectly ready to litter in parts of the woods that are of no use to me—I often throw cans in logged-over areas or in places much frequented by people; I don’t find wilderness particularly healthy physically; I don’t hesitate to poach.)

A few days ago I finished making a twenty-two caliber pistol. ... I want to use the gun as a murder weapon.


We had this logger that was learning to log with Belgian horses. So, they're huge animals. And, um, when he brought the logs off the hill, it tore up the grass, and so, one day, Butch said, go seed that area up there. And Tessa (my daughter) was maybe three years old. And so, I was up there seeding. And the trees were about 3 feet high, so she was just a toddler and she would disappear into 'em. And the hair on the back of my neck went up, and I thought it was a mountain lion, and so I told her, It's time to leave. But it turned out it was Ted. He had a... a gun on her. And I asked the FBI after they figured out it was Ted, he had written in his journals. He had written something about… ‘it would be easy to take the little bitch out, but then the big bitch could get away.’ Or ‘if I shoot the big bitch, then the little bitch would be, um, left on the hill.’ But it's too close to his home, and that's, you know, he didn't want to bring attention to himself. It's probably the only thing that saved us.



Unquestionably there is no doubt that the reason I dropped out of the technological system is because I had read about other ways of life, in particular that of primitive peoples. When I was about eleven I remember going to the little local library in Evergreen Park, Illinois. They had a series of books published by the Smithsonian Institute that addressed various areas of science. Among other things, I read about anthropology in a book on human prehistory. I found it fascinating. After reading a few more books on the subject of Neanderthal man and so forth, I had this itch to read more. I started asking myself why and I came to the realization that what I really wanted was not to read another book, but that I just wanted to live that way.

1. The aim of the Freedom Club is the complete and permanent destruction of modern industrial society in every part of the world. This means no more airplanes, no more radios, no more miracle drugs, no more paved roads, and so forth. Today a large and growing number of people are coming to recognize the industrial-technological system as the greatest enemy of freedom. Many evidences of these changing attitudes could be cited. For the moment we content ourselves with mentioning one statistic. “According to a January 1980 poll, only 33 percent of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany [West Germany] still believe that technological development will lead to greater freedom; 56 percent think it is more likely to make us less free.” This is from “1984: Decade of the Experts?” – an article by Johanno Strasser in 1934 revisted: Totalitarianism in our century, edited by Irving Howe and published by Harper and Row, 1983. (This article as a whole helps to show the extent to which technology is becoming a target of social rebellion.)

2. The hollowness of the old revolutionary ideologies centering on socialism has become clear. Now and in the future the thrust of rebellion will be against the industrial-technological system itself and not for or against any political ideology that is supposed to govern the administration of that system. All ideologies and political systems are fakes. They only result in power for special groups who just push the rest of us around. There is only one way to escape from being pushed around, and that is to smash the whole system and get along without it. It is better to be poor and free than to be a slave and get pushed around all your life.

3. No ideology or political system can get around the hard facts of life in industrial society. Because any form of industrial society requires a high level of organization, all decisions have to be made by a small elite of leaders and experts who necessarily wield all the power, regardless of any political fictions that may be maintained. Even if the motives of this elite were completely unselfish, they would still HAVE TO exploit and manipulate us simply to keep the system running. Thus the evil is in the nature of technology itself.

4. Man is a social animal, meant to live in groups. But only in SMALL groups, say up to 100 people, in which all members know one another intimately. Man is not meant to live as an insignificant atom in a vast organization, which is the only way he can live in any form of industrialized society.

5. The Freedom Club is strictly anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-leftist. One reason for this is that the left has a consistent record of unintentionally (when not intentionally) subverting rebel movements of any kind and turning them into leftist movements. Until now, leftism has had an image as THE ideology of rebellion, so that many persons who join any rebel movement are likely to be left-leaning. When enough leftists have joined such a movement it acquires a leftish aroma which attracts still more leftists until the movement becomes just another socialist sect. Therefore the Freedom Club must completely disassociate itself from any form of leftism. This does not imply that we are in any sense a right-wing movement. We are apolitical. Politics only distracts attention from the real issue.

6. Don’t think that we are sadists or thrill-seekers or that we have adopted terrorism lightly. Though we are young we are not hot-heads. We have become terrorists only after the most earnest consideration.

Primitivist Anarchism


We call ourselves anarchists because we would like, ideally, to break down all society into very small, completely autonomous units. Regrettably, we don’t see any clear road to this goal, so we leave it to the indefinite future. Our more immediate goal, which we think may be attainable at some time during the next several decades, is the destruction of the worldwide industrial system. Through our bombings we hope to promote social instability in industrial society, propagate anti-industrial ideas and give encouragement to those who hate the industrial system. ...

Man is a social animal, meant to live in groups. But only in SMALL groups, say up to 100 people, in which all members know one another intimately. Man is not meant to live as an insignificant atom in a vast organization, which is the only way he can live in any form of industrialized society. ...

Leftism is unlikely ever to give up technology, because technology is too valuable a source of collective power.

The anarchist34 too seeks power, but he seeks it on an individual or small-group basis; he wants individuals and small groups to be able to control the circumstances of their own lives. He opposes technology because it makes small groups dependent on large organizations. ...

34. This statement refers to our particular brand of anarchism. A wide variety of social attitudes have been called “anarchist,” and it may be that many who consider themselves anarchists would not accept our statement of paragraph 215. It should be noted, by the way, that there is a nonviolent anarchist movement whose members probably would not accept FC as anarchist and certainly would not approve of FC’s violent methods. ...

183. But an ideology, in order to gain enthusiastic support, must have a positive ideal as well as a negative one; it must be FOR something as well as AGAINST something. The positive ideal that we propose is Nature. That is, WILD nature: Those aspects of the functioning of the Earth and its living things that are independent of human management and free of human interference and control. And with wild nature we include human nature, by which we mean those aspects of the functioning of the human individual that are not subject to regulation by organized society but are products of chance, or free will, or God (depending on your religious or philosophical opinions).

184. Nature makes a perfect counter-ideal to technology for several reasons. Nature (that which is outside the power of the system) is the opposite of technology (which seeks to expand indefinitely the power of the system). Most people will agree that nature is beautiful; certainly it has tremendous popular appeal The radical environmentalists ALREADY hold an ideology that exalts nature and opposes technology. It is not necessary for the sake of nature to set up some chimerical utopia or any new kind of social order. Nature takes care of itself: It was a spontaneous creation that existed long before any human society, and for countless centuries many different kinds of human societies coexisted with nature without doing it an excessive amount of damage. Only with the Industrial Revolution did the effect of human society on nature become really devastating. To relieve the pressure on nature it is not necessary to create a special kind of social system, it is only necessary to get rid of industrial society. Granted, this will not solve all problems. Industrial society has already done tremendous damage to nature and it will take a very long time for the scars to heal. Besides, even preindustrial societies can do significant damage to nature. Nevertheless, getting rid of industrial society will accomplish a great deal. It will relieve the worst of the pressure on nature so that the scars can begin to heal. It will remove the capacity of organized society to keep increasing its control over nature (including human nature). Whatever kind of society may exist after the demise of the industrial system, it is certain that most people will live close to nature, because in the absence of advanced technology there is no other way that people CAN live. To feed themselves they must be peasants, or herdsmen, or fishermen, or hunters, etc. And, generally speaking, local autonomy should tend to increase, because lack of advanced technology and rapid communications will limit the capacity of governments or other large organizations to control local communities. ...

To the extent that the average modern INDIVIDUAL can wield the power of technology, he is permitted to do so only within narrow limits and only under the supervision and control of the system. (You need a license for everything and with the license come rules and regulations.) The individual has only those technological powers with which the system chooses to provide him. His PERSONAL power over nature is slight.

198. Primitive INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS actually had considerable power over nature; or maybe it would be better to say power WITHIN nature. When primitive man needed food he knew how to find and prepare edible roots, how to track game and take it with homemade weapons. He knew how to protect himself from heat, cold, rain, dangerous animals, etc. But primitive man did relatively little damage to nature because the COLLECTIVE power of primitive society was negligible compared to the COLLECTIVE power of industrial society.

199. Instead of arguing for powerlessness and passivity, one should argue that the power of the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM should be broken, and that this will greatly INCREASE the power and freedom of INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS. ...

"[A] return to undomesticated autonomous ways of living would not be achieved by the removal of industrialism alone. Such removal would still leave domination of nature, subjugation of women, war, religion, the state, and division of labour, to cite some basic social pathologies. It is civilization itself that must be undone to go where Unabomber wants to go."

I agree with much of this. ...

But the removal of civilization itself is a far more difficult proposition, because civilization in its pre-industrial forms does not require an elaborate and highly-organized technological structure. A pre-industrial civilization requires only a relatively simple technology, the most important element of which is agriculture.

How does one prevent people from practicing agriculture? And given that people practice agriculture, how does one prevent them from living in densely-populated communities and forming social hierarchies? It is a very difficult matter and I don’t see any way of accomplishing it.

I am not suggesting that the elimination of civilization should be abandoned as an ideal or as an eventual goal. I merely point out that no one knows of any plausible means of reaching that goal in the foreseeable future. In contrast, the elimination of the industrial system is a plausible goal for the next several decades, and, in a general way, we can see how to go about attaining it. Therefore, the goal on which we should set our sights for the present is the destruction of the industrial system. After that has been accomplished we can think about eliminating civilization. ...

After the techno-industrial system has been eliminated, people can and should fight injustice wherever they find it. ...

In an extra paragraph to a footnote Ted added to his manifesto in 2016, that was published in the 2019 update of his book Technological Slavery, Ted wrote the following (shown in here in it's full context, starting with the paragraph from the main body of the manifesto):[30]

... Above all, leftism is driven by the need for power, and the leftist seeks power on a collective basis, through identification with a mass movement or an organization. Leftism is unlikely ever to give up technology, because technology is too valuable a source of collective power.

[Paragraph] 215. The anarchist34 too seeks power, but he seeks it on an individual or small-group basis; he wants individuals and small groups to be able to control the circumstances of their own lives. He opposes technology because it makes small groups dependent on large organizations.

[Footnote] 34. This statement refers to our particular brand of anarchism. A wide variety of social attitudes have been called “anarchist,” and it may be that many who consider themselves anarchists would not accept our statement of paragraph 215. It should be noted, by the way, that there is a nonviolent anarchist movement whose members probably would not accept FC as anarchist and certainly would not approve of FC’s violent methods.

(Added 2016) In 1995 I described FC as “anarchist” because I thought it would be advantageous to have some recognized political identity. At that time I knew very little about anarchism. Since then I've learned that anarchists, at least those of the U.S. and the U.K., are nothing but a lot of hopelessly ineffectual bunglers and dreamers, useless for any purpose. Needless to say, I now disavow any identification as an anarchist.

Anti-Tech Vanguardism


(ii) If a member of the anti-tech organization can find a place on the editorial board of a radical environmentalist periodical (for instance, the Earth First! journal), he will be able to influence the content of the periodical. If a majority of anti-tech people can be placed on the editorial board, they will be able in effect to take the periodical over, minimize its leftist content, and use it systematically for the propagation of anti-tech ideas. ...

How can anti-tech revolutionaries get themselves into positions of power and infuence in radical environmentalist groups? The most important way will be through

the moral authority of hard work. In every organization which they seek to capture, the communists are the readiest volunteers, the most devoted committee workers, the most alert and active participants. In many groups, this is in itself sufficient to gain the leadership; it is almost always enough to justify candidacy [for leadership].

The [Communists] in penetrating an organization... become the 'best workers' for whatever goals the organization seeks to attain.

Prior to that final struggle, the revolutionaries should not expect to have a majority of people on their side. History is made by active, determined minorities, not by the majority, which seldom has a clear and consistent idea of what it really wants. ...

When the system becomes sufficiently stressed and unstable, a revolution against technology may be possible. The pattern would be similar to that of the French and Russian Revolutions. French society and Russian society, for several decades prior to their respective revolutions, showed increasing signs of stress and weakness. Meanwhile, ideologies were being developed that offered a new world-view that was quite different from the old one. In the Russian case revolutionaries were actively working to undermine the old order. Then, when the old system was put under sufficient additional stress (by financial crisis in France, by military defeat in Russia) it was swept away by revolution. What we propose is something along the same lines.


It seems to me, that there are discontented groups that could be very useful if we could, so to speak, recruit them.

Then when the right moment comes, they will be in a position to strike. The thing is that people will tend to be attracted to a movement not only on the basis of agreeing with its ideas, but if they see it as effective, having a clear-cut agenda, cohesive, purposeful and active.

In certain quarters, there is a rejection of modernity, among muslim militants, and I’m wondering what extent it might be useful to our movement to carry on discussions with the Muslim militants and see whether there is sufficient common ground there for any sort of alliance.

If he were simply that, I might be inclined to support him, but my guess is that his motive is less an opposition to modernity than a desire to create an Islamic ‘great power’ that would be able to compete on equal terms with other great powers of the world. If that is true, then he is just another ruthless and power-hungry politician, and I have no use for him.

Concerning the recent terrorist action in Britain: Quite apart from any humanitarian considerations, the radical Islamics' approach seems senseless. They take a hostile stance toward whole nations, such as the US. or Britain, and they indiscriminately kill ordinary citizens of those countries. In doing so they only strengthen the countries in question, because they provide the politicians with what they most need: a feared external enemy to unite the people behind their leaders. The Islamics seem to have forgotten the principle of "divide and conquer": Their best policy would have been to profess friendship for the American, British, etc. people and limit their expressed hostility to the elite groups of those countries, while portraying the ordinary people as victims or dupes of their leaders. (Notice that this is the position that the US. usually adopts toward hostile countries.)

So the terrorists' acts of mass slaughter seem stupid. But there may be an explanation other than stupidity for their actions: The radical Islamic leaders may be less interested in the effect that the bombings have on the US. or the UK. than in their effect within the Islamic world. The leaders' main goal may be to build a strong and fanatical Islamic movement, and for this purpose they may feel that spectacular acts of mass destruction arc more effective than assassinations of single individuals, however important the latter may be. I've found some support for this hypothesis:

“[A] radical remake of the faith is indeed the underlying intention of bin Laden and his followers. Attacking America and its allies is merely a tactic, intended to provoke a backlash strong enough to alert Muslims to the supposed truth of their predicament, and so rally them to purge their faith of all that is alien to its essence. Promoting a clash of civilizations is merely stage one. The more difficult part, as the radicals see it, is convincing fellow Muslims to reject the modern world absolutely (including such aberrations as democracy), topple their own insidiously secularizing quisling governments, and return to the pure path.”


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.

Yet, it is clear that in TK's view some types of racism and ethnic conflict should be encouraged, so long as they are stresses useful in breaking down the industrial system:[37]

134. For all of the foregoing reasons, technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom. But this statement requires an important qualification. It appears that during the next several decades the industrial-technological system will be undergoing severe stresses due to economic and environmental problems, and especially due to problems of human behavior (alienation, rebellion, hostility, a variety of social and psychological difficulties). We hope that the stresses through which the system is likely to pass will cause it to break down, or at least weaken it sufficiently so that a revolution occurs and is successful, then at that particular moment the aspiration for freedom will have proved more powerful than technology.

And in paragraph 150, he defines some of the stresses that he hopes for to originate from race hatred and ethnic rivalry, politcal extremism, anti-government groups, and hate groups:[38]

150. As we mentioned in paragraph 134, industrial society seems likely to be entering a period of severe stress, due in part to problems of human behavior and in part to economic and environmental problems. And a considerable proportion of the system's economic and environmental problems result from the way human beings behave. Alienation, low self-esteem, depression, hostility, rebellion; children who won't study, youth gangs, illegal drug use, rape, child abuse , other crimes, unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, population growth, political corruption, race hatred, ethnic rivalry, bitter ideological conflict (i.e., pro-choice vs. pro-life), political extremism, terrorism, sabotage, anti-government groups, hate groups. All these threaten the very survival of the system. The system will be FORCED to use every practical means of controlling human behavior.

[1] Ted Kaczynski's 1979 Autobiography

[2] Ted Kaczynski's 1978-79 Journal

[3] Ted's Journal on His Plans to Disfigure the Face of a Romantic Interest

[4] Government's Sentencing Memorandum

[5] Unabomber; In His Own Words

[6] Unabomber: The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski

[7] Madman in the Woods

[8] Ted Kaczynski's Journal of Early Crimes

[9] Unabomber: The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski

[10] The Communications of Ted Kaczynski as part of his Terror Bombing Campaign

[11] Ted's Notes on his Journals (Feb. 1996)

[12] Morality and Revolution

[13] Ted Kaczynski's 1959 Autobiography

[14] Ted Kaczynski's 1979 Autobiography

[15] Project Unabom

[16] Theresa Kintzs' Interview with Ted Kaczynski

[17] Project Unabom

[18] Progress versus Liberty

[19] Hunting the Unabomber

[20] David Kaczynski's Statement

[21] Ted Kaczynski's 1979 Autobiography

[22] The Unabomber and the origins of anti-tech radicalism

[23] Ted Kaczynski's 1978-79 Journal

[24] Government's Sentencing Memorandum

[25] Unabomber; In His Own Words

[26] Theresa Kintzs' Interview with Ted Kaczynski

[27] The Communications of Ted Kaczynski as part of his Terror Bombing Campaign

[28] Industrial Society and Its Future

[29] Answer to Some Comments Made in Green Anarchist

[30] Industrial Society and Its Future

[31] Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement

[32] Industrial Society and Its Future

[33] Unabomber; In His Own Words

[34] Letters from a serial killer: Inside the Unabomber archive

[35] Ted Kaczynski's Letter Correspondence With David Skrbina

[36] Children of Ted; The Unlikely New Generation of Unabomber Acolytes

[37] Industrial Society and Its Future

[38] Ibid.