In case you haven’t been keeping up with radical domestic terrorist history, the Unabomber was sort of a big deal back in the day. He sent bombs through the mail to various targets in big tech, media, and advertising for over 17 years, killing 3 people and injuring 23.
Finding the Unabomber, who was later revealed to be Ph.D. Harvard educated genius Ted Kaczynski, became the FBI’s longest, most expensive manhunt ever.
So, why are we talking about this murdering piece of shit?
Because before Kaczynski was caught in 1996, he released his “manifesto” which perfectly predicts the future we inhabit, and perhaps beyond.
It’s even been compared to 1984 and Brave New World.
“The Unabomber Manifesto is a carefully reasoned, artfully written paper… If it is the work of a madman then the writings of many political philosophers — Jean Jacques Rousseau, Tom Paine, Karl Marx — are scarcely more sane.” — UCLA professor James Q. Wilson
I’m not condoning Kaczynski’s actions, but his high IQ seemed to have given him insights into trends in technology and media not visible to the common person.
Let’s go over the best, or perhaps worst, of them
1. Modern society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved
“Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of social change and the breakdown of natural small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.” — Ted K.
Besides the fact that dependence on technology is killing society functionally and morally, you should realize that technology itself is a crutch and the more you depend on it the worse it will be when it fails, Ted argues.
Will anyone be able to do high school-level math on their own in 10 years? What about an imagination? Is that going away if we don’t use it?
The modern civilization we’ve created is unnatural and we behave unnaturally within it almost like animals in a zoo.
Kaczynski called this massive technocratic state “the system” and asserted it didn’t care about your individuality but only what could keep itself going. This, he said, would create widespread feelings of inferiority and psychological suffering as many would feel like cogs in some great machine with no real purpose.
2. The existential dangers of “oversocialization”
Many of us are “oversocialized” according to Kaczynski, meaning we’re made to feel extremely ashamed of our natural impulses such as lust, hatred, and candidness, leading to more feelings of guilt and powerlessness in the system.
“The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way.”
Kaczynski believed political correctness would dominate the modern world and that an Orwellian “Newspeak” would emerge.
I don’t believe this has anything to do with racism or sexual discrimination, but instead that there’s a large part of the populace on a psychological leash adhering to every social standard that society lays down for them.
Political correctness isn’t an outright bad thing, but at what point do we have too much of it? Do we have too much right now?
3. The reason why we have a meaning crisis
People have a need to take part in the “power process” Kaczynski says — which is putting serious effort to attain a goal they know is important. For our ancestors, this would be finding food and satisfying biological needs.
In the modern Western world, it’s a bit more complicated.
Modern industrial-technological society makes the fulfillment of biological needs trivial, requiring only obedience to survive.
Because of this, people engage in meaningless and artificial “surrogate activities”, for example, buying the latest consumer goods, working to make unnecessary amounts of money, video games, sports, social activism.
It’s not that these are all useless things. But, you’re unlikely to find meaning in them if they aren’t your purpose, which, is difficult to find in the modern world.
4. Mass production makes all products the same and global homogenization makes all places the same
“When one does not have adequate opportunity to go throughout the power process the consequences are …boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, defeatism, depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc.”
According to Teddy — can I call him Teddy? I’m going to call him Teddy — our society traps us in a rat race where we work to earn money and are then encouraged to spend it on meaningless products.
It’s an endless cycle of 9 to 5, 5 days a week, and it prevents us from pursuing our ‘real’ passions and interests.
We’ve become completely dependent on the system to survive, and because of this, we are losing our sense of individuality and uniqueness.
Everything and everyone is at risk of becoming a boring grey.
5. College is a useless scam
I’m not sure when it happened, but college is pretty much run by adult babies, who are comfortable equipping their students with useless degrees, unmarketable skills, and thousands in debt.
“The university intellectuals play an important role in carrying out the System’s trick. Though they like to fancy themselves independent thinkers, the intellectuals are the most oversocialized, the most conformist, the tamest, and most domesticated, the most pampered, dependent, and spineless group today.” — Teddy K.
College professors enjoy the illusion of rebelling, and that’s all.
They play a key role in helping their students become dependent on the system and incapable of any meaningful rebellion.
If you want to rant on Twitter, you don’t need a diploma.
6. Technology is imposed upon you
Ted concludes the manifesto by stating that the reason technology wasn’t a major problem until recently, is that throughout history, tech always felt somewhat in our control.
Even the pioneers in the mid-1800s felt as though they controlled their own destiny despite living through the Industrial Revolution.
If technology was imposed upon them — such as the steam engine, telegraph, and cotton gin — the benefits and negatives were clear.
The same cannot be said today. A recent study from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that almost all US teenagers use social media and, on average, spend almost nine hours a day online — meaning we don’t own the technology, the technology owns us.
Here are two examples of how tech imposes itself that Teddy brings up:
- Cars: Gradually as technology got more advanced, and more people started buying cars, suddenly cities had to be designed around the use of cars. We’re at the point where people who didn’t even want a car need one — out here in Oklahoma they barely have sidewalks! The system would break down if we got rid of cars, so it’s important that everyone involved has a car and uses it.
- Computers (obviously): Another example Ted uses are computers. When they first started out, Ted describes them as “expensive toys”, then they got more advanced. Eventually the government started using them, then consumers, and now you can’t go through life without one.
As society progresses, technology becomes less of a convenience and more of a means of forcing the average person to follow along with society’s rules.
At what point do these aspects of society breach our individual freedom and inalienable rights?
At our current pace, Ted argues jobs will become more and more specialized — placing greater burdens on people required to maintain the system (i.e. most of us who make a decent living) — while the roles of these people will slowly become completely out of touch with natural reality.
I don’t agree with Teddy’s solution to the problem, being that we need to return to a naturalistic, small-community-driven society after we overthrow the system. It’s just too late for that. Besides, I don’t think we need to choose between mudhuts and Zuckerberg’s cyber cuck cage.
The only solution I can see — and I’m starting to sound like a broken record — is decentralized projects.
Giant centralized operations we see today such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft will get disrupted in a very real way from cryptocurrency and this is a major benefit to the health of humanity. There’s hope… I think!
“Scientists are unaware of (or choose to ignore) the fact that when large changes, even seemingly beneficial ones, are introduced into a society, they lead to a long sequence of other changes, most of which are impossible to predict . The result is disruption of the society. “— Teddy K.