This book contains problems that I think we do need to address as a modern society. While I think TJK's methods were abhorrent and do not endorse them at all, there is certainly some academic worth in his writing that I feel must be engaged with.
A collection of Kaczynski's writings in which he describes his luddite outlook. His nomenclature, 'new leftishness', and subsequent description of stereotypical activities (surrogate activities) I found at times quite comical, to some extent due to its accuracy. Although I am not sure that was the authors intention. The articles in this book are clumsy and chaotic, but the author makes a lucid point which has caused me to consider my own relationship with technology. Is his point revolutionary? I hardly think so. I would argue that anyone who has been educated in the last 40yrs recognises that we in the west are gradually making life more difficult for people everywhere else due to our consumerism and increasing reliance on technology. Will we have less independence from technologies trumpeted to make our lives more creative? Most definitely. Will we end the world by this behaviour? most probably. But the sad truth is this isn't going to stop us. Nor will the author see the revolt he predicts/hopes for. I enjoyed the book, it's damaged by the authors criminality but at least you can read it knowing that due to America's penal system he won't profit from it or the pain he has caused his victim's.
The author's foreword sets the tone perfectly for Kaczynski's writings, and that the author has had numerous correspondence with Kaczynski leads to more credibility. Far from just being a technological rant, it is an in depth review and analysis of our entire culture and history pertaining to the relevant subject matter (ie, technological slavery). It touches on ancient and modern civilizations and tribes, nature and environmentalism, philosophy and psychology of the modern world and the natural, free and wild world in which he wishes to retreat, and how the two are in direct opposition. There are also letters that he has mailed to various people in the book as well as an added bonus. Would recommend.
It is impossible to discuss this “manifesto” in depth and in detail because of two things.
The first one is the cynicism of the author.
“The only sensible alternative for the weaker man is to kill the strong one while he has a chance. In the same way, while the industrial system is sick we must destroy it.” (Paragraph 135)
This absolute rejection of any respect of life, this absolute call for killing those you consider your enemies, this absolute advocacy of killing and destroying no matter who, no matter what that or who is in your way is the utmost level of self-centered egotistic and umbilical selfishness that reveals the chap must have been the victim of a very serious trauma in his early infancy. By serious I mean a trauma caused by a close relative and having a sexual dimension. His desire to destroy history, humanity, industrialism and everything else that was developed since the use of coal to produce steam reveals someone who is totally locked up in a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
The second reason why there is no discussion possible is that the author is circumstantially opportunistically cultivating contradictions. Let’s just take one:
“If the breakdown [of industrialism and the industrial system] is sudden, many people will die, since the world’s population has become so overblown that it cannot even feed itself any longer without advanced technology. Even if the breakdown is gradual enough so that reduction of the population can occur more through lowering of the birth rate than through elevation of the death rate, the process of de-industrialization probably will be very chaotic and involve much suffering.” (Paragraph167)
We are talking here about reducing the population to something like 500 million people instead of seven billion. We are talking here about the drastic policy of erasing something like six or six and a half billion people in just a few years through famine, total disappearance of medical care, the pure disappearance of any source of energy. And yet at the same time the author dares say in paragraph 204:
“Revolutionaries should have as many children as they can. There is strong scientific evidence that social attitudes are to a significant extent inherited.”
On one side 6.5 people have to die out of 7 and on the other side the revolutionaries who are advocating this demographic policy should make as many children as they can. Do what I am telling you to do, not what I am doing. Die please, in silence if possible, while I procreate children who will become torturers and executioners.
His strong scientific evidence is a plain sham inherited from the bad influence of the racist behaviorists (there luckily are also non-racist behaviorists). Social attitudes are in fact transmitted through education and not inherited through one’s genes. But one more contradiction:
“Education is no longer a simple affair of paddling a kid’s behind when he doesn’t know his lessons and patting him on the head when he does know them. It is becoming a scientific technique for controlling the child’s development. . . “ (Paragraph 148)
And he goes into a vast development about The Sylvan Learning Centers that are effective by using psychological engineering in taking the control of the children and making them learn the knowledge and the behavior they want. Without entering that narrow-minded debate, let me say simply that the children of the revolutionaries will have to have special schools to be “manipulated” into becoming the undertakers of industrialism and the industrial system. Where would their autonomy be? The father I guess will decide for them.
The vision given by this author is absolutely frightening about the numerous paddling and other chastisements he got on his bottom, from the father of course, while the loving mother was padding him on the head.
In other words if you have some time to lose buy the book and read the first 112 pages, if you can read that many, and then forget about this delirious tremens pamphlet of an anarchist (paragraph 215) that is in no way either a manifesto or a gospel. That author is dangerous, mind you. All traumatized children unite! That’s his motto.
an urgent message demanding the near impossible abolishment of all 'technology'--meaning everything from the written word to modern medicine and the aeroplane...that these so called 'benefits to mankind' will push us to endless indignity and possible destruction seems a tragic and ironic impasse