VJMP Reads: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto VI

This reading carries on from here.

The next chapter in Industrial Society and Its Future, beginning from paragraph 171, is ‘The Future’. Here, Kaczynski discusses the likely outcomes of the perpetuation of the techno-industrial system.

One potential outcome is that increasing technology and automation means that the vast majority of human labour becomes performed by machines instead. At this point, one must consider whether this machine workforce is to remain working under direct human supervision or if it is to work autonomously. It could be that our increasing dependence on the decisions made by these machines make us dependent on them, in the same way that we have become dependent on other technology.

The horror scenario, as Kaczynski sees it, is that automation will incentivise the extermination of the masses on the grounds that they are no longer needed for their labour. A more humane scenario is that the elite uses propaganda to reduce the birth rate of the masses so that natural deaths cause the population to decline. This may become necessary because of ecological considerations. The only alternative is to essentially domesticate humans like pets.

Kaczynski flat-out rejects the idea that work for the sake of the work is the solution to the problem. Makework will not lead to any kind of fulfillment. Even more of a worry is the fact that these problems will continue to get worse. The bourgeois sort of person who runs the machine will only become more and more a part of it, and the machine will grow to absorb all, barring the odd pocket of nature kept as reserve.

He concludes, “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences.”

The next section is titled ‘Strategy’. Here Kaczynski talks about what specifically can be done to oppose the techno-industrial system. Most people believe that the forwards march of the system is inevitable; Kaczynski disagrees. It can be meaningfully opposed in two ways: by increasing the stresses within it to hasten its collapse, and by developing an alternative ideology so that people can learn to live without it.

The French and Russian Revolutions provide an example of how this could be achieved. Ideologies must have both a positive and a negative ideal. Kaczynski proposes valuing wild, raw Nature as something that should prosper freely. This includes human nature. If the techno-industrial system collapses, people will come to live close to Nature again, on account of that they will be forced to.

Most people don’t like psychological conflict, and as a consequence they do like black-and-white thinking. Despite that, it’s important to target the ideology at intelligent and thoughtful people, because they will be most capable of influencing others. Even so, it’s necessary to have a simpler version of the ideology that even simple people can understand. Care must be taken so that propagandising towards this simpler version doesn’t put the more thoughtful people off.

The most important thing is building a committed core of good people. For this reason one needs to take care who one attacks and who one befriends. The general public should never be blamed, but focus should be placed on the ruling class. Care must be taken not to encourage conflict in the wrong places, because that will lead to more technology. It’s also a mistake for minorities to put members into high positions in government and business, because that will just hasten the absorption of that culture by the system.

For this reason, it’s better for revolutionaries to not try to win power in the democratic system. There is no way to change the system from within without getting co-opted. The collapse of the techno-industrial system will induce short-term suffering, and the politicians will get blamed for it, so best to stay out of the way until such a time as this suffering gets blamed on the shortcomings of the system.

The revolution will have to happen in all nations at the same time. For this reason, it’s better for the world to become interconnected – the hope is that if, for example, America collapses, it will take the rest of the world down with it.

People will not be aided by becoming more passive in the face of the system. Humans have a will to power; this is a fact. This will to power can be better satisfied in primitive conditions, because people will satisfy it by meeting their survival needs.

Technology can be freely employed by revolutionaries, but only if it is directly employed in the destruction of the techno-industrial system. Humans cannot be trusted with technology any more than any alcoholic can be trusted to babysit a bottle of wine. In any case, revolutionaries should have as many children as they can, because anti-technological attitudes will be in some way inherited.

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