VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda VII

This reading carries on from here.

The seventh chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘Women’s Activities And Propaganda’.

Bernays is comfortable stating, in 1928, that women “have achieved a legal equality with men”. This doesn’t mean that their activities are the same – it simply means that their vote is of equal worth. This makes them particularly important to understand from a propaganda perspective.

He points out that women don’t have to occupy high positions of political power in order to have a strong political influence. It doesn’t matter that women are not taken as seriously as men in positions of high leadership, because they lead women’s organisations with great numbers of members, and the women leading them have a heavy influence on how their members vote.

Bernays considers the women’s suffrage campaign (which had won victory in America shortly before he wrote this book) to be a good example of the power of propaganda to bring societal changes. He credits the use of propaganda by women’s organisations for increased social welfare and alcohol prohibition. Many female propagandists were trained either by the suffragette movement itself or by the Government during World War One.

These clubs can hold events that draw large numbers of people, so if a popular enough event can be held, it will result in great numbers of people being influenced. Bernays is especially taken with the idea of such clubs sponsoring art or literary competitions. Such events can generate enormous amounts of goodwill.

Bernays is optimistic that an increased voice for women can help mould the world into a better place for all of us. He believes that the entrance of women into politics will allow them to focus on areas that men had previously neglected or were not interested in. This is primarily achieved by the introduction of new ideas or methods.

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VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda VI

This reading carries on from here.

The sixth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘Propaganda and Political Leadership’. Having elaborated upon the basics, Bernays now turns to what this book is best known for.

The chapter opens with an almost Machiavellian statement of anti-democracy. “No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea.” The leader, then, has an obligation to use propaganda to induce the people to go in the right direction.

Curiously for 1928, Bernays is in a position to lament the apathy that already existed in the American voting population of the time. He presages the coming of Adolf Hitler when he states that this apathy only exists because of the failure of any political leader to capture the imagination of the public (this might be because propaganda has been used to destroy political communication).

Voter apathy is here blamed on the inability of politicians to dramatise themselves and their platforms in terms that have real meaning to the public. This cannot be achieved by a politician who merely follows the public whim. Given the strictures of democracy, “The only means by which the born leader can lead is the expert use of propaganda”.

Political campaigns ought to be planned and conducted as professionally and as meticulously as any advertising campaign of a large company. To this end, they would do well to be honestly funded. Bernays decries the “little black bag” method of funding, on account of that it lowers the prestige of politics.

A clever political campaign will outline, from the beginning, specifically which emotions it intends to appeal to. It will figure out exactly who it intends to appeal to, how to reach those people, and the areas in which multiple target groups have aligned interests.

Politicians, as leaders, ought to be creators of circumstances, not victims of them. In this, they have to be clever. The old-fashioned approach is to assault voting resistance head-on, through argumentation. The new approach is to arrange things so that such a conclusion seems dramatic and self-evident.

The best thing is to agitate the public into a sense of anxiety beforehand, so that when the politician speaks it is as if they are providing the answer to a desperate question. Bernays expresses a strong conviction that untrue propaganda will never drive out the honest, because the untrue propaganda will become weakened by growing public awareness of it.

Viewed from ninety years later, it seems that Bernays was altogether too naive and trusting. He wasn’t wrong when he says that the question of whether the newspaper shapes public opinion or public opinion shapes the newspaper is a bit of both. However, he didn’t appear to have anticipated that those who control the apparatus of propaganda would choose to pump it out ever more shamelessly, nor that mass media would see us soaked in propaganda 24/7.

A real leader ought to be able to use propaganda to get the people to follow them, rather than them follow the whims of the people. Again, Bernays emphasises that understanding the target audience is crucial: “The whole basis of successful propaganda is to have an objective and then to endeavor to arrive at it through an exact knowledge of the public and modifying circumstances to manipulate and sway that public.”

Government can be considered the “continuous administrative organ of the people”. To this end, an understanding of propaganda among its workers is vital for the sake of clear and accurate communication. Bernays prefers to describe this as education rather than propagandising. Perhaps the difference was more distinct in the 1920s.

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VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda V

This reading carries on from here.

The fifth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘Business and the Public’.

Businesses have realised that their interactions with the public are not limited to selling their product. They also have to keep on side with that public, otherwise the latter will pass laws restricting the operational freedom of that business. This need to stay onside with the moral fashions of the public has created the public relations industry.

Incredibly for 1928, Bernays is already talking about the fact that it is no longer demand that causes goods to be supplied to the market. He is aware even then that demand is something that is created, and that this is economically necessary in an age of mass production owing to the size of the capital investment necessary to get started. This is entirely different to even a century beforehand.

It has meant that psychology is now necessary in order to conduct business. The minds of the market, both as individuals and as collectives, must be understood. The vast reach of mass media only makes this more important. “Business must express itself and its entire corporate existence so that the public will understand and accept it.”

A company must think hard about the impression that it creates on other people. This means that businesses have to think about things like the dress of their staff. Much of this sounds routine for 2019, so it must be remembered this book was written in 1928.

The propagandist’s work can be divided into two major groups: “continuous interpretation” and “dramatisation by highspotting”. The former is a kind of micromanagement of the public mind in all minor matters, whereas the latter attempts to create a striking and lasting impression. The appropriate method to use can only be determined after a thorough study of the needs of the client.

Bernays writes of his conviction that “as big business becomes bigger the need for expert manipulation of its innumerable contacts with the public will become greater.” Critical to this is finding common interests between the good or service to be sold and the public interest. This search can have an almost infinite number of dimensions. He emphasises against that the goodwill of the public is necessary for any success, in particular stock floats.

Competition is now so intense that almost every decision made by the consumer is someone’s interest. Even the choice of what to eat for breakfast impacts a large number of corporate interests, all of who want to sell their product. Bernays jokes that this might lead to people becoming fat out of a fear that manufacturers will go bankrupt if people don’t eat enough – bizarrely ironic considering our obesity struggles 90 years later.

Bernays finishes this chapter writing about the amusement industry, which has its roots in carnivals and “medicine shows”. They were the ones who taught business and industry about propaganda. Ultimately, propaganda is a dynamic industry that responds to changing trends, and therefore “Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse”.

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VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda IV


This reading carries on from here.

The fourth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘The Psychology of Public Relations’.

The study of mass psychology made people understand the possibility of the invisible government. We learned that the group has qualities that are distinct from the qualities of individuals. Bernays poses the question here: “is it not possible for us to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it?”

Bernays says it is possible, with certain limitations owing to the fact that psychological science is not well developed (it’s worth noting here, again, that this book was written in 1928). Propaganda is a human science and can therefore, like economics and sociology, never be exact.

Bernays again makes the point that if you can influence the leaders, you also influence the groups that they influence. Man’s gregarious nature will make him feel that he is part of a herd, and part of this herd psychology is to allow the group to make its imprints on him. Bernays gives the example of the man who buys railroad shares because something has caused him to associate that company with good feelings.

The group mind doesn’t really think, as such. Rather, it has emotions and raw animal impulses. Its first impulse is to follow a trusted leader. In this sense, we can see that the group mind is very primitive. But when a leader is not on hand and “the herd must think for itself”, it tends to do so in the form of simple cliches, whether in word or image form.

The truth is that men are seldom aware of what actually motivates their actions. They believe themselves to be making rational and dispassionate decisions, when in reality they are influenced by crude egotistical and biological desires. Freud was one of those who made people aware of how many of our desires and behaviours are really just expression of suppressed instincts. A man buys a car for status, not for locomotion.

The successful propagandist must understand people’s true motives, and therefore cannot be content with the reasons people give for why they do things. Human desires are “the steam which makes the human machine work”, and only by understanding these can the propagandist control society.

Old propaganda used what Bernays calls “reaction psychology”, in which people are more or less told what to buy. The new propaganda is more subtle. Instead of advertising bacon, the propagandist convinces doctors to tell their patients to eat it. Instead of breaking down sales resistance by direct attack, propagandists now act to remove it through subtle means.

If the propagandist can make it the group custom to buy a particular good, then he has succeeded. The old propaganda asked people to buy that good; the new propaganda convinces people to go into the salesroom and ask to be sold that good.

The leaders who lend their authority to a propagandist’s endeavour will only do so if it accords with their own interests. For this reason, the propagandist must endeavour to understand the aspirations of as many people as possible. There will be cases in which the interests of many different groups overlap, and in that there is power.

The new propaganda is based on “enlightened self-interest”. Bernays concludes this chapter by saying that this, and the three previous chapters, were devoted to giving a general outline of how propaganda works, and in the remainder of the book he will look at specifics.

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VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda III

This reading carries on from here.

The third chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘The New Propagandists’. Here, Bernays gets to the task of who it is that molds public opinion. “Who are the men who, without us realising it, give us our ideas?”

Bernays admits openly that these molders of public opinion decide for us who we admire and who we despise, and what we think about all manner of political issues. They decide our fashions, our speech, and even what jokes we feel like we’re allowed to make. They decide the shape of everything in our societies – but who are they?

These people include all of the top politicians, all of the leaders of the biggest industries, all of the leaders of the largest cultural organisations, the editors of the largest newspapers and magazines, the heads of the various industry groups, the chancellors of the most prominent universities and the main religious figures. Even so, most of these people, in their turn, get their ideas from elsewhere.

In some cases, it’s clear who the wirepullers are. In most cases, it isn’t. But these people control the destinies of millions. The degree to which a small number of people influence a large number of public figures is generally not appreciated. This number will, however, always be small on account of the great expense involved in manipulating the machinery of propaganda to form public opinion.

This has given rise to the new (in 1928) profession of professional propagandist, which has been euphemised as “public relations counsel”. This role is necessary because all governments, no matter what their type, depend on the acquiescence of the people. Bernays here gives us the maxim “Government is only government by virtue of public acquiescence.” Even commercial enterprises need public approval to succeed.

The propagandist is not simply an advertiser. Although he might use letters to the editor, radio, lectures, magazines and more, his work does not duplicate that of the advertiser. His first business is to make sure that his client’s product is something that the public can be brought to accept. The propagandist’s next job is to analyse the public, and how to approach the leaders of the various groups within it.

Bernays contends that, in the age of mass media, corporations found it necessary to give the appearance of conforming to the public’s sense of decency and honesty. As a result, and much like governments, corporations found propagandists necessary in order to get anything done.

The ideal of the propagandist’s profession is making the client understand what the public wants, and making the public understand the objectives of the client. Propagandising can therein be likened to a form of diplomacy. Bernays labours at length the point that the propagandist does not work to hoodwink the public, and lists the ethical considerations of the profession.

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VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda II

This reading carries on from here.

The second chapter of Propaganda is called ‘The New Propaganda’. Here, Bernays elucidates some of the differences between the original approach to propaganda that arose with the advent of mass media, and the “new” approach that was developed after the application of mass psychology techniques to making propaganda more effective.

The industrial revolution has made kings much less powerful than they once were, relative to the masses. It spread economic power, and, with that, political power. The old democrats used to believe that it was possible to educate everyone up to the level where they could participate in rulership – in reality, the average person falls well short of what is required.

Propaganda fills this gap, serving as the means by which the minority can still rule the majority. “Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible Government.” The education of the common man, instead of teaching him to think freely, only conditioned him to become receptive to propaganda. Now his mind is receptive to propaganda of all sorts.

Using examples from a daily newspaper, Bernays explains how propaganda works in the mainstream media. Anything stated as true by an authority, such as the State Department, is taken as such. Here Bernays gives us a definition of propaganda: “Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.”

In practice, very little is done nowadays without some kind of propaganda campaign alongside it. Propaganda regiments the public mind every bit as much as the Army regiments the bodies of its soldiers. A group so regimented can be every bit as effective as an army.

Today, the approval of the public is necessary for any large undertaking. Therefore, propaganda is necessary for any large undertaking. Formerly, rulers could set the course of history simply by doing things. Today, the masses have control, so propaganda is needed to wrest that control back. As a consequence, propaganda is here to stay.

It was World War I, and the astonishing success of propaganda in that war to manipulate public opinion, that made people aware of what could be done. This was the first time that not only a multimedia approach was made to encourage people to support the national endeavour, but also key men were brought on board in a massive range of industries.

The new propaganda doesn’t just target the individual, but takes into consideration the structure of society and the way that information spreads through it. This is now a feature of society, because new proposals for reform must be clearly articulated before they will be influential. No-one can get anything done anymore without propaganda.

Bernays concludes this chapter by noting that “In the active proselytizing minorities in whom selfish interests and public interests coincide lie the progress and development of America.” The world is controlled by the small number of men that control propaganda, who make the rest of us think as they will, and society only progresses when their will is in accord with the collective good.

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VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda I

Fittingly, the Propaganda Ministry turns its attention to the granddaddy of all propaganda literature, Propaganda by Edward Bernays. This short book was written by Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, by way of explaining his own prodigious insight into the manipulation of mass consciousness in the America of 1928.

He opens in the first chapter, “Organising Chaos”, with a stark declaration that the “organised habits and opinions” of the masses are formed according to the will of men who effectively form an unseen government. These men mold our minds and our tastes, mostly without us knowing who they even are.

Bernays contends that this is necessary, owing to the confusion ordinarily created by the democratic process, with its hundreds of different candidates. People would become confused if they were expected to understand the inner workings of all the issues that politicians are faced with. Therefore, the media narrows things down to a range that can be grasped.

Likewise, Bernays claims that society consents to have its choices relating to commercial products narrowed down by way of media propaganda. Because of reasons like these, there is a constant battle going on to capture the minds of individual people.

Bernays mentions that it may have been better to have had committees of wise men, who made decisions about the best way to do things. But we elected for the opposite of this. We have free competition of ideas, and in order for this to not lead to chaos we have to allow for leadership and propaganda to direct attention. This can be misused, but it is necessary nevertheless.

The advent of mass media has changed the way that the world is organised. At the time of the writing of the American Constitution, the village was the basic unit of society. Thanks to the mass media, it has become possible to be organised alongside people who live thousands of miles away.

Our society, instead of being divided by coherent geographical units, is now cleaved by all manner of social, political, ethnic, religious, racial or moral divisions. It is along the lines of these divisions that propaganda is spread. One influential group leader in any of these domains can soon have all the others in that domain following an idea.

Bernays labours the point that these cleavages are nonetheless comprised of individuals who exist in several groups, and therefore these groups are all interlaced. This is, in Bernays’s view, what society is. It is how democracy has chosen to simplify its decision making.

He summarises the book in the final paragraph of the first chapter. It is to explain how the minds of people are molded in modern democratic society, and how the manipulators of it go about their work.

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VJMP Reads: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto VII (fin)

This reading carries on from here.

The next chapter in Industrial Society and Its Future is ‘Two Kinds of Technology’. Here Kaczynski works to counter the argument that technological progress is so inevitable that revolutionary efforts are futile.

First, Kaczynski distinguishes between two different scales of technology. Small-scale technology is different to organised-scale technology. The former is technology that can be used by communities without outside help, such as simple crafting or metalsmithing. This kind of technology can survive a collapse of the industrial system, unlike (e.g.) refrigerator manufacturing.

Because organised-scale technology is dependent on other organised-scale technology, any collapse of the industrial system would take centuries to rebuild, if it ever happened. In any case, there’s no guarantee that a medieval society would even develop an industrial system again. It didn’t happen in India, China or the Middle East. It is therefore still worth opposing organised-scale technology, even if opposing small-scale technology is meaningless.

The final section in this manifesto is titled ‘The Danger of Leftism’. Kaczynski exhorts anti-technology revolutionaries to take a resolutely anti-left stance from the beginning, otherwise they will get co-opted. Leftism is incompatible with freedom, because it is collectivist and seeks to bind the entire world into a single whole. Because collectivism is only possible with technology, leftists will never really support it.

Some leftists claim to oppose technology, but they only do so as long as that technology and the system is in the hands of non-leftists. Much like censorship and academic freedom, whether or not leftists support it depends on whether or not they are in charge. They cannot be trusted because they will double-cross anyone they work with.

For many people, leftism fills the same psychological niche filled by religion. The leftist needs to believe in it. Kaczynski notes here that leftists are driven by a compulsion to impose their beliefs onto everyone. “Everything contrary to leftist beliefs represents Sin.”

Leftists seek power through identification with a social movement; helping that movement attain its goals helps satisfy that leftist’s power process. However, the desires of the leftist are infinite. They are not satisfied with anything; they demand total control. “…as long as anyone harbors in some corner of his mind a negative attitude toward some minority, the leftist has to re-educated him. And ethnic minorities are not enough; no one can be allowed to have a negative attitude toward homosexuals, disabled people, fat people, old people, ugly people, and on and on and on…”

The leftists will never stop until they have complete control. Even if you gave them everything they wanted, they would soon want more. Ultimately the leftist is not motivated by good, but by the desire to fulfill their will to power by imposing it on society. Most leftists are driven heavily by the desire to impose their own morality on everyone else. Individual tendencies towards liberty don’t change this general trend.

Identifying the leftist is not difficult. They inevitably identify with the victim, and with the collective. They tend to be against individualism, competition and violence, although they readily find excuses for violent leftists. “Maybe the best diagnostic trait of the leftist is his tendency to sympathize with the following movements: feminism, gay rights, ethnic rights, disability rights, animal rights, political correctness.” (a previous article here would describe them as horizontalists.

The manifesto ends with a number of footnotes; there is no conclusion or summary. The reader is left with the feeling that Kaczynski was an extremely intelligent man who saw very deeply into the nature of reality, but who was not necessarily able to pull everything he knew into a coherent worldview, perhaps on account of some psychological disturbance.

This may have been a result of Kaczynski’s apparent lack of spiritual belief. Many of the problems he attributes to the techno-industrial system could just as well be argued to be problems with materialism. Yet, the absence of spiritual knowledge and the consequences of this are not addressed by Kaczynski. It could be said that Kaczynski, despite his immense insight, was fighting his own shadow to a large extent, in the form of materialism.

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A Brief History of Modern Racism

I remember the first time I got called a racist. I was 17 years old, and was in my first year of university, involved in a philosophical discussion. Someone had claimed that the word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace’, and I had countered that it really means ‘submission’, only to be told that this was a misconception that I had to be racist to believe. In the 20 years since then, as this essay will examine, our conception of what racism is has only become more ridiculous.

Racism originally started out as a reaction to the racial supremacist sentiments that were blamed, in English-speaking popular culture, for World War II. As the story goes, the evil dictator Adolf Hitler stirred up such latent sentiments among German speakers, which lead to an attempt to invade Eastern Europe for the purposes of securing lebensraum for the overflow of Germans. This led to the deaths of some thirty million people, and all because of racism.

Quite reasonably, there developed a movement within postwar popular culture to reject racist sentiments, so that the causes of World War II would not cause another great conflagration. The problem, as with so much of popular culture, is that things went too far. Far, far too far.

Once upon a time, in order to be called a racist you had to display racial prejudice that harmed someone. A racist would be someone who called a black man a “nigger” in public, or someone who refused to hire the best-qualified applicant on the grounds that he was Asian. An example of something that was racist would be going around your neighbourhood beating up Aborigines. Choosing to hold an unfashionable political opinion was not racist, as this was just a thought, and thoughts weren’t crimes once.

Now, if a person doesn’t actively hate the white race and wish for its destruction, that person is considered some kind of white supremacist. The ‘It’s Okay To Be White’ campaign revealed that, in the minds of many people, a refusal to feel guilt on account of being white is tantamount to support for white supremacy. You can now be racist merely for a refusal to be ashamed for being white.

In modern times, our conception of racism has evolved, and well beyond any directive to treat different races on equal terms. The white man is perfectly evil – if you think that there’s a semblance of good in him, you’re a racist. All men of other races are perfectly innocent – if you think there’s a semblance of malice in them that did not arise as a result of their oppression at the hands of white people, you’re a racist. This is the new dogma – question it at your peril.

All economic and social advantages that the white man possesses can be attributed to his ruthless oppression of coloured people and the theft of their natural birthright, but curiously this does not apply to Jews. Despite being much wealthier than the average white person (at least in America), Jews did not achieve their position by any immoral means, but only by diligent and intelligent application of effort.

It is never explained why the white man can not have become rich by the same application of effort as the Jew, it’s just assumed that the white man became rich through crime, while the Jew – who is far wealthier – did so through honest hard work.

Similarly, an attempt has been made to redefine racism as “prejudice + power”, implying that black people cannot be racist against white people on account of that black people do not possess institutional power with which to oppress white people. But, as above, white people do not possess institutional power with which to oppress Jews, yet white people are accused of anti-Jewish racism all the time.

Believing in science is now racist if science suggests facts that are in any way unflattering to a coloured person. It’s not even okay to suggest that different groups of people evolved to meet the survival challenges of different environments, unless of course all non-white people evolved to be superior to whites (there is no way in which white people could have evolved to be superior over anyone else). The idea that the different challenges of different environments led to different intelligences is right out.

It can be seen from the examples above that much of what passes for modern racism is really an anti-white sentiment, either self-hatred projected outwards (as in the case of the social justice warrior) or simple hatred born of envy and fear (as in the case of most coloured people). This explains why accusations of racism are often made in situations where they make no logical sense, the most common example today being getting called racist for expressing a dislike of Islam.

The truth, of course, is that most of this racism hysteria is part of what is known as “call-out culture” – in other words, it’s mostly a way for bourgeois white people to one-up each other, gaining social capital at the expense of their fellows. The modern concept of racism has, therefore, lost all contact with its roots as a way of reducing suffering from racial prejudice. It’s now just a fashion, displayed as shamelessly as any other.

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VJMP Reads: Ted Kaczynski’s Unabomber Manifesto V

This reading carries on from here.

The next chapter in Industrial Society and Its Future is ‘Control of Human Behaviour’. Having established that invasive control of human behaviour was inevitable given a high enough level of technology within a society, Kaczynski now turns to the question of how that behaviour is controlled.

Pressures to control human behaviour have arisen from the beginning of civilisation. When civilisations try to control people so tightly that those people go beyond the limits of their endurance and collapse, then that society will also collapse. Human nature therefore limited the development of human society, but technology threatens to change this by making it possible to change humans.

The passage “Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them drugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction?” reads as extremely prescient for 1995. Kaczynski was writing at the start of the Prozac wave, but the trend has worsened severely, with as many as a quarter of some populations on a psychiatric drug at any one point in time. It can be said, therefore, that he predicted the current state of widespread dismay and despair.

Psychiatric drugs are not so much medicines as they are ways of postponing the collapse of society. “In effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable.” With a strong sense of irony, Kaczynski notes that the system is often doing the individual a favour when it brainwashes him into submission, because the alternative is destruction. Likewise, the definition of “child abuse” changes depending on which childrearing techniques produce results the system wants, and which do not.

The social disruption we see today is the result of what the system has done to people. This can lead to a totalitarianism that arrives after a number of steps, each one an apparently necessary reaction to a social problem, often with a humanitarian justification. We will probably have to contend with widespread genetic engineering for this reason. The system tends to regard as a “sickness” any mode of behaviour that is inconvenient for it, and therefore that manipulating people to fit in is a “cure”.

In ‘Human Race At A Crossroads’, Kaczynski points out that the system is not in control over everyone. Although it has total control over those who could be termed ‘bourgeois’, there are still many different kinds of disaffected rebel groups. The main concern of the system is to make these people docile so that they can no longer threaten. With this achieved, technology can then expand to take over everything on Earth. Human resistance will be impotent.

A total collapse of the technological system would give humanity the chance to start again. Kaczynski concludes that those who hate the industrial-technological system have two major duties: the first to increase the stresses within the technological system so as to hasten its collapse, the second to develop an alternative ideology that can serve to order a new world when it does.

The last chapter in this section is ‘Human Suffering’. Kaczynski was able to note, even in 1995, that the world’s population has become overblown on account of the technological system, and a collapse of the system would shortly be followed by a collapse in that population. This might entail much suffering in the short term, but this is less than the suffering that would arise if the system was allowed to grow even bigger. In any case, some consider dignity and freedom more important than merely avoiding suffering.

It is far from clear that the collapse of the industrial system would lead to less suffering anyway. Technology has meant that natural controls on population have been removed, which has resulted in a population explosion and all the suffering ensuing from that. Our relationship to Nature has been destroyed, and this is before we account for the effects of future problems like climate change.

Technophiles are unwilling to admit that when a technology comes and makes great changes to a society, this results in many other changes further down the line. For instance, agricultural advances that solve the problem of poverty merely lead to overpopulation, which leads to new problems of stress and aggression. This is an easily predictable problem, and there are many, many others that are not as predictable.

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