Gavin Nuisance has once again locked down California so I decided to make the best of it by picking up a few books. Of notable mentions are Ayn Rands “Atlas Shrugged” , “Fountainhead” and Theodore “The Unabomber” Kaczynskis “Industrial Society and Its Future.” I quickly leafed through all 3 books and decided to tackle the shortest of the reads. Admittedly, my brain has slowly melted over time and my attention span for reading has drastically decreased. Most books I pick up do not seem to hold my attention, or the author over complicates their points.
My first big praise of this book is how easily understandable and accessible the ideas are. There are no big words or overly complex narratives. Mr. Kaczynski lays out his argument in laymans terms. His argument? The advancement of technology and industry must be destroyed if individuals are to retain their freedom and autonomy. Early on in the book he explains what he calls the “power process.” The power process is the means by which an individual gains power, self esteem, and self confidence. Modern industrial society he states, robs man of the power process by redirecting his energy to those activities which are of no benefit to himself, but rather to the system he belongs to. He proposes that man must have “real goals” and that the struggle to obtain such goals is how a man gains power. “Real goals” he defines by what you would pursue after your physical needs have been met. “Power” in this case, seems to be a feeling that one has freedom and control over his destiny. When man is close to nature, he derives his power from fulfilling his needs for survival. If these needs are provided to him, or access to these needs are made easily available due to technology, man finds himself engaging in “surrogate activities.” These are fluff activities which stimulate mans desire and craving to work towards a goal but once again, they are not “real goals” but simply surrogates – a goal given to you with the sole purpose of perpetuating the system you belong to. As soon as man begins to introduce technology into society, he finds himself locked into the system as a simple cog, creating depression and other negative mental conditions as a result of building the power of the system, rather than for yourself.
He discusses mans need for autonomy and how certain individuals may require more autonomy than others. Those who value no autonomy, tend to be docile sheep who go along with the herd. They can be used by pretty much anyone with a little influence. Industrial society also leaves little room for true autonomy or expression, leaving the individual feeling frustrated and trapped.
The book expands on the dangers of the slow speed at which technology is introduced. By themselves, introducing technology seems to make sense. After all he states, who could object to the telephone? But these small pieces of technology add up to the point where humans become simple cogs to keep industrial society running. There must be people to maintain the computer systems, the telephone networks, and millions of other pieces which allow the system to function. Once again, within the system you are allowed very little room for autonomy and making your own decisions as an individual, which obstructs your path to obtaining personal power and real goals. The path is layed ahead of you, and you better follow the path boy!
One interesting piece of the book was the argument that one can simply turn away from technology and not use it. For example, during the invention of the automobile a man could easily refuse to use such technology, couldn’t he? Over time however it became a necessity to use such technologies. To get to the factory and work required transportation. Looking at the modern smart phone or credit card system, can you really refuse to use these pieces of technology? Because the system has grown to complex levels it is nearly impossible to survive in modern industrial society without such technologies. The jobs you apply for are all done online, and you need a computer to do so. You can see how the advancement of technology actually doesn’t give you a choice to use it or not. It’s use it or become ostracized from the entire system where your access to resources become drastically restricted. If you’re required to use technology then you don’t exactly have true autonomy or choice in your life, do you? These are tools given to control the masses, not to grant them freedom and autonomy, although on the surface it appears you have lots of freedom…but not true freedom in the sense that you cannot reject such tools and still have access to the basic needs of your life.
The book also dives deep into the psychology of the far left, and how such ideology places the collective group above the individual. Many individuals find power through identifying with movements. We see this with foaming at the mouth liberals shouting about Black Lives Matter, Gay/Trans rights, and a host of other ideological movements contributing to the cultural rot of society. Kaczynski states the left will never be satisfied in their pursuits for “justice”, and if all their social goals became realized they would simply make up other things to get outraged over, and further their attempts to limit what society can and cannot say (political correctness.) They are therefore, an enemy to freedom. His most poignant point regarding the left was their tactics in equalizing the playing field for minorities and other groups which have been “Opressed”. Affirmative action is a common tactic in modern society to ensure that discriminated groups receive the same opportunities, despite such groups not possessing qualifications for those positions (in some/many cases but not all.) At the end of the day, the left is kind of a recruiting agency for the system, the system that Mr. Kaczynski rejects. Therefore the left is seen as an enemy to the abolishment of the industrial system and technology, as the use of technology is heavily ingrained in the left and instrumental to their tactics.
His solution is not reform, but total revolution. Simple reforms take too much time and when you get something reformed, new technology has already progressed in other areas, be it science or other advanced fields of technological study. A total breakdown and rebuilding of society closer to nature is ideal. Local societies can operate autonomously without outside independence. Introducing more advanced forms of technology has a tendency to make local communities dependent on outside resources. For instance, you may need to import copper or other raw materials to make certain technologies, increasing your dependence and limiting autonomy.
I do find it interesting that he recommends using technology as a means to gather troops for a common cause, and using media to spread the message. He advocates not blaming the majority of people, but rather convince them that they’ve been used, duped, and manipulated by industrial society. Not only do movements need something to be FOR, but also something to be AGAINST. He recommends starting off with a small group of true believers, people who truly desire the destruction of technology. Once the group begins to burn like a hot ember, the more docile sheeple can be easily persuaded with simple language and victim talk. He does stress the importance of strong intellectual dialogue, to win over those types of people who are thinkers, and not just followers. It’s a fine balance between delivering advanced and rational information to the intelligent, while appealing to the simple desires and emotions of the common man.
It won’t be easy he says, but necessary if man is to pursue freedom and autonomy in the highest sense.
I found it ironic the many pieces of technology which were required to get this book to me. I ordered it on Amazon with my credit card, the book was printed in San Bernandino, and shipped to me using the advanced logistics of the United States Postal Service. Wow!
While I agree with lot’s of what Ted says in this book, I do wonder if there is some middle ground. Perhaps the pursuit of “real goals” can be achieved, even within a system which seeks total control.
I would recommend the book. It really sheds light on where we are as a society, and the dangers of industrial society should we allow such a system to continue.