The Unabomber Manifesto, Part 6: Crossroads

Industrial Society and its Future, Cont’d

The following continues a condensed summary of the Unabomber Manifesto: Industrial Society and its Future.  The ideas, below, are Kaczynski’s.  The headings and numbers are his.   This is no endorsement of violence or anarchy. The document is presented in parts.  Previous parts include:

Revolution is Easier Than Reform
  1. The only way forward is to reinvent the system, says Kaczynski, because reform can’t protect freedom. This means revolution – radical and fundamental change.
  2. Revolution may be easier than reform because revolution offers greater goals and inspires greater commitment.  Reform offers lesser goals and inspires less commitment.  Psychology favors revolution over reform because revolution offers rewards, while reform avoids punishment (negative outcomes).
  3. Revolution is unrestrained by the fear that cripples reform. Revolution’s fever makes hardships endurable.  The French and Russian Revolutions show how committed minorities can dominate society.
Control of Human Behavior
  1. When society pushes us too far, we reinvent society.  Societies have always pressured us to serve.  It pressures us physically and mentally.  We have limits.  When pushed too far, we break down and society breaks down.  Then, we reinvent society.
  2. In the past, human limits were society’s limits. Now, industrial society may be ready to reinvent us.
  3. Society is already remaking our minds.  It medicates us to alleviate the suffering it inflicts on us.  Clinical depression is soaring.  It gives us drugs, so we can tolerate the intolerable.
  4. Drugs are just one example of how society controls our behavior.  There is more.
  5. Society uses technology and the surveillance state to better control us, gathering vast amounts of information about us.  Mass media propagandizes us: shaping our opinions, manipulating elections, selling us things.  Mass entertainment occupies us, distracts us, so we can escape reality.
  6. Industrial society strikes deeper, still.  Education moves from teaching to indoctrination.  “Parenting” becomes training our children to be worker bees. “Mental health” becomes enforcing conformity.
  7. Psychological control is effective but may not be enough.  Industrial society may resort to biological means.  Maybe, we’ll move from drugs to modifying the human mind.  Genetic engineering may turn to neural engineering more suitable brains.
  8. The system is under stress and must defend itself from human threats.  It must control human behavior against human threats: extremism, terrorism, ideological conflict, ethnic conflict, crime, psychological problems, social disruption, corruption, and more.  It must use any practical means to control us.
  9. Our society may survive by surpassing human limits.  This is a watershed moment in our history.  In the past, we reinvented society when pushed past our limits.  Future society may reinvent us.
  10. Society’s control over human behavior won’t appear in totalitarian garb, with totalitarian intent.  It appears in humanitarian garb, with beneficial intent.  Each step appears a rational response to a social ill.  Each justification appears beneficial, rarely counting the costs.
  11. This is not calculated authoritarianism, but rapid social evolution.  It is irresistible.  Each advance appears beneficial or the lesser of evils.  Propaganda is turned to “good” ends.
  12. Genetic engineering of mankind will not be due to our faults, but due to technological society’s demands.  We are not faulty if unnatural demands exceed our natural limits.  We are not faulty if an unnatural system makes us suffer.  We did not evolve from the natural world for this.
  13. Our society twists the meaning of “sickness”.  It defines “sickness” as thoughts or behavior that poorly serve its ends.  Those who fit poorly are surely suffering and problematic.  So, it is good that we “cure” their “sickness”.
  14. The technology of human behavior changes society.  What is optional, today, is necessary, tomorrow.  We need ever more education and tutoring to compete; ever more drugs to manage stress; ever more entertainment to escape.  This fuels a vicious cycle that demands ever more of us.
  15. The technology of human behavior may acquire near total control.  Our thoughts and behavior have biological bases.  Science can turn feelings on and off, manipulate memory, induce hallucinations, and alter moods.  These are the tools of control.
  16. Controlling human behavior is largely a technical problem.  Science excels at solving technical problems.  Advances in controlling human behavior are highly probable.
  17. Public resistance won’t prevent these advances.  There will be no effective public resistance because technology will creep up on us, advancing a bit at a time.
  18. This is not science fiction.  Yesterday’s science fiction is today’s fact.  This scientific research is ongoing.
Human Race at a Crossroads
  1. Advances in human behavior technology will work unpredictably in the real world.  Human society is not a laboratory.  Educational psychology that works well in the laboratory usually has poor outcomes in the classroom.  Planned society rarely works, as planned.
  2. The system’s fate should play out in the coming decades.  The system desperately struggles to survive against threats that include human behavior.  It may survive if it gains control over us, in time.  Otherwise, it will break down.
  3. If the system survives, it will likely advance to its logical conclusion, total control over the Earth.  It will neutralize the human threat.  It will meet human needs to the extent that it needs humans.  We will be rendered docile, servile, and powerless.
  4. If the system survives, science will continue to advance human behavior technology to satisfy scientists’ psychological needs.  This is not for the “good of humanity”.  It is because solving technical problems is a surrogate activity that meets scientists’ psychological needs.
  5. If the system breaks down, humanity gets a second chance, says Kaczynski.  We can’t predict the outcome.  There will be chaos and trouble.  The greatest danger, he says, is that industrial society rebuilds itself and relights the factory fires.
  6. We have two tasks, says Kaczynski: 1) to heighten social stress and further weaken a stressed system, and 2) to propagate an ideology opposed to technological society.  This, he argues, will help bring down the system and help ensure that is smashed beyond repair after it fails.
Human Suffering
  1. Revolutionaries only hasten the breakdown, Kaczynski contends, which means less suffering.  We can only bring down a doomed system, he argues, delaying the breakdown only makes it more disastrous.  By hastening the breakdown, he says, we reduce the extent of the disaster.
  2. Our choice is not between life and death, Kaczynski argues, because death is not a choice.  The real choice, he says, is how we live: fighting for survival or suffering long but empty and purposeless lives.
  3. The system doesn’t ensure less suffering.  It inflicts suffering, worldwide: destroying cultures, degrading the environment, fueling population explosion, exploiting the developing world, triggering wars and crises.  It threatens our health and environment.  In malevolent hands, technology might destroy all life.
  4. Industrial society will never be scientific utopia.  The promises of scientific utopia repeatedly fail.  Society breaks down and we suffer more. The Brave New World never materializes because technical progress cannot predict its societal impacts.  We are trapped, with no easy escape.
The Future
  1. If industrial society does survive the next several decades, what might it look like?
  2. Science may use artificial intelligence and robotics to replace most human labor.  In that case, who is in control?  Humans or machines?
  3. If machines are in control, we are at their mercy.  Machines might seize control.  We might give them control because only machines can manage our complex system.  At that point, turning the machines off is suicide.
  4. If elite humans are in control, we face extermination or domestication.  People will be a growing burden, as machines replace us.  A ruthless elite might simply exterminate us.  This might be done humanely, using population control.  A benevolent elite might reduce us to domestic animals.  This elite might shepherd their docile flock, tending to our pointless lives.
  5. Technology will continue to replace human labor.  More people will be without work.  The workforce will face increasing demands: training, conformity, and specialization.  Fewer opportunities means more ruthless competition for status, the game more zero sum .
  6. It is hard to foresee a possible future that offers us opportunities for fulfilling lives.  If so, we either face social breakdown or less freedom.
  7. These are just likely futures.  It is hard to foresee better futures.  Technological society will likely continue long-term trends, more: dependency on technology, socialization, demands, stress, and human behavior technology.  Technology and genetic engineering know no bounds.  Humanity and other life may become unrecognizable.
  8. Humans evolved for the natural world, not technological society.  We are unlikely to adapt to this environment through natural selection.  Technology seems the likely route.
  9. It would be better to dump the whole stinking system, says Kaczynski,  and take the consequences.

Next: Part 7, Revolution and Leftism