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125 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2010
Technological Slavery starts off with "Industrial Society and It's Future", the notorious 35,000-word essay that was published in the New York Times and The Washington Post on September 19, 1995 in accordance with a demand letter from "FC" which promised to cease its 17 year anti-technology bombing campaign in exchange for verbatim publication of the Manifesto in a major newspaper. The Manifesto begins, "The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race" and goes on to call for revolution against the industrial-technological system. Although he eluded the FBI for 17 years, Ted Kaczynski was arrested in April 3, 1996 after his brother read the Manifesto and tipped off the UNABOM task force. Kaczynski is now serving a life sentence in the Federal Supermax in Florence, Colorado.

It's good to reread the Unabomber Manifesto fifteen years later --during the BP catastrophe, it's downright therapeutic-- and to reflect on how many of Kaczynski's predictions about the evolving technological system are coming true (I'm thinking especially of the intensity of genetic engineering efforts and the increasing power of the psychiatric drugging/mood management industry). During these 15 years global warming caused by the Industrial Revolution has developed from a tentative theory into a widely-acknowledged reality threatening human survival. Kaczynski argues that "technological progress is carrying us to inevitable disaster", but unlike environmentalists, the disaster he most fears is the destruction of human dignity and freedom, as rapidly developing physical, psychological, chemical, genetic and artificial intelligence techniques are applied to humans to engineer us to satisfy the ever-more stringent specialization and control requirements of a complex social system. He argues that the inevitable use of emerging technological powers to expand social control will be undertaken in incremental steps, each seen as beneficial. One can't read his arguments and hypothetical scenarios without a flood of current examples of the encroachment process he describes springing to mind. Although lip service is always given to the need for ethical discussion, can you think of one technological power humans have acquired and chosen not to use?

The BP spill, an old-fashioned mechanical kind of disaster, has reminded me that one Unabomber target was an executive at Burson-Marsteller, the public relations firm hired by Exxon to clean up its image after the Valdez oil spill. In a twenty-year legal process, Exxon succeeded in shrinking its penalty from billions to a mere $500 million.(1). I wonder if anyone from BP will ever serve time, or even be seen as criminal. I don't advocate killing, but I would like to see violence acknowledged across the board, not just revolutionary violence: by my count, right now the score is BP 11, Unabomber 3, counting human lives only.(2) But it seems that if profit or national interest is being pursued and the actors are large organizations rather than individuals, predictably unpredictable `collateral' effects (such as civilian victims of remote-controlled drone bombings) are deemed purely accidental. Our political notions of personal accountability, liability and criminality cannot encompass the forms and scale of industrial violence and destruction.

"Our lives depend on decisions made by other people; we have no control over these decisions and usually we do not even know the people who make them...Our lives are depend upon whether safety standards at a nuclear power plant are properly maintained; on how much pesticide is allowed to get into our food or how much pollution is in the air; on how skillful (or incompetent) our doctor is; whether we lose or get a job may depend on decisions made by government economists or corporation executives; and so forth."
--Industrial Society and It's Future, par. 67

It's interesting to eavesdrop on Kaczynski's elaborations of Manifesto arguments in his correspondence with academics, anarchists and others identified only by their initials. He asserts that "social justice" issues serve the system as a red herring that diverts attention and energy away from an issue that is of incomparably greater importance, namely, the question of where technology is taking us. The book also includes a variety of material which gives a sense of his personality in the round; a detailed interview about the tranquility of his daily life in the Montana mountains where he lived for twenty-five years in a small cabin on the edge of the wilderness, making long excursions of up to 6 weeks into the wild country; observations about the nature of boredom--he never experienced it there; reflections on how living close to nature creates the luxury of a sense of alertness with fully opened senses while in the city "your environment is crowded with irrelevant sights and sounds, and you get conditioned to block most of them out of your consciousness."

"...one of the FBI agents who arrested me said, "I really envy your way of life up here.""
--"An Interview With Ted"
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch, Lincoln, Montana

The book contains his journal entry on the decisive day when he visited one of his most loved wild places a two-day hike from his cabin, "the beautiful and isolated plateau where the various branches of Trout Creek originate," to discover that it had destroyed by development. There and then he decided that war against the technological system would thenceforward be the main purpose of his life.

Kaczynski provides the first full behind-the-scenes account of how the justice system disposed of his case, first admitting evidence collected in an unconstitutional search, then coercing a guilty plea by restricting his only other option to an insanity defense prepared by his court-appointed lawyers. Kaczynski was denied his constitutional right to represent himself. He desired to stand trial, then appeal for a new trial based upon the search warrant lacking probable cause. He knew he then would probably be convicted and executed, but he preferred the slim possibility of freedom to life imprisonment (an echo of the values expressed throughout the Manifesto). As it stands, he is imprisoned for life after being denied a trial--his appeal based on the coercion of his guilty plea was denied in legal process a dissenting judge found Orwellian, as he rhetorically asked, "Is this 1984 or what?" In a final twist, the courts are currently poised to rule on a proposal by the US Attorney for the Eastern District to round up and confiscate the original and every copy of all Kaczynski has ever written, including confiscating the papers he has donated to library archives such as the Labadie Collection of the University of Michigan (archives of anarchist, communist and other non-mainstream political papers).

So Kaczynski has lived to continue writing, and Technological Slavery is basic reading for anyone concerned about the consequences of technology, because no one is as realistic as Kaczynski about the crucial problem - the impossibility of human (political) regulation, guidance or control of technological development--while remaining hopeful that there is still a window of opportunity during which we are still "unadapted" enough to change course. And he's the only civilization critic I know of who's not an armchair primitive.

Kaczynski knows a lot about primitive ways of life, and not just from experience -- his studies on this subject date back to his days at Harvard. A long, heavily-footnoted essay summarizes anthropological research indicating that primitives were not necessarily politically correct (in defiance of utopian, childlike innocence we would wishfully project upon them). He criticizes the selective scholarship of John Zerzan and fellow anarcho-primitivists as bourgeois, pastoral romanticism, a kind of false advertising for revolution. He instead advocates truthfulness about what sacrifices of technology-based benefits and protections entail-- but he thinks the sacrifices are worth a recovery of dignity and "the kind of freedom that counts." He analyzes how the modern concept of freedom is mainly symbolic, restricted to cultural consumption and lifestyle choices which don't interfere with, or even enhance, the smooth functioning of the system. He argues that contemporary leftism promotes reforms that actually strengthen the system and immunize it against fundamental challenges, but he reserves his ridicule for right-wingers who bemoan the loss of traditional values while endorsing a high-tech society that inevitably restructures social life.

My favorite Manifesto quote at this moment:

"One of the most dangerous features of the techno-industrial system is precisely its power to make people comfortable (or at least reduce their discomfort to a relatively acceptable level) in circumstances under which they should NOT be comfortable, e.g., circumstances that are offensive to human dignity, or destructive of the life that evolved on Earth over hundreds of millions of years, or that may lead to disaster at some future time."
--Letter to David Skrbina March 17, 2005
(Antidepressants anyone?)

Kaczynski doesn't claim to be right about all his points, many of which he considers preliminary or tentative. He actively solicits revisions and modifications to the by-any-means-necessary argument that he is advancing, as well as his proposed principles concerning the dynamics of social change--revolutionary and otherwise. Technological Slavery is a discussion-generator. Perhaps Kaczynksi is unique as a non-utopian revolutionary who thinks in terms of the behavior of complex systems, not ideology. He argues that while a social future cannot be designed, the continued development of the technological system generates only catastrophic possibilities.

It seems most of all that he would like to cut through the ideology of liberal democrats, leftists and anarcho-primitivists, for a realistic assessment of where humanity is going, and what the options are. And failure is definitely an option. Technological Slavery permanently sets to rest any notion that TK is insane (while perhaps raising questions about the sanity of others). I appreciate the courage of Feral House in publishing this book, especially when it's possible that Kaczynski's ability to communicate from the Florence, Colorado Supermax may be cut off in the future by proposed Federal Bureau of Prisons regulations that would silence prisoners designated domestic terrorists. (Kaczynski should be flattered that the justice system finds his prose so powerful. Incidentally, nowhere in this book does he advocate violence.)

I have long been concerned with the dangers invoked by Kaczynski, so I hope there will be journalists with the guts and independence to review this book -- it provides a perfect framework for analyzing the uncontained Gulf disaster and subsequent reform efforts, attempts to regulate the financial/market system, political paralysis on global warming and nuclear proliferation, panics about obesity and mental illness epidemics, and it is highly relevant to a recent sudden burst of `who knew?!?' media features on the psychic effects and addictive nature of networked digital accessories. Technological Slavery also makes it clear that traditional political delineations are obsolete. It provides a lens through which the daily news with all its separate issues coheres into one big story -- about technology.

This book faces an uphill battle for visibility against political taboos of our times. But no one need worry about rewarding militant acts with authorial exposure -- The New York Times and The Washington Post published the manifesto unedited before Ted was even arrested! (...way back when, before newspapers were ravaged by internet.) Also, I understand that all profits will be going to non-profits working for environmental recovery in the Gulf and elsewhere.

* * *

(1) It had been stated in the Earth First! Journal that Burson-Marsteller handled Exxon's Valdez oil spill PR. Exxon was definitely a client of B-M, but the New York Times denied that B-M had any connection with the Valdez incident. But given B-M's previous work for Union Carbide in what's known in PR as "crisis management" for the Bhopal incident, it's hard to believe that B-M didn't strategize Exxon's oil spill PR. In the worst industrial accident in history, Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal leaked toxic gases that immediately killed thousands and permanently disabled thousands more, leaving a permanent toxic waste dump at the city's center. The accident was caused by extreme corporate negligence, and although India sought 3.3 billion in compensation, Union Carbide was able to minimize its penalty at 350 million (plus interest), which was entirely covered by its insurance. Arrested in India in the days following the catastrophe, Union Carbide's American CEO spared himself any convenience by promptly skipping bail and returning to the US.

BP's current "This s--- never should have happened" public relations strategy includes the hiring Anne Kolton to direct its damage control efforts. She was formerly Dick Cheney's press secretary, and was director of public affairs at the US Department of Energy during the W. Bush administraton.

(2) At least 2 clean-up workers have died since this writing.

It will be interesting to see whether BP's experiment of dumping hundreds of millions of barrels of toxic chemical dispersants into the depths of gulf has unforeseen consequences of its own.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2010
Mahatma Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye and soon the world is blind." I began reading Technological Slavery thinking that Kaczynski was blinded by rage. In fact, the first several pages (not the intro) only reinforced that opinion. But Kaczynski develops thought systematically, like a brick layer developing a building. One concept brick at a time added to a solid foundation of explained statements. He refers to one's loss of power and loss of control. Esther Sternberg, an immunologist and author, refers to "stress" in society resulting from the media, technology, the Internet, a constant connection with cell phones. And she refers back to George M. Beard who, in the 1880, said a principal cause of nervousness in modern civilization was from the telegraph, steam railroads, the press, and the sciences.

These references are not in Kaczynski's book, and they serve to demonstrate that his concerns with technology are not original. What is original is his understanding of the depth of the problem on our psyche. Also original is his seeming hopelessness about our ability to solve it. In that sense, the book is depressing. I do not want to and will not and hope I will never be able to condone such acts of violence. I didn't understand the bombing of military draft centers in the cause of peace. I do not understand the shooting of abortion doctors in the name of human life's sanctity. I just don't "get it."

But, after reading Kaczynski's book, you will, hopefully, "get" his concerns with technology. Hopefully, you will be less slavish to it. Hopefully, you will begin thinking more and reacting less. Hopefully, you will find better things to do with your money than to eagerly throw it toward the latest upgrade of some device you didn't much need the last upgrade for anyway. And hopefully, in the social environment we all share that is degraded much by technology, you will manage anyhow to remain social, somewhat in control and strongly anti-terrorist.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2011
This book looks oddly like a bomb when sitting on my coffee table! Once I got over that surprise, I was pleasantly surprised by the writings contained inside.
When reading the writings of Ted Kaczynski, it becomes obvious the man was intelligent and has a lot to say about our world's society. Mr Kaczynski writes about subjects such as ........

**Technology bringing us down the road of disaster. (pollution,slave-labor,etc)
**Primitive tribes & modern ones are compared to illustrate many of his beliefs.
**He gives many methods for opposing the "techno-industrial" world system.

The book is not entertaining to read.... but it is THOUGHT-PROVOKING. Most people are not interested in thinking, they only want to be entertained, as Mr. Kaczynski says on page 226, "Most people have no attitude about technology because they never bother to think about technology."

The thoughts of the author on subjects such as LEFTISM, FREEDOM, and CONTROL of human behavior in the 1st 100 pages are worth the price of the book. It is a total of more than 400 pages -- all equally interesting. The book might have been more readable if it had some pictures, drawings, and more chapter titles to break-up the text a little. Ted Kazynsky is not trying to entertain us in this book. He is trying to get the un-thinking public to see his viewpoints.

The introduction explains that prisoners have no right to profit from prison by writing or painting etc.... and maybe rightfully so... But they should have the right to express their opinions. They state that NO MONEY from this book goes to Ted Kaczynski. After reading his book, I am very glad he had the opportunity to express his opinions. More people should pay attention to what he has to say.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2013
Do not judge the book by the worst deeds ascribed to the author: Churchill's 'The Gathering Storm' is not a less worthwhile book because he fire-bombed Dresden. Kaczynski is a highly perceptive observer of the human relationship with technology and where it's likely to take us this century. I learnt little I did not already know, but for all who are at all aware that something is deeply wrong with the our relationship with the Machine, in every sense of that term, I strongly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2013
Its a shame in itself that Kaczynksi isn't getting any monetary compensation for his ideas. It seems the greatest thinkers of our time are oppressed by our government. Whether you believe his point of view, is beyond what matters. What matters is that he's thought about the problems of the human condition and how to solve it; more than most do in their lifetime. Whether or not we are satisfied with our own life and civilization is an inevitable question we all have to answer. I really apprectiate that he cited the crap out of his ideas as if he had already anticipated resilient minds.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
While working on a project, I stumbled across the Unabomber Manifesto, which I had never read a word of. I knew very little about Ted Kaczynski and I am not surprised why. If you put aside the man's actions and just judge the book based on its clarity, accuracy and logic, it's a pretty mind-opening piece of writing. This book includes the manifesto along with additional writing he's done while in prison, which is outstanding as it's all completely sourced. This is a very intelligent man with impeccable logic giving you his honest beliefs about the problems modern technology poses without us being aware.

You may disagree with some of his premises. But in more instances than not, he simply calls the ace of spades black. The problem with his writing is that it's content no one wants to hear. Well, at least those in power. This writing isn't political in nature, although he writes pretty heavily against 'leftism.' This book is worth a read, if nothing else because it might spur some thinking on the reader's behalf.

For what's it worth, I find the ad-hoc bomb on the cover completely distasteful and I wish the publishers would remove it. This isn't a book to read for shock value.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
_Technological Slavery: The collected writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a. k. a. "The Unabomber"_ (2010, Feral House Press) consists of the collected writings of Ted Kaczynski (the convicted Unabomber) regarding the nature of technological and industrial society and his efforts to combat it through revolutionary terrorism. This book includes the manifesto released by Kaczynski (as "FC") as well as various writings and letters of Kaczynski concerning technological progress and the role of "wild nature". The book is introduced and edited by the philosopher David Skrbina who comments on the theories of Kaczynki concerning the decline of technological and industrial society. Kaczynski was a mathematics professor who left his career to pursue a solitary existence in Montana. Kaczynski was to develop a theory of technological society and his love for nature led him to engage in acts of terrorism. For this he was arrested and is now in prison.

The basic arguments presented in this book concern the role of technological and industrial society and the harm it has caused to both mankind and "wild nature". Kaczynski sees technological society as a "System" designed to oppress the individual. Kaczynski considers some of the harmful psychological effects of technological society as well as the role of "over-civilized" people and the superficiality of modern leftism and political correctness. Kaczynski examines the theories of anarcho-primitivists concerning the role of primitive humans but finds their theories to be marred by modern day political correctness. Kaczynski considers the role of revolution and examines the history of democracy as well as the role of the Russian Bolsheviks and the triumph of Western democracy in the two world wars. Kaczynski examines the harmful effects of modern day advertising and the role of surrogate activities in combating the "power process". Kaczynski regards modern technological society to be unfulfilling and thus sees the need for individuals to rebel against it.

The book includes the manifesto "Industrial Society and Its Future" as well as several of the writings of Kaczynski and his letters to David Skribina and others. Kaczynski comments on the anarcho-primitivist movement explaining how modern anthropologists falsely believe that primitive societies were politically correct (in terms of gender equality, more time for leisure, and environmental soundness). Kaczynski offers several goals for revolution and explains why he left his career in math to go live in the wilderness. One thing I could not understand is why he resorted to terrorism as he did. His bombs sent to computer programmers and others were largely ineffective for his goals, resulted in unnecessary killing, and ended him up in prison. It makes little sense why someone of his intelligence would resort to such horrific and pointless measures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2014
Ted is a Genius and the Global pirates feared him so they put him in the Super prison so that he could no longer discuss his views ( He is an ideological threat to our corrupt crime based system). Big deal, he sent out a couple of childish bombs, do you know how many people your government spooks kill ???? and the idiot people remain quiet and re-elect the criminals, tell me who the real criminals are . If you think he is crazy, think about this, imagine an EMP attack on the USA and then imagine what your chances of survival would be 2 weeks later,,,,,,,,,,very very slim unless you are a survivalist. The bulk of the population depends upon technology to survive and the cities would descend into chaos very very quickly. Perhaps 70 years ago, up to half of the people lived on farms and were able to raise food to survive, they even had enough food to bring it in to the cities ( they were called Truck Farms) so the people in the cities could survive. This is no longer true as most of our food is shipped in. The manifesto is a must read especially if you are infected with the disease of liberalism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2013
I was somewhat intrigued but what exactly I would find when reading this book. It is actually very well written and makes some excellent points. Even though I disagree with the way he went about getting his writing out, you cant deny he is extremely smart and the point he makes through the entire book are valid. Recommend as a home read as you might catch a few odd looks reading it in public but surely an interesting set of ideas no matter how you view the writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2014
It is fascinating and unnerving to read Kaczynski's writings. He is clearly articulate, intelligent, logical, and he cites his sources more thoroughly than some professional historians I know. Other than conventional abhorrence of violence (the subject of which his works barely touch on), it is difficult to refute many of his key ideas. Definitely not a book for people who don't want their thoughts and beliefs challenged.
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