Thoughts on the Unabomber's philosophy and sociology

For what it’s worth, this is false. People in agrarian, pre-industrial societies were chronically underemployed. They had quite a lot of time to complain about their lives and did so frequently. I am most familiar with documents written (or dictated) by ordinary people in Greco-Roman Egypt and would be happy to post some examples if anyone is actually interested.

I think the Unabomber went a bit nuts because he was briefly Saul Kripke’s roommate in college. I’m sure Kripke could make just about anyone feel retarded.

I’d be interested to hear that. I have heard that aside from planting and harvest time it wasn’t too bad, and that peasants had a lot of holidays. Damn 99%ers.

Does it vary from culture to culture, or does agrarian life provide periods of idle time in all societies?

Pretty much what Tildrum said. While it seems like a powerful paradigm if you didn’t know any better the Unbomber’s philosophy is based on a pretty elementary, and not all that accurate understanding or history.

Dude was just a neighbor (about a mile away). I don’t read books written by friends, much less crazy neighbors.

So, to help me understand, is Kaczynski’s philosophy the same that was depicted of the human civilization in the Pixar movie WALL-E?


I thought of that too.

In addition to reminidng me of a Pixar movie, it reminded me of nutrition. For the vast majority of humanity’s history, having too high a calorie intake was not a problem. If you found a high amount of calories, it was very useful to be able to binge on it because you didn’t know when you were going to find more and having reserves could save your life.

Simple carbs are the macronutrient that gives you the most calories for a given amount of satiety. If you wanted to take in as many calories as you could, this would be your best choice.

Today, for the vast majority of people in the rich world, making sure you have enough calories isn’t a problem. Yet because of our evolution, we still love to binge on simple carbs while they’re easily available, cheap and so, so tasty. Now we have too many calories and that’s leading to health problems.

It’s a much better problem to have than starvation. It’s still a significant problem.

As to the point of autonomy: TK says a few times that primitive man wasn’t really more autonomous but he felt more autonomous. Which is kinda weak as an argument; “It wasn’t really but it felt like it”.

I got 50%. But I just picked Gore for every statement. Maybe the Unabomber said those things in his manifesto, but that doesn’t mean that Gore didn’t say them too.

Authors like J. D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye), Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange), J.G. Ballard (High-Rise), Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting) and dozens of others
have been writing about alienation and isolation in modern society ever since modern society turned to activities other than engaging their entire society to wage war on a global scale. To a certain extent, the Unabomber, just like all those other authors, have a point. Modern society has evolved to a point where most of us work on tasks that have little to no tangible value outside of being part of a much larger and incomprehensively complex process. And that creates a lingering feeling of alienation for people as the needs of that complex social system takes precedent over their own needs.

The three signs of a miserable job are anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurability. And that probably describes 90% of the jobs people do these days. There is a reason people romanticize the “old ways” of aggrarian or industrial society or even warfare and combat. Even if those jobs are mundane, dangerous and repetitive, they are at least measurable and on some level they are relevent in a visible and tangible way. You know if you have successfully raised your crops or forged your widgets or survived a battle. That is your affirmation of a “job well done”.

I mean how does a college student decide what they “want to do” when they graduate? Almost nobody really “wants” to reconcile accounting ledgers, built corporate IT systems or generate marketing reports for the rest of their life. Most people just float around trying to find something they like, or they engage in the system to try to get (what they think is) as much power out of it as they can.

Is it? Sure, on a personal level I’d rather be too fat than staving to death. But on a global level, is it really a good thing to create better and better technology that ultimately just allows more “consumers” to simply exist for the purpose of consuming as much as they can?

Note the use of the term “just” which implies there is nothing else and “simply” which also implies there is nothing else. It isn’t the case that tech only results in more consumers and that those people exist only for consuming. I do not deny that it’s the case for many people and it may be your case, especially if you feel that tech only results in more consumers who only consume more. I’ll soon start a thread about the way(s) people find meaning in their lives apart from consuming.

The man was/is crazy. On some things he observed what are real problems: impersonalization and dehumanization in modern society. That individuals and organizations can commit evil in their goals. His solution was to randomly bomb people every few years? Other people have offered better analyses and some suggested solutions to these same problems without committing evil. Why reward him with attention and ignore the better stuff?

There’s a great scene in the movie The Hurt Locker that epitomizes this. Renner’s character, a bomb disposal tech working in Iraq, has returned home to his wife and son. He’s in a grocery store, and his wife has tasked him with getting some cereal. He’s standing alone in the cereal aisle, trying to choose one - and it dawns on him just how mundane civilian life is. Days earlier he was making life-or-death decisions to disable IED’s, and now he’s reduced to choosing Cereal A or Cereal B? The movie ends with him signing up for another tour of duty, to get back to a place where his decisions and actions really matter.

I took that to mean that war had so dehumanized him that he required life or death consequences for himself that he choose an endless and meaningless war over a normal life. In short, war had so injured his mind that he lost sight of what really mattered in a way that would sooner or later kill him because he was always playing russian roulette with defusing bombs. Deer Hunter.

I haven’t read Kaczynski’s entire opus, but it seems to me that – even if we concede the correctness of his analysis – he fails by overestimating the importance of the individual. Both practically, in believing that his actions could produce the breakdown that he envisioned, and ethically, in perceiving that he had a right to pursue his programme, Kaczynski failed to take into account that the vast majority of people do not feel as he does, and more importantly have good reasons to feel otherwise. This is a failing that is not unique to sociopaths; there are lots of unempathetic people in the world, and even the most sociable people are sometimes flabbergasted by other points of view. Kazcynski’s lack of empathy had to be combined with grandiosity to produce both his writings and his actions. Withdrawing from society may have made him feel better for a time, but it really made everything worse.

I’d like to point out that I was very happy when they caught the Unabomber. I was beginning to think it might be me.