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Published: November 23, 2023 (2 months ago.)
Tags:  History · Politics · Technology



The book in...
One sentence:
Astoundingly prescient warning that points to so many of the modern issues surrounding economics, AI, depression, media, propaganda, and even the rise of LGBT.

Five sentences:
When I read this about 20 years ago a lot of thing resonated with me, but his targeting of the leftist ideology as the root of so many of the problems we are facing, then and now, only rang true in my recent reading after an extra few decades of life under my belt. Again, I find it so apropos that he focuses like a laser on people who 'interpret as derogatory almost anything that is said about him' which seems to be the a reasonable definition for the modern trigger/safe space culture. Similarily he states 'This tendency is pronounced among minority-rights activists, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend.' which we see again when 'white' people march for BLM or Hamas/Israel while simultaniously championing their self-loathing by saying 'white' people are the problem. There is so much to unpack in a relatively short 100-odd pages that I can't recommend this book any higher; reguardless of your political leaning I guarantee if you put aside your predjudice and bias, you will learn something either about your 'enemies' or the world you may already despise. Agree or disagree, but violence got his message out there and Uncle Ted, RIP in Peace, has become something of folk hero.

designates my notes. / designates important. / designates very important.


Thoughts

From the Wiki:

The 35,000-word manifesto formed the ideological foundation of Kaczynski’s 1978–1995 mail bomb campaign

Thus, at least the foundations of, the work had been roughly understood as early as 1978. Reading this for the first time in the early 2000’s I was impressed, but still skeptical in my then liberal tendencies. Today, in late 2023, I am absolutely stunned at the prescience on display. Economics, AI, depression, LGBT… in 1978.

(151.) … human beings will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system.

This about sums up the whole shebang. Even though Uncle Ted goes into reasonable detail of why this is true, he can’t possibly dive as deep as another pair of works:Changing Images of Man and Cultural Patterns and Technical Change. If you are shocked or maybe even find yourself nodding to what you read in Industrial Society and Its Future, Changing Images of Man and Cultural Patterns and Technical Change, both collections of research into how culture can be molded. Uncle Ted thinks this shaping is done by a disinterested technology while the latter works point clearly to human intervention.

Uncle Ted pushes back on himself and admits that there are some humans in positions of power, the oligarchy, but he seems to dismiss their input and ranks them as servants of technology and not the other way around. He goes on to claim:

(104.) FOURTH PRINCIPLE. A new kind of society cannot be designed on paper. That is, you cannot plan out a new form of society in advance, then set it up and expect it to function as it was designed to do.

To which I respond:

This (4th and 5th) is the first thing I disagree with. I think with mass media and sufficient economic power a like-minded group of people (oligarchs today) can in fact design a society on paper and then nudge (See: Cass Sunstein) the general population to develop that blueprinted society.

To support this position, see:

Cass Sunstein’s Nudge, Bertrand Russell’s Education and the Social Order, Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics - Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, and Edward Bernays’ seminal Propaganda for but a few examples that point to the contrary.

Uncle Ted even goes so far as to recognize:

(114.) … It may be, however, that formal regulations will tend increasingly to be replaced by psychological tools that make us want to do what the system requires of us. Propaganda, [14] educational techniques, “mental health” programs, etc.).

He further talks about mental health and medicine in general as being forces that (seemingly impersonally by technology, not eugenicists) will weaken man’s individual power and lead to genetic deterioration of the general population. I don’t think this can be argued against given the rise in mental health and autism-like issues over the last few decades. There is probably a reasonable connection to be made to Mr. Schwab’s Covid 19: The Great Reset, albeit more to my position of a clearly human operator behind the faceless technology; a Wizard of Oz if you will.

Surveillance, propaganda, entertainment, and education are other ways Ted saw society moving towards a technocracy. Again, it is hard to argue against this given our hindsight. All of these, and more, will lead to increasing stress on both the individual and subsequently the system itself. The same systems will attempt to soothe man, ideally “reducing the birth rate”. Hmm, LGBT reduces the birth rate. Scaring people from having children reduces the birth rate. Crushing economies and reckless fiscal policy to the point you can’t even afford to have children reduces the birth rate. I’m sensing a pattern here.

Towards the end of the book Ted points out that, remember this was written in the mid 70s, the USA’s economy will have to shift to a “service industries”:

(176.) … it may be that machines will take over most of the work that is of real, practical importance, but that human beings will be kept busy by being given relatively unimportant work. It has been suggested, for example, that a great development of the service industries might provide work for human beings. Thus people would spend their time shining each other’s shoes, driving each other around in taxicabs, making handicrafts for one another, waiting on each other’s tables, etc.

Uber, Etsy, and DoorDash anyone?

The final points reiterate that the system should only be attacked when it is sufficiently weakened and that all other social conflict should be ignored as it is little more than a distraction of the main goal. The major conflicts that should be stoked are “power-elite vs. ordinary people” and “technology vs. nature”.

He closes by drawing a distinction between two kinds of technology:

(208.) We distinguish between two kinds of technology, which we will call small-scale technology and organization-dependent technology. Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance. Organization- dependent technology is technology that depends on large-scale social organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology DOES regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down. Example: When the Roman Empire fell apart the Romans’ small-scale technology survived because any clever village craftsman could build, for instance, a water wheel, any skilled smith could make steel by Roman methods, and so forth. But the Romans’ organization-dependent technology DID regress. Their aqueducts fell into disrepair and were never rebuilt. Their techniques of road construction were lost. The Roman system of urban sanitation was forgotten, so that not until rather recent times did the sanitation of European cities equal that of ancient Rome.

He continues that organization-dependent technology and the society required to build it from scratch would take centuries if all we know today was lost ala the Roman Empire. I argue it may NEVER be rebuilt, or would take considerably longer it truly starting from scratch. All of the easy to get to resources have been depleted. You have to refine (literally tons) of rocks to produce a few pounds of copper. Before you can build the machine required to do this you first need a fair amount of… copper. The same would be true of much of the other resource: oil, steel, rubber (think: the industrial galvanizing process), etc.


Exceptional Excepts

(11.) When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies), we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority-rights activists, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities and about anything that is said concerning minorities.

(29.) Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists push for affirmative action, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, for improved education in black schools and more money for such schools; the way of life of the black “underclass” they regard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate the black man into the system, make him a business executive, a lawyer, a scientist just like upper middle-class white people. The leftists will reply that the last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of the white man; instead, they want to preserve African-American culture. But in what does this preservation of African-American culture consist? It can hardly consist in anything more than eating black-style food, listening to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going to a black-style church or mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial matters.In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftists of the oversocialized type want to make the black man conform to white middle-class ideals. They want to make him study technical subjects, become an executive or a scientist, spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that black people are as good as white. They want to make black fathers “responsible”, they want black gangs to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of the industrial- technological system. The system couldn’t care less what kind of music a man listens to, what kind of clothes he wears or what religion he believes in as long as he studies in school, holds a respectable job, climbs the status ladder, is a “responsible” parent, is nonviolent and so forth. In effect, however much he may deny it, the oversocialized leftist wants to integrate the black man into the system and make him adopt its values.

(47.) Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of social change and the breakdown of natural small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.

(50.) The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.

63. So certain artificial needs have been created that fall into group 2, hence serve the need for the power process. Advertising and marketing techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of. It requires serious effort to earn enough money to satisfy these artificial needs, hence they fall into group 2 (But see paragraphs 80-82).

(64.) … We suggest that the so-called “identity crisis” is actually a search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable surrogate activity.

(95.) It is said that we live in a free society because we have a certain number of constitutionally guaranteed rights. But these are not as important as they seem. The degree of personal freedom that exists in a society is determined more by the economic and technological structure of the society than by its laws or its form of government.[16]Most of the Indian nations of New England were monarchies, and many of the cities of the Italian Renaissance were controlled by dictators. But in reading about these societies one gets the impression that they allowed far more personal freedom than our society does. In part this was because they lacked efficient mechanisms for enforcing the ruler’s will: There were no modern, well-organized police forces, no rapid long-distance communications, no surveillance cameras, no dossiers of information about the lives of average citizens. Hence it was relatively easy to evade control.

(96.) As for our constitutional rights, consider for example that of freedom of the press. We certainly don’t mean to knock that right; it is a very important tool for limiting concentration of political power and for keeping those who do have political power in line by publicly exposing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of the press is of very little use to the average citizen as an individual. The mass media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect. To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it’s more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.

(104.) FOURTH PRINCIPLE. A new kind of society cannot be designed on paper. That is, you cannot plan out a new form of society in advance, then set it up and expect it to function as it was designed to do.

(106.) FIFTH PRINCIPLE. People do not consciously and rationally choose the form of their society. Societies develop through processes of social evolution that are not under rational human control.

This (4th and 5th) is the first thing I disagree with. I think with mass media and sufficient economic power a like-minded group of people (oligarchs today) can in fact design a society on paper and then nudge (See: Cass Sunstein) the general population to develop that blueprinted society.

(114.) … It may be, however, that formal regulations will tend increasingly to be replaced by psychological tools that make us want to do what the system requires of us. Propaganda, [14] educational techniques, “mental health” programs, etc.).

(119.) The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system. This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is not the fault of capitalism and it is not the fault of socialism. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technical necessity.[18] Of course the system does satisfy many human needs, but generally speaking it does this only to the extent that it is to the advantage of the system to do it. It is the needs of the system that are paramount, not those of the human being. For example, the system provides people with food because the system couldn’t function if everyone starved; it attends to people’s psychological needs whenever it can CONVENIENTLY do so, because it couldn’t function if too many people became depressed or rebellious. … The concept of “mental health” in our society is defined largely by the extent to which an individual behaves in accord with the needs of the system and does so without showing signs of stress.

(122.) Even if medical progress could be maintained without the rest of the technological system, it would by itself bring certain evils. Suppose for example that a cure for diabetes is discovered. People with a genetic tendency to diabetes will then be able to survive and reproduce as well as anyone else. Natural selection against genes for diabetes will cease and such genes will spread throughout the population. (This may be occurring to some extent already, since diabetes, while not curable, can be controlled through the use of insulin). The same thing will happen with many other diseases susceptibility to which is affected by genetic factors (e.g., childhood cancer), resulting in massive genetic degradation of the population. The only solution will be some sort of eugenics program or extensive genetic engineering of human beings, so that man in the future will no longer be a creation of nature, or of chance, or of God (depending on your religious or philosophical opinions), but a manufactured product.

(135.) In paragraph 125 we used an analogy of a weak neighbor who is left destitute by a strong neighbor who takes all his land by forcing on him a series of compromises. But suppose now that the strong neighbor gets sick, so that he is unable to defend himself. The weak neighbor can force the strong one to give him his land back, or he can kill him. If he lets the strong man survive and only forces him to give the land back, he is a fool, because when the strong man gets well he will again take all the land for himself. The only sensible alternative for the weaker man is to kill the strong one while he has the chance. In the same way, while the industrial system is sick we must destroy it. If we compromise with it and let it recover from its sickness, it will eventually wipe out all of our freedom.

(146.) Drugs that affect the mind are only one example of the methods of controlling human behavior that modern society is developing. Let us look at some of the other methods.

(147.) To start with, there are the techniques of surveillance. Hidden video cameras are now used in most stores and in many other places, computers are used to collect and process vast amounts of information about individuals. Information so obtained greatly increases the effectiveness of physical coercion (i.e., law enforcement).[26] Then there are the methods of propaganda, for which the mass communications media provide effective vehicles. Efficient techniques have been developed for winning elections, selling products, influencing public opinion. The entertainment industry serves as an important psychological tool of the system, possibly even when it is dishing out large amounts of sex and violence. Entertainment provides modern man with an essential means of escape. While absorbed in television, videos, etc., he can forget stress, anxiety, frustration, dissatisfaction. Many primitive peoples, when they don’t have any work to do, are quite content to sit for hours at a time doing nothing at all, because they are at peace with themselves and their world. But most modern people must be constantly occupied or entertained, otherwise they get “bored”, i.e., they get fidgety, uneasy, irritable.

148. Other techniques strike deeper that the foregoing. Education is no longer a simple affair of paddling a kid’s behind when he doesn’t know his lessons and patting him on the head when he does know them. It is becoming a scientific technique for controlling the child’s development. Sylvan Learning Centers, for example, have had great success in motivating children to study, and psychological techniques are also used with more or less success in many conventional schools. “Parenting” techniques that are taught to parents are designed to make children accept the fundamental values of the system and behave in ways that the system finds desirable. “Mental health” programs, “intervention” techniques, psychotherapy and so forth are ostensibly designed to benefit individuals, but in practice they usually serve as methods for inducing individuals to think and behave as the system requires. (There is no contradiction here; an individual whose attitudes or behavior bring him into conflict with the system is up against a force that is too powerful for him to conquer or escape from, hence he is likely to suffer from stress, frustration, defeat. His path will be much easier if he thinks and behaves as the system requires. In that sense the system is acting for the benefit of the individual when it brainwashes him into conformity). Child abuse in its gross and obvious forms is disapproved in most if not all cultures. Tormenting a child for a trivial reason or no reason at all is something that appalls almost everyone. But many psychologists interpret the concept of abuse much more broadly. Is spanking, when used as part of a rational and consistent system of discipline, a form of abuse? The question will ultimately be decided by whether or not spanking tends to produce behavior that makes a person fit in well with the existing system of society. In practice, the word “abuse” tends to be interpreted to include any method of child-rearing that produces behavior inconvenient for the system. Thus, when they go beyond the prevention of obvious, senseless cruelty, programs for preventing “child abuse” are directed toward the control of human behavior on behalf of the system.

(151.) … human beings will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system.

(166.) Therefore two tasks confront those who hate the servitude to which the industrial system is reducing the human race. First, we must work to heighten the social stresses within the system so as to increase the likelihood that it will break down or be weakened sufficiently so that a revolution against it becomes possible. Second, it is necessary to develop and propagate an ideology that opposes technology and the industrial system.

(174.) … control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a tiny elite … because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite.

(176.) … it may be that machines will take over most of the work that is of real, practical importance, but that human beings will be kept busy by being given relatively unimportant work. It has been suggested, for example, that a great development of the service industries might provide work for human beings. Thus people would spend their time shining each other’s shoes, driving each other around in taxicabs, making handicrafts for one another, waiting on each other’s tables, etc.

(190.) Any kind of social conflict helps to destabilize the system, but one should be careful about what kind of conflict one encourages. The line of conflict should be drawn between the mass of the people and the power-holding elite of industrial society (politicians, scientists, upper-level business executives, government officials, etc.). It should NOT be drawn between the revolutionaries and the mass of the people. For example, it would be bad strategy for the revolutionaries to condemn Americans for their habits of consumption. Instead, the average American should be portrayed as a victim of the advertising and marketing industry, which has suckered him into buying a lot of junk that he doesn’t need and that is very poor compensation for his lost freedom. Either approach is consistent with the facts. It is merely a matter of attitude whether you blame the advertising industry for manipulating the public or blame the public for allowing itself to be manipulated. As a matter of strategy one should generally avoid blaming the public.

(191.) One should think twice before encouraging any other social conflict than that between the power-holding elite (which wields technology) and the general public (over which technology exerts its power). For one thing, other conflicts tend to distract attention from the important conflicts (between power-elite and ordinary people, between technology and nature); for another thing, other conflicts may actually tend to encourage technologization, because each side in such a conflict wants to use technological power to gain advantages over its adversary. This is clearly seen in rivalries between nations. … Generally speaking, one should encourage only those social conflicts that can be fitted into the framework of the conflicts of power-elite vs. ordinary people, technology vs. nature.

(208.) We distinguish between two kinds of technology, which we will call small-scale technology and organization-dependent technology. Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance. Organization- dependent technology is technology that depends on large-scale social organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology DOES regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down. Example: When the Roman Empire fell apart the Romans’ small-scale technology survived because any clever village craftsman could build, for instance, a water wheel, any skilled smith could make steel by Roman methods, and so forth. But the Romans’ organization-dependent technology DID regress. Their aqueducts fell into disrepair and were never rebuilt. Their techniques of road construction were lost. The Roman system of urban sanitation was forgotten, so that not until rather recent times did the sanitation of European cities equal that of ancient Rome.

He continues that organization-dependent technology and the society required to build it from scratch would take centuries if all we know today was lost ala the Roman Empire. I argue it may NEVER be rebuilt, or would take considerably longer it truly starting from scratch. All of the easy to get to resources have been depleted. You have to refine (literally tons) of rocks to produce a few pounds of copper. Before you can build the machine required to do this you first need a fair amount of… copper. The same would be true of much of the other resource: oil, steel, rubber (think: the industrial galvanizing process), etc.


Table of Contents


· Introduction

page 6:

· Chapter 01 - The Psychology of Modern Leftism

page 7:
page 8:

· Chapter 02 - Feelings of Inferiority

page 9:

  1. Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged strata of society.
page 10:
page 11:
page 13:

· Chapter 03 - Oversocialization

page 14:
page 15:
page 16:

· Chapter 04 - The Power Process

page 18:

· Chapter 05 - Surrogate Activities

page 21:
  1. In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to satisfy one’s physical needs. It is enough to go through a training program to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on time and exert the very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence and, most of all, simple OBEDIENCE.
page 22:

· Chapter 06 - Autonomy

· Chapter 07 - Sources of Social Problems

page 25:

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page 27:
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· Chapter 08: Disruption of the Power Process in Modern Society

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· Chapter 09 - How Some People Adjust

· Chapter 10 - The Motives of Scientists

page 43:

· Chapter 11 - The Nature of Freedom

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· Chapter 12 - Some Principles of History

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· Chapter 13 - Industrial-Technological Society Cannot Be Reformed

· Chapter 14 - Restriction of Freedom is Unavoidable in Industrial Society

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· Chapter 15 - The “Bad” Parts of Technology Cannot Be Separated from the “Good” Parts

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· Chapter 16 - Technology is a More Powerful Social Force than the Aspiration for Freedom

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· Chapter 17 - Simpler Social Problems Have Proved Intractable

· Chapter 18 - Revolution is Easier than Reform

page 70:

· Chapter 19 - Control of Human Behavior

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· Chapter 20 - Human Race at a Crossroads

page 79:
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· Chapter 21 - Human Suffering

page 82:

· Chapter 22 - The Future

page 85:
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· Chapter 23 - Strategy

page 91:
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· Chapter 24 - Two Kinds of Technology

page 100:

· Chapter 25 - The Danger of Leftism

page 104:
28.1.2. 109:

· Chapter 26 - Final Note

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