Opinions on the Unabomber Manifesto
Theodore Kaczynski was a person who sent a bunch of bombs to people by mail in hopes of getting media coverage on what he thought was the only solution to the world's problems. He blackmailed media organizations, stating that he would continue to bomb more people unless a major media organization published an essay written by him. After considerations for public safety, both the New York Times and the Washington Post published his essay titled Industrial Society and Its Future.
There are numerous benefits to discussing this essay, and I think now is a better time than ever. The essay can be classified into two divisions, his tirade against leftism, and his advocacy for societal primitivism.[^1]
[^1]: A society without the usage of advanced technology and manufacturing processes.
The hatred of leftism
I will disclose that I am a leftist, by the definition of the term used by Kaczynski. I believe in worker control of the means of production, feminism, anti-racism, and all that jazz, so my opinions will obviously tilt towards a defense of leftism and pointing out the ridiculousness of Kaczynski's arguments.
Kaczynski hated the fact that leftists were collectivists, and called them weak and inferior because of that belief. A collectivism is the political philosophy that emphasizes the group / community and its interests. Collectivist policies would include affirmative action, providing welfare for the poor, and "leaving nobody behind," even if they were incompetent and incapable of anything.
He [the leftist] wants society to solve everyone’s problems for them, satisfy everyone’s needs for them, take care of them. He [the leftist] is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.
Kaczynski believes that leftists are collectivists because they are insecure and incapable of providing for themselves. I think this argument is easily dismissed, because those that are perfectly capable of solving their own problems themselves still advocate for the care of others. The average educated person is more leftist than the uneducated person, and further education only increases the amount of leftism.[^2] In the modern world, education is the number one tool for self-sufficiency, yet people with the tools to be more independent and individualistic hold more leftist views than those without the tools.
[^2]: Study finds those with graduate education are far more liberal than peers
Art forms that appeal to modern leftish [sic] intellectuals tend to focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an orgiastic tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.
Kaczynski tries to say that the sadness of leftist art is proof that leftists are incompetent. This would make their political views just a mere projection of their personal failures. Quite the theory there, given the possibility of a billion other reasons of why that is the case. The directionality concern is something that pops up to mind. Given the fact that smarter people are leftist, there is also research suggesting that being smarter makes you less fulfilled with life.[^3] Sad art could simply be a way of expressing their emotions.
[^3]: The surprising downsides of being clever
The case for primitivism
Now all my counter arguments towards Kaczynski's attacks on leftism would be completely useless if the primary focus of his essay was true. He claims that the reason for this world's misery is technological development and industrialization. When Kaczynski argues certain points about this topic, I think he's coming from a more rational standpoint compared to his arguments against leftism; There is actual evidence supporting some of his assumptions. However, as bad viewpoints typically go, Kaczynski starts from the right assumptions and ends at the wrong conclusions.
The world isn't very happy.
This is a fact that bothers me every day. Things are getting better materially. We are becoming more efficient with the production of resources necessarily for life. People don't really need to think about how to survive the next day. However, we are not happy.
While I'm still trying to answer one of life's most puzzling questions, Kaczynski was so confident that he had the right answer that he took human lives to draw attention to it. He specifically targeted academia as he saw them as an evil in society, creating inventions that remove meaning from people's lives.
In his essay, Kaczynski argues that people are failing to find meaning and purpose in their lives because of technology. The primitive person did not have a reason to ponder about what to do with their lives, they knew exactly what they had to do. They had to hunt for food, forage for survival, and mate to satisfy their urges. He thinks life was simple and satisfying then, so we should go back to the lifestyles of our primitive ancestors.
He points to the pointless consumption of entertainment as one symptom of people trying to find meaning in something that doesn't really matter. Yes, I agree that escapist media is awful, and I intend to expand on my opinions on that topic later, however is artificially creating difficulties in your life the solution?
Kaczynski's idea of a perfect life is a life where there is almost no technology, where you raise a family because that's what humans have always done. However, I don't think making things harder in your life in order to create a fake goal is the solution to the existential problem that plagues modern society. If you have finished a math problem and know how to get to the solution, it's idiotic to do it again, but forcing yourself to not think of the solution. That's simply not going to happen. People know how to get or make a lot of things for little effort, that's what they are going to do.
There's also the ethics of imposing your philosophy on others. Sure, Kaczynski has a valid reason when he said that he started bombing only when his favorite nature spots were getting torn down, but what about other people? Are their lives meaningless? Wasn't he ending their individualist drive to achieve something in life? Kaczynski was not letting them be self-sufficient, he was infringing in their ability to do so, becoming a hypocrite in the process. He also depended on money from his brother, who was the person who eventually led to arrest.
The Unabomber's proposal to artificially prevent human knowledge and progress in order to avoid becoming "cogs" in the social machine is ridiculous. Maybe we should do something to change the current social situation to increase life fulfilment. We could rethink what the goal in life ought to be for an average person. Fighting for survival is probably not going to fix this problem.