Catching Up With the Unabomber. When Does the End Justify the Means?

Ignoring that this article was sourced  from one of the most shit-for-brains, poseur sites on the Internet, here’s a few interesting words about Saint Ted. 


Kaczynski after his capture in 1996.

The Unabomber, known as Ted Kaczynski, was not a fan of technology. To expose the world to his anti-technology philosophy, from the years 1978 to 1995, Kaczynski sent 16 bombs to universities and airlines, killing three people and injuring 23, before he was eventually caught and sent to prison. He remains there today. At one time, he was possibly the most famous criminal in the world.

He said of technology’s role:

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. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technical necessity.

In his essay Industrial Society and Its Future, Kaczynski argued that while his bombings were “a bit” extreme, they were quite necessary to attract attention to the loss of human freedom caused by modern technology. His book Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber” breaks all of his philosophies down for those of us that just know him through corporate news stations.

517fe1d2p8LWas the Unabomber crazy, or just so sane he was blowing our minds?

I talked to David Skrbina, confidant of Kaczynski, and philosophy professor at the University of Michigan. Skrbina wrote the intro to Technological Slavery.

Can you tell me a bit about how you and Kaczynski began to communicate? Are you still in touch with him today?

Back in 2003, I began work on a new course at the University of Michigan:Philosophy of Technology. Surprisingly, such a course had never been offered before, at any of our campuses. I wanted to remedy that deficiency.

I then began to pull together recent and relevant material for the course, focusing on critical approaches to technology. These, to me, were more insightful and more interesting, and were notably under-analyzed among current philosophers of technology. Most of them are either neutral toward modern technology, or positively embrace it, or accept its presence resignedly. As I found out, very few philosophers of the past four decades adopted anything like a critical stance. This, for me, was highly revealing.

Anyway, I was well aware of Kaczynski’s manifesto, “Industrial society and its future,” which was published in late 1995 at the height of the Unabomber mania. I was very impressed with its analysis, even though most of the ideas were not new to me (many were reiterations of arguments by Jacques Ellul, for example—see his 1964 book The Technological Society). But the manifesto was clear and concise, and made a compelling argument.

After Kaczynski was arrested in 1996, and after a year-long trial process, he was stashed away in a super-max prison in Colorado. The media then decided that, in essence, the story was over. Case closed. No need to cover Kaczynski or his troubling ideas ever again.

By 2003, I suspected he was still actively researching and writing, but I had heard nothing of substance about him in years. So I decided to write to him personally, hoping to get some follow-up material that might be useful in my new course. Fortunately, he replied. That began a long string of letters, all on the problem of technology. To date, I’ve received something over 100 letters from him.

Most of the letters occurred in the few years prior to, and just after, the publication of Technological Slavery. Several of his more important and detailed replies to me were included in that book—about 100 pages worth.

We’ve had less occasion to communicate in the past couple years. My most recent letter from him was in late 2014.

You have said that his ideas “threaten to undermine the power structure of our technological order. And since the system’s defenders are unable to defeat the ideas, they choose to attack the man who wrote them.” Can you expand on that?

The present military and economic power of the US government, and governments everywhere, rests on advanced technology. Governments, by their very nature, function to manipulate and coerce people—both their own citizens, and any other non-citizens whom they declare to be of interest. Governments have a monopoly on force, and this force is manifest through technological structures and systems.

Therefore, all governments—and in fact anyone who would seek to exert power in the world—must embrace modern technology. American government, at all levels, is deeply pro-tech. So too are our corporations, universities, and other organized institutions. Technology is literally their life-blood. They couldn’t oppose it in any substantial way without committing virtual suicide.

So when a Ted Kaczynski comes along and reminds everyone of the inherent and potentially catastrophic problems involved with modern technology, “the system” doesn’t want you to hear it. It will do everything possible to distort or censor such discussion. As you may recall, during the final years of the Unabomber episode, there was very little—astonishingly little—discussion of the actual ideas of the manifesto. Now and then, little passages would be quoted in the newspapers, but that was it; no follow-up, no discussion, no analysis.

Basically, the system’s defenders had no counterarguments. The data, empirical observation, and common sense all were on the side of Kaczynski. There was no rational case to be made against him.

The only option for the defenders was an ad hominem attack: to portray Kaczynski as a sick murderer, a crazed loner, and so on. That was the only way to ‘discredit’ his ideas. Of course, as we know, the ad hominem tactic is a logical fallacy. Kaczynski’s personal situation, his mental state, or even his extreme actions, have precisely zero bearing on the strength of his arguments.

The system’s biggest fear was—and still is—that people will believe that he was right. People might begin, in ways small or large, to withdraw from, or to undermine, the technological basis of society. This cuts to the heart of the system. It poses a fundamental threat, to which the system has few options, apart from on-going propaganda efforts, or brute force.

What do you think of the fact that when our government, or any figure in authority such as a police officer, kills in the name of the established belief system, it is thought of as just. But when a guy like Kaczynski kills in the name of his belief system, he is thought of as a deranged psychopath?

As I mentioned, governmental authorities have a monopoly on force. Whenever they use it, it is, almost by definition, ‘right.’ Granted, police can be convicted of ‘excessive force.’ But such cases, as we know, are very rare.And militaries can never be so convicted.

At best, if the public is truly appalled by some lethal action of our police ormilitary, they may vote in a more ‘pacifist’ administration. But even that rarely works. People were disgusted by the war-monger George W. Bush, and so they voted in the “anti-war” Obama. Ironically, he continued on with much the same killing. And through foreign aid and UN votes, Obama continues to support and defend murderous regimes around the world. So much for pacifism.

Let’s keep in mind: Kaczynski killed three people. This was tragic and regrettable, but still, it was just three people. American police kill that many citizens every other day, on average. The same with Obama’s drone operators. Technology kills many times that number, every day—even every hour. Let’s keep things in perspective.

Kaczynski killed in order to gain the notoriety necessary to get the manifesto into the public eye. And it worked. When it was published, theWashington Post sold something like 1.2 million copies that day—still a record. He devised a plan, executed it, and thereby caused millions of people to contemplate the problem of technology in a way they never had before.

Does the end justify the means? It’s too early to tell. If Kaczynski’s actions ultimately have some effect on averting technological disaster, there will be no doubt: his actions were justified. They may yet save millions of lives, not to mention much of the natural world. Time will tell.

You recently wrote a book,The Metaphysics of Technology. Can you tell us a little about that?

Sure. In thinking about the problem of technology, it struck me that there was very little philosophical analysis about what, exactly, technology is. We’ve had many action plans, ranging from tepid and mild (think Sherry Turkle), to Bill Joy’s thesis of “relinquishment” of key technologies, to Kaczynski’s total revolution. But if we don’t really understand what we’re dealing with, our actions are likely to be misguided and ineffectual. In short, we need a true metaphysics of technology.

On my view, technology advances with a tremendous, autonomous power. Humans are the implementers of this power, but we can’t really guide it and we certainly can’t stop it. In effect, it functions as a law of nature. It advances with an evolutionary force, and that’s why we are heading toward disaster.

I see technology much as the ancient Greeks did—as a combination of two potent entities, Technê and Logos (hence ‘techno-logy’). For them, these were quasi-divine forces. Logos was the guiding intelligence behind all order in the universe. Technê was the process by which all things—manmade and otherwise—came into being. These were not mere mythology; they were rational conclusions regarding the operation of the cosmos.

Like the Greeks, I argue that technê is a universal process. All order in the universe is a form of technê. Hence my coining of the term ‘Pantechnikon’—the universe as an orderly construction, manifesting a kind of intelligence, or Logos. Our modern, human technology is on a continuum with all order in the universe. (Harvard astrophysicist Eric Chaisson has argued for precisely the same point, incidentally; see his 2006 book Epic of Evolution.)

The net effect of all this is not good news for us. Technology is like a wave moving through the Earth, and the universe. For a long while, we were at the peak of that wave. Now we’re on the downside. Technology is rapidly heading toward true autonomy. Our opportunity to slow or redirect it is rapidly vanishing. If technology achieves true autonomy—we can take Kurzweil’s singularity date of 2045 as a rough guide—then it’s game over for us. We will likely either become more or less enslaved, or else wiped out.And then technology will continue on its merry way without us.

This is not mere speculation on my part, incidentally. Within the past year, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have all come out with related concerns. They don’t understand the metaphysics behind it, but they’re seeing the same trend.

How has your experience communicating with Kaczynski changed you as a person and as a philosopher?

As a philosopher, not that much. Kaczynski generally avoids philosophy and metaphysics, preferring practical issues. In a sense, we are operating on different planes, even as we are working on the same problem.

As a person, I have a greater understanding of the basis for the ‘extreme’ actions that he took. It’s not often in life that you get a chance to communicate with someone with such a total commitment to their cause. It’s impressive.

Also, the media treatment of his whole case has been enlightening. When his book, Technological Slavery, came out in 2010, I expected that there would be at least some media coverage. But there was none. The most famous “American terrorist” publishes a complete book from a super-max prison—and it’s not news? Seriously? Compare this topic to the garbage shown on our national evening news programs, and it’s a joke. NPR, 60 Minutes, Wiredmagazine, etc.—all decided it wasn’t newsworthy. Very telling.

One last thing: Expect to hear from Kaczynski again soon. His second book is nearing completion. The provisional title is “Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How.” But don’t look for it on your evening news.

Things are not as simplistic as you think.

Buy Technological Slavery, by Ted Kaczynski, and The Metaphysics of Technology by David Skrbina. Kaczynski does not profit from his book.

Brian Whitney’s latest book is Raping the Gods.

Attacks on Fiber Networks in California Baffle FBI

Authorities have yet to nail down a motive or culprit for more than a dozen breaches in the Bay Area


here’s a bad problem hitting the internet out west: someone’s been deliberately slicing through the cables that carry data between providers. And after looking into it for months, the FBI still has basically no idea who’s doing the damage or why. While everyone worries about high-tech hack attacks taking down networks, the attacks highlight that all it really takes is one determined person with a couple of cheap tools.

Damage to fiber-optic cables is, on some level, inevitable. Cars and trucks hit poles and take out above-ground wiring from time to time. Construction projects, large and small, put equipment in the wrong place and accidentally dig up a bundle of wires instead of a shovel of dirt. And then there are the squirrels, which seem to have a taste for destruction.

But what’s going on in California isn’t part of that low-level background chaos of being. Instead, it’s some kind of very deliberate series of attacks on heavy-duty cables that have been happening in the Bay area for at least a year.

The FBI has been investigating the acts of sabotage — now over a dozen — for months, but so far is no closer to any useful information, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The cuts have generally happened around midnight, give or take, and so far there are no known eyewitnesses who have seen any of the slicers doing the deed. Experts told the WSJ that all the attackers need is a hacksaw, a manhole lifter, and a rough idea of where to find the cables. Nobody knows how many people are involved. The timing and geography says that it could potentially be a single individual, but that they’d have had “little time to spare” to reach every spot in the same night.

Beyond that, the FBI’s got basically nothing: no motive, no suspects, and no understanding.

John Lightfoot, assistant deputy in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office, told the WSJ, “Everyone recognizes that there seems to be a pattern of events here … we really need the assistance of the public to reach out and help solve this one.”

Attacks on Fiber Networks in California Baffle FBI [Wall Street Journal]

The Sad Truth About Today’s World Illustrated By Steve Cutts

Art isn’t all fairytale photoshoots and landscape shots – it can also act as catalyst of change. And Steve Cutts thinks that many things in the world should be different. Work shouldn’t be a grinding, soul-crushing rat race for the almighty dollar. Consumerism shouldn’t hold a vice-like grip on our lives. And social media, well, we need to throw-off the shackles we so eagerly put on ourselves. Wouldn’t life be better then?
Steve Cutts is an illustrator and animator from London. Faced with the choice of working at McDonalds or studying Fine Arts, he chose the latter. He worked at Glueisobar as the main storyboard concept artist before making the leap to freelance work. Cutts makes videos and images that criticize modern life – he states that insanity of humanity is an endless pool of inspiration.
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Wild Reaction – ‘Some answers about the present and NOT about the future’

translation we receive and publish (original is at contrainfo [pdf]):

Pachuca, Hidalgo, November 13 2014.

With this statement, some groupuscules of “Wild Reaction” (RS), will respond to the text “Some ideas about the present and the future” from “Ediciones Isumatag” (EI), published on their blog on October 6 of this year [2014].

At the same time, with this writing we demonstrate the existing distinction among critics of the industrial-technological system, specifically among those who are bent on and advocate the creation of an “organized movement capable of contributing to the overthrow of such a system”, and those like we who do not seek that, but rather, to attack the development of the systems progress from the present, tending to destabilize it.

With this text, we do not intend at all to open the sterile and impractical debate on future or present strategies which “have to” be taken while facing the industrial-technological system. Everyone decides their own path. What follows is just a quick exposure of our tendency regarding this topic. The intelligent ones who tend towards the wild will know very well how to analyze and criticize this communique.


The Suffocating Void: Domestication and Pathological Distraction – Kevin Tucker

The Suffocating Void: Domestication and Pathological Distraction – Kevin Tucker
From Black and Green Review no. 1, Spring 2015.
Read by Ryan Morgan of Paper Crane Audio.

The Suffocating Void is an anarcho-primitivist critique of the role social networking has played in the advancement of civilization through late modernity. An anti-technological look at how the widely unnoticed revolution of the digital/interface age has furthered the domestication process leading us further down the path of distracted dissatisfaction.

For the text with citations, click here: The Suffocating Void at the anarchist library


Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files

Special Report Duncan Campbell has spent decades unmasking Britain’s super-secretive GCHQ, its spying programmes, and its cosy relationship with America’s NSA. Today, he retells his life’s work exposing the government’s over-reaching surveillance, and reveals documents from the leaked Snowden files confirming the history of the fearsome ECHELON intercept project. This story is also published simultaneously today by The Intercept, and later today we’ll have video of Duncan describing ECHELON and related surveillance matters.


2 podcasts not to miss: Welcome to the panopticon

Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he?

In 2004, when casualties in Iraq were rising due to roadside bombs, Ross McNutt and his team came up with an idea. With a small plane and a 44 mega-pixel camera, they figured out how to watch an entire city all at once, all day long. Whenever a bomb detonated, they could zoom onto that spot and then, because this eye in the sky had been there all along, they could scroll back in time and see – literally see – who planted it. After the war, Ross McNutt retired from the airforce, and brought this technology back home with him. Manoush Zomorodi and Alex Goldmark from the podcast “Note to Self” give us the low-down on Ross’s unique brand of persistent surveillance, from Juarez, Mexico to Dayton, Ohio. Then, once we realize what we can do, we wonder whether we should.

At this point, most Americans have acknowledged — and many have de facto accepted — that the government can access our personal data. And sometimes it takes a personal case to understand just how intimate that snooping can get.

What we haven’t known — and couldn’t quite tell from the 2013 Snowden leak — are the technological details of that surveillance. Nor have we understand how pervasive that technology had become, at even the most local of levels.

Today, we understand quite a bit more thanks to one man in particular. His name is Daniel Rigmaiden, and while he’s not exactly the knight-in-shining-armor type (he’s a convicted felon who spent years building an almost-air-tight tax fraud scheme), he is the one who figured out how the government tracks us using our cell phones, despite their best efforts to keep it hidden: the Stingray.

This week, we’ll tell his story on our show. It’s the first full telling since the drama went down.

On a partner episode with Radiolab, we’re telling another, related story from a very different angle: the sky.

We think these podcasts will change the way you look at your phone, whether you’re an incredibly savvy tax fraudster or someone who just happens to notice when your phone mysteriously drops to the 2G network in the middle of a big city.

Biggest ever FOIA release from Pentagon Entertainment Liaison Offices

Jump to documents

In the biggest public release of documents from the DOD’s propaganda office I recently received over 1500 pages of new material.  Just under 1400 pages come from the US Army’s Entertainment Liaison Office: regular activity reports covering January 2010 to April 2015.  Another over 100 pages of reports come from the US Air Force’s office, covering 2013.





1. We live in an age with no central creed. A world without a unifying vision.

2. The technology we currently use to communicate with unprecedented ease-it is already beginning to shape rather than merely deliver our messages. Currently, this technology refuses to recognize certain words. Soon it will refuse to record or transmit those words. Soon after, technology will replace our words with language it deems an improvement. As the written word goes, so will go speech and thought.

3. Without expression through other avenues, impulses will find release through violent, destructive acts.

4. Future social engineering will be instantly and easily instituted through communication technology. Our crimes will report themselves. Each crime will serve as its own confession.

5. At that point all messages will become the same mes­sage. Nothing new will ever be said. Power will become fixed in society.

6. A leader will emerge because no one wants to live as his or her own master. Everyone wishes for a mentor, a stern accounting which will hold us to a higher standard than any of us dare to hold ourselves. For left to our own reasonable aspirations, we will evolve to fulfill the paltry dreams of a child. The tepid dreams instilled within us by those already in power. Our ideal leader will push us beyond our own timid goals. That leader will drive each person to attain a power of his or her own.

7. People consist of those who hold back, day after day, waiting for the perfect idea to execute-to risk devoting their time and energy to depicting. Versus those who are always ready and watching for the next opportunity to develop their skill at communicating with others. The first group might eventually find that perfect idea, but when the opportunity arrives their skills will be weak, forgotten, or never acquired. For those who wait, their perfect idea will die unborn.

8. Inspiration comes to those who show themselves ready to act upon it. The people who daily use every invitation to express, to communicate-they will become lightning rods which both attract ideas and conduct them for useful purpose.

9. Self-expression has become our largest consumable commodity: greeting cards, flowers, jewelry, music, all gifts. A dozen heavily marketed events dictate when we exchange these symbols and when we express predetermined emotions. A host of products are always waiting to demonstrate our love, gratitude, congratulations, sympathy, best wishes. Always justifiable purchases. Failure to exchange symbols accordingly constitutes an antisocial act.

10. Thus power lies in expressing what others no longer have the ability to express. Greater than monetary power, the fully expressed, skillful communicator will not be limited to the forms of expression available in the marketplace.The skillful communicator must bring to public attention until-now-unrecognized feelings, shared by many but voiced by none. Such an artist will articulate the hearts of people and become their voice.

11. Nerve plays as large a role as skill in creativity. Nerve and awareness both. The suppressed deny their feelings, or fear expressing them, or lack the skills to do so. Therefore all three of those traits must the creative person cultivate: awareness, nerve, and skill.

12. With the skill to organize and present ideas-with such effectiveness that they occur fully intact in the minds of others-with that skill comes the ability to conceive of increasingly greater ideas and to also transmit those in a way that makes them useful and appealing.

13. No idea will be yours unless it visits you first. No idea you initially see on television will be your idea. No idea you discover in a film will be yours.

14. Only the most unrefined sources will yield the raw material for new ideas. You must train yourself as someone ready to record.You must trust your own judgment to keep or discard. Be able to retrieve fragments if they relate to some new detail of information. Identify patterns, even though their elements might occur years apart. Piece together these fragments until they convey an unmistakable message.

15. Fight Club is the battle of the fully expressed person, Tyler, against the fully suppressed Sebastian. How you are in executing this homework assignment predicts how you perform in life. Will you be someone who merely consumes the narrative or someone who actively expands and participates in it? Do you express yourself fully and effectively, or do you purchase a surrogate means of expression made by some machine, a commoditized gesture which reduces your most intimate human interactions to empty rituals?

16. The creators applaud those people whose work you see in this section.They are the ones who boldly seize this opportunity to practice and prove their ability.

Tyler Durden, signing off

Spy Agency’s Secret Plans to Foster Online “Conformity” and “Obedience” Exposed

Internal memo from secretive British spy unit exposes how GCHQ and NSA used human psychological research to create sophisticated online propaganda tools

With never-before-seen documents accompanied by new reporting on Monday, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman are offering a more in-depth look than ever into how a secretive unit of the UK’s GCHQ surveillance agency used a host of psychological methods and online subterfuge in order to manipulate the behavior of individuals and groups through the internet and other digital forms of communication.

According to the reporting, the latest documents, which were leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden,

demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist,” Islamist activity in schools, the drug trade, online fraud, and financial scams.

Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG quickly developed a distinctive profile in the public understanding, after documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in “dirty tricks” like deploying sexual “honey traps” designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online.

Among the most troubling revelations is a 42-page internal JTRIG memo that describes in detail how the elite unit developed, maintained, and apparently sought to expand its “scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced” in order to increase its ability to “manipulate public opinion” via online tools like email, social media, video, discussion forums, and other platforms.

Read the rest here

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