Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski

“Like many of my colleagues, I felt that I could easily have been the
Unabomber’s next target. He is clearly a Luddite, but simply saying this does
not dismiss his argument … As difficult as it is for me to acknowledge, I
saw some merit in the reasoning in [Kaczynski’s writing]. I started showing
friends the Kaczynski quote from Ray Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual
Machines; I would hand them Kurzweil’s book, let them read the quote, and
then watch their reaction as they discovered who had written it.”
- Bill Joy, founder of Sun Microsystems

I don’t agree with his violent actions, but I find it interesting reading insomuch as I think many of the things discussed within apply to concepts in the “freedom movement”. The essay “The System’s Neatest Trick” contained within especially so.


I hear you… Without the internet and electricity I’m out of business.

How OFF the Grid was ole’ Ted living?

This is from my old stomping grounds in Maine.

“In 1971, he and his brother, David, purchased about 1 1/2 acres five miles from the small commercial strip that forms the center of Lincoln. Theodore Kaczynski built a one-room, rough-hewn shack no bigger than some closets. He lived off the land, without electricity or plumbing.”

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I agree with a lot of what he writes, but I think he is out of touch with young people if he thinks they are turning away from technology and materialism. Maybe he only gets letters from green anarchists or something.

Does he? I haven’t read the whole thing yet. And I’d have to agree with you.

I also haven’t read the whole thing yet.

Sections 5 and 6

The coming revolution, and the road to revolution.


I’ll be buying some copies of this book. Amazing work.

Depends on what “young” means. Teens,20s,even 30-somethings look to be grounded with technology and materialism today. At least 90% of them. Different story for 40-somes. More desire for Independence from what I see/hear to techno & having “stuff”. The older 50 and ups see negative effects (of techno) the clearest.

Most of the under 20-30 crowd has never really known life without the internet and cell phones, and they can’t imagine it.


I’m finding it harder to grasp life with the current iteration of the internet. Slang changes way too often now. People’s thoughts are ruled by whoever has the greatest exposure when they check social media. I wonder how many Instagram models the government pays to promote propaganda.


One of the things I liked about Grafton is that I didn’t have cell phone service or high speed internet at my house. My connection was a 28.8K dial-up modem. Commuting 80 miles to work and marijuana laws didn’t make it a viable long term option for me, but I enjoyed Grafton while I was there.

My ideal home would be in a cell phone dead zone, with no high speed internet access available besides satellite.

I got a hard copy of the book yesterday.


This is what it means to be “connected” (to reality/your surroundings). I’d be ok with technology going away. (except my chainsaw). The kids (and too many adults) think they’re only “connected” if they have their Ipads or whatever. They couldn’t be more DIS-connected to reality. Was this the goal ?

The best (and most often overlooked) thing about technology is that it’s entirely optional. If you don’t like it, feel free not to use it.

Kaczynski wanted to take this option away and removing other people’s options is in no way a freedom stance.

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Ted addresses that. See paragraph 127


  1. It is not possible to make a LASTING compromise between technology and freedom, because technology is by far the more powerful social force and continually encroaches on freedom through REPEATED compromises. Imagine the case of two neighbors, each of whom at the outset owns the same amount of land, but one of whom is more powerful than the other. The powerful one demands a piece of the other’s land. The weak one refuses. The powerful one says, “OK, let’s compromise. Give me half of what I asked.” The weak one has little choice but to give in. Some time later the powerful neighbor demands another piece of land, again there is a compromise, and so forth. By forcing a long series of compromises on the weaker man, the powerful one eventually gets all of his land. So it goes in the conflict between technology and freedom.

  2. Let us explain why technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom.

  3. A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared to increase man’s freedom. They took no freedom away from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel much faster and farther than a walking man. But the introduction of motorized transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly man’s freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car, especially im densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one likes at one’s own pace one’s movement is governed by the flow of traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration, insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation. Or else they must use public transportation, in which case they have even less control over their own movement than when driving a car. Even the walker’s freedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he continually has to stop to wait for traffic lights that are designed mainly to serve auto traffic. In the country, motor traffic makes it dangerous and unpleasant to walk along the highway. (Note this important point that we have just illustrated with the case of motorized transport: When a new item of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)

  4. While technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears to be desirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid long-distance communications … how could one argue against any of these things, or against any other of the innumerable technical advances that have made modern society? It would have been absurd to resist the introduction of the telephone, for example. It offered many advantages and no disadvantages. Yet, as we explained in paragraphs 59-76, all these technical advances taken together have created a world in which the average man’s fate is no longer in his own hands or in the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians, corporation executives and remote, anonymous technicians and bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence. [21] The same process will continue in the future. Take genetic engineering, for example. Few people will resist the introduction of a genetic technique that eliminates a hereditary disease. It does no apparent harm and prevents.much suffering. Yet a large number of genetic improvements taken together will make the human being into an engineered product rather than a free creation of chance (or of God, or whatever, depending on your religious beliefs).

  5. Another reason why technology is such a powerful social force is that, within the context of a given society, technological progress marches in only one direction; it can never be reversed. Once a technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become dependent on it, so that they can never again do without it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen to the system today if computers, for example, were eliminated.) Thus the system can move in only one direction, toward greater technologization. Technology repeatedly forces freedom to take a step back, but technology can never take a step back – short of the overthrow of the whole technological system.

  6. TechnoIogy advances with great rapidity and threatens freedom at many different points at the same time (crowding, rules and regulations, increasing dependence of individuals on large organizations, propaganda and other psychological techniques, genetic engineering, invasion of privacy through surveillance devices and computers, etc.). To hold back any ONE of the threats to freedom would require a long and difficult social struggle. Those who want to protect freedom are overwhelmed by the sheer number of new attacks and the rapidity with which they develop, hence they become apathetic and no longer resist. To fight each of the threats separately would be futile. Success can be hoped for only by fighting the technological system as a whole; but that is revolution, not reform.

  7. Technicians (we use this term in its broad sense to describe all those who perform a specialized task that requires training) tend to be so involved in their work (their surrogate activity) that when a conflict arises between their technical work and freedom, they almost always decide in favor of their technical work. This is obvious in the case of scientists, but it also appears elsewhere: Educators humanitarian groups, conservation organizations do not hesitate to use propaganda or other psychological techniques to help them achieve their laudable ends. Corporations and government agencies, when they find it useful, do not hesitate to collect information about individuals without regard to their privacy. Law enforcement agencies are frequently inconvenienced by the constitutional rights of suspects and often of completely innocent persons, and they do whatever they can do legally (or sometimes illegally) to restrict or circumvent those rights. Most of these educators, government officials and law officers believe in freedom, privacy and constitutional rights, but when these conflict with their work, they usually feel that their work is more important.

  8. It is well known that people generally work better and more persistently when striving for a reward than when attempting to avoid a punishment or negative outcome. Scientists and other technicians are motivated mainly by the rewards they get through their work. But those who oppose technological invasions of freedom are working to avoid a negative outcome, consequently there are few who work persistently and well at this discouraging task. If reformers ever achieved a signal victory that seemed to set up a solid barrier against further erosion of freedom through technical progress, most would tend to relax and turn their attention to more agreeable pursuits. But the scientists would remain busy in their laboratories, and technology as it progresses would find ways, in spite of any barriers, to exert more and more control over individuals and make them always more dependent on the system.

  9. No social arrangements, whether laws, institutions, customs or ethical codes, can provide permanent protection against technology. History shows that all social arrangements are transitory; they all change or break down eventually. But technological advances are permanent within the context of a given civilization. Suppose for example that it were possible to arrive at some social arrangements that would prevent genetic engineering from being applied to human beings, or prevent it from being applied in such a way as to threaten freedom and dignity. Still, the technology would remain waiting. Sooner or later the social arrangement would break down. Probably sooner, given the pace of change in our society. Then genetic engineering would begin to invade our sphere of freedom. and this invasion would be irreversible (short of a breakdown of technological civilization itself). Any illusions about achieving anything permanent through social arrangements should be dispelled by what is currently happening with environmental legislation. A few years ago its seemed that there were secure legal barriers preventing at least SOME of the worst forms of environmental degradation. A change in the political wind, and those barriers begin to crumble.

  10. For all of the foregoing reasons, technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom. But this statement requires an important qualification. It appears that during the next several decades the industrial-technological system will be undergoing severe stresses due to economic and environmental problems, and especially due to problems of human behavior (alienation, rebellion, hostility, a variety of social and psychological difficulties). We hope that the stresses through which the system is likely to pass will cause it to break down, or at least will weaken it sufficiently so that a revolution against it becomes possible. If such a revolution occurs and is successful, then at that particular moment the aspiration for freedom will have proved more powerful than technology.

  11. 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 tha 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.


So one of my hot-button topics is the soon-to-be mandated federal or “real ID”. What kind of info can they cram into a chip that’s on my license ? If it’s mandated, it will be a requirement to drive (legally). So it’s a technological advancement that’s FORCED upon us. It’ll be pushed as something that will make things “more convenient”. Will the real ID soon after, be a requirement to make purchases ? A requirement to exist ?

I’d like to not have a “license” with a chip in it. Is it still optional ? I am glad that technology is optional. It’s good to be able to change the weather, make nukes,zap things on earth from space,make drones that look like hummingbirds, etc…If you feel like it.

The core problem with Kaczynski’s writings is that he is anthropomorphizing technology.

Technology is just a tool and, by itself, can neither increase nor decrease freedom (or anything else). It is people using technology that limits or grows freedom.

Ted is essentially making the same argument that gun-control advocates make: guns (technology) kills, therefore should be banned. But freedom lovers should be well aware that it is not the gun but the shooter that should be held responsible.

The specific problems with paragraph 127 lie within the following sentence: “Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional”, which is demonstrably false-

  • Do you honestly not know anyone who doesn’t own a car?
  • Forum member @Dunker managed to move his entire life more than 1,500 miles from Florida to New Hampshire without motorized transport.
  • More than 250,000 Amish thrive in America without cars. And their numbers grow significantly every year.
  • The building which I just moved out of housed 5 individual adults, each a freedom-lover paying their own way in the world. Only 3 of these people were employed, and 2 of those did not have cars. In the largest (and most densely populated) city in New Hampshire they manage to walk to their jobs, shopping and recreational opportunities.
  • John Joe Gray’s family of a dozen or so people have lived exclusively on their 47-acre property without water/sewage/electricity for more than 15 years. The youngest granddaughter (currently in her late teens) was born after the standoff began and has never left the ranch. Which means she has never used a telephone (much less a cell phone), the internet, “modern medical tech”, or even ridden in a car.

Technology is clearly a “powerful social force”, but it’s still one that individuals are free to opt out of should they so choose.

Yes, driver’s licenses are still optional, just as driving is. According to DHS-

> REAL ID is a mandate on Federal agencies, restricting the circumstances under which they may accept state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards for official purposes.

Notice, it’s a mandate on Federal agencies, not on individual people. Don’t want a REAL ID? Don’t get one.

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So to reduce the threat to humanity , we could hope to eliminate technology or just the ones using it nefariously. I’d be ok with either.

If you have no moral qualms about enforcing your will on others, then sure, you could do that. Maybe you should just pass a law :roll_eyes:

“law” only exists in minds that believe in authority. Morals are real. I only believe in the latter.

So, you have no qualms against enforcing your morals on others who disagree with you as long as that force is not called a law?

What, exactly, gives you the moral authority to eliminate technology others want?