Unabomber Manifesto

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“Industrial Society and Its Future”, commonly known as “The Unabomber Manifesto” is an essay written by the former domestic terrorist Dr. Theodore Kaczynski. It touches on the subject of the advancements in technology and how such will produce more negative outcomes than positive ones in the future, leading to the demise of the human race. The manifesto was first published in both The Washington Post and The New York Times on September 19, 1995, after Kaczynski threatened to mail another bomb if the manifesto was not published, although he later said we would only send one more bomb after the publication. After the release of his manifesto, Ted’s brother, David Kaczynski, managed to identify the writing style to be of his brother which led to him being identified and detained by the FBI.

The manifesto touches on subjects such as ideology politics, power relations in society, freedom, technology, and revolution. The essay also brings to question the ethicality of abandoning all our technological advancements as a society with the intention of making life satisfiable and adopting the primitivistic lifestyle.[1] [2] [3]


Theodore Kaczynski
Inside of Kaczynski's cabin

Ted Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. He is the oldest of two children from parents of Polish descent. At an early age, he showed academic promise. In 1958, when he was 16, he got accepted to Harvard University where he pursued a major in mathematics. During his time, he was a test subject for a psychological experiment conducted by Dr. Henry A. Murray where he was emotionally tortured in order to develop more effective methods of interrogation during the Cold War.[3] It is speculated that this might have led to his insanity or at least greatly contributed to it.[3] After finishing his undergraduate he decided to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. [3]

Kaczynski accepted a position as an assistant professor at UC Berkley but later abandoned the position and decided to adopt a primitive lifestyle and build a cabin in Lincoln, Montana. In 1978 he mailed his first homemade bomb headed towards Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. This started a chain of several domestic terrorist attacks directed primarily towards university professors and airline facilities, hence the name the Unabomber (UNiversity and Airline BOMBER). He continued his attacks for the span of almost two decades from 1978 to 1995. In the time he managed to kill three people and injure many more in a total of 16 planned attacks. [3]

His manifesto was published after threatening to make another attack on September 19, 1995, soon after he was caught after his brother recognized the writing style being of his brother Ted. He was arrested on April 3, 1996. On January 22, 1998, Kaczynski pleads guilty to all charges and was given eight life-sentences without parole. He is currently serving his sentence in U.S. Penitentiary Administrative-Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado.[1]


The manifesto is organized in paragraphs where each paragraph is numbered from first to the last paragraph starting at number one (1) and ending in paragraph two hundred and thirty-two (232). Each conglomerate of paragraphs was organized into sections that referenced an idea that the author wanted to discuss. They were the following:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Psychology of Modern Leftism
  3. Feelings of Inferiority
  4. Oversocialization
  5. The Power Process
  6. Surrogate Activities
  7. Autonomy
  8. Sources of Social Problems
  9. Disruption of the Power Process in Modern Society
    Original manifesto sent by Kaczynski to several press outlets
  10. How Some People Adjust
  11. The Motives of Scientist
  12. The Nature of Freedom
  13. Some Principles of History
  14. Industrial-Technological Society Cannot Be Reformed
  15. Restriction of Freedom is Unavoidable in Industrial Society
  16. Technology is a More Powerful Social Force than the Aspirations for Freedom
  17. Simpler Social Problems Have Proved Intractable
  18. Revolution is Easier than Reform
  19. Control of Human Behavior
  20. Human Suffering
  21. The Future
  22. Strategy
  23. Two Kinds of Technology
  24. The Danger of Leftism [1]



The manifesto considers the development of left-wing ideologies as a consequence of the technological advancements in society and proceeds to analyze what it terms as “Leftist Psychology”. It believes that the motives of the person considered a leftist are rooted in a sense of inferiority of oneself and in order to satisfy the perceived inferiority, the leftist seeks to fulfill this need by attributing power to the collective of socially perceived inferior groups and negating individual or group-specific superiority.

It considers the leftist as someone “oversocialized”, in the sense that it has to follow the moral and cultural rules of society to such a degree that when it does not follow the social moral code it justifies its actions by saying that it is following other socially acceptable moral rules.

Power and Success

Its argued in the essay that humans have a biological need for the attainment of power and it is wired to seek that power, but when an individual achieves power with little to no effort it is left feeling incomplete. Given that human’s biological needs are a lot easier to satisfy in today’s age than it was before, people are left with a need for accomplishment of a difficult task in order to feel powerful. Due to this, the human has created what the manifesto calls “surrogate activities”, which are defined as activities that are not performed to obtain the essential biological needs such as food, reproduction, etc.[1] For example, the mastery of an instrument, being the best at a certain sport or being the best at your profession. A failure to have a surrogate activity leaves the individual with low self-esteem and in a depressed state since it cannot find a meaningful purpose in life. [2]

Then it compares the modern human to the primitive one, stating that the fulfillment of life and the feeling of accomplishment and power was easier to satisfy by simply accomplishing the basic biological needs and managing to survive, thus the human did not present as much depression or low self-esteem. As technology advances, humans would be substituted by the machines and would need to find other ways of fulfillment and usefulness until there is virtually nothing that the machine couldn’t do that we could and make our whole existence pointless since the power will be allocated in the machine. This is to further the argument that the technological advancement of society will bring us down and humans, therefore, should go back to their primitive state. [2]

Freedom and Technology

Freedom has been limited through technology in the sense that as new technologies develop, new laws and restrictions are made for the adequate use of such technologies and the individual has to conform to those laws in society limiting what one is able to do and not to do.

Reforming the system in a way that individual freedom stays unaffected is not possible since advancements in technology change society in ways that are difficult to control by any means given that society is so interconnected that its changes on it are very unpredictable.


It suggests to the reader that a revolution of the people will be a better choice than a government reform in order to fix the problems brought by the industrial era. In order to start a revolution, it is mentioned that it needed to promote social stress and instability in the industrial society and to spread the ideology discussed in the manifesto. In addition, it was stated that the revolution should be made seem like a fight between two opposing forces in order to gather more support for one side. The conflict should be nature vs technology and should be promoted as such.

Ethical Implications

The manifesto touches on the ethicality of humans continuing to invent new technology to facilitate and better our life to a certain extent. It argues that as more and more technologies get developed, we humans will have fewer and fewer things to do and work towards which will make our existence purposeless. Leading society as a whole to be unsatisfied with life and causing several mental illnesses. I see the argument Kaczynski is trying to make and so far it deserves to be considered given that since the publication of the manifesto, technology has greatly flourished yet the rates of depression and suicide have been at an all-time high in many developed nations.

One can argue that currently what gives purpose to humanity to improve and progress as a species to a great extent is technology since it has helped society stay more informed, increased the global life expectancy, and in general, improves our quality of life. But to this, he responds that such activities like creating new technology do not give true purpose to humans and instead categorizes them as surrogate activities.[1] He says that the only activities that truly give us purpose are the activities we do in order to survive and satisfy our basic biological needs [1] For example things such as scavenging for food or making a warm shelter to survive cold nights. I see a logical flaw in this argument because the reason that technologies exist in the first place was to fulfill these basic necessities. Yes, there exists technologies created for the sole purpose of leisure, but going back to a primitivistic state would mean abandoning all the technologies that have improved our ability to satisfy our basic needs. We created tools to hunt and feed ourselves, fire to keep us warm, and we invented writing so that future generations know about their ancestor’s mistakes. I do agree that there are technologies that are unnecessary. But I also have to admit that they are a product of organized systems that we have put in place in order to facilitate our basic needs such as capitalism for example. The by-product of it is that we have technologies that are meant for leisure such as video games or toys. These are necessary to facilitate the basic necessities in our society and overturning these byproducts will cause a collapse of the whole system.

Kaczynski has a valid point when he says that humans, as we know, will slowly cease to exist as technology advances, due to the necessity of having more humans is to work as a collective and increase our chances of survival, but when machines are already doing that then it becomes pointless to continue to further the species. To that, I respond that that is an inevitable circumstance of being brought into existence. Our purpose is to survive as much as we can, not forever. If our current industrial society is what maximizes our time of survival on this earth then there is no reason to change it in my eyes.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 “ The Unabomber Trial: The Manifesto.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1997, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/unabomber/manifesto.text.htm.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chase, Alston. “Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 6 Sept. 2019, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/06/harvard-and-the-making-of-the-unabomber/378239/.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 “Ted Kaczynski.” Edited by Biography.com Editors, Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 16 Jan. 2020, www.biography.com/crime-figure/ted-kaczynski.