An interesting piece of critical analysis of Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and his manifesto can be found at The Technium. Much time has been dedicated to the pathological aspects of Kaczynski and his violent acts. But perhaps not so much energy has been expended on whether or not his writings made any sense in any context.

… the Unabomber is right that choices which begin as optional can over time become less so. First, there are certain technologies (say sewage treatment, vaccinations, traffic lights) that were once matters of choice but that are now mandated and enforced by the system. Then, there are other systematic technologies, like automobiles, which are self-reinforcing. Thousands of other technologies are intertwined into these systemic ones, making it hard for a human to avoid. The more that participate, the more essential it becomes.  Living without these embedded technologies requires more effort, or at least more deliberate alternatives.

The author points out that Kaczynski was concerned about the spread of what Jim Kunstler might call “technological triumphalism” and the lack of options we have in participation. Kaczynski was so concerned that he spent much of his life in a one room shack in the mountains of Montana.  But he did not live like a cave man. There was a certain minimum level of technology he was comfortable with.

Another person might have fashioned these ideas into the core of a brilliant academic or writing career. But for reasons or illness unique to Kaczynski, he followed a darker path by choosing to lob grenades from the margins. No matter how compelling the logic, we need to have social intelligence to temper the indulgence of violence in persuasion.

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