Industrial Society and its Future by Theodore Kaczynski: A review

Forty-fifth book reviewed as part of the 130 Challenge.

All of 150 pages, but one hell of an essay! He falters in a lot of places where he loses control and rants madly, but when he is coherent, he is really very sharp. His observations are quite spot on and he does seem to have seen through the charade that is the modern civilization.

Industrial Society and Its FutureI started reading this book just because I was curious about the mind of a serial murderer. Ted (aka The Unabomber) is after all, a convict who has been incarcerated for the murder of 3 people and injuring several others. However, if one is willing to look beyond that, one will find a genius and prodigy who went a bit too far. He justifies his actions (unsuccessfully) in the book and though it is weak reasoning, it does seem to be reason enough to throw an intelligent, sensitive human being into despair; eliciting a terrible response from him. Ted claims that he killed people in order that he be heard. Without such an event, he wouldn’t have been noticed. An Indian revolutionary by the name of Bhagat Singh, did the same. But he didn’t kill anyone for that. Ted does show some remorse for this, but it is not enough.

However, that doesn’t take away from what he has to say. Most of his observations about the state of the world and the negative effects of industrialization on human lives and nature are quite accurate and must be studied. The sum total of his argument is that we have become heavily dependent on the Industrial System and this has made us less human. We are now discovering that we no longer have to struggle for the basic necessities, but then we have paid a price for that by not being able to control what happens to us. Our lives are much more comfortable today that before, but we have much less freedom. The courses of our lives are now dictated by large corporations and government entities and if we have grievances against them, we are helpless. This must frustrate us, but the propaganda machinery in the form of media and entertainment, set up by the System have dumbed us down to the point that we suffer these frustrations silently and live with them, preferring to pop anti-depression pills to revolution.

Through this manifesto, Ted aims to bring to light this terrible state of the Industrial Society and human beings that make it up. He does so with a brilliantly written essay that is thoroughly riveting and certainly unputdownable. This book is not a terrorists handbook or the anarchist’s bible; it’s a very well written essay that reflects on humanity and civilization. It falters in some places where Ted has been unable to hold back angst and frustration and it has spilled onto the pages, but otherwise, it is a marvelous essay. I certainly don’t condone Ted’s methods, but I do suggest that we should try to understand where he comes from, looking at the way things are headed and how we are trapped in a nexus of big corporations and evil governments.

If you’re not willing to go through 150 pages of brisk observation and analysis (available for free on the internet), do read through the excerpts that I have collected.

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