The iPhone X proves the Unabomber was right

  • Posted on: 18 September 2017
  • By: youranonarchist

The introduction of the new iPhone X — which features wireless charging, facial recognition and a price tag of $999 — appears to be a minor event in the advance of technology. But it’s an excellent illustration of something that has long gone unrecognized: The Unabomber had a point.

Not about blowing people up in an effort to advance his social goals. Ted Kaczynski’s campaign to kill and maim chosen victims with explosives was horrific in the extreme and beyond forgiveness. But his 35,000-word manifesto, published in 1995, provided a glimpse of the future we inhabit, and his foresight is a bit unsettling.

“The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race,” it begins. Among the ills he attributes to advances in technology are that they promise to improve our lives but end up imposing burdens we would not have chosen.

He cites the automobile, which offered every person the freedom to travel farther and faster than before. But as cars became more numerous, they became a necessity, requiring great expense, bigger roads and more regulations. Cities were designed for the convenience of drivers, not pedestrians. For most people, driving is no longer optional.

Smartphones have followed the same pattern. When cellphones first appeared, they gave people one more means of communication, which they could accept or reject. But before long, most of us began to feel naked and panicky anytime we left home without one.

To do without a cellphone — and soon, if not already, a smartphone — means estranging oneself from normal society. We went from “you can have a portable communication device” to “you must have a portable communication device” practically overnight.

Not that long ago, you could escape the phone by leaving the house. Today most people are expected to be instantly reachable at all times. These devices have gone from servants to masters.

Kaczynski cannot be surprised. “Once a technical innovation has been introduced,” he noted, “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.)”

The problem is hardly a new one. In his book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” Yuval Noah Harari argues that the agricultural revolution that took place 10,000 years ago was “history’s biggest fraud.”

In the preceding 2.5 million years, when our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers they worked less, “spent their time in more stimulating and varied ways, and were less in danger of starvation and disease” than afterward.

Farming boosted the population but chained humans to the land and demanded ceaseless drudgery to plant, tend, harvest and process food — while making us more vulnerable to famine, disease and war. People who had evolved over eons for one mode of life were pushed into a different mode at odds with many of their natural instincts.

But it didn’t matter. Eventually, those who preferred to live as foragers — such as the American Indians — no longer had a choice. In the 21st century, such a life is almost impossible. Kaczynski retreated to a remote cabin, off the grid, but 325 million Americans couldn’t do likewise even if they wanted to.

Computers and smartphones are also a Faustian bargain, in Harari’s view. Instead of saving time, inventions like email “revved up the treadmill of life to ten times its former speed and made our days more anxious and agitated.”

It’s easy to romanticize the lives of ancient people while ignoring the perils and hardships they faced. And neither Kaczynski nor anyone else has a way to reverse history. Few of us would be willing to give up modern shelter, food, clothing, medicine, entertainment or transportation. Most of us would say the trade-offs are more than worth it.

But they happen whether they are worth it or not, and the individual has little power to resist. Technological innovation is a one-way street. Once you enter it, you are obligated to proceed, even if it leads someplace you would not have chosen to go.

Once the latest iPhone is in stores, some consumers will decide they simply can’t live without it. The rest of us may eventually find that whatever our preferences, neither can we.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at



as this article argues. However, many would disagree in spite of the evidence. People still it's worth it. It just goes to show how stupid so many humans are.

Technology is the real fascist threat. If you are antifa you should be anti-civ.

In this case, when you say "fascism," all you mean is something you don't like. You've turned it into a meaningless word. Whether technology or fascism is MORE of a threat is a different thing.

To elaborate, the USA (which has been a conservative/liberal for at least the last 150 years), the USSR (Marxist/Communist Party), and the 3rd Reich (Nazis) all used more and more "advanced" technologies. To call them all fascist is to ignore the actual differences. WTF is the point? How is calling everything fascism useful?

As usual the chicago tribune misses the point. Have you seen the TV show Manhunt: Unabomber? This show, watch the first 2 minutes, starts off in the most epic fashion, promising the behind the scenes perspective of a crazy murderous recluse mailing bombs to people whose names he found on a list in a book in the library, and theres a catchy narration by the unabomber actor and a sense that they wont cheese it up to make it more palatable but give you a look at some real evil shit in an impartial way. 2 minutes in, and ah how did you not see it coming, the protagonist is actually a well meaning intelligent liberal working for the FBI who is struggling with balancing work and personal commitments and yes this is what the show is actually about, this is is the only thing something about the unabomber can be about, the denial of other forms of enjoyment. Yes watch this mild mannered fbi profiler try to hunt someone actually interesting and feel with him the ups and downs of his marriage and personal tragedy of being ignorant of bureaucracy. In 3 minutes the whole show reveals itself, because lets face it, if you aren't down with exterminating experimentation, then why the fuck are you watching television?

I watched Manhunt: Unabomber. After the first 15 minutes of the first episode I turned it off. It began with FBI linguistics profiler James Fitzgerald claiming he was the one who caught Ted Kaczynski. He didn't. The FBI had no clue who the Unabomber was. They were chasing ghosts for 20 years. It was Ted's brother David (actually David's wife Linda Patrick) who turned him in.

Anyway, a few days later I was bored and decided to watch the first episode again, just to see how many other things they got wrong. There really wasn't anything other than that first gaff, and because the acting was pretty good (you can't go wrong with Sam Worthington), I managed to stick with it and watch more episodes.

The first 3 episodes are not very well done, the editing, pacing, and constant shifts in timeline are poorly executed. Plus, all we ever see is the FBI's POV. But by the 4th episode, when we start learning about Ted (played by Paul Bettany) and his brother David, the show starts to find its legs. They also have a whole episode devoted to Ted's MK Ultra mind control experiments at Harvard. By the 5th episode the tone starts to change a bit, and it turns out agent James Fitzgerald is actually kind of an asshole who uses people (but gosh, it's only because he's so devoted to the cause of finding the Unabomber).

The last two episodes reveal how Ted was caught, and the script is actually sympathetic towards him. And then also how Ted was betrayed by his own lawyer. In the end, FBI agent James Fitzgerald is sympathetic to Ted and his ideas, as he himself starts to question technology and the rat race. Fitzgerald also owns his own cabin in the woods.

I would definitely recommend watching Manhunt: Unabomber. I watched a featurette for the show where they talk about how they went to great lengths to recreate Ted's cabin accurately. They actually duplicated it down to the inch, and stocked it with all the exact same props that Ted had in his cabin. (Ted's cabin is in the Smithsonian, so they took all the measurements and info from it). I think they even did some filming in Lincoln, Montana. There are eight episodes, if you can make it past the first three (I almost didn't) then it's worth watching. I thought it was going to be just another FBI hero procedural. But although it is partly that, it's also surprisingly more subtle, and I think the show treats Ted evenhandedly, and with respect.

if folks want to watch a video about uncle K that doesn't suck:
includes interviews with survivors of bombings and film maker correspondence with teddy.

That's a meandering and not very insightful video.

If you wanna watch a really well-made fictional movie, and the only good one I've ever seen, on eco-terrorism, "Night Moves" by Kelly Reichhardt is definitely worth it, as a reflection on the controversial issue of eco-extremism and random murder. Made me forget that godawful "The East" big time. It was a box office flop of course, but awesome in realism despite its flaws.

Technology tends to be more mind and body extensions of body and tool use. What we are talking about machinery or machinology

Technology has historically been liberatory to oppressed groups, especially women.
Definitely worth reading.

because it's super liberatory to oppressed groups to destroy their habitats (to continue technological advancement) and destroy their leisure time (through endless work)?

there is no valid counterpoint there.

the real problem is Western man's view of himself, as an independently-existing human-system-in-itself; ... an 'inhabitant' that is separate from [exists independent of] the habitat, and whose survival, according to Darwinism, is tied to how fit he is to extract what he needs from the habitat, ... which he supposes is independent of inhabitants like himself.

unfortunately for him and all of us, since this is the popular Western 'belief' underwritten by Western 'science', we are all reaping the 'blow-back' from the physical reality that;

"the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants" -- Mach's principle

we have technology like monsanto's roundup and DDT and we use such technology to improve our lives by engineering a pest-free environment.

Western man is more intelligent than 'the primitives' and he knows how to get [use technology to engineer] what he wants.

Unfortunately, science is based on simple logical hypotheses like; "DDT kills mosquitoes" and it has no fucking idea about the relational complexity in nature's dynamics. science can establish by experiment the truth of the hypothesized theory that DDT kills mosquitoes, and if it is proven true, then everyone can buy a few gallons of DDT and start spraying.

as the astonished natives said to the colonizing scientific whitemen shortly after contact. You fucking idiots, we inhabitants are included in the habitat

The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes.
Contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own excrement"

the problem is not technology per se, it is Western man's dualist belief in the separate and independent existence of 'inhabitant' and 'habitat'.

The idea that "American Indians" were a unified group that can be labeled with a "the" as well as the idea that they were all foragers is ahistorical nonsense that contributes to ideologies that continue to oppress Native Americans to this very day. You are talking about actual people who actual existed and continue to exist. Many of them were farmers or complex hunter gatherers. They had extensive trading networks that spanned over what are now international borders. Your description is simplistic and makes you seem ignorant.

That's Emile. He's been waving his noble savage fallacy around on this site for years. I picture him as an old hippy that adopted that awkward habit of wearing bone chokers and feathers in his hair, splaining to everyone about how native folks were basically like the elves from Tolkien.

Only flag waving going on is a Big Ego's insecurity throwing adhoms.

The term aboriginal isn't being used as an Identity in this context. There are no fixed identities, as we are but strands in a web of relations.

Aboriginal is the starting point for realizing that we are all of the earth, the shared living space that is most definitely an actor (the PRIMARY oganizing influence), and what engenders all forms of life. This goes beyond any identity tag we affix ourselves with, for simple explainations that leqve out so many of life's complexities. Habitat and inhabitant are a non-duality. We are original to the earth, our common home. An orientation to the now, instead of toward conceptualized separations being treated as more real than reality.

The term is also in the contexr of aragorn!'s essay on non-western anarchism.

This comment had NOTHING to do with noble savages.

The above post demonstrates how rationalism teaches easy explainations, and is NO way to find understanding. What room is there in a rationalist mindset for using inuition with one's shared living space, and reading those sorts of signals from out-there, instead of spewing abstract concepts?

Ophiuchus 19:35 was apparently referring to steve chapman's original article, while Anonymous 08:01, not bothering to read either chapman or emile, was woken up by what he thought was a signal that it was time to toss a few adhominems at whatever hit-list targets were trending.