There was a time in my life when I became somewhat fascinated by the Unabomber, and, to some degree, I still am. While I was in high school, he was on the loose and also on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. It wasn’t until 1996 that he was captured, and the world learned that his real name was Ted Kaczynski, a Harvard-educated mathematician and off-his-rocker genius.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Unabomber, he killed three people and injured 23 others by sending bombs through the mail between 1978 and 1995 in protest of modern industrialization and technology. The media began calling him the Unabomber after the FBI began referring to his file as “UNABOM,” which was short for UNiversity & Airline BOMber. The FBI arrested him in April 1996 in a cabin near Lincoln, Montana, and he's been in prison ever since.
The Unabomber was also famous for his “manifesto,” a 35,000-word essay, which was entitled “Industrial Society and Its Future.” He mailed this document to a number of major medial outlets in 1995, and officials debated over whether or not to publish the essay. They finally decided to do so out of concern for public safety and in hopes that a reader might be able to identify the author. Eventually, The New York Times and The Washington Post published the Unabomber’s manifesto on Sept. 19, 1995.
Despite my interest in the Unabomber, I couldn’t honestly say that I’d ever read his manifesto, which sort of irked me. I added it to my bucket list a few years ago and finally took the time to read it over the weekend. It took two to three hours to read the complete essay.
The version that I read was 33 pages long with two columns of type on each page, and the structure of the essay was unlike anything that I can ever remember having read. First off, the essay is composed of 232 “paragraphs” within a number of “chapters.” The chapter headings give you an overview of the essay’s general content.
After the introduction, the chapters included “The Psychology of Modern Leftism,” “Feelings of Inferiority,” “Oversocialization,” “The Power Process,” “Surrogate Activities,” “Autonomy,” “Sources of Social Problems,” “Disruption of the Power Process in Modern Society,” “How Some People Adjust,” “The Motives of Scientists,” “The Nature of Freedom,” “Some Principles of History,” “Restriction of Freedom is Unavoidable in Industrial Society,” “Technology is a More Powerful Social Force Than the Aspiration for Freedom,” “Simpler Social Problems Have Proved Intractable,” “Revolution is Easier Than Reform,” “Control of Human Behavior,” “Human Race at a Crossroads,” “Human Suffering,” “The Future,” “Strategy,” “Two Kinds of Technology,” “The Danger of Leftism” and “Final Note.” Those chapters are then followed by three pages of explanatory “Notes.”
If you read the entire thing slowly and seriously consider what Kaczynski had to say, it will definitely make you think. He’s a rational as Sigmund Freud, and you might get the feeling that maybe Kaczynski was right and knew what he was talking about. In his case, however, he took it too far by killing people, which was his attempt to foment revolution.
If you’d like to read this odd little bit of American crime history for yourself, search for it online. You can find it in numerous places, including on the Web sites of major universities, which is where I found my copy. You can also download e-book versions of the manifesto.
In the end, how many of you have ever read the “Unabomber’s manifesto”? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below.