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Paper Assails 'Industrial-Technological System'

Friday, June 30, 1995; Page A10

The document sent by UNABOM to The Washington Post is a densely written anarchist manifesto that calls for worldwide revolution against the effects of modern society's "industrial-technological system."

That system, the manuscript argues, has robbed contemporary humans of their "autonomy" and their presumably empowering rapport with nature -- defined by the document as "WILD nature: those aspects of the functioning of the earth and its living things that are independent of human management and free of human interference and control."

In a series of 232 numbered paragraphs, with accompanying notes, the document, titled "Industrial Society and Its Future," argues that "the industrial revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race," in part because, by definition, organized modern society "HAS to force people to behave in ways that are increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior."

The document inveighs at length against what it calls one of the principal consequences of technological society -- "leftism," loosely defined as the attempt to "oversocialize" people by repressing their natural inclinations and "making them feel ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to society's expectations," often to the point at which a person "feels ashamed of HIMSELF."

Conservatives are equally vilified for their investment in the existing system, but the term "leftist" is used consistently to describe those in favor of extensive social control, which is said to cause "a whole spectrum of related traits: low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc."

In contrast, the document argues in favor of what it calls the human "need (probably based in biology) for something that we will call the power process," which is made up of "goal, effort and attainment of goal," as well as an ensuing sense of "autonomy."

The manifesto suggests that the "power process" is most purely and conspicuously realized in primitive societies in which basic daily survival needs ("real goals") must be met by individual work -- obtaining food, building shelter and the like.

In contrast, modern science and technology are portrayed as mere "surrogate activities" of a culture in which "real goals" are increasingly unnecessary -- that is, "artificial goals that people set up for themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward." Because these activities purportedly further the cause of social control of human beings -- as, for example, through the use of psychoactive drugs or surveillance devices, "The only way out is to dispense with the industrial-technological system altogether." (In an accompanying letter, the author or authors state that "as for people who wilfully and knowingly promote economic growth and technical progress, in our eyes they are criminals, and if they get blown up they deserve it.")

In general, the manifesto appears to favor a return to a state of human society similar to that of the "noble savage" envisioned by 18th century social theoreticians.

"We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern society," the document says, "to the fact that {modern, technocratic} society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human race developed."

The purely "natural" world "provided a stable framework, and therefore a sense of security. In the modern world it is human society that dominates nature . . . thus there is no stable framework."

That condition cannot be achieved by gradual change or political processes, the manifesto states. "Industrial-technological society cannot be reformed in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing the sphere of human freedom," which is defined as "the opportunity to go through the power process . . . without interference, manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially from any large organization."

Instead, "its focus will be on technology and economics, not politics." A cover letter accompanying the manifesto states that "the industrial-technological system has got to be eliminated, and to us almost any means that may be necessary for that purpose are justified."

Copyright 1995 The Washington Post Co.

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