Ted Kaczynski: The Unabomber

December 10, 2011

Political action, Political Theory


Many of us may not know the name Ted Kaczynski, but I am sure most have heard of the Unabomber. Turns out they are one in the same. I would not have known much about the Unabomber had I never watched Good Will Hunting a few weeks ago. Detailed background information on TedKaczynski can be found here and also on his wikipedia page. I’ll give an overview of who Kaczynski was. Kaczynski was considered an intellectual child prodigy, who found may math classes of his constricting and twice skipped grades in order to be in more challenging math classes.

A young Kaczynski, before his move to Montana

At 16, he was accepted to Harvard where he received his undergraduate degree  and later received his PhD in mathematics here at the University of Michigan. After two years of being an associate professor at UC, Berkley, Kaczynski resigned and moved out to a cabin he built himself in Montana, attempting to become self-sufficient. After his move and watching the forests around him get destroyed, Kaczynski turned to bombing University professors, airports, and computer store owners to protest the industrialized world.

Kaczynski wanted people to give up technology, he believed that nature was superior to all things industrialized, but he knew that people would take the easiest route to try and be one with nature. He believed that a sort of revolution needed to happen, a rebellion against the industrialized world. I find many similarities between Kaczynski’s beliefs and Rousseau’s ideology in On the Origin of Inequality. Rousseau himself believed that an uncivilized man, though may very well be crushed when up against a civilized man and his many machines, will surely be at great advantage when the civilized man is set equal to him so that he has no machines.

Once a mathematical genius.

Kaczynski would go onto to say that society makes itself unhappy and creates stress on itself; in order to ignore that stress, that is man-made, he says people use entertainment. Rousseau talks about the civilized man in a similar way. He says that the civilized man is constantly finding something for himself to do, something to keep himself busy because he cares about how he looks in others eyes. This is a stress similar to what Kaczynski refers to; society is making life harder on itself, if people were to go back and become what Rousseau calls ‘noble savages,’ this stress would not exist. The main difference between the Rousseau and Kaczynski is that Kaczynski makes no mention of inequality among people, he is only concerned about the degrading life style that technology and society and creating.

Kaczynski killed 3 people and injured many more as a result of his bombings, so clearly he is a radical and he honestly believed that this sort of revolution was the only to bring about change. I think that his demands were similar to Rousseau but that his delivery was not the best way to voice his opinion, but as he could not publish his writings, he thought it was the only way. If you had an important message that no one paid attention to, do you think you would resort to drastic measures like Kaczynski? Do you think that one day, in a political science class just like the one we are currently in, classes will be represented with reading from both Rousseau and Kaczynski?

All references to Rousseau taken from: http://www.constitution.org/jjr/ineq.htm

 

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6 Comments on “Ted Kaczynski: The Unabomber”

  1. scottmha Says:

    First off, great delivery and connection, very well written throughout the blog. It is hard to visualize the concept that one may have an important point to try and get across but no one else will listen. But in no case, no matter how extreme, do I think I would resort to any actions as radical as the uni-bomber did. Nor will it ever be justified. No matter how outraged you are, or how legitimate your point is, there is no justification in harming others. I think the author of this post was spot on when he said that Kaczynski may have correct viewpoints, those that are similar to Rosseau, but went about it the wrong way to express it. Be proactive in the community, go out and make the change that you wish to see in the world but not at the expense of others. Thats where he crossed the line. No matter how correct he is, people will never look past the fact that he murdered people in the path of trying to express his point, so no he will never be appreciated as a good source for philosophical learning. Rather a criminal, and a danger to society.

  2. bmazus Says:

    First off, I thought that was a very interesting post. Before I read your post I did not know who Ted Kaczynski was. I think it is extremely interesting how this man was essentially a certified genius and many years later he is arrested for trying to bomb technology driven institutions. I believe that although Kaczynski may be a little wacked out he certainly has some important points. Many of the issues that we face as humans certainly involve technology. They include everything from global warming to nuclear proliferation. Realistically, Kaczynski is right in believing that many of these issues which stress us would never exist.
    Where I believe Kaczynski is missing the boat is in thinking that only technology creates stress. What about family and personal issues? In my life I have come to believe that the issues which matter most to people is ones that involve their relationships with other people. It does not matter if we are 100 years into the future, or if it is 1000 years ago, issues with a family member being sick, or a disagreement with a spouse will always create stress.
    While I believe Kaczynski has some great points I honestly do not believe people will be talking about him in the future. I believe his case is that of a brilliant man with many good ideas, but in the end he will be remembered as a madman.

  3. finkelbr Says:

    First off, I have to say that I very much disagree with the unibomber. I understand that he was frustrated and had a strong belief however, the way he went about voicing his opinion was completely wrong. If I had an important message that no one listened to I would not go about voicing it the same way that the unibomber did. I do not know what I would do exactly, considering I dont currently have that passion for any type of voice, but I know that I would never kill in order to get my point across.

    This is definitely a very interesting debate. I have to believe that it would be possible for the unibomber to be used as a good example in a political science class. I liked the way you connected it to Rousseau and I can see where they would agree and disagree. In the end, I am a strong believer that no one should ever go to the lengths that the unibomber went to get their point across.

  4. kelseymlee Says:

    Kaczynski may have had drastic beliefs, but the way he went about advertising his beliefs was extremely wrong. I think Mill would definitely not approve of Kaczynski’s actions, because even though he has a right to voice them, he does not have the right to harm others while doing so, by creating a “clear and present danger.” Also, I feel like Kaczynski contradicts himself when he criticizes society for “creat[ing] more stress on itself.” People like Kaczynski, who go about forcing their opinions upon others in a violent and disturbing manner, are the people who create even more unwanted stress for society.

    I like the way you connected the thoughts of Rousseau and Kaczynski, and I definitely can see similarities between the two. I feel as if they both believe a more simple outlook on life would be more beneficial for society, and that society has too many unnecessary distractions. Maybe if Kaczynski found a way to spread his message by a more peaceful means, people would have listened to him and his theories, and taken him seriously. His actions, however, make it hard for me to take him seriously and see him as anything more than a violent radical.

  5. habavol Says:

    This is a very interesting post. I was not aware of Ted Kaczynski before reading this and I find it surprising that such a highly intellectual man would do something like this. He must have been exceedingly intelligent to receive diplomas from such prestigious schools. From what I have read, I do not think his actions were in any way correct. Harming people with bombs is no way to get your opinion across. If he wanted to convey a message he should have chosen a better way of going about it. I think from living in the wild, in nature for so long, it must have made him go crazy and take such insane actions.

  6. jrmeller Says:

    Just the idea of having readings written by him is just horrifying. We have seen men like him throughout the country’s history. Within the last 5 years Virginia Tech itself has seen 2 individuals who “lost it”and went on killing sprees, just this past week in fact. Incidences like these really just create shock and awe, it really doesn’t make any sense how they occur. It really is scary knowing that the man or woman next to you in class could snap at any moment and go on a rampage. While the likelihood is low, the fact that there is a possiblity of such an occurrence is scary enough in itself.
    And to think that these individuals could be used for learning material is just something I can’t even imagine. It really goes to show what some people are capable of, regardless of their intellectual capacity.

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