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.
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.
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