Can I still have my carphone?

“Dad, it is I,” “is it I, dad?

Full Unabomber manifesto

Orginal track by I’ll Be Waiting by Art Of Escapism

(Source: )
Unabomber’s Manifesto

The following is full text of the Unabomber’s Manifesto.


1. The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster
for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of
those of us who live in “advanced” countries, but they have
destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected
human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological
suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have
inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued
development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly
subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage
on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social
disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased
physical suffering even in “advanced” countries.

2. The industrial-technological system may survive or it may break
down. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of
physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through a
long and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of
permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to
engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore,
if the system survives, the consequences will be inevitable: There is
no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from
depriving people of dignity and autonomy.

3. If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very
painful. But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the
results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had
best break down sooner rather than later.

4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system.
This revolution may or may not make use of violence: it may be sudden
or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We
can’t predict any of that. But we do outline in a very general way the
measures that those who hate the industrial system should take in
order to prepare the way for a revolution against that form of
society. This is not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be
to overthrow not governments but the economic and technological basis
of the present society.

5. In this article we give attention to only some of the negative
developments that have grown out of the industrial-technological
system. Other such developments we mention only briefly or ignore
altogether. This does not mean that we regard these other developments
as unimportant. For practical reasons we have to confine our
discussion to areas that have received insufficient public attention
or in which we have something new to say. For example, since there are
well-developed environmental and wilderness movements, we have written
very little about environmental degradation or the destruction of wild
nature, even though we consider these to be highly important.


6. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled
society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of
our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can
serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern
society in general.

7. But what is leftism? During the first half of the 20th century
leftism could have been practically identified with socialism. Today
the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be
called a leftist. When we speak of leftists in this article we have in
mind mainly socialists, collectivists, “politically correct” types,
feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and
the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these
movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing
leftism is not so much a movement or an ideology as a psychological
type, or rather a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by
“leftism” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of
leftist psychology (Also, see paragraphs 227-230.)

8. Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a good deal less
clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for
this. All we are trying to do is indicate in a rough and approximate
way the two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main
driving force of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be telling
the WHOLE truth about leftist psychology. Also, our discussion is
meant to apply to modern leftism only. We leave open the question of
the extent to which our discussion could be applied to the leftists of
the 19th and early 20th century.

9. The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we
call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.” Feelings of
inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while
oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of
modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.


10. By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings
in the strictest sense but a whole spectrum of related traits: low
self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies,
defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend
to have such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these
feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism.

11. When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said
about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that
he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is
pronounced among minority rights advocates, whether or not they belong
to the minority groups whose rights they defend. They are
hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities. The terms
“negro,” “oriental,” “handicapped” or “chick” for an African, an
Asian, a disabled person or a woman originally had no derogatory
connotation. “Broad” and “chick” were merely the feminine equivalents
of “guy,” “dude” or “fellow.” The negative connotations have been
attached to these terms by the activists themselves. Some animal
rights advocates have gone so far as to reject the word “pet” and
insist on its replacement by “animal companion.” Leftist
anthropologists go to great lengths to avoid saying anything about
primitive peoples that could conceivably be interpreted as negative.
They want to replace the word “primitive” by “nonliterate.” They seem
almost paranoid about anything that might suggest that any primitive
culture is inferior to our own. (We do not mean to imply that
primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point out the
hypersensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)

12. Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect”
terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant,
abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of
whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from
privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold
among university professors, who have secure employment with
comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual, white
males from middle-class families.

13. Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of
groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American
Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior. The leftists
themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit
it to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely
because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with
their problems. (We do not suggest that women, Indians, etc., ARE
inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology).

14. Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as
strong as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women
may NOT be as strong and as capable as men.

15. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong,
good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western
civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The
reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not
correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West
because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so
forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in
primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he
GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points
out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in
Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the
leftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. He hates
America and the West because they are strong and successful.

16. Words like “self-confidence,” “self-reliance,” “initiative”,
“enterprise,” “optimism,” etc. play little role in the liberal and
leftist vocabulary. The leftist is anti-individualistic,
pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone’s needs for them,
take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense
of confidence in his own ability to solve his own problems and satisfy
his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of
competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.

17. Art forms that appeal to modern leftist intellectuals tend to
focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an
orgiastic tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope
of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that
was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.

18. Modern leftist philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science,
objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally
relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the
foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the
concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that
modern leftist philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians
systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply
involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack
these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one
thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent
that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More
importantly, the leftist hates science and rationality because they
classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and
other beliefs as false (i.e. failed, inferior). The leftist’s feelings
of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification
of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or
inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many leftists of the
concept of mental illness and of the utility of IQ tests. Leftists are
antagonistic to genetic explanations of human abilities or behavior
because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or
inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or
blame for an individual’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is
“inferior” it is not his fault, but society’s, because he has not been
brought up properly.

19. The leftist is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of
inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter,
a ruthless competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith
in himself. He has a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but
he can still conceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong,
and his efforts to make himself strong produce his unpleasant
behavior. [1] But the leftist is too far gone for that. His feelings
of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as
individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the
leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization
or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.

20. Notice the masochistic tendency of leftist tactics. Leftists
protest by lying down in front of vehicles, they intentionally provoke
police or racists to abuse them, etc. These tactics may often be
effective, but many leftists use them not as a means to an end but
because they PREFER masochistic tactics. Self-hatred is a leftist

21. Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion
or by moral principle, and moral principle does play a role for the
leftist of the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle
cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too
prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power.
Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of
benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help.
For example, if one believes that affirmative action is good for black
people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action in hostile or
dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a
diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal
and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative
action discriminates against them. But leftist activists do not take
such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs.
Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems
serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and
frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black
people, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the white
majority tends to intensify race hatred.

22. If our society had no social problems at all, the leftists would
have to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse
for making a fuss.

23. We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate
description of everyone who might be considered a leftist. It is only
a rough indication of a general tendency of leftism.


24. Psychologists use the term “socialization” to designate the
process by which children are trained to think and act as society
demands. A person is said to be well socialized if he believes in and
obeys the moral code of his society and fits in well as a functioning
part of that society. It may seem senseless to say that many leftists
are over-socialized, since the leftist is perceived as a rebel.
Nevertheless, the position can be defended. Many leftists are not such
rebels as they seem.

25. The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can
think, feel and act in a completely moral way. For example, we are not
supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some
time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are
so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally
imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt,
they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives
and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality
have a non-moral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe
such people. [2]

26. Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of
powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means
by which our society socializes children is by making them feel
ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to society’s
expectations. If this is overdone, or if a particular child is
especially susceptible to such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of
HIMSELF. Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocialized
person are more restricted by society’s expectations than are those of
the lightly socialized person. The majority of people engage in a
significant amount of naughty behavior. They lie, they commit petty
thefts, they break traffic laws, they goof off at work, they hate
someone, they say spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick
to get ahead of the other guy. The oversocialized person cannot do
these things, or if he does do them he generates in himself a sense of
shame and self-hatred. The oversocialized person cannot even
experience, without guilt, thoughts or feelings that are contrary to
the accepted morality; he cannot think “unclean” thoughts. And
socialization is not just a matter of morality; we are socialized to
confirm to many norms of behavior that do not fall under the heading
of morality. Thus the oversocialized person is kept on a psychological
leash and spends his life running on rails that society has laid down
for him. In many oversocialized people this results in a sense of
constraint and powerlessness that can be a severe hardship. We suggest
that oversocialization is among the more serious cruelties that human
beings inflict on one another.

27. We argue that a very important and influential segment of the
modern left is oversocialized and that their oversocialization is of
great importance in determining the direction of modern leftism.
Leftists of the oversocialized type tend to be intellectuals or
members of the upper-middle class. Notice that university
intellectuals (3) constitute the most highly socialized segment of our
society and also the most left-wing segment.

28. The leftist of the oversocialized type tries to get off his
psychological leash and assert his autonomy by rebelling. But usually
he is not strong enough to rebel against the most basic values of
society. Generally speaking, the goals of today’s leftists are NOT in
conflict with the accepted morality. On the contrary, the left takes
an accepted moral principle, adopts it as its own, and then accuses
mainstream society of violating that principle. Examples: racial
equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people, peace as opposed
to war, nonviolence generally, freedom of expression, kindness to
animals. More fundamentally, the duty of the individual to serve
society and the duty of society to take care of the individual. All
these have been deeply rooted values of our society (or at least of
its middle and upper classes (4) for a long time. These values are
explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposed in most of the
material presented to us by the mainstream communications media and
the educational system. Leftists, especially those of the
oversocialized type, usually do not rebel against these principles but
justify their hostility to society by claiming (with some degree of
truth) that society is not living up to these principles.

29. Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized
leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our
society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists
push for affirmative action, for moving black people into
high-prestige jobs, for improved education in black schools and more
money for such schools; the way of life of the black “underclass” they
regard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate the black man into
the system, make him a business executive, a lawyer, a scientist just
like upper-middle-class white people. The leftists will reply that the
last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of the white
man; instead, they want to preserve African American culture. But in
what does this preservation of African American culture consist? It
can hardly consist in anything more than eating black-style food,
listening to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going
to a black-style church or mosque. In other words, it can express
itself only in superficial matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects more
leftists of the oversocialized type want to make the black man conform
to white, middle-class ideals. They want to make him study technical
subjects, become an executive or a scientist, spend his life climbing
the status ladder to prove that black people are as good as white.
They want to make black fathers “responsible.” they want black gangs
to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of the
industrial-technological system. The system couldn’t care less what
kind of music a man listens to, what kind of clothes he wears or what
religion he believes in as long as he studies in school, holds a
respectable job, climbs the status ladder, is a “responsible” parent,
is nonviolent and so forth. In effect, however much he may deny it,
the oversocialized leftist wants to integrate the black man into the
system and make him adopt its values.

30. We certainly do not claim that leftists, even of the
oversocialized type, NEVER rebel against the fundamental values of our
society. Clearly they sometimes do. Some oversocialized leftists have
gone so far as to rebel against one of modern society’s most important
principles by engaging in physical violence. By their own account,
violence is for them a form of “liberation.” In other words, by
committing violence they break through the psychological restraints
that have been trained into them. Because they are oversocialized
these restraints have been more confining for them than for others;
hence their need to break free of them. But they usually justify their
rebellion in terms of mainstream values. If they engage in violence
they claim to be fighting against racism or the like.

31. We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing
thumb-nail sketch of leftist psychology. The real situation is
complex, and anything like a complete description of it would take
several volumes even if the necessary data were available. We claim
only to have indicated very roughly the two most important tendencies
in the psychology of modern leftism.

32. The problems of the leftist are indicative of the problems of our
society as a whole. Low self-esteem, depressive tendencies and
defeatism are not restricted to the left. Though they are especially
noticeable in the left, they are widespread in our society. And
today’s society tries to socialize us to a greater extent than any
previous society. We are even told by experts how to eat, how to
exercise, how to make love, how to raise our kids and so forth.


33. Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something
that we will call the “power process.” This is closely related to the
need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same
thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut
of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs
to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed
in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more
difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it
autonomy and will discuss it later (paragraphs 42-44).

34. Consider the hypothetical case of a man who can have anything he
wants just by wishing for it. Such a man has power, but he will
develop serious psychological problems. At first he will have a lot of
fun, but by and by he will become acutely bored and demoralized.
Eventually he may become clinically depressed. History shows that
leisured aristocracies tend to become decadent. This is not true of
fighting aristocracies that have to struggle to maintain their power.
But leisured, secure aristocracies that have no need to exert
themselves usually become bored, hedonistic and demoralized, even
though they have power. This shows that power is not enough. One must
have goals toward which to exercise one’s power.

35. Everyone has goals; if nothing else, to obtain the physical
necessities of life: food, water and whatever clothing and shelter are
made necessary by the climate. But the leisured aristocrat obtains
these things without effort. Hence his boredom and demoralization.

36. Nonattainment of important goals results in death if the goals are
physical necessities, and in frustration if nonattainment of the goals
is compatible with survival. Consistent failure to attain goals
throughout life results in defeatism, low self-esteem or depression.

37. Thus, in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a human
being needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a
reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals.


38. But not every leisured aristocrat becomes bored and demoralized.
For example, the emperor Hirohito, instead of sinking into decadent
hedonism, devoted himself to marine biology, a field in which he
became distinguished. When people do not have to exert themselves to
satisfy their physical needs they often set up artificial goals for
themselves. In many cases they then pursue these goals with the same
energy and emotional involvement that they otherwise would have put
into the search for physical necessities. Thus the aristocrats of the
Roman Empire had their literary pretentions; many European aristocrats
a few centuries ago invested tremendous time and energy in hunting,
though they certainly didn’t need the meat; other aristocracies have
competed for status through elaborate displays of wealth; and a few
aristocrats, like Hirohito, have turned to science.

39. We use the term “surrogate activity” to designate an activity that
is directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for
themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward, or let us
say, merely for the sake of the “fulfillment” that they get from
pursuing the goal. Here is a rule of thumb for the identification of
surrogate activities. Given a person who devotes much time and energy
to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: If he had to devote most
of his time and energy to satisfying his biological needs, and if that
effort required him to use his physical and mental facilities in a
varied and interesting way, would he feel seriously deprived because
he did not attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’s
pursuit of a goal X is a surrogate activity. Hirohito’s studies in
marine biology clearly constituted a surrogate activity, since it is
pretty certain that if Hirohito had had to spend his time working at
interesting non-scientific tasks in order to obtain the necessities of
life, he would not have felt deprived because he didn’t know all about
the anatomy and life-cycles of marine animals. On the other hand the
pursuit of sex and love (for example) is not a surrogate activity,
because most people, even if their existence were otherwise
satisfactory, would feel deprived if they passed their lives without
ever having a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. (But
pursuit of an excessive amount of sex, more than one really needs, can
be a surrogate activity.)

40. In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to
satisfy one’s physical needs. It is enough to go through a training
program to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on
time and exert very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only
requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence, and most of all,
simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, society takes care of one from
cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an underclass that cannot take
physical necessities for granted, but we are speaking here of
mainstream society.) Thus it is not surprising that modern society is
full of surrogate activities. These include scientific work, athletic
achievement, humanitarian work, artistic and literary creation,
climbing the corporate ladder, acquisition of money and material goods
far beyond the point at which they cease to give any additional
physical satisfaction, and social activism when it addresses issues
that are not important for the activist personally, as in the case of
white activists who work for the rights of nonwhite minorities. These
are not always pure surrogate activities, since for many people they
may be motivated in part by needs other than the need to have some
goal to pursue. Scientific work may be motivated in part by a drive
for prestige, artistic creation by a need to express feelings,
militant social activism by hostility. But for most people who pursue
them, these activities are in large part surrogate activities. For
example, the majority of scientists will probably agree that the
“fulfillment” they get from their work is more important than the
money and prestige they earn.

41. For many if not most people, surrogate activities are less
satisfying than the pursuit of real goals ( that is, goals that people
would want to attain even if their need for the power process were
already fulfilled). One indication of this is the fact that, in many
or most cases, people who are deeply involved in surrogate activities
are never satisfied, never at rest. Thus the money-maker constantly
strives for more and more wealth. The scientist no sooner solves one
problem than he moves on to the next. The long-distance runner drives
himself to run always farther and faster. Many people who pursue
surrogate activities will say that they get far more fulfillment from
these activities than they do from the “mundane” business of
satisfying their biological needs, but that it is because in our
society the effort needed to satisfy the biological needs has been
reduced to triviality. More importantly, in our society people do not
satisfy their biological needs AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as
parts of an immense social machine. In contrast, people generally have
a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities. have
a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities.


42. Autonomy as a part of the power process may not be necessary for
every individual. But most people need a greater or lesser degree of
autonomy in working toward their goals. Their efforts must be
undertaken on their own initiative and must be under their own
direction and control. Yet most people do not have to exert this
initiative, direction and control as single individuals. It is usually
enough to act as a member of a SMALL group. Thus if half a dozen
people discuss a goal among themselves and make a successful joint
effort to attain that goal, their need for the power process will be
served. But if they work under rigid orders handed down from above
that leave them no room for autonomous decision and initiative, then
their need for the power process will not be served. The same is true
when decisions are made on a collective bases if the group making the
collective decision is so large that the role of each individual is
insignificant [5]

43. It is true that some individuals seem to have little need for
autonomy. Either their drive for power is weak or they satisfy it by
identifying themselves with some powerful organization to which they
belong. And then there are unthinking, animal types who seem to be
satisfied with a purely physical sense of power(the good combat
soldier, who gets his sense of power by developing fighting skills
that he is quite content to use in blind obedience to his superiors).

44. But for most people it is through the power process-having a goal,
making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining t the goal-that self-esteem,
self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. When one does not
have adequate opportunity to go throughout the power process the
consequences are (depending on the individual and on the way the power
process is disrupted) boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem,
inferiority feelings, defeatism, depression, anxiety, guilt,
frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism,
abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc. [6]


45. Any of the foregoing symptoms can occur in any society, but in
modern industrial society they are present on a massive scale. We
aren’t the first to mention that the world today seems to be going
crazy. This sort of thing is not normal for human societies. There is
good reason to believe that primitive man suffered from less stress
and frustration and was better satisfied with his way of life than
modern man is. It is true that not all was sweetness and light in
primitive societies. Abuse of women and common among the Australian
aborigines, transexuality was fairly common among some of the American
Indian tribes. But is does appear that GENERALLY SPEAKING the kinds of
problems that we have listed in the preceding paragraph were far less
common among primitive peoples than they are in modern society.

46. We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern
society to the fact that that 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 while living under the earlier
conditions. It is clear from what we have already written that we
consider lack of opportunity to properly experience the power process
as the most important of the abnormal conditions to which modern
society subjects people. But it is not the only one. Before dealing
with disruption of the power process as a source of social problems we
will discuss some of the other sources.

47. Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society
are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature,
excessive rapidity of social change and the break-down of natural
small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or
the tribe.

48. It is well known that crowding increases stress and aggression.
The degree of crowding that exists today and the isolation of man from
nature are consequences of technological progress. All pre-industrial
societies were predominantly rural. The industrial Revolution vastly
increased the size of cities and the proportion of the population that
lives in them, and modern agricultural technology has made it possible
for the Earth to support a far denser population than it ever did
before. (Also, technology exacerbates the effects of crowding because
it puts increased disruptive powers in people’s hands. For example, a
variety of noise-making devices: power mowers, radios, motorcycles,
etc. If the use of these devices is unrestricted, people who want
peace and quiet are frustrated by the noise. If their use is
restricted, people who use the devices are frustrated by the
regulations… But if these machines had never been invented there
would have been no conflict and no frustration generated by them.)

49. For primitive societies the natural world (which usually changes
only slowly) provided a stable framework and therefore a sense of
security. In the modern world it is human society that dominates
nature rather than the other way around, and modern society changes
very rapidly owing to technological change. Thus there is no stable

50. The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of
traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological
progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that
you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the
economy of a society with out causing rapid changes in all other
aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably
break down traditional values.

51.The breakdown of traditional values to some extent implies the
breakdown of the bonds that hold together traditional small-scale
social groups. The disintegration of small-scale social groups is also
promoted by the fact that modern conditions often require or tempt
individuals to move to new locations, separating themselves from their
communities. Beyond that, a technological society HAS TO weaken family
ties and local communities if it is to function efficiently. In modern
society an individual’s loyalty must be first to the system and only
secondarily to a small-scale community, because if the internal
loyalties of small-scale small-scale communities were stronger than
loyalty to the system, such communities would pursue their own
advantage at the expense of the system.

52. Suppose that a public official or a corporation executive appoints
his cousin, his friend or his co-religionist to a position rather than
appointing the person best qualified for the job. He has permitted
personal loyalty to supersede his loyalty to the system, and that is
“nepotism” or “discrimination,” both of which are terrible sins in
modern society. Would-be industrial societies that have done a poor
job of subordinating personal or local loyalties to loyalty to the
system are usually very inefficient. (Look at Latin America.) Thus an
advanced industrial society can tolerate only those small-scale
communities that are emasculated, tamed and made into tools of the
system. [7]

53. Crowding, rapid change and the breakdown of communities have been
widely recognized as sources of social problems. but we do not believe
they are enough to account for the extent of the problems that are
seen today.

54. A few pre-industrial cities were very large and crowded, yet their
inhabitants do not seem to have suffered from psychological problems
to the same extent as modern man. In America today there still are
uncrowded rural areas, and we find there the same problems as in urban
areas, though the problems tend to be less acute in the rural areas.
Thus crowding does not seem to be the decisive factor.

55. On the growing edge of the American frontier during the 19th
century, the mobility of the population probably broke down extended
families and small-scale social groups to at least the same extent as
these are broken down today. In fact, many nuclear families lived by
choice in such isolation, having no neighbors within several miles,
that they belonged to no community at all, yet they do not seem to
have developed problems as a result.

56.Furthermore, change in American frontier society was very rapid and
deep. A man might be born and raised in a log cabin, outside the reach
of law and order and fed largely on wild meat; and by the time he
arrived at old age he might be working at a regular job and living in
an ordered community with effective law enforcement. This was a deeper
change that that which typically occurs in the life of a modern
individual, yet it does not seem to have led to psychological
problems. In fact, 19th century American society had an optimistic and
self-confident tone, quite unlike that of today’s society. [8]

57. The difference, we argue, is that modern man has the sense
(largely justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the 19th
century frontiersman had the sense (also largely justified) that he
created change himself, by his own choice. Thus a pioneer settled on a
piece of land of his own choosing and made it into a farm through his
own effort. In those days an entire county might have only a couple of
hundred inhabitants and was a far more isolated and autonomous entity
than a modern county is. Hence the pioneer farmer participated as a
member of a relatively small group in the creation of a new, ordered
community. One may well question whether the creation of this
community was an improvement, but at any rate it satisfied the
pioneer’s need for the power process.

58. It would be possible to give other examples of societies in which
there has been rapid change and/or lack of close community ties
without he kind of massive behavioral aberration that is seen in
today’s industrial society. We contend that the most important cause
of social and psychological problems in modern society is the fact
that people have insufficient opportunity to go through the power
process in a normal way. We don’t mean to say that modern society is
the only one in which the power process has been disrupted. Probably
most if not all civilized societies have interfered with the power ‘
process to a greater or lesser extent. But in modern industrial
society the problem has become particularly acute. Leftism, at least
in its recent (mid-to-late -20th century) form, is in part a symptom
of deprivation with respect to the power process.


59. We divide human drives into three groups: (1) those drives that
can be satisfied with minimal effort; (2) those that can be satisfied
but only at the cost of serious effort; (3) those that cannot be
adequately satisfied no matter how much effort one makes. The power
process is the process of satisfying the drives of the second group.
The more drives there are in the third group, the more there is
frustration, anger, eventually defeatism, depression, etc.

60. In modern industrial society natural human drives tend to be
pushed into the first and third groups, and the second group tends to
consist increasingly of artificially created drives.

61. In primitive societies, physical necessities generally fall into
group 2: They can be obtained, but only at the cost of serious effort.
But modern society tends to guaranty the physical necessities to
everyone [9] in exchange for only minimal effort, hence physical needs
are pushed into group 1. (There may be disagreement about whether the
effort needed to hold a job is “minimal”; but usually, in lower- to
middle-level jobs, whatever effort is required is merely that of
obedience. You sit or stand where you are told to sit or stand and do
what you are told to do in the way you are told to do it. Seldom do
you have to exert yourself seriously, and in any case you have hardly
any autonomy in work, so that the need for the power process is not
well served.)

62. Social needs, such as sex, love and status, often remain in group
2 in modern society, depending on the situation of the individual.
[10] But, except for people who have a particularly strong drive for
status, the effort required to fulfill the social drives is
insufficient to satisfy adequately the need for the power process.

63. So certain artificial needs have been created that fall into group
2, hence serve the need for the power process. Advertising and
marketing techniques have been developed that make many people feel
they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed
of. It requires serious effort to earn enough money to satisfy these
artificial needs, hence they fall into group 2. (But see paragraphs
80-82.) Modern man must satisfy his need for the power process largely
through pursuit of the artificial needs created by the advertising and
marketing industry [11], and through surrogate activities.

64. It seems that for many people, maybe the majority, these
artificial forms of the power process are insufficient. A theme that
appears repeatedly in the writings of the social critics of the second
half of the 20th century is the sense of purposelessness that afflicts
many people in modern society. (This purposelessness is often called
by other names such as “anomic” or “middle-class vacuity.”) We suggest
that the so-called “identity crisis” is actually a search for a sense
of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable surrogate activity. It
may be that existentialism is in large part a response to the
purposelessness of modern life. [12] Very widespread in modern society
is the search for “fulfillment.” But we think that for the majority of
people an activity whose main goal is fulfillment (that is, a
surrogate activity) does not bring completely satisfactory
fulfillment. In other words, it does not fully satisfy the need for
the power process. (See paragraph 41.) That need can be fully
satisfied only through activities that have some external goal, such
as physical necessities, sex, love, status, revenge, etc.

65. Moreover, where goals are pursued through earning money, climbing
the status ladder or functioning as part of the system in some other
way, most people are not in a position to pursue their goals
AUTONOMOUSLY. Most workers are someone else’s employee as, as we
pointed out in paragraph 61, must spend their days doing what they are
told to do in the way they are told to do it. Even most people who are
in business for themselves have only limited autonomy. It is a chronic
complaint of small-business persons and entrepreneurs that their hands
are tied by excessive government regulation. Some of these regulations
are doubtless unnecessary, but for the most part government
regulations are essential and inevitable parts of our extremely
complex society. A large portion of small business today operates on
the franchise system. It was reported in the Wall Street Journal a few
years ago that many of the franchise-granting companies require
applicants for franchises to take a personality test that is designed
to EXCLUDE those who have creativity and initiative, because such
persons are not sufficiently docile to go along obediently with the
franchise system. This excludes from small business many of the people
who most need autonomy.

66. Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR them
or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves. And what
they do for themselves is done more and more along channels laid down
by the system. Opportunities tend to be those that the system
provides, the opportunities must be exploited in accord with the rules
and regulations [13], and techniques prescribed by experts must be
followed if there is to be a chance of success.

67. Thus the power process is disrupted in our society through a
deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in pursuit of
goals. But it is also disrupted because of those human drives that
fall into group 3: the drives that one cannot adequately satisfy no
matter how much effort one makes. One of these drives is the need for
security. Our lives depend on decisions made by other people; we have
no control over these decisions and usually we do not even know the
people who make them. (“We live in a world in which relatively few
people – maybe 500 or 1,00 – make the important decisions” – Philip B.
Heymann of Harvard Law School, quoted by Anthony Lewis, New York
Times, April 21, 1995.) Our lives depend on whether safety standards
at a nuclear power plant are properly maintained; on how much
pesticide is allowed to get into our food or how much pollution into
our air; on how skillful (or incompetent) our doctor is; whether we
lose or get a job may depend on decisions made by government
economists or corporation executives; and so forth. Most individuals
are not in a position to secure themselves against these threats to
more [than] a very limited extent. The individual’s search for
security is therefore frustrated, which leads to a sense of

68. It may be objected that primitive man is physically less secure
than modern man, as is shown by his shorter life expectancy; hence
modern man suffers from less, not more than the amount of insecurity
that is normal for human beings. but psychological security does not
closely correspond with physical security. What makes us FEEL secure
is not so much objective security as a sense of confidence in our
ability to take care of ourselves. Primitive man, threatened by a
fierce animal or by hunger, can fight in self-defense or travel in
search of food. He has no certainty of success in these efforts, but
he is by no means helpless against the things that threaten him. The
modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many things
against which he is helpless; nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food,
environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his
privacy by large organizations, nation-wide social or economic
phenomena that may disrupt his way of life.

69. It is true that primitive man is powerless against some of the
things that threaten him; disease for example. But he can accept the
risk of disease stoically. It is part of the nature of things, it is
no one’s fault, unless is the fault of some imaginary, impersonal
demon. But threats to the modern individual tend to be MAN-MADE. They
are not the results of chance but are IMPOSED on him by other persons
whose decisions he, as an individual, is unable to influence.
Consequently he feels frustrated, humiliated and angry.

70. Thus primitive man for the most part has his security in his own
hands (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group)
whereas the security of modern man is in the hands of persons or
organizations that are too remote or too large for him to be able
personally to influence them. So modern man’s drive for security tends
to fall into groups 1 and 3; in some areas (food, shelter, etc.) his
security is assured at the cost of only trivial effort, whereas in
other areas he CANNOT attain security. (The foregoing greatly
simplifies the real situation, but it does indicate in a rough,
general way how the condition of modern man differs from that of
primitive man.)

71. People have many transitory drives or impulses that are necessary
frustrated in modern life, hence fall into group 3. One may become
angry, but modern society cannot permit fighting. In many situations
it does not even permit verbal aggression. When going somewhere one
may be in a hurry, or one may be in a mood to travel slowly, but one
generally has no choice but to move with the flow of traffic and obey
the traffic signals. One may want to do one’s work in a different way,
but usually one can work only according to the rules laid down by
one’s employer. In many other ways as well, modern man is strapped
down by a network of rules and regulations (explicit or implicit) that
frustrate many of his impulses and thus interfere with the power
process. Most of these regulations cannot be disposed with, because
the are necessary for the functioning of industrial society.

72. Modern society is in certain respects extremely permissive. In
matters that are irrelevant to the functioning of the system we can
generally do what we please. We can believe in any religion we like
(as long as it does not encourage behavior that is dangerous to the
system). We can go to bed with anyone we like (as long as we practice
“safe sex”). We can do anything we like as long as it is UNIMPORTANT.
But in all IMPORTANT matters the system tends increasingly to regulate
our behavior.

73. Behavior is regulated not only through explicit rules and not only
by the government. Control is often exercised through indirect
coercion or through psychological pressure or manipulation, and by
organizations other than the government, or by the system as a whole.
Most large organizations use some form of propaganda [14] to
manipulate public attitudes or behavior. Propaganda is not limited to
“commercials” and advertisements, and sometimes it is not even
consciously intended as propaganda by the people who make it. For
instance, the content of entertainment programming is a powerful form
of propaganda. An example of indirect coercion: There is no law that
says we have to go to work every day and follow our employer’s orders.
Legally there is nothing to prevent us from going to live in the wild
like primitive people or from going into business for ourselves. But
in practice there is very little wild country left, and there is room
in the economy for only a limited number of small business owners.
Hence most of us can survive only as someone else’s employee.

74. We suggest that modern man’s obsession with longevity, and with
maintaining physical vigor and sexual attractiveness to an advanced
age, is a symptom of unfulfillment resulting from deprivation with
respect to the power process. The “mid-life crisis” also is such a
symptom. So is the lack of interest in having children that is fairly
common in modern society but almost unheard-of in primitive societies.

75. In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs
and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no
particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage. A young man
goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for
sport or for fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food.
(In young women the process is more complex, with greater emphasis on
social power; we won’t discuss that here.) This phase having been
successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about
settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family. (In
contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children
because they are too busy seeking some kind of “fulfillment.” We
suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the
power process — with real goals instead of the artificial goals of
surrogate activities.) Again, having successfully raised his children,
going through the power process by providing them with the physical
necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is
prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death. Many
modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of
death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to
maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue
that this is due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they
have never put their physical powers to any use, have never gone
through the power process using their bodies in a serious way. It is
not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical
purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who
has never had a practical use for his body beyond walking from his car
to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been
satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of
that life.

76. In response to the arguments of this section someone will say,
“Society must find a way to give people the opportunity to go through
the power process.” For such people the value of the opportunity is
destroyed by the very fact that society gives it to them. What they
need is to find or make their own opportunities. As long as the system
GIVES them their opportunities it still has them on a leash. To attain
autonomy they must get off that leash.


77. Not everyone in industrial-technological society suffers from
psychological problems. Some people even profess to be quite satisfied
with society as it is. We now discuss some of the reasons why people
differ so greatly in their response to modern society.

78. First, there doubtless are differences in the strength of the
drive for power. Individuals with a weak drive for power may have
relatively little need to go through the power process, or at least
relatively little need for autonomy in the power process. These are
docile types who would have been happy as plantation darkies in the
Old South. (We don’t mean to sneer at “plantation darkies” of the Old
South. To their credit, most of the slaves were NOT content with their
servitude. We do sneer at people who ARE content with servitude.)

79. Some people may have some exceptional drive, in pursuing which
they satisfy their need for the power process. For example, those who
have an unusually strong drive for social status may spend their whole
lives climbing the status ladder without ever getting bored with that

80. People vary in their susceptibility to advertising and marketing
techniques. Some people are so susceptible that, even if they make a
great deal of money, they cannot satisfy their constant craving for
the shiny new toys that the marketing industry dangles before their
eyes. So they always feel hard-pressed financially even if their
income is large, and their cravings are frustrated.

81. Some people have low susceptibility to advertising and marketing
techniques. These are the people who aren’t interested in money.
Material acquisition does not serve their need for the power process.

82. People who have medium susceptibility to advertising and marketing
techniques are able to earn enough money to satisfy their craving for
goods and services, but only at the cost of serious effort (putting in
overtime, taking a second job, earning promotions, etc.) Thus material
acquisition serves their need for the power process. But it does not
necessarily follow that their need is fully satisfied. They may have
insufficient autonomy in the power process (their work may consist of
following orders) and some of their drives may be frustrated (e.g.,
security, aggression). (We are guilty of oversimplification in
paragraphs 80-82 because we have assumed that the desire for material
acquisition is entirely a creation of the advertising and marketing
industry. Of course it’s not that simple.

83. Some people partly satisfy their need for power by identifying
themselves with a powerful organization or mass movement. An
individual lacking goals or power joins a movement or an organization,
adopts its goals as his own, then works toward these goals. When some
of the goals are attained, the individual, even though his personal
efforts have played only an insignificant part in the attainment of
the goals, feels (through his identification with the movement or
organization) as if he had gone through the power process. This
phenomenon was exploited by the fascists, nazis and communists. Our
society uses it, too, though less crudely. Example: Manuel Noriega was
an irritant to the U.S. (goal: punish Noriega). The U.S. invaded
Panama (effort) and punished Noriega (attainment of goal). The U.S.
went through the power process and many Americans, because of their
identification with the U.S., experienced the power process
vicariously. Hence the widespread public approval of the Panama
invasion; it gave people a sense of power. [15] We see the same
phenomenon in armies, corporations, political parties, humanitarian
organizations, religious or ideological movements. In particular,
leftist movements tend to attract people who are seeking to satisfy
their need for power. But for most people identification with a large
organization or a mass movement does not fully satisfy the need for

84. Another way in which people satisfy their need for the power
process is through surrogate activities. As we explained in paragraphs
38-40, a surrogate activity that is directed toward an artificial goal
that the individual pursues for the sake of the “fulfillment” that he
gets from pursuing the goal, not because he needs to attain the goal
itself. For instance, there is no practical motive for building
enormous muscles, hitting a little ball into a hole or acquiring a
complete series of postage stamps. Yet many people in our society
devote themselves with passion to bodybuilding, golf or stamp
collecting. Some people are more “other-directed” than others, and
therefore will more readily attack importance to a surrogate activity
simply because the people around them treat it as important or because
society tells them it is important. That is why some people get very
serious about essentially trivial activities such as sports, or
bridge, or chess, or arcane scholarly pursuits, whereas others who are
more clear-sighted never see these things as anything but the
surrogate activities that they are, and consequently never attach
enough importance to them to satisfy their need for the power process
in that way. It only remains to point out that in many cases a
person’s way of earning a living is also a surrogate activity. Not a
PURE surrogate activity, since part of the motive for the activity is
to gain the physical necessities and (for some people) social status
and the luxuries that advertising makes them want. But many people put
into their work far more effort than is necessary to earn whatever
money and status they require, and this extra effort constitutes a
surrogate activity. This extra effort, together with the emotional
investment that accompanies it, is one of the most potent forces
acting toward the continual development and perfecting of the system,
with negative consequences for individual freedom (see paragraph 131).
Especially, for the most creative scientists and engineers, work tends
to be largely a surrogate activity. This point is so important that is
deserves a separate discussion, which we shall give in a moment
(paragraphs 87-92).

85. In this section we have explained how many people in modern
society do satisfy their need for the power process to a greater or
lesser extent. But we think that for the majority of people the need
for the power process is not fully satisfied. In the first place,
those who have an insatiable drive for status, or who get firmly
“hooked” or a surrogate activity, or who identify strongly enough with
a movement or organization to satisfy their need for power in that
way, are exceptional personalities. Others are not fully satisfied
with surrogate activities or by identification with an organization
(see paragraphs 41, 64). In the second place, too much control is
imposed by the system through explicit regulation or through
socialization, which results in a deficiency of autonomy, and in
frustration due to the impossibility of attaining certain goals and
the necessity of restraining too many impulses.

86. But even if most people in industrial-technological society were
well satisfied, we (FC) would still be opposed to that form of
society, because (among other reasons) we consider it demeaning to
fulfill one’s need for the power process through surrogate activities
or through identification with an organization, rather then through
pursuit of real goals.


87. Science and technology provide the most important examples of
surrogate activities. Some scientists claim that they are motivated by
“curiosity,” that notion is simply absurd. Most scientists work on
highly specialized problem that are not the object of any normal
curiosity. For example, is an astronomer, a mathematician or an
entomologist curious about the properties of
isopropyltrimethylmethane? Of course not. Only a chemist is curious
about such a thing, and he is curious about it only because chemistry
is his surrogate activity. Is the chemist curious about the
appropriate classification of a new species of beetle? No. That
question is of interest only to the entomologist, and he is interested
in it only because entomology is his surrogate activity. If the
chemist and the entomologist had to exert themselves seriously to
obtain the physical necessities, and if that effort exercised their
abilities in an interesting way but in some nonscientific pursuit,
then they couldn’t giver a damn about isopropyltrimethylmethane or the
classification of beetles. Suppose that lack of funds for postgraduate
education had led the chemist to become an insurance broker instead of
a chemist. In that case he would have been very interested in
insurance matters but would have cared nothing about
isopropyltrimethylmethane. In any case it is not normal to put into
the satisfaction of mere curiosity the amount of time and effort that
scientists put into their work. The “curiosity” explanation for the
scientists’ motive just doesn’t stand up.

88. The “benefit of humanity” explanation doesn’t work any better.
Some scientific work has no conceivable relation to the welfare of the
human race – most of archaeology or comparative linguistics for
example. Some other areas of science present obviously dangerous
possibilities. Yet scientists in these areas are just as enthusiastic
about their work as those who develop vaccines or study air pollution.
Consider the case of Dr. Edward Teller, who had an obvious emotional
involvement in promoting nuclear power plants. Did this involvement
stem from a desire to benefit humanity? If so, then why didn’t Dr.
Teller get emotional about other “humanitarian” causes? If he was such
a humanitarian then why did he help to develop the H-bomb? As with
many other scientific achievements, it is very much open to question
whether nuclear power plants actually do benefit humanity. Does the
cheap electricity outweigh the accumulating waste and risk of
accidents? Dr. Teller saw only one side of the question. Clearly his
emotional involvement with nuclear power arose not from a desire to
“benefit humanity” but from a personal fulfillment he got from his
work and from seeing it put to practical use.

89. The same is true of scientists generally. With possible rare
exceptions, their motive is neither curiosity nor a desire to benefit
humanity but the need to go through the power process: to have a goal
(a scientific problem to solve), to make an effort (research) and to
attain the goal (solution of the problem.) Science is a surrogate
activity because scientists work mainly for the fulfillment they get
out of the work itself.

90. Of course, it’s not that simple. Other motives do play a role for
many scientists. Money and status for example. Some scientists may be
persons of the type who have an insatiable drive for status (see
paragraph 79) and this may provide much of the motivation for their
work. No doubt the majority of scientists, like the majority of the
general population, are more or less susceptible to advertising and
marketing techniques and need money to satisfy their craving for goods
and services. Thus science is not a PURE surrogate activity. But it is
in large part a surrogate activity.

91. Also, science and technology constitute a mass power movement, and
many scientists gratify their need for power through identification
with this mass movement (see paragraph 83).

92. Thus science marches on blindly, without regard to the real
welfare of the human race or to any other standard, obedient only to
the psychological needs of the scientists and of the government
officials and corporation executives who provide the funds for


93. We are going to argue that industrial-technological society cannot
be reformed in such a way as to prevent it from progressively
narrowing the sphere of human freedom. But because “freedom” is a word
that can be interpreted in many ways, we must first make clear what
kind of freedom we are concerned with.

94. By “freedom” we mean the opportunity to go through the power
process, with real goals not the artificial goals of surrogate
activities, and without interference, manipulation or supervision from
anyone, especially from any large organization. Freedom means being in
control (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) of
the life-and-death issues of one’s existence; food, clothing, shelter
and defense against whatever threats there may be in one’s
environment. Freedom means having power; not the power to control
other people but the power to control the circumstances of one’s own
life. One does not have freedom if anyone else (especially a large
organization) has power over one, no matter how benevolently,
tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised. It is
important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness (see
paragraph 72).

95. It is said that we live in a free society because we have a
certain number of constitutionally guaranteed rights. But these are
not as important as they seem. The degree of personal freedom that
exists in a society is determined more by the economic and
technological structure of the society than by its laws or its form of
government. [16] Most of the Indian nations of New England were
monarchies, and many of the cities of the Italian Renaissance were
controlled by dictators. But in reading about these societies one gets
the impression that they allowed far more personal freedom than out
society does. In part this was because they lacked efficient
mechanisms for enforcing the ruler’s will: There were no modern,
well-organized police forces, no rapid long-distance communications,
no surveillance cameras, no dossiers of information about the lives of
average citizens. Hence it was relatively easy to evade control.

96. As for our constitutional rights, consider for example that of
freedom of the press. We certainly don’t mean to knock that right: it
is very important tool for limiting concentration of political power
and for keeping those who do have political power in line by publicly
exposing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of the press is of
very little use to the average citizen as an individual. The mass
media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are
integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have
something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some
such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of
material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect.
To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost
impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for
example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the
present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been
accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably would
not have attracted many readers, because it’s more fun to watch the
entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if
these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon
have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the
mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our
message before the public with some chance of making a lasting
impression, we’ve had to kill people.

97. Constitutional rights are useful up to a point, but they do not
serve to guarantee much more than what could be called the bourgeois
conception of freedom. According to the bourgeois conception, a “free”
man is essentially an element of a social machine and has only a
certain set of prescribed and delimited freedoms; freedoms that are
designed to serve the needs of the social machine more than those of
the individual. Thus the bourgeois’s “free” man has economic freedom
because that promotes growth and progress; he has freedom of the press
because public criticism restrains misbehavior by political leaders;
he has a rights to a fair trial because imprisonment at the whim of
the powerful would be bad for the system. This was clearly the
attitude of Simon Bolivar. To him, people deserved liberty only if
they used it to promote progress (progress as conceived by the
bourgeois). Other bourgeois thinkers have taken a similar view of
freedom as a mere means to collective ends. Chester C. Tan, “Chinese
Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,” page 202, explains the
philosophy of the Kuomintang leader Hu Han-min: “An individual is
granted rights because he is a member of society and his community
life requires such rights. By community Hu meant the whole society of
the nation.” And on page 259 Tan states that according to Carsum Chang
(Chang Chun-mai, head of the State Socialist Party in China) freedom
had to be used in the interest of the state and of the people as a
whole. But what kind of freedom does one have if one can use it only
as someone else prescribes? FC’s conception of freedom is not that of
Bolivar, Hu, Chang or other bourgeois theorists. The trouble with such
theorists is that they have made the development and application of
social theories their surrogate activity. Consequently the theories
are designed to serve the needs of the theorists more than the needs
of any people who may be unlucky enough to live in a society on which
the theories are imposed.

98. One more point to be made in this section: It should not be
assumed that a person has enough freedom just because he SAYS he has
enough. Freedom is restricted in part by psychological control of
which people are unconscious, and moreover many people’s ideas of what
constitutes freedom are governed more by social convention than by
their real needs. For example, it’s likely that many leftists of the
oversocialized type would say that most people, including themselves
are socialized too little rather than too much, yet the oversocialized
leftist pays a heavy psychological price for his high level of


99. Think of history as being the sum of two components: an erratic
component that consists of unpredictable events that follow no
discernible pattern, and a regular component that consists of
long-term historical trends. Here we are concerned with the long-term

100. FIRST PRINCIPLE. If a SMALL change is made that affects a
long-term historical trend, then the effect of that change will almost
always be transitory – the trend will soon revert to its original
state. (Example: A reform movement designed to clean up political
corruption in a society rarely has more than a short-term effect;
sooner or later the reformers relax and corruption creeps back in. The
level of political corruption in a given society tends to remain
constant, or to change only slowly with the evolution of the society.
Normally, a political cleanup will be permanent only if accompanied by
widespread social changes; a SMALL change in the society won’t be
enough.) If a small change in a long-term historical trend appears to
be permanent, it is only because the change acts in the direction in
which the trend is already moving, so that the trend is not altered
but only pushed a step ahead.

101. The first principle is almost a tautology. If a trend were not
stable with respect to small changes, it would wander at random rather
than following a definite direction; in other words it would not be a
long-term trend at all.

102. SECOND PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that is sufficiently large
to alter permanently a long-term historical trend, than it will alter
the society as a whole. In other words, a society is a system in which
all parts are interrelated, and you can’t permanently change any
important part without change all the other parts as well.

103. THIRD PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that is large enough to
alter permanently a long-term trend, then the consequences for the
society as a whole cannot be predicted in advance. (Unless various
other societies have passed through the same change and have all
experienced the same consequences, in which case one can predict on
empirical grounds that another society that passes through the same
change will be like to experience similar consequences.)

104. FOURTH PRINCIPLE. A new kind of society cannot be designed on
paper. That is, you cannot plan out a new form of society in advance,
then set it up and expect it to function as it was designed to.

105. The third and fourth principles result from the complexity of
human societies. A change in human behavior will affect the economy of
a society and its physical environment; the economy will affect the
environment and vice versa, and the changes in the economy and the
environment will affect human behavior in complex, unpredictable ways;
and so forth. The network of causes and effects is far too complex to
be untangled and understood.

106. FIFTH PRINCIPLE. People do not consciously and rationally choose
the form of their society. Societies develop through processes of
social evolution that are not under rational human control.

107. The fifth principle is a consequence of the other four.

108. To illustrate: By the first principle, generally speaking an
attempt at social reform either acts in the direction in which the
society is developing anyway (so that it merely accelerates a change
that would have occurred in any case) or else it only has a transitory
effect, so that the society soon slips back into its old groove. To
make a lasting change in the direction of development of any important
aspect of a society, reform is insufficient and revolution is
required. (A revolution does not necessarily involve an armed uprising
or the overthrow of a government.) By the second principle, a
revolution never changes only one aspect of a society; and by the
third principle changes occur that were never expected or desired by
the revolutionaries. By the fourth principle, when revolutionaries or
utopians set up a new kind of society, it never works out as planned.

109. The American Revolution does not provide a counterexample. The
American “Revolution” was not a revolution in our sense of the word,
but a war of independence followed by a rather far-reaching political
reform. The Founding Fathers did not change the direction of
development of American society, nor did they aspire to do so. They
only freed the development of American society from the retarding
effect of British rule. Their political reform did not change any
basic trend, but only pushed American political culture along its
natural direction of development. British society, of which American
society was an off-shoot, had been moving for a long time in the
direction of representative democracy. And prior to the War of
Independence the Americans were already practicing a significant
degree of representative democracy in the colonial assemblies. The
political system established by the Constitution was modeled on the
British system and on the colonial assemblies. With major alteration,
to be sure – there is no doubt that the Founding Fathers took a very
important step. But it was a step along the road the English-speaking
world was already traveling. The proof is that Britain and all of its
colonies that were populated predominantly by people of British
descent ended up with systems of representative democracy essentially
similar to that of the United States. If the Founding Fathers had lost
their nerve and declined to sign the Declaration of Independence, our
way of life today would not have been significantly different. Maybe
we would have had somewhat closer ties to Britain, and would have had
a Parliament and Prime Minister instead of a Congress and President.
No big deal. Thus the American Revolution provides not a
counterexample to our principles but a good illustration of them.

110. Still, one has to use common sense in applying the principles.
They are expressed in imprecise language that allows latitude for
interpretation, and exceptions to them can be found. So we present
these principles not as inviolable laws but as rules of thumb, or
guides to thinking, that may provide a partial antidote to naive ideas
about the future of society. The principles should be borne constantly
in mind, and whenever one reaches a conclusion that conflicts with
them one should carefully reexamine one’s thinking and retain the
conclusion only if one has good, solid reasons for doing so.


111. The foregoing principles help to show how hopelessly difficult it
would be to reform the industrial system in such a way as to prevent
it from progressively narrowing our sphere of freedom. There has been
a consistent tendency, going back at least to the Industrial
Revolution for technology to strengthen the system at a high cost in
individual freedom and local autonomy. Hence any change designed to
protect freedom from technology would be contrary to a fundamental
trend in the development of our society.

Consequently, such a change either would be a transitory one — soon
swamped by the tide of history — or, if large enough to be permanent
would alter the nature of our whole society. This by the first and
second principles. Moreover, since society would be altered in a way
that could not be predicted in advance (third principle) there would
be great risk. Changes large enough to make a lasting difference in
favor of freedom would not be initiated because it would realized that
they would gravely disrupt the system. So any attempts at reform would
be too timid to be effective. Even if changes large enough to make a
lasting difference were initiated, they would be retracted when their
disruptive effects became apparent. Thus, permanent changes in favor
of freedom could be brought about only by persons prepared to accept
radical, dangerous and unpredictable alteration of the entire system.
In other words, by revolutionaries, not reformers.

112. People anxious to rescue freedom without sacrificing the supposed
benefits of technology will suggest naive schemes for some new form of
society that would reconcile freedom with technology. Apart from the
fact that people who make suggestions seldom propose any practical
means by which the new form of society could be set up in the first
place, it follows from the fourth principle that even if the new form
of society could be once established, it either would collapse or
would give results very different from those expected.

113. So even on very general grounds it seems highly improbably that
any way of changing society could be found that would reconcile
freedom with modern technology. In the next few sections we will give
more specific reasons for concluding that freedom and technological
progress are incompatible.


114. As explained in paragraph 65-67, 70-73, modern man is strapped
down by a network of rules and regulations, and his fate depends on
the actions of persons remote from him whose decisions he cannot
influence. This is not accidental or a result of the arbitrariness of
arrogant bureaucrats. It is necessary and inevitable in any
technologically advanced society. The system HAS TO regulate human
behavior closely in order to function. At work, people have to do what
they are told to do, otherwise production would be thrown into chaos.
Bureaucracies HAVE TO be run according to rigid rules. To allow any
substantial personal discretion to lower-level bureaucrats would
disrupt the system and lead to charges of unfairness due to
differences in the way individual bureaucrats exercised their
discretion. It is true that some restrictions on our freedom could be
eliminated, but GENERALLY SPEAKING the regulation of our lives by
large organizations is necessary for the functioning of
industrial-technological society. The result is a sense of
powerlessness on the part of the average person. It may be, however,
that formal regulations will tend increasingly to be replaced by
psychological tools that make us want to do what the system requires
of us. (Propaganda [14], educational techniques, “mental health”
programs, etc.)

115. The system HAS TO force people to behave in ways that are
increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior. For
example, the system needs scientists, mathematicians and engineers. It
can’t function without them. So heavy pressure is put on children to
excel in these fields. It isn’t natural for an adolescent human being
to spend the bulk of his time sitting at a desk absorbed in study. A
normal adolescent wants to spend his time in active contact with the
real world. Among primitive peoples the things that children are
trained to do are in natural harmony with natural human impulses.
Among the American Indians, for example, boys were trained in active
outdoor pursuits — just the sort of things that boys like. But in our
society children are pushed into studying technical subjects, which
most do grudgingly.

116. Because of the constant pressure that the system exerts to modify
human behavior, there is a gradual increase in the number of people
who cannot or will not adjust to society’s requirements: welfare
leeches, youth-gang members, cultists, anti-government rebels, radical
environmentalist saboteurs, dropouts and resisters of various kinds.

117. In any technologically advanced society the individual’s fate
MUST depend on decisions that he personally cannot influence to any
great extent. A technological society cannot be broken down into
small, autonomous communities, because production depends on the
cooperation of very large numbers of people and machines. Such a
society MUST be highly organized and decisions HAVE TO be made that
affect very large numbers of people. When a decision affects, say, a
million people, then each of the affected individuals has, on the
average, only a one-millionth share in making the decision. What
usually happens in practice is that decisions are made by public
officials or corporation executives, or by technical specialists, but
even when the public votes on a decision the number of voters
ordinarily is too large for the vote of any one individual to be
significant. [17] Thus most individuals are unable to influence
measurably the major decisions that affect their lives. Their is no
conceivable way to remedy this in a technologically advanced society.
The system tries to “solve” this problem by using propaganda to make
people WANT the decisions that have been made for them, but even if
this “solution” were completely successful in making people feel
better, it would be demeaning.

118 Conservatives and some others advocate more “local autonomy.”
Local communities once did have autonomy, but such autonomy becomes
less and less possible as local communities become more enmeshed with
and dependent on large-scale systems like public utilities, computer
networks, highway systems, the mass communications media, the modern
health care system. Also operating against autonomy is the fact that
technology applied in one location often affects people at other
locations far away. Thus pesticide or chemical use near a creek may
contaminate the water supply hundreds of miles downstream, and the
greenhouse effect affects the whole world.

119. The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs.
Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs
of the system. This has nothing to do with the political or social
ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is the
fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but
by technical necessity. [18] Of course the system does satisfy many
human needs, but generally speaking it does this only to the extent
that it is to the advantage of the system to do it. It is the needs of
the system that are paramount, not those of the human being. For
example, the system provides people with food because the system
couldn’t function if everyone starved; it attends to people’s
psychological needs whenever it can CONVENIENTLY do so, because it
couldn’t function if too many people became depressed or rebellious.
But the system, for good, solid, practical reasons, must exert
constant pressure on people to mold their behavior to the needs of the
system. Too much waste accumulating? The government, the media, the
educational system, environmentalists, everyone inundates us with a
mass of propaganda about recycling. Need more technical personnel? A
chorus of voices exhorts kids to study science. No one stops to ask
whether it is inhumane to force adolescents to spend the bulk of their
time studying subjects most of them hate. When skilled workers are put
out of a job by technical advances and have to undergo “retraining,”
no one asks whether it is humiliating for them to be pushed around in
this way. It is simply taken for granted that everyone must bow to
technical necessity and for good reason: If human needs were put
before technical necessity there would be economic problems,
unemployment, shortages or worse. The concept of “mental health” in
our society is defined largely by the extent to which an individual
behaves in accord with the needs of the system and does so without
showing signs of stress.

120. Efforts to make room for a sense of purpose and for autonomy
within the system are no better than a joke. For example, one company,
instead of having each of its employees assemble only one section of a
catalogue, had each assemble a whole catalogue, and this was supposed
to give them a sense of purpose and achievement. Some companies have
tried to give their employees more autonomy in their work, but for
practical reasons this usually can be done only to a very limited
extent, and in any case employees are never given autonomy as to
ultimate goals — their “autonomous” efforts can never be directed
toward goals that they select personally, but only toward their
employer’s goals, such as the survival and growth of the company. Any
company would soon go out of business if it permitted its employees to
act otherwise. Similarly, in any enterprise within a socialist system,
workers must direct their efforts toward the goals of the enterprise,
otherwise the enterprise will not serve its purpose as part of the
system. Once again, for purely technical reasons it is not possible
for most individuals or small groups to have much autonomy in
industrial society. Even the small-business owner commonly has only
limited autonomy. Apart from the necessity of government regulation,
he is restricted by the fact that he must fit into the economic system
and conform to its requirements. For instance, when someone develops a
new technology, the small-business person often has to use that
technology whether he wants to or not, in order to remain competitive.


121. A further reason why industrial society cannot be reformed in
favor of freedom is that modern technology is a unified system in
which all parts are dependent on one another. You can’t get rid of the
“bad” parts of technology and retain only the “good” parts. Take
modern medicine, for example. Progress in medical science depends on
progress in chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and other
fields. Advanced medical treatments require expensive, high-tech
equipment that can be made available only by a technologically
progressive, economically rich society. Clearly you can’t have much
progress in medicine without the whole technological system and
everything that goes with it.

122. Even if medical progress could be maintained without the rest of
the technological system, it would by itself bring certain evils.
Suppose for example that a cure for diabetes is discovered. People
with a genetic tendency to diabetes will then be able to survive and
reproduce as well as anyone else. Natural selection against genes for
diabetes will cease and such genes will spread throughout the
population. (This may be occurring to some extent already, since
diabetes, while not curable, can be controlled through the use of
insulin.) The same thing will happen with many other diseases
susceptibility to which is affected by genetic degradation of the
population. The only solution will be some sort of eugenics program or
extensive genetic engineering of human beings, so that man in the
future will no longer be a creation of nature, or of chance, or of God
(depending on your religious or philosophical opinions), but a
manufactured product.

123. If you think that big government interferes in your life too much
NOW, just wait till the government starts regulating the genetic
constitution of your children. Such regulation will inevitably follow
the introduction of genetic engineering of human beings, because the
consequences of unregulated genetic engineering would be disastrous.

124. The usual response to such concerns is to talk about “medical
ethics.” But a code of ethics would not serve to protect freedom in
the face of medical progress; it would only make matters worse. A code
of ethics applicable to genetic engineering would be in effect a means
of regulating the genetic constitution of human beings. Somebody
(probably the upper-middle class, mostly) would decide that such and
such applications of genetic engineering were “ethical” and others
were not, so that in effect they would be imposing their own values on
the genetic constitution of the population at large. Even if a code of
ethics were chosen on a completely democratic basis, the majority
would be imposing their own values on any minorities who might have a
different idea of what constituted an “ethical” use of genetic
engineering. The only code of ethics that would truly protect freedom
would be one that prohibited ANY genetic engineering of human beings,
and you can be sure that no such code will ever be applied in a
technological society. No code that reduced genetic engineering to a
minor role could stand up for long, because the temptation presented
by the immense power of biotechnology would be irresistible,
especially since to the majority of people many of its applications
will seem obviously and unequivocally good (eliminating physical and
mental diseases, giving people the abilities they need to get along in
today’s world). Inevitably, genetic engineering will be used
extensively, but only in ways consistent with the needs of the
industrial-technological system. [20]


125. It is not possible to make a LASTING compromise between
technology and freedom, because technology is by far the more powerful
social force and continually encroaches on freedom through REPEATED
compromises. Imagine the case of two neighbors, each of whom at the
outset owns the same amount of land, but one of whom is more powerful
than the other. The powerful one demands a piece of the other’s land.
The weak one refuses. The powerful one says, “OK, let’s compromise.
Give me half of what I asked.” The weak one has little choice but to
give in. Some time later the powerful neighbor demands another piece
of land, again there is a compromise, and so forth. By forcing a long
series of compromises on the weaker man, the powerful one eventually
gets all of his land. So it goes in the conflict between technology
and freedom.

126. Let us explain why technology is a more powerful social force
than the aspiration for freedom.

127. A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom
often turns out to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it
very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A
walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace
without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of
technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced
they appeared to increase man’s freedom. They took no freedom away
from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t
want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel
much faster than the walking man. But the introduction of motorized
transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly
man’s freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it
became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car,
especially in densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one
likes at one’s own pace one’s movement is governed by the flow of
traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various
obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration,
insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on
purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer
optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the
arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority
of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of
employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that
they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation. Or else they
must use public transportation, in which case they have even less
control over their own movement than when driving a car. Even the
walker’s freedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he continually
has to stop and wait for traffic lights that are designed mainly to
serve auto traffic. In the country, motor traffic makes it dangerous
and unpleasant to walk along the highway. (Note the important point we
have illustrated with the case of motorized transport: When a new item
of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept
or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many
cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people
eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)

128. While technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our
sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF
appears to be desirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid
long-distance communications . . . how could one argue against any of
these things, or against any other of the innumerable technical
advances that have made modern society? It would have been absurd to
resist the introduction of the telephone, for example. It offered many
advantages and no disadvantages. Yet as we explained in paragraphs
59-76, all these technical advances taken together have created world
in which the average man’s fate is no longer in his own hands or in
the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians,
corporation executives and remote, anonymous technicians and
bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence. [21]
The same process will continue in the future. Take genetic
engineering, for example. Few people will resist the introduction of a
genetic technique that eliminates a hereditary disease It does no
apparent harm and prevents much suffering. Yet a large number of
genetic improvements taken together will make the human being into an
engineered product rather than a free creation of chance (or of God,
or whatever, depending on your religious beliefs).

129 Another reason why technology is such a powerful social force is
that, within the context of a given society, technological progress
marches in only one direction; it can never be reversed. Once a
technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become
dependent on 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.) Thus the system can move in
only one direction, toward greater technologization. Technology
repeatedly forces freedom to take a step back — short of the
overthrow of the whole technological system.

130. Technology advances with great rapidity and threatens freedom at
many different points at the same time (crowding, rules and
regulations, increasing dependence of individuals on large
organizations, propaganda and other psychological techniques, genetic
engineering, invasion of privacy through surveillance devices and
computers, etc.) To hold back any ONE of the threats to freedom would
require a long different social struggle. Those who want to protect
freedom are overwhelmed by the sheer number of new attacks and the
rapidity with which they develop, hence they become pathetic and no
longer resist. To fight each of the threats separately would be
futile. Success can be hoped for only by fighting the technological
system as a whole; but that is revolution not reform.

131. Technicians (we use this term in its broad sense to describe all
those who perform a specialized task that requires training) tend to
be so involved in their work (their surrogate activity) that when a
conflict arises between their technical work and freedom, they almost
always decide in favor of their technical work. This is obvious in the
case of scientists, but it also appears elsewhere: Educators,
humanitarian groups, conservation organizations do not hesitate to use
propaganda or other psychological techniques to help them achieve
their laudable ends. Corporations and government agencies, when they
find it useful, do not hesitate to collect information about
individuals without regard to their privacy. Law enforcement agencies
are frequently inconvenienced by the constitutional rights of suspects
and often of completely innocent persons, and they do whatever they
can do legally (or sometimes illegally) to restrict or circumvent
those rights. Most of these educators, government officials and law
officers believe in freedom, privacy and constitutional rights, but
when these conflict with their work, they usually feel that their work
is more important.

132. It is well known that people generally work better and more
persistently when striving for a reward than when attempting to avoid
a punishment or negative outcome. Scientists and other technicians are
motivated mainly by the rewards they get through their work. But those
who oppose technilogiccal invasions of freedom are working to avoid a
negative outcome, consequently there are a few who work persistently
and well at this discouraging task. If reformers ever achieved a
signal victory that seemed to set up a solid barrier against further
erosion of freedom through technological progress, most would tend to
relax and turn their attention to more agreeable pursuits. But the
scientists would remain busy in their laboratories, and technology as
it progresses would find ways, in spite of any barriers, to exert more
and more control over individuals and make them always more dependent
on the system.

133. No social arrangements, whether laws, institutions, customs or
ethical codes, can provide permanent protection against technology.
History shows that all social arrangements are transitory; they all
change or break down eventually. But technological advances are
permanent within the context of a given civilization. Suppose for
example that it were possible to arrive at some social arrangements
that would prevent genetic engineering from being applied to human
beings, or prevent it from being applied in such a ways as to threaten
freedom and dignity. Still, the technology would remain waiting.
Sooner or later the social arrangement would break down. Probably
sooner, given that pace of change in our society. Then genetic
engineering would begin to invade our sphere of freedom, and this
invasion would be irreversible (short of a breakdown of technological
civilization itself). Any illusions about achieving anything permanent
through social arrangements should be dispelled by what is currently
happening with environmental legislation. A few years ago it seemed
that there were secure legal barriers preventing at least SOME of the
worst forms of environmental degradation. A change in the political
wind, and those barriers begin to crumble.

134. For all of the foregoing reasons, technology is a more powerful
social force than the aspiration for freedom. But this statement
requires an important qualification. It appears that during the next
several decades the industrial-technological system will be undergoing
severe stresses due to economic and environmental problems, and
especially due to problems of human behavior (alienation, rebellion,
hostility, a variety of social and psychological difficulties). We
hope that the stresses through which the system is likely to pass will
cause it to break down, or at least weaken it sufficiently so that a
revolution occurs and is successful, then at that particular moment
the aspiration for freedom will have proved more powerful than

135. In paragraph 125 we used an analogy of a weak neighbor who is
left destitute by a strong neighbor who takes all his land by forcing
on him a series of compromises. But suppose now that the strong
neighbor gets sick, so that he is unable to defend himself. The weak
neighbor can force the strong one to give him his land back, or he can
kill him. If he lets the strong man survive and only forces him to
give his land back, he is a fool, because when the strong man gets
well he will again take all the land for himself. The only sensible
alternative for the weaker man is to kill the strong one while he has
the chance. In the same way, while the industrial system is sick we
must destroy it. If we compromise with it and let it recover from its
sickness, it will eventually wipe out all of our freedom.


136. If anyone still imagines that it would be possible to reform the
system in such a way as to protect freedom from technology, let him
consider how clumsily and for the most part unsuccessfully our society
has dealt with other social problems that are far more simple and
straightforward. Among other things, the system has failed to stop
environmental degradation, political corruption, drug trafficking or
domestic abuse.

137. Take our environmental problems, for example. Here the conflict
of values is straightforward: economic expedience now versus saving
some of our natural resources for our grandchildren [22] But on this
subject we get only a lot of blather and obfuscation from the people
who have power, and nothing like a clear, consistent line of action,
and we keep on piling up environmental problems that our grandchildren
will have to live with. Attempts to resolve the environmental issue
consist of struggles and compromises between different factions, some
of which are ascendant at one moment, others at another moment. The
line of struggle changes with the shifting currents of public opinion.
This is not a rational process, or is it one that is likely to lead to
a timely and successful solution to the problem. Major social
problems, if they get “solved” at all, are rarely or never solved
through any rational, comprehensive plan. They just work themselves
out through a process in which various competing groups pursing their
own usually short-term) self-interest [23] arrive (mainly by luck) at
some more or less stable modus vivendi. In fact, the principles we
formulated in paragraphs 100-106 make it seem doubtful that rational,
long-term social planning can EVER be successful. 138. Thus it is
clear that the human race has at best a very limited capacity for
solving even relatively straightforward social problems. How then is
it going to solve the far more difficult and subtle problem of
reconciling freedom with technology? Technology presents clear-cut
material advantages, whereas freedom is an abstraction that means
different things to different people, and its loss is easily obscured
by propaganda and fancy talk.

139. And note this important difference: It is conceivable that our
environmental problems (for example) may some day be settled through a
rational, comprehensive plan, but if this happens it will be only
because it is in the long-term interest of the system to solve these
problems. But it is NOT in the interest of the system to preserve
freedom or small-group autonomy. On the contrary, it is in the
interest of the system to bring human behavior under control to the
greatest possible extent. Thus, while practical considerations may
eventually force the system to take a rational, prudent approach to
environmental problems, equally practical considerations will force
the system to regulate human behavior ever more closely (preferably by
indirect means that will disguise the encroachment on freedom.) This
isn’t just our opinion. Eminent social scientists (e.g. James Q.
Wilson) have stressed the importance of “socializing” people more


140. We hope we have convinced the reader that the system cannot be
reformed in a such a way as to reconcile freedom with technology. The
only way out is to dispense with the industrial-technological system
altogether. This implies revolution, not necessarily an armed
uprising, but certainly a radical and fundamental change in the nature
of society.

141. People tend to assume that because a revolution involves a much
greater change than reform does, it is more difficult to bring about
than reform is. Actually, under certain circumstances revolution is
much easier than reform. The reason is that a revolutionary movement
can inspire an intensity of commitment that a reform movement cannot
inspire. A reform movement merely offers to solve a particular social
problem A revolutionary movement offers to solve all problems at one
stroke and create a whole new world; it provides the kind of ideal for
which people will take great risks and make great sacrifices. For this
reasons it would be much easier to overthrow the whole technological
system than to put effective, permanent restraints on the development
of application of any one segment of technology, such as genetic
engineering, but under suitable conditions large numbers of people may
devote themselves passionately to a revolution against the
industrial-technological system. As we noted in paragraph 132,
reformers seeking to limite certain aspects of technology would be
working to avoid a negative outcome. But revolutionaries work to gain
a powerful reward — fulfillment of their revolutionary vision — and
therefore work harder and more persistently than reformers do.

142. Reform is always restrainde by the fear of painful consequences
if changes go too far. But once a revolutionary fever has taken hold
of a society, people are willing to undergo unlimited hardships for
the sake of their revolution. This was clearly shown in the French and
Russian Revolutions. It may be that in such cases only a minority of
the population is really committed to the revolution, but this
minority is sufficiently large and active so that it becomes the
dominant force in society. We will have more to say about revolution
in paragraphs 180-205.


143. Since the beginning of civilization, organized societies have had
to put pressures on human beings of the sake of the functioning of the
social organism. The kinds of pressures vary greatly from one society
to another. Some of the pressures are physical (poor diet, excessive
labor, environmental pollution), some are psychological (noise,
crowding, forcing humans behavior into the mold that society
requires). In the past, human nature has been approximately constant,
or at any rate has varied only within certain bounds. Consequently,
societies have been able to push people only up to certain limits.
When the limit of human endurance has been passed, things start going
rong: rebellion, or crime, or corruption, or evasion of work, or
depression and other mental problems, or an elevated death rate, or a
declining birth rate or something else, so that either the society
breaks down, or its functioning becomes too inefficient and it is
(quickly or gradually, through conquest, attrition or evolution)
replaces by some more efficient form of society.


144. Thus human nature has in the past put certain limits on the
development of societies. People coud be pushed only so far and no
farther. But today this may be changing, because modern technology is
developing way of modifying human beings.

145. Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that amke
them terribley unhappy, then gives them the drugs to take away their
unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some extent
in our own society. It is well known that the rate of clinical
depression had been greatly increasing in recent decades. We believe
that this is due to disruption fo the power process, as explained in
paragraphs 59-76. But even if we are wrong, the increasing rate of
depression is certainly the result of SOME conditions that exist in
today’s society. Instead of removing the conditions that make people
depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect,
antidepressants area a means of modifying an individual’s internal
state in such a way as to enable him to toelrate social conditions
that he would otherwise find intolerable. (Yes, we know that
depression is often of purely genetic origin. We are referring here to
those cases in which environment plays the predominant role.)

146. Drugs that affect the mind are only one example of the methods of
controlling human behavior that modern society is developing. Let us
look at some of the other methods.

147. To start with, there are the techniques of surveillance. Hidden
video cameras are now used in most stores and in many other places,
computers are used to collect and process vast amounts of information
about individuals. Information so obtained greatly increases the
effectiveness of physical coercion (i.e., law enforcement).[26] Then
there are the methods of propaganda, for which the mass communication
media provide effective vehicles. Efficient techniques have been
developed for winning elections, selling products, influencing public
opinion. The entertainment industry serves as an important
psychological tool of the system, possibly even when it is dishing out
large amounts of sex and violence. Entertainment provides modern man
with an essential means of escape. While absorbed in television,
videos, etc., he can forget stress, anxiety, frustration,
dissatisfaction. Many primitive peoples, when they don’t have work to
do, are quite content to sit for hours at a time doing nothing at all,
because they are at peace with themselves and their world. But most
modern people must be contantly occupied or entertained, otherwise the
get “bored,” i.e., they get fidgety, uneasy, irritable.

148. Other techniques strike deeper that the foregoing. Education is
no longer a simple affair of paddling a kid’s behind when he doesn’t
know his lessons and patting him on the head when he does know them.
It is becoming a scientific technique for controlling the child’s
development. Sylvan Learning Centers, for example, have had great
success in motivating children to study, and psychological techniques
are also used with more or less success in many conventional schools.
“Parenting” techniques that are taught to parents are designed to make
children accept fundamental values of the system and behave in ways
that the system finds desirable. “Mental health” programs,
“intervention” techniques, psychotherapy and so forth are ostensibly
designed to benefit individuals, but in practice they usually serve as
methods for inducing individuals to think and behave as the system
requires. (There is no contradiction here; an individual whose
attitudes or behavior bring him into conflict with the system is up
against a force that is too powerful for him to conquer or escape
from, hence he is likely to suffer from stress, frustration, defeat.
His path will be much easier if he thinks and behaves as the system
requires. In that sense the system is acting for the benefit of the
individual when it brainwashes him into conformity.) Child abuse in
its gross and obvious forms is disapproved in most if not all
cultures. Tormenting a child for a trivial reason or no reason at all
is something that appalls almost everyone. But many psychologists
interpret the concept of abuse much more broadly. Is spanking, when
used as part of a rational and consistent system of discipline, a form
of abuse? The question will ultimately be decided by whether or not
spanking tends to produce behavior that makes a person fit in well
with the existing system of society. In practice, the word “abuse”
tends to be interpreted to include any method of child-rearing that
produces behavior inconvenient for the system. Thus, when they go
beyond the prevention of obvious, senseless cruelty, programs for
preventing “child abuse” are directed toward the control of human
behavior of the system.

149. Presumably, research will continue to increas the effectiveness
of psychological techniques for controlling human behavior. But we
think it is unlikely that psychological techniques alone will be
sufficient to adjust human beings to the kind of society that
technology is creating. Biological methods probably will have to be
used. We have already mentiond the use of drugs in this connection.
Neurology may provide other avenues of modifying the human mind.
Genetic engineering of human beings is already beginning to occur in
the form of “gene therapy,” and there is no reason to assume the such
methods will not eventually be used to modify those aspects of the
body that affect mental funtioning.

150. As we mentioned in paragraph 134, industrial society seems likely
to be entering a period of severe stress, due in part to problems of
human behavior and in part to economic and environmental problems. And
a considerable proportion of the system’s economic and environmental
problems result from the way human beings behave. Alienation, low
self-esteem, depression, hostility, rebellion; children who won’t
study, youth gangs, illegal drug use, rape, child abuse , other
crimes, unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, population growth, political
corruption, race hatred, ethnic rivalry, bitter ideological conflict
(i.e., pro-choice vs. pro-life), political extremism, terrorism,
sabotage, anti-government groups, hate groups. All these threaten the
very survival of the system. The system will be FORCED to use every
practical means of controlling human behavior.

151. The social disruption that we see today is certainly not the
result of mere chance. It can only be a result fo the conditions of
life that the system imposes on people. (We have argued that the most
important of these conditions is disruption of the power process.) If
the systems succeeds in imposing sufficient control over human
behavior to assure itw own survival, a new watershed in human history
will have passed. Whereas formerly the limits of human endurance have
imposed limits on the development of societies (as we explained in
paragraphs 143, 144), industrial-technological society will be able to
pass those limits by modifying human beings, whether by psychological
methods or biological methods or both. In the future, social systems
will not be adjusted to suit the needs of human beings. Instead, human
being will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system.

[27] 152. Generally speaking, technological control over human
behavior will probably not be introduced with a totalitarian intention
or even through a conscious desire to restrict human freedom. [28]
Each new step in the assertion of control over the human mind will be
taken as a rational response to a problem that faces society, such as
curing alcoholism, reducing the crime rate or inducing young people to
study science and engineering. In many cases, there will be
humanitarian justification. For example, when a psychiatrist
prescribes an anti-depressant for a depressed patient, he is clearly
doing that individual a favor. It would be inhumane to withhold the
drug from someone who needs it. When parents send their children to
Sylvan Learning Centers to have them manipulated into becoming
enthusiastic about their studies, they do so from concern for their
children’s welfare. It may be that some of these parents wish that one
didn’t have to have specialized training to get a job and that their
kid didn’t have to be brainwashed into becoming a computer nerd. But
what can they do? They can’t change society, and their child may be
unemployable if he doesn’t have certain skills. So they send him to

153. Thus control over human behavior will be introduced not by a
calculated decision of the authorities but through a process of social
evolution (RAPID evolution, however). The process will be impossible
to resist, because each advance, considered by itself, will appear to
be beneficial, or at least the evil involved in making the advance
will appear to be beneficial, or at least the evil involved in making
the advance will seem to be less than that which would result from not
making it (see paragraph 127). Propaganda for example is used for many
good purposes, such as discouraging child abuse or race hatred. [14]
Sex education is obviously useful, yet the effect of sex education (to
the extent that it is successful) is to take the shaping of sexual
attitudes away from the family and put it into the hands of the state
as represented by the public school system.

154. Suppose a biological trait is discovered that increases the
likelihood that a child will grow up to be a criminal and suppose some
sort of gene therapy can remove this trait. [29] Of course most
parents whose children possess the trait will have them undergo the
therapy. It would be inhumane to do otherwise, since the child would
probably have a miserable life if he grew up to be a criminal. But
many or most primitive societies have a low crime rate in comparison
with that of our society, even though they have neither high-tech
methods of child-rearing nor harsh systems of punishment. Since there
is no reason to suppose that more modern men than primitive men have
innate predatory tendencies, the high crime rate of our society must
be due to the pressures that modern conditions put on people, to which
many cannot or will not adjust. Thus a treatment designed to remove
potential criminal tendencies is at least in part a way of
re-engineering people so that they suit the requirements of the

155. Our society tends to regard as a “sickness” any mode of thought
or behavior that is inconvenient for the system, and this is plausible
because when an individual doesn’t fit into the system it causes pain
to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus the
manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen as a
“cure” for a “sickness” and therefore as good.

156. In paragraph 127 we pointed out that if the use of a new item of
technology is INITIALLY optional, it does not necessarily REMAIN
optional, because the new technology tends to change society in such a
way that it becomes difficult or impossible for an individual to
function without using that technology. This applies also to the
technology of human behavior. In a world in which most children are
put through a program to make them enthusiastic about studying, a
parent will almost be forced to put his kid through such a program,
because if he does not, then the kid will grow up to be, comparatively
speaking, an ignoramus and therefore unemployable. Or suppose a
biological treatment is discovered that, without undesirable
side-effects, will greatly reduce the psychological stress from which
so many people suffer in our society. If large numbers of people
choose to undergo the treatment, then the general level of stress in
society will be reduced, so that it will be possible for the system to
increase the stress-producing pressures. In fact, something like this
seems to have happened already with one of our society’s most
important psychological tools for enabling people to reduce (or at
least temporarily escape from) stress, namely, mass entertainment (see
paragraph 147). Our use of mass entertainment is “optional”: No law
requires us to watch television, listen to the radio, read magazines.
Yet mass entertainment is a means of escape and stress-reduction on
which most of us have become dependent. Everyone complains about the
trashiness of television, but almost everyone watches it. A few have
kicked the TV habit, but it would be a rare person who could get along
today without using ANY form of mass entertainment. (Yet until quite
recently in human history most people got along very nicely with no
other entertainment than that which each local community created for
itself.) Without the entertainment industry the system probably would
not have been able to get away with putting as much stress-producing
pressure on us as it does.

157. Assuming that industrial society survives, it is likely that
technology will eventually acquire something approaching complete
control over human behavior. It has been established beyond any
rational doubt that human thought and behavior have a largely
biological basis. As experimenters have demonstrated, feelings such as
hunger, pleasure, anger and fear can be turned on and off by
electrical stimulation of appropriate parts of the brain. Memories can
be destroyed by damaging parts of the brain or they can be brought to
the surface by electrical stimulation. Hallucinations can be induced
or moods changed by drugs. There may or may not be an immaterial human
soul, but if there is one it clearly is less powerful that the
biological mechanisms of human behavior. For if that were not the case
then researchers would not be able so easily to manipulate human
feelings and behavior with drugs and electrical currents.

158. It presumably would be impractical for all people to have
electrodes inserted in their heads so that they could be controlled by
the authorities. But the fact that human thoughts and feelings are so
open to biological intervention shows that the problem of controlling
human behavior is mainly a technical problem; a problem of neurons,
hormones and complex molecules; the kind of problem that is accessible
to scientific attack. Given the outstanding record of our society in
solving technical problems, it is overwhelmingly probable that great
advances will be made in the control of human behavior.

159. Will public resistance prevent the introduction of technological
control of human behavior? It certainly would if an attempt were made
to introduce such control all at once. But since technological control
will be introduced through a long sequence of small advances, there
will be no rational and effective public resistance. (See paragraphs
127,132, 153.)

160. To those who think that all this sounds like science fiction, we
point out that yesterday’s science fiction is today’s fact. The
Industrial Revolution has radically altered man’s environment and way
of life, and it is only to be expected that as technology is
increasingly applied to the human body and mind, man himself will be
altered as radically as his environment and way of life have been.


161. But we have gotten ahead of our story. It is one thing to develop
in the laboratory a series of psychological or biological techniques
for manipulating human behavior and quite another to integrate these
techniques into a functioning social system. The latter problem is the
more difficult of the two. For example, while the techniques of
educational psychology doubtless work quite well in the “lab schools”
where they are developed, it is not necessarily easy to apply them
effectively throughout our educational system. We all know what many
of our schools are like. The teachers are too busy taking knives and
guns away from the kids to subject them to the latest techniques for
making them into computer nerds. Thus, in spite of all its technical
advances relating to human behavior the system to date has not been
impressively successful in controlling human beings. The people whose
behavior is fairly well under the control of the system are those of
the type that might be called “bourgeois.” But there are growing
numbers of people who in one way or another are rebels against the
system: welfare leaches, youth gangs cultists, satanists, nazis,
radical environmentalists, militiamen, etc..

162. The system is currently engaged in a desperate struggle to
overcome certain problems that threaten its survival, among which the
problems of human behavior are the most important. If the system
succeeds in acquiring sufficient control over human behavior quickly
enough, it will probably survive. Otherwise it will break down. We
think the issue will most likely be resolved within the next several
decades, say 40 to 100 years.

163. Suppose the system survives the crisis of the next several
decades. By that time it will have to have solved, or at least brought
under control, the principal problems that confront it, in particular
that of “socializing” human beings; that is, making people
sufficiently docile so that their behavior no longer threatens the
system. That being accomplished, it does not appear that there would
be any further obstacle to the development of technology, and it would
presumably advance toward its logical conclusion, which is complete
control over everything on Earth, including human beings and all other
important organisms. The system may become a unitary, monolithic
organization, or it may be more or less fragmented and consist of a
number of organizations coexisting in a relationship that includes
elements of both cooperation and competition, just as today the
government, the corporations and other large organizations both
cooperate and compete with one another. Human freedom mostly will have
vanished, because individuals and small groups will be impotent
vis-a-vis large organizations armed with supertechnology and an
arsenal of advanced psychological and biological tools for
manipulating human beings, besides instruments of surveillance and
physical coercion. Only a small number of people will have any real
power, and even these probably will have only very limited freedom,
because their behavior too will be regulated; just as today our
politicians and corporation executives can retain their positions of
power only as long as their behavior remains within certain fairly
narrow limits.

164. Don’t imagine that the systems will stop developing further
techniques for controlling human beings and nature once the crisis of
the next few decades is over and increasing control is no longer
necessary for the system’s survival. On the contrary, once the hard
times are over the system will increase its control over people and
nature more rapidly, because it will no longer be hampered by
difficulties of the kind that it is currently experiencing. Survival
is not the principal motive for extending control. As we explained in
paragraphs 87-90, technicians and scientists carry on their work
largely as a surrogate activity; that is, they satisfy their need for
power by solving technical problems. They will continue to do this
with unabated enthusiasm, and among the most interesting and
challenging problems for them to solve will be those of understanding
the human body and mind and intervening in their development. For the
“good of humanity,” of course.

165. But suppose on the other hand that the stresses of the coming
decades prove to be too much for the system. If the system breaks down
there may be a period of chaos, a “time of troubles” such as those
that history has recorded: at various epochs in the past. It is
impossible to predict what would emerge from such a time of troubles,
but at any rate the human race would be given a new chance. The
greatest danger is that industrial society may begin to reconstitute
itself within the first few years after the breakdown. Certainly there
will be many people (power-hungry types especially) who will be
anxious to get the factories running again.

166. Therefore two tasks confront those who hate the servitude to
which the industrial system is reducing the human race. First, we must
work to heighten the social stresses within the system so as to
increase the likelihood that it will break down or be weakened
sufficiently so that a revolution against it becomes possible. Second,
it is necessary to develop and propagate an ideology that opposes
technology and the industrial society if and when the system becomes
sufficiently weakened. And such an ideology will help to assure that,
if and when industrial society breaks down, its remnants will be
smashed beyond repair, so that the system cannot be reconstituted. The
factories should be destroyed, technical books burned, etc.


167. The industrial system will not break down purely as a result of
revolutionary action. It will not be vulnerable to revolutionary
attack unless its own internal problems of development lead it into
very serious difficulties. So if the system breaks down it will do so
either spontaneously, or through a process that is in part spontaneous
but helped along by revolutionaries. If the breakdown is sudden, many
people will die, since the world’s population has become so overblown
that it cannot even feed itself any longer without advanced
technology. Even if the breakdown is gradual enough so that reduction
of the population can occur more through lowering of the birth rate
than through elevation of the death rate, the process of
de-industrialization probably will be very chaotic and involve much
suffering. It is naive to think it likely that technology can be
phased out in a smoothly managed orderly way, especially since the
technophiles will fight stubbornly at every step. Is it therefore
cruel to work for the breakdown of the system? Maybe, but maybe not.
In the first place, revolutionaries will not be able to break the
system down unless it is already in deep trouble so that there would
be a good chance of its eventually breaking down by itself anyway; and
the bigger the system grows, the more disastrous the consequences of
its breakdown will be; so it may be that revolutionaries, by hastening
the onset of the breakdown will be reducing the extent of the

168. In the second place, one has to balance the struggle and death
against the loss of freedom and dignity. To many of us, freedom and
dignity are more important than a long life or avoidance of physical
pain. Besides, we all have to die some time, and it may be better to
die fighting for survival, or for a cause, than to live a long but
empty and purposeless life.

169. In the third place, it is not all certain that the survival of
the system will lead to less suffering than the breakdown of the
system would. The system has already caused, and is continuing to
cause , immense suffering all over the world. Ancient cultures, that
for hundreds of years gave people a satisfactory relationship with
each other and their environment, have been shattered by contact with
industrial society, and the result has been a whole catalogue of
economic, environmental, social and psychological problems. One of the
effects of the intrusion of industrial society has been that over much
of the world traditional controls on population have been thrown out
of balance. Hence the population explosion, with all that it implies.
Then there is the psychological suffering that is widespread
throughout the supposedly fortunate countries of the West (see
paragraphs 44, 45). No one knows what will happen as a result of ozone
depletion, the greenhouse effect and other environmental problems that
cannot yet be foreseen. And, as nuclear proliferation has shown, new
technology cannot be kept out of the hands of dictators and
irresponsible Third World nations. Would you like to speculate abut
what Iraq or North Korea will do with genetic engineering?

170. “Oh!” say the technophiles, “Science is going to fix all that! We
will conquer famine, eliminate psychological suffering, make everybody
healthy and happy!” Yeah, sure. That’s what they said 200 years ago.
The Industrial Revolution was supposed to eliminate poverty, make
everybody happy, etc. The actual result has been quite different. The
technophiles are hopelessly naive (or self-deceiving) in their
understanding of social problems. They are unaware of (or choose to
ignore) the fact that when large changes, even seemingly beneficial
ones, are introduced into a society, they lead to a long sequence of
other changes, most of which are impossible to predict (paragraph
103). The result is disruption of the society. So it is very probable
that in their attempt to end poverty and disease, engineer docile,
happy personalities and so forth, the technophiles will create social
systems that are terribly troubled, even more so that the present one.
For example, the scientists boast that they will end famine by
creating new, genetically engineered food plants. But this will allow
the human population to keep expanding indefinitely, and it is well
known that crowding leads to increased stress and aggression. This is
merely one example of the PREDICTABLE problems that will arise. We
emphasize that, as past experience has shown, technical progress will
lead to other new problems for society far more rapidly that it has
been solving old ones. Thus it will take a long difficult period of
trial and error for the technophiles to work the bugs out of their
Brave New World (if they ever do). In the meantime there will be great
suffering. So it is not all clear that the survival of industrial
society would involve less suffering than the breakdown of that
society would. Technology has gotten the human race into a fix from
which there is not likely to be any easy escape.


171. But suppose now that industrial society does survive the next
several decade and that the bugs do eventually get worked out of the
system, so that it functions smoothly. What kind of system will it be?
We will consider several possibilities.

172. First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in
developing intelligent machines that can do all things better that
human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be
done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort
will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might
be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human
oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.

173. If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we
can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible
to guess how such machines might behave. We only point out that the
fate of the human race would be at the mercy of the machines. It might
be argued that the human race would never be foolish enough to hand
over all the power to the machines. But we are suggesting neither that
the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor
that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is
that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a
position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no
practical choice but to accept all of the machines decisions. As
society and the problems that face it become more and more complex and
machines become more and more intelligent, people will let machines
make more of their decision for them, simply because machine-made
decisions will bring better result than man-made ones. Eventually a
stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the
system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable
of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in
effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off,
because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would
amount to suicide.

174. On the other hand it is possible that human control over the
machines may be retained. In that case the average man may have
control over certain private machines of his own, such as his car of
his personal computer, but control over large systems of machines will
be in the hands of a tiny elite — just as it is today, but with two
difference. Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater
control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be
necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the
system. If the elite is ruthless the may simply decide to exterminate
the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or
other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate
until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the
elite. Or, if the elite consist of soft-hearted liberals, they may
decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human
race. They will see to it that everyone’s physical needs are
satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic
conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and
that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes “treatment” to cure
his “problem.” Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will
have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove
their need for the power process or to make them “sublimate” their
drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human
beings may be happy in such a society, but they most certainly will
not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic

175. But suppose now that the computer scientists do not succeed in
developing artificial intelligence, so that human work remains
necessary. Even so, machines will take care of more and more of the
simpler tasks so that there will be an increasing surplus of human
workers at the lower levels of ability. (We see this happening
already. There are many people who find it difficult or impossible to
get work, because for intellectual or psychological reasons they
cannot acquire the level of training necessary to make themselves
useful in the present system.) On those who are employed,
ever-increasing demands will be placed; They will need more and m ore
training, more and more ability, and will have to be ever more
reliable, conforming and docile, because they will be more and more
like cells of a giant organism. Their tasks will be increasingly
specialized so that their work will be, in a sense, out of touch with
the real world, being concentrated on one tiny slice of reality. The
system will have to use any means that I can, whether psychological or
biological, to engineer people to be docile, to have the abilities
that the system requires and to “sublimate” their drive for power into
some specialized task. But the statement that the people of such a
society will have to be docile may require qualification. The society
may find competitiveness useful, provided that ways are found of
directing competitiveness into channels that serve that needs of the
system. We can imagine into channels that serve the needs of the
system. We can imagine a future society in which there is endless
competition for positions of prestige an power. But no more than a
very few people will ever reach the top, where the only real power is
(see end of paragraph 163). Very repellent is a society in which a
person can satisfy his needs for power only by pushing large numbers
of other people out of the way and depriving them of THEIR opportunity
for power.

176. Once can envision scenarios that incorporate aspects of more than
one of the possibilities that we have just discussed. For instance, it
may be that machines will take over most of the work that is of real,
practical importance, but that human beings will be kept busy by being
given relatively unimportant work. It has been suggested, for example,
that a great development of the service of industries might provide
work for human beings. Thus people will would spend their time
shinning each others shoes, driving each other around inn taxicab,
making handicrafts for one another, waiting on each other’s tables,
etc. This seems to us a thoroughly contemptible way for the human race
to end up, and we doubt that many people would find fulfilling lives
in such pointless busy-work. They would seek other, dangerous outlets
(drugs, , crime, “cults,” hate groups) unless they were biological or
psychologically engineered to adapt them to such a way of life.

177. Needless to day, the scenarios outlined above do not exhaust all
the possibilities. They only indicate the kinds of outcomes that seem
to us mots likely. But wee can envision no plausible scenarios that
are any more palatable that the ones we’ve just described. It is
overwhelmingly probable that if the industrial-technological system
survives the next 40 to 100 years, it will by that time have developed
certain general characteristics: Individuals (at least those of the
“bourgeois” type, who are integrated into the system and make it run,
and who therefore have all the power) will be more dependent than ever
on large organizations; they will be more “socialized” that ever and
their physical and mental qualities to a significant extent (possibly
to a very great extent ) will be those that are engineered into them
rather than being the results of chance (or of God’s will, or
whatever); and whatever may be left of wild nature will be reduced to
remnants preserved for scientific study and kept under the supervision
and management of scientists (hence it will no longer be truly wild).
In the long run (say a few centuries from now) it is it is likely that
neither the human race nor any other important organisms will exist as
we know them today, because once you start modifying organisms through
genetic engineering there is no reason to stop at any particular
point, so that the modifications will probably continue until man and
other organisms have been utterly transformed.

178. Whatever else may be the case, it is certain that technology is
creating for human begins a new physical and social environment
radically different from the spectrum of environments to which natural
selection has adapted the human race physically and psychological. If
man is not adjust to this new environment by being artificially
re-engineered, then he will be adapted to it through a long an painful
process of natural selection. The former is far more likely that the

179. It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the


180. The technophiles are taking us all on an utterly reckless ride
into the unknown. Many people understand something of what
technological progress is doing to us yet take a passive attitude
toward it because they think it is inevitable. But we (FC) don’t think
it is inevitable. We think it can be stopped, and we will give here
some indications of how to go about stopping it.

181. As we stated in paragraph 166, the two main tasks for the present
are to promote social stress and instability in industrial society and
to develop and propagate an ideology that opposes technology and the
industrial system. When the system becomes sufficiently stressed and
unstable, a revolution against technology may be possible. The pattern
would be similar to that of the French and Russian Revolutions. French
society and Russian society, for several decades prior to their
respective revolutions, showed increasing signs of stress and
weakness. Meanwhile, ideologies were being developed that offered a
new world view that was quite different from the old one. In the
Russian case, revolutionaries were actively working to undermine the
old order. Then, when the old system was put under sufficient
additional stress (by financial crisis in France, by military defeat
in Russia) it was swept away by revolution. What we propose in
something along the same lines.

182. It will be objected that the French and Russian Revolutions were
failures. But most revolutions have two goals. One is to destroy an
old form of society and the other is to set up the new form of society
envisioned by the revolutionaries. The French and Russian
revolutionaries failed (fortunately!) to create the new kind of
society of which they dreamed, but they were quite successful in
destroying the existing form of society.

183. But an ideology, in order to gain enthusiastic support, must have
a positive ideals well as a negative one; it must be FOR something as
well as AGAINST something. The positive ideal that we propose is
Nature. That is , 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. And with wild nature we
include human nature, by which we mean those aspects of the
functioning of the human individual that are not subject to regulation
by organized society but are products of chance, or free will, or God
(depending on your religious or philosophical opinions).

184. Nature makes a perfect counter-ideal to technology for several
reasons. Nature (that which is outside the power of the system) is the
opposite of technology (which seeks to expand indefinitely the power
of the system). Most people will agree that nature is beautiful;
certainly it has tremendous popular appeal. The radical
environmentalists ALREADY hold an ideology that exalts nature and
opposes technology. [30] It is not necessary for the sake of nature to
set up some chimerical utopia or any new kind of social order. Nature
takes care of itself: It was a spontaneous creation that existed long
before any human society, and for countless centuries many different
kinds of human societies coexisted with nature without doing it an
excessive amount of damage. Only with the Industrial Revolution did
the effect of human society on nature become really devastating. To
relieve the pressure on nature it is not necessary to create a special
kind of social system, it is only necessary to get rid of industrial
society. Granted, this will not solve all problems. Industrial society
has already done tremendous damage to nature and it will take a very
long time for the scars to heal. Besides, even pre-industrial
societies can do significant damage to nature. Nevertheless, getting
rid of industrial society will accomplish a great deal. It will
relieve the worst of the pressure on nature so that the scars can
begin to heal. It will remove the capacity of organized society to
keep increasing its control over nature (including human nature).
Whatever kind of society may exist after the demise of the industrial
system, it is certain that most people will live close to nature,
because in the absence of advanced technology there is not other way
that people CAN live. To feed themselves they must be peasants or
herdsmen or fishermen or hunter, etc., And, generally speaking, local
autonomy should tend to increase, because lack of advanced technology
and rapid communications will limit the capacity of governments or
other large organizations to control local communities.

185. As for the negative consequences of eliminating industrial
society — well, you can’t eat your cake and have it too. To gain one
thing you have to sacrifice another.

186. Most people hate psychological conflict. For this reason they
avoid doing any serious thinking about difficult social issues, and
they like to have such issues presented to them in simple,
black-and-white terms: THIS is all good and THAT is all bad. The
revolutionary ideology should therefore be developed on two levels.

187. On the more sophisticated level the ideology should address
itself to people who are intelligent, thoughtful and rational. The
object should be to create a core of people who will be opposed to the
industrial system on a rational, thought-out basis, with full
appreciation of the problems and ambiguities involved, and of the
price that has to be paid for getting rid of the system. It is
particularly important to attract people of this type, as they are
capable people and will be instrumental in influencing others. These
people should be addressed on as rational a level as possible. Facts
should never intentionally be distorted and intemperate language
should be avoided. This does not mean that no appeal can be made to
the emotions, but in making such appeal care should be taken to avoid
misrepresenting the truth or doing anything else that would destroy
the intellectual respectability of the ideology.

188. On a second level, the ideology should be propagated in a
simplified form that will enable the unthinking majority to see the
conflict of technology vs. nature in unambiguous terms. But even on
this second level the ideology should not be expressed in language
that is so cheap, intemperate or irrational that it alienates people
of the thoughtful and rational type. Cheap, intemperate propaganda
sometimes achieves impressive short-term gains, but it will be more
advantageous in the long run to keep the loyalty of a small number of
intelligently committed people than to arouse the passions of an
unthinking, fickle mob who will change their attitude as soon as
someone comes along with a better propaganda gimmick. However,
propaganda of the rabble-rousing type may be necessary when the system
is nearing the point of collapse and there is a final struggle between
rival ideologies to determine which will become dominant when the old
world-view goes under.

189. Prior to that final struggle, the revolutionaries should not
expect to have a majority of people on their side. History is made by
active, determined minorities, not by the majority, which seldom has a
clear and consistent idea of what it really wants. Until the time
comes for the final push toward revolution [31], the task of
revolutionaries will be less to win the shallow support of the
majority than to build a small core of deeply committed people. As for
the majority, it will be enough to make them aware of the existence of
the new ideology and remind them of it frequently; though of course it
will be desirable to get majority support to the extent that this can
be done without weakening the core of seriously committed people.

190. Any kind of social conflict helps to destabilize the system, but
one should be careful about what kind of conflict one encourages. The
line of conflict should be drawn between the mass of the people and
the power-holding elite of industrial society (politicians,
scientists, upper-level business executives, government officials,
etc..). It should NOT be drawn between the revolutionaries and the
mass of the people. For example, it would be bad strategy for the
revolutionaries to condemn Americans for their habits of consumption.
Instead, the average American should be portrayed as a victim of the
advertising and marketing industry, which has suckered him into buying
a lot of junk that he doesn’t need and that is very poor compensation
for his lost freedom. Either approach is consistent with the facts. It
is merely a matter of attitude whether you blame the advertising
industry for manipulating the public or blame the public for allowing
itself to be manipulated. As a matter of strategy one should generally
avoid blaming the public.

191. One should think twice before encouraging any other social
conflict than that between the power-holding elite (which wields
technology) and the general public (over which technology exerts its
power). For one thing, other conflicts tend to distract attention from
the important conflicts (between power-elite and ordinary people,
between technology and nature); for another thing, other conflicts may
actually tend to encourage technologization, because each side in such
a conflict wants to use technological power to gain advantages over
its adversary. This is clearly seen in rivalries between nations. It
also appears in ethnic conflicts within nations. For example, in
America many black leaders are anxious to gain power for African
Americans by placing back individuals in the technological
power-elite. They want there to be many black government officials,
scientists, corporation executives and so forth. In this way they are
helping to absorb the African American subculture into the
technological system. Generally speaking, one should encourage only
those social conflicts that can be fitted into the framework of the
conflicts of power–elite vs. ordinary people, technology vs nature.

192. But the way to discourage ethnic conflict is NOT through militant
advocacy of minority rights (see paragraphs 21, 29). Instead, the
revolutionaries should emphasize that although minorities do suffer
more or less disadvantage, this disadvantage is of peripheral
significance. Our real enemy is the industrial-technological system,
and in the struggle against the system, ethnic distinctions are of no

193. The kind of revolution we have in mind will not necessarily
involve an armed uprising against any government. It may or may not
involve physical violence, but it will not be a POLITICAL revolution.
Its focus will be on technology and economics, not politics. [32]

194. Probably the revolutionaries should even AVOID assuming political
power, whether by legal or illegal means, until the industrial system
is stressed to the danger point and has proved itself to be a failure
in the eyes of most people. Suppose for example that some “green”
party should win control of the United States Congress in an election.
In order to avoid betraying or watering down their own ideology they
would have to take vigorous measures to turn economic growth into
economic shrinkage. To the average man the results would appear
disastrous: There would be massive unemployment, shortages of
commodities, etc. Even if the grosser ill effects could be avoided
through superhumanly skillful management, still people would have to
begin giving up the luxuries to which they have become addicted.
Dissatisfaction would grow, the “green” party would be voted out of of
fice and the revolutionaries would have suffered a severe setback. For
this reason the revolutionaries should not try to acquire political
power until the system has gotten itself into such a mess that any
hardships will be seen as resulting from the failures of the
industrial system itself and not from the policies of the
revolutionaries. The revolution against technology will probably have
to be a revolution by outsiders, a revolution from below and not from

195. The revolution must be international and worldwide. It cannot be
carried out on a nation-by-nation basis. Whenever it is suggested that
the United States, for example, should cut back on technological
progress or economic growth, people get hysterical and start screaming
that if we fall behind in technology the Japanese will get ahead of
us. Holy robots The world will fly off its orbit if the Japanese ever
sell more cars than we do! (Nationalism is a great promoter of
technology.) More reasonably, it is argued that if the relatively
democratic nations of the world fall behind in technology while nasty,
dictatorial nations like China, Vietnam and North Korea continue to
progress, eventually the dictators may come to dominate the world.
That is why the industrial system should be attacked in all nations
simultaneously, to the extent that this may be possible. True, there
is no assurance that the industrial system can be destroyed at
approximately the same time all over the world, and it is even
conceivable that the attempt to overthrow the system could lead
instead to the domination of the system by dictators. That is a risk
that has to be taken. And it is worth taking, since the difference
between a “democratic” industrial system and one controlled by
dictators is small compared with the difference between an industrial
system and a non-industrial one. [33] It might even be argued that an
industrial system controlled by dictators would be preferable, because
dictator-controlled systems usually have proved inefficient, hence
they are presumably more likely to break down. Look at Cuba.

196. Revolutionaries might consider favoring measures that tend to
bind the world economy into a unified whole. Free trade agreements
like NAFTA and GATT are probably harmful to the environment in the
short run, but in the long run they may perhaps be advantageous
because they foster economic interdependence between nations. I will
be eaier to destroy the industrial system on a worldwide basis if he
world economy is so unified that its breakdown in any on major nation
will lead to its breakdwon in al industrialized nations.

the long run they may perhaps be advantageous because they foster
economic interdependence between nations. It will be easier to destroy
the industrial system on a worldwide basis if the world economy is so
unified that its breakdown in any one major nation will lead to its
breakdown in all industrialized nations.

197. Some people take the line that modern man has too much power, too
much control over nature; they argue for a more passive attitude on
the part of the human race. At best these people are expressing
themselves unclearly, because they fail to distinguish between power
is a mistake to argue for powerlessness and passivity, because people
NEED power. Modern man as a collective entity–that is, the industrial
system–has immense power over nature, and we (FC) regard this as
less power than primitive man ever did. Generally speaking, the vast
power of “modern man” over nature is exercised not by individuals or
small groups but by large organizations. To the extent that the
average modern INDIVIDUAL can wield the power of technology, he is
permitted to do so only within narrow limits and only under the
supervision and control of the system. (You need a license for
everything and with the license come rules and regulations). The
individual has only those technological powers with which the system
chooses to provide him. His PERSONAL power over nature is slight.

198. Primitive INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS actually had considerable
power over nature; or maybe it would be better to say power WITHIN
nature. When primitive man needed food he knew how to find and prepare
edible roots, how to track game and take it with homemade weapons. He
knew how to protect himself from heat, cold, rain, dangerous animals,
etc. But primitive man did relatively little damage to nature because
the COLLECTIVE power of primitive society was negligible compared to
the COLLECTIVE power of industrial society.

199. Instead of arguing for powerlessness and passivity, one should
argue that the power of the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM should be broken, and
that this will greatly INCREASE the power and freedom of INDIVIDUALS

200. Until the industrial system has been thoroughly wrecked, the
destruction of that system must be the revolutionaries’ ONLY goal.
Other goals would distract attention and energy from the main goal.
More importantly, if the revolutionaries permit themselves to have any
other goal than the destruction of technology, they will be tempted to
use technology as a tool for reaching that other goal. If they give in
to that temptation, they will fall right back into the technological
trap, because modern technology is a unified, tightly organized
system, so that, in order to retain SOME technology, one finds oneself
obliged to retain MOST technology, hence one ends up sacrificing only
token amounts of technology.

201. Suppose for example that the revolutionaries took “social
justice” as a goal. Human nature being what it is, social justice
would not come about spontaneously; it would have to be enforced. In
order to enforce it the revolutionaries would have to retain central
organization and control. For that they would need rapid long-distance
transportation and communication, and therefore all the technology
needed to support the transportation and communication systems. To
feed and clothe poor people they would have to use agricultural and
manufacturing technology. And so forth. So that the attempt to insure
social justice would force them to retain most parts of the
technological system. Not that we have anything against social
justice, but it must not be allowed to interfere with the effort to
get rid of the technological system.

202. It would be hopeless for revolutionaries to try to attack the
system without using SOME modern technology. If nothing else they must
use the communications media to spread their message. But they should
use modern technology for only ONE purpose: to attack the
technological system.

203. Imagine an alcoholic sitting with a barrel of wine in front of
him. Suppose he starts saying to himself, “Wine isn’t bad for you if
used in moderation. Why, they say small amounts of wine are even good
for you! It won’t do me any harm if I take just one little drink…”
Well you know what is going to happen. Never forget that the human
race with technology is just like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine.

204. Revolutionaries should have as many children as they can. There
is strong scientific evidence that social attitudes are to a
significant extent inherited. No one suggests that a social attitude
is a direct outcome of a person’s genetic constitution, but it appears
that personality traits tend, within the context of our society, to
make a person more likely to hold this or that social attitude.
Objections to these findings have been raised, but objections are
feeble and seem to be ideologically motivated. In any event, no one
denies that children tend on the average to hold social attitudes
similar to those of their parents. From our point of view it doesn’t
matter all that much whether the attitudes are passed on genetically
or through childhood training. In either case the ARE passed on.

205. The trouble is that many of the people who are inclined to rebel
against the industrial system are also concerned about the population
problems, hence they are apt to have few or no children. In this way
they may be handing the world over to the sort of people who support
or at least accept the industrial system. To insure the strength of
the next generation of revolutionaries the present generation must
reproduce itself abundantly. In doing so they will be worsening the
population problem only slightly. And the most important problem is to
get rid of the industrial system, because once the industrial system
is gone the world’s population necessarily will decrease (see
paragraph 167); whereas, if the industrial system survives, it will
continue developing new techniques of food production that may enable
the world’s population to keep increasing almost indefinitely.

206. With regard to revolutionary strategy, the only points on which
we absolutely insist are that the single overriding goal must be the
elimination of modern technology, and that no other goal can be
allowed to compete with this one. For the rest, revolutionaries should
take an empirical approach. If experience indicates that some of the
recommendations made in the foregoing paragraphs are not going to give
good results, then those recommendations should be discarded.


207. An argument likely to be raised against our proposed revolution
is that it is bound to fail, because (it is claimed) throughout
history technology has always progressed, never regressed, hence
technological regression is impossible. But this claim is false.

208. We distinguish between two kinds of technology, which we will
call small-scale technology and organization-dependent technology.
Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale
communities without outside assistance. Organization-dependent
technology is technology that depends on large-scale social
organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in
small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology DOES
regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down.
Example: When the Roman Empire fell apart the Romans’ small-scale
technology survived because any clever village craftsman could build,
for instance, a water wheel, any skilled smith could make steel by
Roman methods, and so forth. But the Romans’ organization-dependent
technology DID regress. Their aqueducts fell into disrepair and were
never rebuilt. Their techniques of road construction were lost. The
Roman system of urban sanitation was forgotten, so that until rather
recent times did the sanitation of European cities that of Ancient

209. The reason why technology has seemed always to progress is that,
until perhaps a century or two before the Industrial Revolution, most
technology was small-scale technology. But most of the technology
developed since the Industrial Revolution is organization-dependent
technology. Take the refrigerator for example. Without factory-made
parts or the facilities of a post-industrial machine shop it would be
virtually impossible for a handful of local craftsmen to build a
refrigerator. If by some miracle they did succeed in building one it
would be useless to them without a reliable source of electric power.
So they would have to dam a stream and build a generator. Generators
require large amounts of copper wire. Imagine trying to make that wire
without modern machinery. And where would they get a gas suitable for
refrigeration? It would be much easier to build an icehouse or
preserve food by drying or picking, as was done before the invention
of the refrigerator.

210. So it is clear that if the industrial system were once thoroughly
broken down, refrigeration technology would quickly be lost. The same
is true of other organization-dependent technology. And once this
technology had been lost for a generation or so it would take
centuries to rebuild it, just as it took centuries to build it the
first time around. Surviving technical books would be few and
scattered. An industrial society, if built from scratch without
outside help, can only be built in a series of stages: You need tools
to make tools to make tools to make tools … . A long process of
economic development and progress in social organization is required.
And, even in the absence of an ideology opposed to technology, there
is no reason to believe that anyone would be interested in rebuilding
industrial society. The enthusiasm for “progress” is a phenomenon
particular to the modern form of society, and it seems not to have
existed prior to the 17th century or thereabouts.

211. In the late Middle Ages there were four main civilizations that
were about equally “advanced”: Europe, the Islamic world, India, and
the Far East (China, Japan, Korea). Three of those civilizations
remained more or less stable, and only Europe became dynamic. No one
knows why Europe became dynamic at that time; historians have their
theories but these are only speculation. At any rate, it is clear that
rapid development toward a technological form of society occurs only
under special conditions. So there is no reason to assume that
long-lasting technological regression cannot be brought about.

212. Would society EVENTUALLY develop again toward an
industrial-technological form? Maybe, but there is no use in worrying
about it, since we can’t predict or control events 500 or 1,000 years
in the future. Those problems must be dealt with by the people who
will live at that time.


213. Because of their need for rebellion and for membership in a
movement, leftists or persons of similar psychological type are often
unattracted to a rebellious or activist movement whose goals and
membership are not initially leftist. The resulting influx of leftish
types can easily turn a non-leftist movement into a leftist one, so
that leftist goals replace or distort the original goals of the

214. To avoid this, a movement that exalts nature and opposes
technology must take a resolutely anti-leftist stance and must avoid
all collaboration with leftists. Leftism is in the long run
inconsistent with wild nature, with human freedom and with the
elimination of modern technology. Leftism is collectivist; it seeks to
bind together the entire world (both nature and the human race) into a
unified whole. But this implies management of nature and of human life
by organized society, and it requires advanced technology. You can’t
have a united world without rapid transportation and communication,
you can’t make all people love one another without sophisticated
psychological techniques, you can’t have a “planned society” without
the necessary technological base. Above all, leftism is driven by the
need for power, and the leftist seeks power on a collective basis,
through identification with a mass movement or an organization.
Leftism is unlikely ever to give up technology, because technology is
too valuable a source of collective power.

215. The anarchist [34] too seeks power, but he seeks it on an
individual or small-group basis; he wants individuals and small groups
to be able to control the circumstances of their own lives. He opposes
technology because it makes small groups dependent on large

216. Some leftists may seem to oppose technology, but they will oppose
it only so long as they are outsiders and the technological system is
controlled by non-leftists. If leftism ever becomes dominant in
society, so that the technological system becomes a tool in the hands
of leftists, they will enthusiastically use it and promote its growth.
In doing this they will be repeating a pattern that leftism has shown
again and again in the past. When the Bolsheviks in Russia were
outsiders, they vigorously opposed censorship and the secret police,
they advocated self-determination for ethnic minorities, and so forth;
but as soon as they came into power themselves, they imposed a tighter
censorship and created a more ruthless secret police than any that had
existed under the tsars, and they oppressed ethnic minorities at least
as much as the tsars had done. In the United States, a couple of
decades ago when leftists were a minority in our universities, leftist
professors were vigorous proponents of academic freedom, but today, in
those universities where leftists have become dominant, they have
shown themselves ready to take away from everyone else’s academic
freedom. (This is “political correctness.”) The same will happen with
leftists and technology: They will use it to oppress everyone else if
they ever get it under their own control.

217. In earlier revolutions, leftists of the most power-hungry type,
repeatedly, have first cooperated with non-leftist revolutionaries, as
well as with leftists of a more libertarian inclination, and later
have double-crossed them to seize power for themselves. Robespierre
did this in the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks did it in the
Russian Revolution, the communists did it in Spain in 1938 and Castro
and his followers did it in Cuba. Given the past history of leftism,
it would be utterly foolish for non-leftist revolutionaries today to
collaborate with leftists.

218. Various thinkers have pointed out that leftism is a kind of
religion. Leftism is not a religion in the strict sense because
leftist doctrine does not postulate the existence of any supernatural
being. But for the leftist, leftism plays a psychological role much
like that which religion plays for some people. The leftist NEEDS to
believe in leftism; it plays a vital role in his psychological
economy. His beliefs are not easily modified by logic or facts. He has
a deep conviction that leftism is morally Right with a capital R, and
that he has not only a right but a duty to impose leftist morality on
everyone. (However, many of the people we are referring to as
“leftists” do not think of themselves as leftists and would not
describe their system of beliefs as leftism. We use the term “leftism”
because we don’t know of any better words to designate the spectrum of
related creeds that includes the feminist, gay rights, political
correctness, etc., movements, and because these movements have a
strong affinity with the old left. See paragraphs 227-230.)

219. Leftism is totalitarian force. Wherever leftism is in a position
of power it tends to invade every private corner and force every
thought into a leftist mold. In part this is because of the
quasi-religious character of leftism; everything contrary to leftists
beliefs represents Sin. More importantly, leftism is a totalitarian
force because of the leftists’ drive for power. The leftist seeks to
satisfy his need for power through identification with a social
movement and he tries to go through the power process by helping to
pursue and attain the goals of the movement (see paragraph 83). But no
matter how far the movement has gone in attaining its goals the
leftist is never satisfied, because his activism is a surrogate
activity (see paragraph 41). That is, the leftist’s real motive is not
to attain the ostensible goals of leftism; in reality he is motivated
by the sense of power he gets from struggling for and then reaching a
social goal.[35]

Consequently the leftist is never satisfied with the goals he has
already attained; his need for the power process leads him always to
pursue some new goal. The leftist wants equal opportunities for
minorities. When that is attained he insists on statistical equality
of achievement by minorities. And as long as anyone harbors in some
corner of his mind a negative attitude toward some minority, the
leftist has to re-educated him. And ethnic minorities are not enough;
no one can be allowed to have a negative attitude toward homosexuals,
disabled people, fat people, old people, ugly people, and on and on
and on. It’s not enough that the public should be informed about the
hazards of smoking; a warning has to be stamped on every package of
cigarettes. Then cigarette advertising has to be restricted if not
banned. The activists will never be satisfied until tobacco is
outlawed, and after that it will be alco hot then junk food, etc.
Activists have fought gross child abuse, which is reasonable. But now
they want to stop all spanking. When they have done that they will
want to ban something else they consider unwholesome, then another
thing and then another. They will never be satisfied until they have
complete control over all child rearing practices. And then they will
move on to another cause.

220. Suppose you asked leftists to make a list of ALL the things that
were wrong with society, and then suppose you instituted EVERY social
change that they demanded. It is safe to say that within a couple of
years the majority of leftists would find something new to complain
about, some new social “evil” to correct because, once again, the
leftist is motivated less by distress at society’s ills than by the
need to satisfy his drive for power by imposing his solutions on

221. Because of the restrictions placed on their thoughts and behavior
by their high level of socialization, many leftists of the
over-socialized type cannot pursue power in the ways that other people
do. For them the drive for power has only one morally acceptable
outlet, and that is in the struggle to impose their morality on

222. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type, are True
Believers in the sense of Eric Hoffer’s book, “The True Believer.” But
not all True Believers are of the same psychological type as leftists.
Presumably a truebelieving nazi, for instance is very different
psychologically from a truebelieving leftist. Because of their
capacity for single-minded devotion to a cause, True Believers are a
useful, perhaps a necessary, ingredient of any revolutionary movement.
This presents a problem with which we must admit we don’t know how to
deal. We aren’t sure how to harness the energies of the True Believer
to a revolution against technology. At present all we can say is that
no True Believer will make a safe recruit to the revolution unless his
commitment is exclusively to the destruction of technology. If he is
committed also to another ideal, he may want to use technology as a
tool for pursuing that other ideal (see paragraphs 220, 221).

223. Some readers may say, “This stuff about leftism is a lot of crap.
I know John and Jane who are leftish types and they don’t have all
these totalitarian tendencies.” It’s quite true that many leftists,
possibly even a numerical majority, are decent people who sincerely
believe in tolerating others’ values (up to a point) and wouldn’t want
to use high-handed methods to reach their social goals. Our remarks
about leftism are not meant to apply to every individual leftist but
to describe the general character of leftism as a movement. And the
general character of a movement is not necessarily determined by the
numerical proportions of the various kinds of people involved in the

224. The people who rise to positions of power in leftist movements
tend to be leftists of the most power-hungry type because power-hungry
people are those who strive hardest to get into positions of power.
Once the power-hungry types have captured control of the movement,
there are many leftists of a gentler breed who inwardly disapprove of
many of the actions of the leaders, but cannot bring themselves to
oppose them. They NEED their faith in the movement, and because they
cannot give up this faith they go along with the leaders. True, SOME
leftists do have the guts to oppose the totalitarian tendencies that
emerge, but they generally lose, because the power-hungry types are
better organized, are more ruthless and Machiavellian and have taken
care to build themselves a strong power base.

225. These phenomena appeared clearly in Russia and other countries
that were taken over by leftists. Similarly, before the breakdown of
communism in the USSR, leftish types in the West would seldom
criticize that country. If prodded they would admit that the USSR did
many wrong things, but then they would try to find excuses for the
communists and begin talking about the faults of the West. They always
opposed Western military resistance to communist aggression. Leftish
types all over the world vigorously protested the U.S. military action
in Vietnam, but when the USSR invaded Afghanistan they did nothing.
Not that they approved of the Soviet actions; but because of their
leftist faith, they just couldn’t bear to put themselves in opposition
to communism. Today, in those of our universities where “political
correctness” has become dominant, there are probably many leftish
types who privately disapprove of the suppression of academic freedom,
but they go along with it anyway.

226. Thus the fact that many individual leftists are personally mild
and fairly tolerant people by no means prevents leftism as a whole
form having a totalitarian tendency.

227. Our discussion of leftism has a serious weakness. It is still far
from clear what we mean by the word “leftist.” There doesn’t seem to
be much we can do about this. Today leftism is fragmented into a whole
spectrum of activist movements. Yet not all activist movements are
leftist, and some activist movements (e.g.., radical environmentalism)
seem to include both personalities of the leftist type and
personalities of thoroughly un-leftist types who ought to know better
than to collaborate with leftists. Varieties of leftists fade out
gradually into varieties of non-leftists and we ourselves would often
be hard-pressed to decide whether a given individual is or is not a
leftist. To the extent that it is defined at all, our conception of
leftism is defined by the discussion of it that we have given in this
article, and we can only advise the reader to use his own judgment in
deciding who is a leftist.

228. But it will be helpful to list some criteria for diagnosing
leftism. These criteria cannot be applied in a cut and dried manner.
Some individuals may meet some of the criteria without being leftists,
some leftists may not meet any of the criteria. Again, you just have
to use your judgment.

229. The leftist is oriented toward largescale collectivism. He
emphasizes the duty of the individual to serve society and the duty of
society to take care of the individual. He has a negative attitude
toward individualism. He often takes a moralistic tone. He tends to be
for gun control, for sex education and other psychologically
“enlightened” educational methods, for planning, for affirmative
action, for multiculturalism. He tends to identify with victims. He
tends to be against competition and against violence, but he often
finds excuses for those leftists who do commit violence. He is fond of
using the common catch-phrases of the left like “racism, ” “sexism, ”
“homophobia, ” “capitalism,” “imperialism,” “neocolonialism ”
“genocide,” “social change,” “social justice,” “social
responsibility.” Maybe the best diagnostic trait of the leftist is his
tendency to sympathize with the following movements: feminism, gay
rights, ethnic rights, disability rights, animal rights political
correctness. Anyone who strongly sympathizes with ALL of these
movements is almost certainly a leftist. [36]

230. The more dangerous leftists, that is, those who are most
power-hungry, are often characterized by arrogance or by a dogmatic
approach to ideology. However, the most dangerous leftists of all may
be certain oversocialized types who avoid irritating displays of
aggressiveness and refrain from advertising their leftism, but work
quietly and unobtrusively to promote collectivist values,
“enlightened” psychological techniques for socializing children,
dependence of the individual on the system, and so forth. These
crypto-leftists (as we may call them) approximate certain bourgeois
types as far as practical action is concerned, but differ from them in
psychology, ideology and motivation. The ordinary bourgeois tries to
bring people under control of the system in order to protect his way
of life, or he does so simply because his attitudes are conventional.
The crypto-leftist tries to bring people under control of the system
because he is a True Believer in a collectivistic ideology. The
crypto-leftist is differentiated from the average leftist of the
oversocialized type by the fact that his rebellious impulse is weaker
and he is more securely socialized. He is differentiated from the
ordinary well-socialized bourgeois by the fact that there is some deep
lack within him that makes it necessary for him to devote himself to a
cause and immerse himself in a collectivity. And maybe his
(well-sublimated) drive for power is stronger than that of the average


231. Throughout this article we’ve made imprecise statements and
statements that ought to have had all sorts of qualifications and
reservations attached to them; and some of our statements may be
flatly false. Lack of sufficient information and the need for brevity
made it impossible for us to fomulate our assertions more precisely or
add all the necessary qualifications. And of course in a discussion of

kind one must rely heavily on intuitive judgment, and that can
sometimes be wrong. So we don’t claim that this article expresses more
than a crude approximation to the truth.

232. All the same we are reasonably confident that the general
outlines of the picture we have painted here are roughly correct. We
have portrayed leftism in its modern form as a phenomenon peculiar to
our time and as a symptom of the disruption of the power process. But
we might possibly be wrong about this. Oversocialized types who try to
satisfy their drive for power by imposing their morality on everyone
have certainly been around for a long time. But we THINK that the
decisive role played by feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem,
powerlessness, identification with victims by people who are not
themselves victims, is a peculiarity of modern leftism. Identification
with victims by people not themselves victims can be seen to some
extent in 19th century leftism and early Christianity but as far as we
can make out, symptoms of low self-esteem, etc., were not nearly so
evident in these movements, or in any other movements, as they are in
modern leftism. But we are not in a position to assert confidently
that no such movements have existed prior to modern leftism. This is a
significant question to which historians ought to give their


1. (Paragraph 19) We are asserting that ALL, or even most, bullies and
ruthless competitors suffer from feelings of inferiority.

2. (Paragraph 25) During the Victorian period many oversocialized
people suffered from serious psychological problems as a result of
repressing or trying to repress their sexual feelings. Freud
apparently based his theories on people of this type. Today the focus
of socialization has shifted from sex to aggression.

3. (Paragraph 27) Not necessarily including specialists in engineering
“hard” sciences.

4. (Paragraph 28) There are many individuals of the middle and upper
classes who resist some of these values, but usually their resistance
is more or less covert. Such resistance appears in the mass media only
to a very limited extent. The main thrust of propaganda in our society
is in favor of the stated values.

The main reasons why these values have become, so to speak, the
official values of our society is that they are useful to the
industrial system. Violence is discouraged because it disrupts the
functioning of the system. Racism is discouraged because ethnic
conflicts also disrupt the system, and discrimination wastes the
talent of minority-group members who could be useful to the system.
Poverty must be “cured” because the underclass causes problems for the
system and contact with the underclass lowers the moral of the other
classes. Women are encouraged to have careers because their talents
are useful to the system and, more importantly because by having
regular jobs women become better integrated into the system and tied
directly to it rather than to their families. This helps to weaken
family solidarity. (The leaders of the system say they want to
strengthen the family, but they really mean is that they want the
family to serve as an effective tool for socializing children in
accord with the needs of the system. We argue in paragraphs 51,52 that
the system cannot afford to let the family or other small-scale social
groups be strong or autonomous.)

5. (Paragraph 42) It may be argued that the majority of people don’t
want to make their own decisions but want leaders to do their thinking
for them. There is an element of truth in this. People like to make
their own decisions in small matters, but making decisions on
difficult, fundamental questions require facing up to psychological
conflict, and most people hate psychological conflict. Hence they tend
to lean on others in making difficult decisions. The majority of
people are natural followers, not leaders, but they like to have
direct personal access to their leaders and participate to some extent
in making difficult decisions. At least to that degree they need

6. (Paragraph 44) Some of the symptoms listed are similar to those
shown by caged animals.

To explain how these symptoms arise from deprivation with respect to
the power process:

Common-sense understanding of human nature tells one that lack of
goals whose attainment requires effort leads to boredom and that
boredom, long continued, often leads eventually to depression. Failure
to obtain goals leads to frustration and lowering of self-esteem.
Frustration leads to anger, anger to aggression, often in the form of
spouse or child abuse. It has been shown that long-continued
frustration commonly leads to depression and that depression tends to
cause guilt, sleep disorders, eating disorders and bad feelings about
oneself. Those who are tending toward depression seek pleasure as an
antidote; hence insatiable hedonism and excessive sex, with
perversions as a means of getting new kicks. Boredom too tends to
cause excessive pleasure-seeking since, lacking other goals, people
often use pleasure as a goal. See accompanying diagram. The foregoing
is a simplification. Reality is more complex, and of course
deprivation with respect to the power process is not the ONLY cause of
the symptoms described. By the way, when we mention depression we do
not necessarily mean depression that is severe enough to be treated by
a psychiatrist. Often only mild forms of depression are involved. And
when we speak of goals we do not necessarily mean long-term, thought
out goals. For many or most people through much of human history, the
goals of a hand-to-mouth existence (merely providing oneself and one’s
family with food from day to day) have been quite sufficient.

7. (Paragraph 52) A partial exception may be made for a few passive,
inward looking groups, such as the Amish, which have little effect on
the wider society. Apart from these, some genuine small-scale
communities do exist in America today. For instance, youth gangs and
“cults”. Everyone regards them as dangerous, and so they are, because
the members of these groups are loyal primarily to one another rather
than to the system, hence the system cannot control them. Or take the
gypsies. The gypsies commonly get away with theft and fraud because
their loyalties are such that they can always get other gypsies to
give testimony that “proves” their innocence. Obviously the system
would be in serious trouble if too many people belonged to such
groups. Some of the early-20th century Chinese thinkers who were
concerned with modernizing China recognized the necessity of breaking
down small-scale social groups such as the family: “(According to Sun
Yat-sen) The Chinese people needed a new surge of patriotism, which
would lead to a transfer of loyalty from the family to the state. .
.(According to Li Huang) traditional attachments, particularly to the
family had to be abandoned if nationalism were to develop to China.”
(Chester C. Tan, Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,”
page 125, page 297.)

8. (Paragraph 56) Yes, we know that 19th century America had its
problems, and serious ones, but for the sake of breviety we have to
express ourselves in simplified terms.

9. (Paragraph 61) We leave aside the underclass. We are speaking of
the mainstream.

10. (Paragraph 62) Some social scientists, educators, “mental health”
professionals and the like are doing their best to push the social
drives into group 1 by trying to see to it that everyone has a
satisfactory social life.

11. (Paragraphs 63, 82) Is the drive for endless material acquisition
really an artificial creation of the advertising and marketing
industry? Certainly there is no innate human drive for material
acquisition. There have been many cultures in which people have
desired little material wealth beyond what was necessary to satisfy
their basic physical needs (Australian aborigines, traditional Mexican
peasant culture, some African cultures). On the other hand there have
also been many pre-industrial cultures in which material acquisition
has played an important role. So we can’t claim that today’s
acquisition-oriented culture is exclusively a creation of the
advertising and marketing industry. But it is clear that the
advertising and marketing industry has had an important part in
creating that culture. The big corporations that spend millions on
advertising wouldn’t be spending that kind of money without solid
proof that they were getting it back in increased sales. One member of
FC met a sales manager a couple of years ago who was frank enough to
tell him, “Our job is to make people buy things they don’t want and
don’t need.” He then described how an untrained novice could present
people with the facts about a product, and make no sales at all, while
a trained and experienced professional salesman would make lots of
sales to the same people. This shows that people are manipulated into
buying things they don’t really want.

12. (Paragraph 64) The problem of purposelessness seems to have become
less serious during the last 15 years or so, because people now feel
less secure physically and economically than they did earlier, and the
need for security provides them with a goal. But purposelessness has
been replaced by frustration over the difficulty of attaining
security. We emphasize the problem of purposelessness because the
liberals and leftists would wish to solve our social problems by
having society guarantee everyone’s security; but if that could be
done it would only bring back the problem of purposelessness. The real
issue is not whether society provides well or poorly for people’s
security; the trouble is that people are dependent on the system for
their security rather than having it in their own hands. This, by the
way, is part of the reason why some people get worked up about the
right to bear arms; possession of a gun puts that aspect of their
security in their own hands.

13. (Paragraph 66) Conservatives’ efforts to decrease the amount of
government regulation are of little benefit to the average man. For
one thing, only a fraction of the regulations can be eliminated
because most regulations are necessary. For another thing, most of the
deregulation affects business rather than the average individual, so
that its main effect is to take power from the government and give it
to private corporations. What this means for the average man is that
government interference in his life is replaced by interference from
big corporations, which may be permitted, for example, to dump more
chemicals that get into his water supply and give him cancer. The
conservatives are just taking the average man for a sucker, exploiting
his resentment of Big Government to promote the power of Big Business.

14. (Paragraph 73) When someone approves of the purpose for which
propaganda is being used in a given case, he generally calls it
“education” or applies to it some similar euphemism. But propaganda is
propaganda regardless of the purpose for which it is used.

15. (Paragraph 83) We are not expressing approval or disapproval of
the Panama invasion. We only use it to illustrate a point.

16. (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies were under British rule
there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than
there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there
was more personal freedom in pre-industrial America, both before and
after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial
Revolution took hold in this country. We quote from “Violence in
America: Historical and Comparative perspectives,” edited by Hugh
Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, pages
476-478: “The progressive heightening of standards of property, and
with it the increasing reliance on official law enforcement (in 19th
century America). . .were common to the whole society. . .[T]he change
in social behavior is so long term and so widespread as to suggest a
connection with the most fundamental of contemporary social processes;
that of industrial urbanization itself. . .”Massachusetts in 1835 had
a population of some 660,940, 81 percent rural, overwhelmingly
preindustrial and native born. It’s citizens were used to considerable
personal freedom. Whether teamsters, farmers or artisans, they were
all accustomed to setting their own schedules, and the nature of their
work made them physically dependent on each other. . .Individual
problems, sins or even crimes, were not generally cause for wider
social concern. . .”But the impact of the twin movements to the city
and to the factory, both just gathering force in 1835, had a
progressive effect on personal behavior throughout the 19th century
and into the 20th. The factory demanded regularity of behavior, a life
governed by obedience to the rhythms of clock and calendar, the
demands of foreman and supervisor. In the city or town, the needs of
living in closely packed neighborhoods inhibited many actions
previously unobjectionable.

Both blue- and white-collar employees in larger establishments were
mutually dependent on their fellows. as one man’s work fit into
another’s, so one man’s business was no longer his own. “The results
of the new organization of life and work were apparent by 1900, when
some 76 percent of the 2,805,346 inhabitants of Massachusetts were
classified as urbanites. Much violent or irregular behavior which had
been tolerable in a casual, independent society was no longer
acceptable in the more formalized, cooperative atmosphere of the later
period. . .The move to the cities had, in short, produced a more
tractable, more socialized, more ‘civilized’ generation than its

17. (Paragraph 117) Apologists for the system are fond of citing cases
in which elections have been decided by one or two votes, but such
cases are rare.

18. (Paragraph 119) “Today, in technologically advanced lands, men
live very similar lives in spite of geographical, religious and
political differences. The daily lives of a Christian bank clerk in
Chicago, a Buddhist bank clerk in Tokyo, a Communist bank clerk in
Moscow are far more alike than the life any one of them is like that
of any single man who lived a thousand years ago. These similarities
are the result of a common technology. . .” L. Sprague de Camp, “The
Ancient Engineers,” Ballentine edition, page 17.

The lives of the three bank clerks are not IDENTICAL. Ideology does
have SOME effect. But all technological societies, in order to
survive, must evolve along APPROXIMATELY the same trajectory.

19. (Paragraph 123) Just think an irresponsible genetic engineer might
create a lot of terrorists.

20. (Paragraph 124) For a further example of undesirable consequences
of medical progress, suppose a reliable cure for cancer is discovered.
Even if the treatment is too expensive to be available to any but the
elite, it will greatly reduce their incentive to stop the escape of
carcinogens into the environment.

21. (Paragraph 128) Since many people may find paradoxical the notion
that a large number of good things can add up to a bad thing, we will
illustrate with an analogy. Suppose Mr. A is playing chess with Mr. B.
Mr. C, a Grand Master, is looking over Mr. A’s shoulder. Mr. A of
course wants to win his game, so if Mr. C points out a good move for
him to make, he is doing Mr. A a favor. But suppose now that Mr. C
tells Mr. A how to make ALL of his moves. In each particular instance
he does Mr. A a favor by showing him his best move, but by making ALL
of his moves for him he spoils the game, since there is not point in
Mr. A’s playing the game at all if someone else makes all his moves.

The situation of modern man is analogous to that of Mr. A. The system
makes an individual’s life easier for him in innumerable ways, but in
doing so it deprives him of control over his own fate.

22. (Paragraph 137) Here we are considering only the conflict of
values within the mainstream. For the sake of simplicity we leave out
of the picture “outsider” values like the idea that wild nature is
more important than human economic welfare.

23. (Paragraph 137) Self-interest is not necessarily MATERIAL
self-interest. It can consist in fulfillment of some psychological
need, for example, by promoting one’s own ideology or religion.

24. (Paragraph 139) A qualification: It is in the interest of the
system to permit a certain prescribed degree of freedom in some areas.
For example, economic freedom (with suitable limitations and
restraints) has proved effective in promoting economic growth. But
only planned, circumscribed, limited freedom is in the interest of the
system. The individual must always be kept on a leash, even if the
leash is sometimes long( see paragraphs 94, 97).

25. (Paragraph 143) We don’t mean to suggest that the efficiency or
the potential for survival of a society has always been inversely
proportional to the amount of pressure or discomfort to which the
society subjects people. That is certainly not the case. There is good
reason to believe that many primitive societies subjected people to
less pressure than the European society did, but European society
proved far more efficient than any primitive society and always won
out in conflicts with such societies because of the advantages
conferred by technology.

26. (Paragraph 147) If you think that more effective law enforcement
is unequivocally good because it suppresses crime, then remember that
crime as defined by the system is not necessarily what YOU would call
crime. Today, smoking marijuana is a “crime,” and, in some places in
the U.S.., so is possession of ANY firearm, registered or not, may be
made a crime, and the same thing may happen with disapproved methods
of child-rearing, such as spanking. In some countries, expression of
dissident political opinions is a crime, and there is no certainty
that this will never happen in the U.S., since no constitution or
political system lasts forever.

If a society needs a large, powerful law enforcement establishment,
then there is something gravely wrong with that society; it must be
subjecting people to severe pressures if so many refuse to follow the
rules, or follow them only because forced. Many societies in the past
have gotten by with little or no formal law-enforcement.

27. (Paragraph 151) To be sure, past societies have had means of
influencing behavior, but these have been primitive and of low
effectiveness compared with the technological means that are now being

28. (Paragraph 152) However, some psychologists have publicly
expressed opinions indicating their contempt for human freedom. And
the mathematician Claude Shannon was quoted in Omni (August 1987) as
saying, “I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to
humans, and I’m rooting for the machines.”

29. (Paragraph 154) This is no science fiction! After writing
paragraph 154 we came across an article in Scientific American
according to which scientists are actively developing techniques for
identifying possible future criminals and for treating them by a
combination of biological and psychological means. Some scientists
advocate compulsory application of the treatment, which may be
available in the near future. (See “Seeking the Criminal Element”, by
W. Wayt Gibbs, Scientific American, March 1995.) Maybe you think this
is OK because the treatment would be applied to those who might become
drunk drivers (they endanger human life too), then perhaps to peel who
spank their children, then to environmentalists who sabotage logging
equipment, eventually to anyone whose behavior is inconvenient for the

30. (Paragraph 184) A further advantage of nature as a counter-ideal
to technology is that, in many people, nature inspires the kind of
reverence that is associated with religion, so that nature could
perhaps be idealized on a religious basis. It is true that in many
societies religion has served as a support and justification for the
established order, but it is also true that religion has often
provided a basis for rebellion. Thus it may be useful to introduce a
religious element into the rebellion against technology, the more so
because Western society today has no strong religious foundation.

Religion, nowadays either is used as cheap and transparent support for
narrow, short-sighted selfishness (some conservatives use it this
way), or even is cynically exploited to make easy money (by many
evangelists), or has degenerated into crude irrationalism
(fundamentalist Protestant sects, “cults”), or is simply stagnant
(Catholicism, main-line Protestantism). The nearest thing to a strong,
widespread, dynamic religion that the West has seen in recent times
has been the quasi-religion of leftism, but leftism today is
fragmented and has no clear, unified inspiring goal.

Thus there is a religious vaccuum in our society that could perhaps be
filled by a religion focused on nature in opposition to technology.
But it would be a mistake to try to concoct artificially a religion to
fill this role. Such an invented religion would probably be a failure.
Take the “Gaia” religion for example. Do its adherents REALLY believe
in it or are they just play-acting? If they are just play-acting their
religion will be a flop in the end.

It is probably best not to try to introduce religion into the conflict
of nature vs. technology unless you REALLY believe in that religion
yourself and find that it arouses a deep, strong, genuine response in
many other people.

31. (Paragraph 189) Assuming that such a final push occurs.
Conceivably the industrial system might be eliminated in a somewhat
gradual or piecemeal fashion. (see paragraphs 4, 167 and Note 4).

32. (Paragraph 193) It is even conceivable (remotely) that the
revolution might consist only of a massive change of attitudes toward
technology resulting in a relatively gradual and painless
disintegration of the industrial system. But if this happens we’ll be
very lucky. It’s far more probably that the transition to a
nontechnological society will be very difficult and full of conflicts
and disasters.

33. (Paragraph 195) The economic and technological structure of a
society are far more important than its political structure in
determining the way the average man lives (see paragraphs 95, 119 and
Notes 16, 18).

34. (Paragraph 215) This statement refers to our particular brand of
anarchism. A wide variety of social attitudes have been called
“anarchist,” and it may be that many who consider themselves
anarchists would not accept our statement of paragraph 215. It should
be noted, by the way, that there is a nonviolent anarchist movement
whose members probably would not accept FC as anarchist and certainly
would not approve of FC’s violent methods.

35. (Paragraph 219) Many leftists are motivated also by hostility, but
the hostility probably results in part from a frustrated need for

36. (Paragraph 229) It is important to understand that we mean someone
who sympathizes with these MOVEMENTS as they exist today in our
society. One who believes that women, homosexuals, etc., should have
equal rights is not necessarily a leftist. The feminist, gay rights,
etc., movements that exist in our society have the particular
ideological tone that characterizes leftism, and if one believes, for
example, that women should have equal rights it does not necessarily
follow that one must sympathize with the feminist movement as it
exists today.

If copyright problems make it impossible for this long quotation to be
printed, then please change Note 16 to read as follows:

16. (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies were under British rule
there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than
there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there
was more personal freedom in pre-industrial America, both before and
after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial
Revolution took hold in this country. In “Violence in America:
Historical and Comparative Perspectives,” edited by Hugh Davis Graham
and Ted Robert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, it is explained how in
pre-industrial America the average person had greater independence and
autonomy than he does today, and how the process of industrialization
necessarily led to the restriction of personal freedom.

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