Kaczynski after his capture by police in 1996
|Born||Theodore John Kaczynski
May 22, 1942
Evergreen Park, Illinois, U.S.
|Other names||The Unabomber|
|Alma mater||Harvard University
University of Michigan
|Criminal charge||Transportation, mailing and use of bombs; murder|
|Criminal penalty||4 life terms without parole|
|Criminal status||Incarcerated at ADX Florence, #04475–046|
|Conviction(s)||January 22, 1998 (pleaded guilty)|
Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski (//; born May 22, 1942), also known as the "Unabomber", is an American domestic terrorist, anarchist, and mathematical prodigy. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign against people involved with modern technology, planting or mailing numerous homemade bombs, ultimately killing a total of three people and injuring 23 others. He is also known for his wide-ranging social critiques, which opposed industrialization and modern technology while advancing a nature-centered form of anarchism.
Kaczynski was born and raised in Evergreen Park, Illinois. While growing up in Evergreen Park he was a child prodigy, excelling academically from an early age. Kaczynski was accepted into Harvard University at the age of 16, where he earned an undergraduate degree. He subsequently earned a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. He became an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley in 1967 at age 25. He resigned two years later.
As a Harvard undergraduate, Kaczynski was among twenty-two students who were research subjects in ethically questionable experiments conducted by psychology professor Henry Murray from late 1959 to early 1962.
In 1971, he moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water, in Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills in an attempt to become self-sufficient. Seventeen years after beginning his mail bomb campaign, Kaczynski sent a letter to The New York Times on April 24, 1995 and promised "to desist from terrorism" if the Times or the Washington Post published his manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future (the "Unabomber Manifesto"), in which he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom necessitated by modern technologies requiring large-scale organization.
The Unabomber was the target of one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's costliest investigations. Before Kaczynski's identity was known, the FBI used the title "UNABOM" (UNiversity & Airline BOMber) to refer to his case, which resulted in the media calling him the Unabomber. The FBI (as well as Attorney General Janet Reno) pushed for the publication of Kaczynski's "Manifesto", which led to his sister-in-law, and then his brother, recognizing Kaczynski's style of writing and beliefs from the manifesto, and tipping off the FBI. Kaczynski tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wanted to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, as Kaczynski did not believe he was insane. When it became clear that his pending trial would entail national television exposure for Kaczynski, the court entered a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. He has been designated a "domestic terrorist" by the FBI. Some anarcho-primitivist authors, such as John Zerzan and John Moore, have come to his defense, while also holding some reservations about his actions and ideas.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Move to Montana
- 4 Bombings
- 5 Industrial Society and Its Future
- 6 Search
- 7 Arrest
- 8 Trial
- 9 Prison sentence
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Kaczynski was born on May 22, 1942, in Evergreen Park, Illinois, to second-generation Polish Americans Wanda (née Dombek) and Theodore Richard Kaczynski. At six months of age, Kaczynski's body developed a severe case of hives. He was placed in isolation in a hospital where visitors were not allowed, as physicians were unsure of the cause of the hives. He was treated several times at the hospital over an eight-month period. His mother wrote in March 1943, "Baby home from hospital and is healthy but quite unresponsive after his experience."
Kaczynski attended grades one through eight in Evergreen Park District 124 Schools. As a result of testing conducted in the fifth grade, which determined he had an IQ of 167, he was allowed to skip the sixth grade and enroll in the seventh grade. Kaczynski described this as a pivotal event in his life. He recalled not fitting in with the older children and being subjected to their bullying. As a child, Kaczynski had a fear of people and buildings, and played beside other children rather than interacting with them. His mother was so worried by his poor social development that she considered entering him in a study for autistic children led by Bruno Bettelheim.[not in citation given]
He attended high school at Evergreen Park Community High School. Kaczynski excelled academically, but found the mathematics too simple during his second year. Sometimes he would cut classes and write in his journal in his room. During this period of his life, Kaczynski became obsessed with mathematics, spending prolonged hours locked in his room practicing differential equations. Throughout secondary schooling, Kaczynski had far surpassed his classmates, able to solve advanced Laplace transforms before his senior year. He was subsequently placed in a more advanced mathematics class, yet still felt intellectually restricted. Kaczynski soon mastered the material and skipped the eleventh grade. With the help of a summer school course for English, he completed his high school education when he was 15 years old. He was encouraged to apply to Harvard University, and was subsequently accepted as a student beginning in 1958 at the age of 16. While at Harvard, Kaczynski was taught by famed logician Willard Van Orman Quine, scoring at the top of Quine's class with a 98.9% final grade.
In his sophomore year at Harvard, Kaczynski participated in a personality assessment study conducted by Henry Murray, an expert on stress interviews. Students in Murray's study were told they would be debating personal philosophy with a fellow student. Instead, they were subjected to a "purposely brutalizing psychological experiment". During the test, students were taken into a room and connected to electrodes that monitored their physiological reactions, while facing bright lights and a one-way mirror. Each student had previously written an essay detailing their personal beliefs and aspirations: the essays were turned over to an anonymous attorney, who would enter the room and individually belittle each student based in part on the disclosures they had made. This was filmed, and students' expressions of impotent rage were played back to them several times later in the study. According to author Alston Chase, Kaczynski's records from that period suggest he was emotionally stable when the study began. Kaczynski's lawyers attributed some of his emotional instability and dislike of mind control techniques to his participation in this study. Furthermore, some have suggested that this experience may have been instrumental in Kaczynski's future actions.
Kaczynski graduated from Harvard University in 1962, at age 20, and subsequently enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he earned a PhD in mathematics. Kaczynski's specialty was a branch of complex analysis known as geometric function theory. His professors at Michigan were impressed with his intellect and drive. "He was an unusual person. He was not like the other graduate students," said Peter Duren, one of Kaczynski's math professors at Michigan. "He was much more focused about his work. He had a drive to discover mathematical truth." "It is not enough to say he was smart," said George Piranian, another of his Michigan math professors. Kaczynski earned his PhD with his thesis entitled "Boundary Functions" by solving a problem so difficult that even Piranian could not solve it. Maxwell Reade, a retired math professor who served on Kaczynski's dissertation committee, also commented on his thesis by noting, "I would guess that maybe 10 or 12 men in the country understood or appreciated it." In 1967, Kaczynski won the University of Michigan's Sumner B. Myers Prize, which recognized his dissertation as the school's best in mathematics that year. While a graduate student at Michigan, he held a National Science Foundation fellowship and taught undergraduates for three years. He also published two articles related to his dissertation in mathematical journals, and four more after leaving Michigan.
In late 1967, Kaczynski became an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught undergraduate courses in geometry and calculus. He was also noted as the youngest professor ever hired by the university, but this position proved short-lived. Kaczynski received numerous complaints and low ratings from the undergraduates he taught. Many students noted that he seemed quite uncomfortable in a teaching environment, often stuttering and mumbling during lectures, becoming excessively nervous in front of a class, and ignoring students during designated office hours. Without explanation, he resigned from his position in 1969, at age 26. At the time, the chairman of the mathematics department, J. W. Addison, called this a "sudden and unexpected" resignation. In 1996, vice chairman Calvin Moore said that, given Kaczynski's "impressive" thesis and record of publications, "He could have advanced up the ranks and been a senior member of the faculty today."
Move to Montana
In mid-1969, Kaczynski moved into his parents' small residence in Lombard, Illinois. Two years later, he moved into a remote cabin he built himself just outside Lincoln, Montana, where he lived a simple life on very little money, without electricity or running water. Kaczynski worked odd jobs and received financial support from his family, which he used to purchase his land and, without their knowledge, would later use to fund his bombing campaign. In 1978, he worked briefly with his father and brother at a foam rubber factory, where he was fired by his brother, David, for harassing a female supervisor he had previously dated and who had refused him as a boyfriend for not "sharing much in common."
Kaczynski's original goal was to move out to a secluded place and become self-sufficient so that he could live autonomously. He began to teach himself survival skills such as tracking, edible plant identification, and how to construct primitive technologies such as bow drills. After watching the wild land around him be destroyed by development and industry, he decided it was impossible to live in nature. He performed isolated acts of sabotage and initially targeted the developments near his cabin. The ultimate catalyst which drove him to begin his campaign of bombings was when he went out for a walk to one of his favorite wild spots, only to find that it had been destroyed and replaced with a road. About this, he said:
The best place, to me, was the largest remnant of this plateau that dates from the tertiary age. It's kind of rolling country, not flat, and when you get to the edge of it you find these ravines that cut very steeply in to cliff-like drop-offs and there was even a waterfall there. It was about a two days' hike from my cabin. That was the best spot until the summer of 1983. That summer there were too many people around my cabin so I decided I needed some peace. I went back to the plateau and when I got there I found they had put a road right through the middle of it... You just can't imagine how upset I was. It was from that point on I decided that, rather than trying to acquire further wilderness skills, I would work on getting back at the system. Revenge.
He began dedicating himself to reading about sociology and books on political philosophy, such as the works of Jacques Ellul, and also stepped up his campaign of sabotage. He soon came to the conclusion that more violent methods would be the only solution to what he saw as the problem of industrial civilization. He says that he lost faith in the idea of reform, and saw violent collapse as the only way to bring down the techno-industrial system. Regarding his switch from being a reformer of the system to developing a means of taking it down, he said:
I don't think it can be done. In part because of the human tendency, for most people, there are exceptions, to take the path of least resistance. They'll take the easy way out, and giving up your car, your television set, your electricity, is not the path of least resistance for most people. As I see it, I don't think there is any controlled or planned way in which we can dismantle the industrial system. I think that the only way we will get rid of it is if it breaks down and collapses ... The big problem is that people don't believe a revolution is possible, and it is not possible precisely because they do not believe it is possible. To a large extent I think the eco-anarchist movement is accomplishing a great deal, but I think they could do it better... The real revolutionaries should separate themselves from the reformers... And I think that it would be good if a conscious effort was being made to get as many people as possible introduced to the wilderness. In a general way, I think what has to be done is not to try and convince or persuade the majority of people that we are right, as much as try to increase tensions in society to the point where things start to break down. To create a situation where people get uncomfortable enough that they're going to rebel. So the question is how do you increase those tensions?
Kaczynski's activities came to the attention of the FBI in 1978 with the explosion of his first, primitive homemade bomb. Over the next 17 years, he mailed or hand-delivered a series of increasingly sophisticated explosive devices that killed three people and injured 23 more.
The first mail bomb was sent in May 1978 to materials engineering professor Buckley Crist at Northwestern University. On May 25, the package was found in a parking lot at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with Crist's return address. The package was "returned" to Crist, but when Crist received the package, he noticed that it was not addressed in his own handwriting. Suspicious of a package he had not sent, he contacted campus police officer Terry Marker, who opened the package, which exploded immediately. Marker required medical assistance at Evanston Hospital for injuries to his left hand.
The bomb was made of metal that could have come from a home workshop. The primary component was a piece of metal pipe, about 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter and 9 inches (230 mm) long. The bomb contained smokeless explosive powders, and the box and the plugs that sealed the pipe ends were handcrafted from wood. In comparison, most pipe bombs usually use threaded metal ends sold in many hardware stores. Wooden ends lack the strength to allow significant pressure to build within the pipe, explaining why the bomb did not cause severe damage. The primitive trigger device that the bomb employed was a nail, tensioned by rubber bands designed to slam into six common match heads when the box was opened. The match heads would burst into flame and ignite the explosive powders. When the trigger hit the match heads, only three ignited. A more efficient technique, later employed by Kaczynski, was to use batteries and heat filament wire to ignite the explosives faster and more effectively.
The initial 1978 bombing was followed by bombs sent to airline officials, and in 1979, a bomb was placed in the cargo hold of American Airlines Flight 444, a Boeing 727 flying from Chicago to Washington, D.C. The bomb began smoking, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. Some passengers were treated for smoke inhalation. Only a faulty timing mechanism prevented the bomb from exploding. Authorities said it had enough power to "obliterate the plane".
As bombing an airliner is a federal crime in the United States, the FBI became involved after this incident and derived the code name UNABOM (UNiversity and Airline BOMber). U.S. Postal Inspectors, who initially had the case, labeled the suspect the "Junkyard Bomber" because of the material used to make the mail bombs. In 1979, an FBI-led task force that included the ATF and U.S. Postal Inspection Service was formed to investigate the case. The task force grew to more than 150 full-time investigators, analysts, and others. This team made every possible forensic examination of recovered components of the explosives and studied the lives of victims in minute detail. These efforts proved of little use in identifying the suspect, who built his bombs essentially from "scrap" materials available almost anywhere. The victims, investigators later learned, were chosen irregularly from library research.
In 1980, chief agent John Douglas, working with agents in the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit, issued a psychological profile of the unidentified bomber which described the offender as a man with above-average intelligence with connections to academia. This profile was later refined to characterize the offender as a neo-Luddite holding an academic degree in the hard sciences, but this psychologically based profile was discarded in 1983 in favor of an alternative theory developed by FBI analysts concentrating on the physical evidence in recovered bomb fragments. In this rival profile, the bomber suspect was characterized as a blue-collar airplane mechanic. A 1-800 hotline was set up by the UNABOM Task Force to take any calls related to the Unabomber investigation, with a $1 million reward for anyone who could provide information leading to the Unabomber's capture.
The first serious injury occurred in 1985, when John Hauser, a graduate student and captain in the United States Air Force, lost four fingers and vision in one eye. The bomb, like others of Kaczynski's, was handcrafted and made with wooden parts.
Hugh Scrutton, a 38-year-old Sacramento, California computer store owner, was killed in 1985 by a nail-and-splinter-loaded bomb placed in the parking lot of his store. A similar attack against a computer store occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 20, 1987. The bomb, which was disguised as a piece of lumber, injured Gary Wright when he attempted to remove it from the store's parking lot. The explosion severed nerves in Wright's left arm and propelled more than 200 pieces of shrapnel into his body. Kaczynski's brother, David—who would play a vital role in Kaczynski's capture by alerting federal authorities to the prospect of his brother's being involved in the Unabomber cases—sought out and became friends with Wright after Kaczynski was detained in 1996. David Kaczynski and Wright have remained friends and occasionally speak together publicly about their relationship.
After a six-year break, Kaczynski struck again in 1993, mailing a bomb to David Gelernter, a computer science professor at Yale University. Though critically injured, Gelernter eventually recovered. Another bomb mailed in the same weekend was sent to the home of Charles Epstein from the University of California, San Francisco, who lost several fingers upon opening it. Kaczynski then called Gelernter's brother, Joel Gelernter, a behavioral geneticist, and told him, "You are next." Geneticist Phillip Sharp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also received a threatening letter two years later. Kaczynski wrote a letter to The New York Times claiming that his "group," called FC (an acronym that stood for "Freedom Club") was responsible for the attacks.
In 1994, Burson-Marsteller executive Thomas J. Mosser was killed by a mail bomb sent to his North Caldwell, New Jersey home. In another letter to The New York Times, Kaczynski claimed that FC "blew up Thomas Mosser because ... Burston-Marsteller [sic] helped Exxon clean up its public image after the Exxon Valdez incident" and, more importantly, because "its business is the development of techniques for manipulating people's attitudes." This was followed by the 1995 murder of Gilbert Brent Murray, president of the timber industry lobbying group California Forestry Association, by a mail bomb addressed to previous president William Dennison, who had retired.
In all, 16 bombs—which injured 23 people and killed three—were attributed to Kaczynski. While the devices varied widely through the years, all but the first few contained the initials "FC." Inside his bombs, certain parts carried the inscription "FC," which Kaczynski later asserted stood for "Freedom Club." Latent fingerprints on some of the devices did not match the fingerprints found on letters attributed to Kaczynski. As stated in the "Additional Findings" section of the FBI affidavit (where a balanced listing of other uncorrelated evidence and contrary determinations also appeared):
203. Latent fingerprints attributable to devices mailed and/or placed by the UNABOM subject were compared to those found on the letters attributed to Theodore Kaczynski. According to the FBI Laboratory no forensic correlation exists between those samples.
One of Kaczynski's tactics was leaving false clues in every bomb. He would make them hard to find deliberately to mislead investigators into thinking they had a clue. The first clue was a metal plate stamped with the initials "FC" hidden somewhere (usually in the pipe end cap) in every bomb. One false clue he left was a note in a bomb that did not detonate which reads "Wu—It works! I told you it would—RV". A more obvious clue was the Eugene O'Neill $1 stamps used to send his boxes. One of his bombs was sent embedded in a copy of Sloan Wilson's novel Ice Brothers.
The FBI theorized that Kaczynski had a theme of nature, trees and wood in his crimes. He often included bits of tree branch and bark in his bombs. Targets selected included Percy Wood, Professor Leroy Wood Bearson and Thomas Mosser. Crime writer Robert Graysmith noted, "in the Unabomber's case a large factor was his obsession with wood."
List of bombings
|May 25, 1978||Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois||Terry Marker, University Police Officer||Minor cuts and burns|
|May 9, 1979||Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois||John Harris, graduate student||Minor cuts and burns|
|November 15, 1979||American Airlines Flight 444 from Chicago to Washington, DC (explosion occurred in midflight)||Twelve passengers treated for smoke inhalation||Smoke inhalation|
|June 10, 1980||Lake Forest, Illinois||Percy Wood, President of United Airlines||Cuts and burns over most of body and face|
|October 8, 1981||University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah||None, bomb successfully defused||None|
|May 5, 1982||Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee||Janet Smith, University secretary||Severe burns to hands and shrapnel wounds to body|
|July 2, 1982||University of California, Berkeley||Diogenes Angelakos, Engineering professor||Severe burns and shrapnel wounds to right hand and face|
|May 15, 1985||University of California, Berkeley||John Hauser, graduate student||Loss of four fingers on right hand and severed artery in right arm, partial loss of vision in left eye|
|June 13, 1985||The Boeing Company in Auburn, Washington||None, bomb successfully defused||None|
|November 15, 1985||University of Michigan Ann Arbor||James V. McConnell, psychology professor, and Nicklaus Suino, research assistant||McConnell: temporary hearing loss; Suino: burns and shrapnel wounds|
|December 11, 1985||Sacramento, California||Hugh Scrutton, computer store owner||Death (first fatality)|
|February 20, 1987||Salt Lake City, Utah||Gary Wright, computer store owner||Severe nerve damage to left arm|
|June 22, 1993||Tiburon, California||Charles Epstein, University of California geneticist||Severe damage to both eardrums resulting in partial hearing loss, lost three fingers|
|June 24, 1993||Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut||David Gelernter, computer science professor||Severe burns and shrapnel wounds, permanent damage to right eye and loss of right hand.|
|December 10, 1994||North Caldwell, New Jersey||Thomas J. Mosser, advertising executive||Death (second fatality)|
|April 24, 1995||Sacramento, California||Gilbert Brent Murray, timber industry lobbyist||Death (third fatality)|
Industrial Society and Its Future
In 1995, Kaczynski mailed several letters, including some to his victims and others to major media outlets, outlining his goals and demanding that his 50-plus page, 35,000-word essay Industrial Society and Its Future, abbreviated to "Unabomber Manifesto" by the FBI, be printed verbatim by a major newspaper or journal. He stated that if this demand were met, he would then end his bombing campaign. The document was a densely written manifesto that called for a worldwide revolution against the effects of modern society's "industrial-technological system". There was a great deal of controversy as to whether the document should be published, but the United States Department of Justice, along with FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno, recommended publication out of concern for public safety and in hopes that a reader could identify the author. Bob Guccione of Penthouse volunteered to publish it, but Kaczynski replied that, since Penthouse was less "respectable" than the other publications, he would in that case "reserve the right to plant one (and only one) bomb intended to kill, after our manuscript has been published." The pamphlet was finally published by The New York Times and The Washington Post on September 19, 1995. Penthouse never published it.
Throughout the manuscript, produced on a typewriter without the capacity for italics, Kaczynski capitalizes entire words in order to show emphasis. He always refers to himself as either "we" or "FC" (Freedom Club), though there is no evidence that he worked with others. Donald Foster, who analyzed the writing at the request of Kaczynski's defense, notes that the manuscript contains instances of irregular spelling and hyphenation, as well as other consistent linguistic idiosyncrasies (which led him to conclude that it was indeed Kaczynski who wrote it).
Industrial Society and Its Future begins with Kaczynski's assertion that "the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race." The first sections of the text are devoted to a discussion of the psychology of leftists and the negative consequences on individuals and small groups within the "industrial-technological system." Kaczynski writes that the industrial system has robbed contemporary humans of their autonomy, diminished their rapport with nature, and forced them "to behave in ways that are increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior." The later sections speculate about the future evolution of this system, arguing that it will inevitably lead to the end of human freedom, call for a "revolution against technology," and attempt to indicate how that might be accomplished.
In his opening and closing sections, Kaczynski addresses Leftism as a movement and analyzes the psychology of leftists, arguing that they are "True Believers in Eric Hoffer's sense" who participate in powerful social movements to compensate for their insecurity and feelings of inferiority:
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. ... 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.
He goes on to explain how the nature of leftism is determined by the psychological consequences of "oversocialization." Kaczynski "attribute[s] the social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact 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." He further specifies the primary cause of a long list of social and psychological problems in modern society as the disruption of the "power process," which he defines as having four elements:
The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. ... 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.
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. ... 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.
Kaczynski goes on to claim that "[i]n 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." Among these drives are "surrogate activities", activities "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". He argues that these surrogate activities are not as satisfactory as the attainment of "real goals" for "many, if not most people".
He claims that scientific research is a surrogate activity for scientists, and that for this reason "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 research."
Kaczynski developed his philosophical ideas early in life, and up to the moment of the bombings, carried on an extensive ongoing debate with his brother David. Ted identified strongly with positivism, meaning that he strongly believed in an objective reality and that through sensory experience and analysis of this, one can obtain authentic knowledge. Kaczynski, throughout most of his earlier years (the 1960s, deconstructivism, a distrust of "the system", a desire for revolution) remained "the intellectual outsider" and considered himself more important than others.
Perceived control methods
As mentioned above, the result of the "disruption of the power process" is the primary cause of various maladies in society (e.g., crime, depression, etc.). Kaczynski maintains that rather than recognizing that humans currently live in "conditions that make them terribly unhappy," "the system" (i.e., industrial society) develops ways of controlling human responses to the overly stressful environment in which they find themselves.
The following are current examples (according to Kaczynski) of this trend:
Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly 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 of the power process...
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.
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.
Historical views and predictions
In the last sections of the manifesto, Kaczynski carefully defines what he means by freedom and provides an argument that it would "be hopelessly difficult ... to reform the industrial system in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing our sphere of freedom". He says that "in spite of all its technical advances relating to human behavior the system to date has not been impressively successful in controlling human beings" and predicts that "[i]f the system succeeds in acquiring sufficient control over human behavior quickly enough, it will probably survive. Otherwise it will break down" and that "the issue will most likely be resolved within the next several decades, say 40 to 100 years." He gives various dystopian possibilities for the type of society which would evolve in the former case. He claims that revolution, unlike reform, is possible, and calls on sympathetic readers to initiate such revolution using two strategies: to "heighten the social stresses within the system so as to increase the likelihood that it will break down" and to "develop and propagate an ideology that opposes technology." He gives various tactical recommendations, including avoiding the assumption of political power, avoiding any collaboration with leftists, and supporting free trade agreements in order to bind the world economy into a more fragile, unified whole.
Related works and influences
As a critique of technological society, the manifesto echoed contemporary critics of technology and industrialization, such as John Zerzan, Herbert Marcuse, Fredy Perlman, Jacques Ellul (whose book The Technological Society was referenced in a 1971 essay by Kaczynski), Lewis Mumford, and Neil Postman. Its idea of the "disruption of the power process" similarly echoed social critics emphasizing the lack of meaningful work as a primary cause of social problems, including Lewis Mumford, Paul Goodman, and Eric Hoffer (whom Kaczynski explicitly references). The general theme was also addressed by Aldous Huxley in his dystopian novel Brave New World, which Kaczynski references. The ideas of "oversocialization" and "surrogate activities" recall Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents and his theories of rationalization and sublimation (the latter term being used three times in the manifesto, twice in quotes, to describe surrogate activities).
In a Wired article on the dangers of technology, titled "Why The Future Doesn't Need Us" (2000), Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, quoted Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines, which quoted a passage by Kaczynski on types of society that might develop if human labor were entirely replaced by artificial intelligence. Joy wrote that, although Kaczynski's actions were "murderous, and, in my view, criminally insane", that, "as difficult as it is for me to acknowledge, I saw some merit in the reasoning in this single passage. I felt compelled to confront it."
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian admitted perpetrator of the July 22, 2011 bombing and massacre in Norway, published a manifesto in which large chunks of text were copied and pasted from the manifesto of Kaczynski, with certain terms substituted (e.g., replacing "leftists" with "cultural Marxists" and "multiculturalists").
Bombshell (Southern Methodist University Press, 2001), a novel by Liza Wieland, is a fictional depiction of Kaczynski's life and activities. In Wieland's version of events, a bomber named The Professor has a daughter who recognizes her father's writing and struggles with her moral and familial obligations.
Ted's brother, David Kaczynski, published his memoir in 2016 titled Every Last Tie: The Story of the Unabomber and his Family, detailing what it was like to grow up with Ted, as well as the difficult decision that he and his wife faced when they grew to suspect that Ted was the Unabomber.
Before the publication of the manifesto, Ted Kaczynski's brother, David Kaczynski, was encouraged by his wife Linda to follow up on suspicions that Ted was the Unabomber. David Kaczynski was at first dismissive, but progressively began to take the likelihood more seriously after reading the manifesto a week after it was published in September 1995. David Kaczynski browsed through old family papers and found letters dating back to the 1970s written by Ted and sent to newspapers protesting the abuses of technology and which contained phrasing similar to what was found in the Unabomber Manifesto.
Before the manifesto was published, the FBI held many press conferences asking the public to help identify the Unabomber. They were convinced that the bomber was from the Chicago area (where he began his bombings), had worked or had some connection in Salt Lake City, and by the 1990s was associated with the San Francisco Bay Area. This geographical information, as well as the wording in excerpts from the manifesto that were released before the entire manifesto was published, persuaded David Kaczynski's wife, Linda, to urge her husband to read the manifesto.
After the manifesto was published, the FBI received over a thousand calls a day for months in response to the offer of a $1 million reward for information leading to the identity of the Unabomber. Many letters claiming to be from the Unabomber, were also sent to the UNABOM Task Force, and thousands of suspect leads were reviewed. While the FBI was occupied with new leads, David Kaczynski hired private investigator Susan Swanson in Chicago to investigate Ted's activities discreetly. The Kaczynski brothers had become estranged in 1990, and David had not seen Ted for ten years. David later hired Washington, D.C. attorney Tony Bisceglie to organize evidence acquired by Swanson, and make contact with the FBI, given the likely difficulty in attracting the FBI's attention. He wanted to protect his brother from the danger of an FBI raid, such as the Ruby Ridge or the Waco Siege, since he assumed Ted would not take kindly to being contacted by the FBI and would be likely to react irrationally or violently.
In early 1996, former FBI hostage negotiator and criminal profiler Clinton R. Van Zandt was contacted by an investigator working with Tony Bisceglie. Bisceglie asked Van Zandt to compare the manifesto to typewritten copies of handwritten letters David had received from his brother. Van Zandt's initial analysis determined that there was better than a 60 percent chance that the same person had written the letters as well as the manifesto, which had been in public circulation for half a year. Van Zandt's second analytical team determined an even higher likelihood that the letters and the manifesto were the product of the same author. He recommended that Bisceglie's client immediately contact the FBI.
In February 1996, Bisceglie provided a copy of the 1971 essay written by Ted Kaczynski to the FBI. At the UNABOM Task Force headquarters in San Francisco, Supervisory Special Agent Joel Moss immediately recognized similarities in the writings. Linguistic analysis determined that the author of the essay papers and the manifesto were almost certainly the same. When combined with facts gleaned from the bombings and Kaczynski's life, that analysis provided the basis for a search warrant.
David Kaczynski had tried to remain anonymous at first, but he was soon identified, and within a few days an FBI agent team was dispatched to interview David and his wife with their attorney in Washington, D.C. At this and subsequent meetings, David provided letters written by his brother in their original envelopes, allowing the FBI task force to use the postmark dates to add more detail to their timeline of Ted's activities. David developed a respectful relationship with the primary Task Force behavioral analyst, Special Agent Kathleen M. Puckett, whom he met many times in Washington, D.C., Texas, Chicago, and Schenectady, New York, over the nearly two months before the federal search warrant was served on Kaczynski's cabin.
David Kaczynski had once admired and emulated his older brother, but had later decided to leave the survivalist lifestyle behind. He had received assurances from the FBI that he would remain anonymous and that his brother would not learn who had turned him in, but his identity was leaked to CBS News in early April 1996. CBS anchorman Dan Rather called FBI director Louis Freeh, who requested 24 hours before CBS broke the story on the evening news. The FBI scrambled to finish the search warrant and have it issued by a federal judge in Montana; afterwards, an internal leak investigation was conducted by the FBI, but the source of the leak was never identified. In 1996 the Evergreen Park Community High School District No. 231 was also placed on lockdown while FBI agents searched Kaczynski's school records. At the end of that school day, students were greeted by reporters asking how they felt about going to the same high school the Unabomber had attended. That night the news story was released to public.
Paragraphs 204 and 205 of the FBI search and arrest warrant for Ted Kaczynski stated that "experts"—many of them academics consulted by the FBI—believed the manifesto had been written by "another individual, not Theodore Kaczynski". As stated in the affidavit, only a handful of people believed Kaczynski was the Unabomber before the search warrant revealed the cornucopia of evidence in Kaczynski's isolated cabin. The search warrant affidavit written by FBI Inspector Terry D. Turchie reflects this conflict, and is striking evidence of the opposition to Turchie and his small cadre of FBI agents that included Moss and Puckett—who were convinced Kaczynski was the Unabomber—from the rest of the UNABOM Task Force and the FBI in general:
204. Your affiant is aware that other individuals have conducted analyses of the UNABOM Manuscript __ determined that the Manuscript was written by another individual, not Kaczynski, who had also been a suspect in the investigation.
205. Numerous other opinions from experts have been provided as to the identity of the unabomb subject. None of those opinions named Theodore Kaczynski as a possible author.
FBI agents arrested Kaczynski on April 3, 1996, at his remote cabin outside Lincoln, Montana, where he was found in an unkempt state. A search of his cabin revealed a wealth of bomb components, 40,000 handwritten journal pages that included bomb-making experiments and descriptions of the Unabomber crimes; and one live bomb, ready for mailing. They also found what appeared to be the original typed manuscript of the manifesto. By this point, the Unabomber had been the target of one of the most expensive investigations in the FBI's history.
After his capture, Kaczynski was among the several individuals who had been suspected of being the unidentified Zodiac Killer. Among the links that raised suspicion were the fact that Kaczynski lived in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1967 to 1969 (the same period that most of the Zodiac's confirmed killings occurred in California), both individuals were highly intelligent with an interest in bombs and codes, and both wrote letters to newspapers demanding the publication of their words with the threat of continued violence toward others if the demand was not met. However, his whereabouts could not be verified for all of the killings, and the gun and knife murders committed by the Zodiac Killer differ from Kaczynski's bombings, so he was not further pursued as a suspect. Robert Graysmith of San Francisco, author of the 1986 book Zodiac, said the similarities are "fascinating" but undoubtedly purely coincidental.
In 1996, a docudrama was produced titled Unabomber: The True Story, featuring actors Dean Stockwell as Ben Jeffries, Robert Hays as David Kaczynski and Tobin Bell as Ted Kaczynski. In this film a determined postal inspector was followed as he tracked down the suspect and also centered on Kaczynski's brother, who played a key role in the investigation.
Kaczynski's lawyers, headed by Montana federal defender Michael Donahoe and Judy Clarke, attempted to enter an insanity defense to save Kaczynski's life, but Kaczynski rejected this plea. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed Kaczynski as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, but declared him competent to stand trial. Kaczynski's family said Ted would psychologically "shut down" when pressured. In the book Technological Slavery, Kaczynski recalls two prison psychologists, Dr. James Watterson and Dr. Michael Morrison, who visited him almost every day for a period of four years, who told him that they saw no indication that he suffered from any such serious mental illness, and that the diagnosis of his being paranoid schizophrenic was "ridiculous" and a "political diagnosis." Dr. Morrison made remarks to him about psychologists and psychiatrists providing any desired diagnosis if they are well paid for doing so.
A federal grand jury indicted Kaczynski in April 1996 on 10 counts of illegally transporting, mailing, and using bombs. He was also charged with killing Scrutton, Mosser, and Murray. Initially, the government prosecution team indicated that it would seek the death penalty for Kaczynski after it was authorized by United States Attorney General Janet Reno. David Kaczynski's attorney asked the former FBI agent who made the match between the Unabomber's manifesto and Kaczynski to ask for leniency—he was horrified to think that turning his brother in might result in his brother's death. Eventually, Kaczynski was able to avoid the death penalty by pleading guilty to all the government's charges, on January 22, 1998. Later, Kaczynski attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing it was involuntary. Judge Garland Ellis Burrell Jr. denied his request. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld that decision.
The early hunt for the Unabomber in the United States portrayed a perpetrator far different from the eventual suspect. The Unabomber Manifesto consistently uses "we" and "our" throughout, and at one point in 1993 investigators sought an individual whose first name was "Nathan", due to a fragment of a note found in one of the bombs. However, when the case was finally presented to the public, authorities denied that there was ever anyone other than Kaczynski involved in the crimes. Explanations were later presented as to why Kaczynski targeted some of the victims he selected.[dead link]
On August 10, 2006, Judge Garland Burrell Jr. ordered that personal items seized in 1996 from Kaczynski's Montana cabin should be sold at a "reasonably advertised Internet auction." Items the government considers to be bomb-making materials, such as writings that contain diagrams and "recipes" for bombs, were excluded from the sale. The auctioneer paid the cost and kept up to 10% of the sale price, and the rest of the proceeds must be applied to the $15 million in restitution that Burrell ordered Kaczynski to pay his victims.
Included among Kaczynski's holdings which were auctioned are his original writings, journals, correspondences, and other documents allegedly found in his cabin (for example, a copy of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style). The judge ordered that all references in those documents that allude to any of his victims must be removed before they were sold. Kaczynski challenged those ordered redactions in court on First Amendment grounds, arguing that any alteration of his writings is an unconstitutional violation of his freedom of speech.
The auction concluded in June 2011, and raised over $232,000.
Kaczynski is serving eight life sentences without the possibility of parole as Federal Bureau of Prisons register number 04475-046 at ADX Florence, the federal Administrative Maximum Facility supermax in Florence, Colorado. When asked if he was afraid of losing his mind in prison, Kaczynski replied:
No, what worries me is that I might in a sense adapt to this environment and come to be comfortable here and not resent it anymore. And I am afraid that as the years go by that I may forget, I may begin to lose my memories of the mountains and the woods and that's what really worries me, that I might lose those memories, and lose that sense of contact with wild nature in general. But I am not afraid they are going to break my spirit.
Kaczynski has been an active writer in prison. The Labadie Collection, part of the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library, houses Kaczynski's correspondence from over 400 people since his arrest in April 1996, including carbon copy replies, legal documents, publications, and clippings. The names of most correspondents will be kept sealed until 2049. Kaczynski has also been battling in federal court in Northern California over the auction of his journals and other correspondence. On January 10, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco rejected Kaczynski's arguments that the government's sale of his writings violates his freedom of expression. His writings, books, and other possessions were sold online, and the money raised was sent to several of his victims.
Kaczynski's cabin was removed and was to be destroyed. Kaczynski said he gave it to Charlotte Holdman, an investigator on Kaczynski's defense team. It was seized by the U.S. government and is on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. In a three-page handwritten letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Kaczynski objected to the public exhibition of the cabin, claiming it was being exhibited despite victims' objections to the generation of publicity connected with the UNABOM case.
In a letter dated October 7, 2005, Kaczynski offered to donate two rare books to the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University's campus in Evanston, Illinois, the location of the first two attacks. The recipient, David Easterbrook, turned the letter over to the university's archives. Northwestern rejected the offer, noting that the library already owned the volumes in English and did not desire duplicates.
On May 24, 2012, Kaczynski submitted his current information to the Harvard University alumni association. He listed his eight life sentences as "awards" and his current occupation as "prisoner."
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- The Unabomber Manifesto
- Writings of Ted Kaczynski Online
- Kaczynski's letter to the writers of the book, American Terrorist, about fellow terrorist Timothy McVeigh
- Text of Unabomber's Letter Received by N.Y. Times April 26, 1995
- Text of Letter from Unabomber to Dr. David Gelernter
- Letter to a Turkish anarchist
- The Unabomber's family photo album – Chicago Tribune
- Radio Interview with Ted Kaczynski by Stephen Dubner