Anarcho-Primitivism, The Age of Technology, and The Descent of Man's Mind
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Anarcho-Primitivism, The Age of Technology, and The Descent of Man's Mind published by Kant Lonothew
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Posted on 2019-07-29
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"The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race." Theodore Kaczynski wrote this in the intro of his manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future, which outlines how the developement to modern society has devastated the human race by destroying them mentaly. This manifesto has been seen as a key piece of literature in Anarcho-Primitivism, a school of thought which believes in the abolishment of the state and the reversion of society to a more primitive state, which they believe is preferable for the mental state or, one could say, spirit of people, as well as the environment. However, this manifesto more focuses on the mental state of humans than environmental issues, "...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."
The first part is mainly a critique of what Ted calls the Modern Left, in regards to what he puts out as their psychology, though this could be seen as more of a critique of the people in modern society, but merely looking into the group that exmplifies these psychological traits spread throughout society. He identifies that, "The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call "feelings of inferiority" and "oversocialization"." However, he clarifies that, " 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."
He starts out with Feelings of Inferiority, explaining it as a spectrum of certain psychological traits, such as, "... low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc", and tells that these feelings are the driving force in the acts and paths taken by the modern left. From their obsession with politically incorrect speech and what they see as 'derogatory' terms to their denial of objective reality and reason can be traced back to their hate of succession and and superiority brought from their own feelings of inferiority. It also plays in with their following of collectivist thought, as, "His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable... He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identiﬁes himself."
Ted then continues to Oversocialization. He tells of how socialization (defined as, "... the process by which children are trained to think and act as society demands."), specifically oversocialization, and how people who are oversocialized, "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 nonmoral origin." These people are more restricted and chained by society's expectations of morality, and are almost similar to those chained by their faith or superstition in a way. He argues 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." He also tells that, while the oversocialized leftist would like to portray and act like a rebel against society, that they are, "... not strong enough to rebel against the most basic values of society." He merely takes those aceepted moral principles, and then screech that the mainstream society is violating those principles. An example he uses to outline, "... the way in which the oversocialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion aginst it." In this example, the leftists would like to push more affirmative action, and more money and better quality of education for school, for more blacks to be in more prestige jobs, etc., etc., in practicality to make the black man be more like the upper middle class white man. And while the leftist would say that they do not want make blacks exactly like whites, " In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftists of the oversocialized type want to make the black man conform to white, middle-class ideals", with these being, "... exactly the values of the industrial- technological system."
In these ways, Ted says that the modern left has gone torwards to these two psychological factors greatly effecting them, and confesses that, "We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing thumbnail 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." He elaborates on how these traits are widespread throughout society, and that it is merely more noticeable in the left. He also mentions how modern society is making us more socialized then ever, so much so that, "We are even told by experts how to eat, how to exercise, how to make love, how to raise our kids and so forth."
He now moves on to what could be described as a fundamental need in the human psyche, which he labels the Power Process. The four parts of this process are written out as the goal, the effort put in, the attainment of that goal (the three most simple of the parts of the process), and autonomy, which he explains later on. He explains how, in order for people to avoid serious mental issues, one needs, "...goals whose attainment requires effort, and...must have a reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals." He says that, "Consistent failure to attain goals throughout life results in defeatism, low self-esteem or depression" to explain how the need for attainable goals are. He also explains the need for effort being put in to reach goals using the example of leisured aristocracies, or a man who may have whatever he desires without lifting a finger, stating that, " 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...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."
He does mention, however, how, instead of aristocracies or people becoming hedonistic and demoralized, they instead turn to surrogate activities, which are bassically, "...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." He continues on with how, since little effort is needed to sustain oneself in a modern industrial society, that there are plenty of surrogate activities in society. "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." However, these activities are usually not as satisfying to those pursuing them then with pursuing real goals, or goals one really want to achieve, not just to be away with boredom, thus making them never satisfied in these activities and making them not. Though these people still claim that, "...they get far more fulﬁllment from these activities than they do from the "mundane" business of satisfying their biological needs, but that is because in our society the effort needed to satisfy the biological needs has been reduced to triviality."
We then move on to Autonomy. Ted mentions, "...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." This does not mean, however, that they must do it purely individually, though they are able to do so. They are able to get that sense of autonomy in small groups, creating a joint goal in completion of their own individual goals. This, unlike obtaining strict orders from higher ups telling you to reach a goal, gives the person a sense of autonomy that helps them in this fulfilling of the power process. While he admits that some individuals have either little or no need for autonomy, either from their drive for power being weak, or by satisfying their drive for power by, "... identifying themselves with some powerful organization to which they belong", or even just by being, "...unthinking, animal types who seem to be satisﬁed with a purely physical sense of power...", he concludes that this is an important part, and that, through the power process, one can gain self confidence and esteem, and a sense of power as well, and that, " When one does not have adequate opportunity to go through 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."
Now, we move on to the critscisms of modern society in whole, outlining all the causes of social problems perpetrated by modern society. One of those causes is the disruption of the power process. Ted states that the types of drives for humanity can de divided, "... 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." In the past, more primitve times, basic needs such as food and water can be categorized in this second group of drives, and this second group of drives is what is the power process is derived from, and in which individuals can satisfy the power process. However, in the modern industrial society, more and more drives are either going to the first group, making them unsatisfying after completion and leading to boredom, or the third group, making them impossible and aggravating, and turning the person into a wreck of anger, frustration, and depression. This greater increase in the changing of drives into the first and third groups from the second group has made it that modern man has to fulfill the power process, deprvied from him by the changing of past drives to trivial or impossible, is by participating in these surrogate activities, and even then these artificial means are insufficient in attaining this sense of 'fulfillment' needed to counter the now great sense of purposelessness that is now rampant in modern society. And even if one could get this fulfillment through monetary ways, by climbing the economic ladder, the organisation of the coporate and business system does not allow for the autonomy needed in order to attain these goals and fulfill the power process. It has become where it is now more focused on what the system can do for and to them instead of what they can do to and for themselves, and even the things we can do for ourselves are becoming more and more integrated into helping the system. And with this increased integration, more of our life is dependent on the actions of others, moving more of our goals, such as security, to the third group of drives, making them entirely out of our hands and making us feel more powerless in being able to keep this securitty.
Besides the messing of the power process, there are other factors which play into the social problems caused by modern society. One such cause is the greater amount of overcrowding and departure from nature man now has to deal with. Not only is the increased crowding a cause for great stress in humans, but, "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 framework." This constant changinng can also lead to great deal of discomfort and decay, as we seperate ourselves with nature and become more centralised to the woes cerated by man and facillated through rapid change.
There is also the breakdown of traditional values and the family that comes with this rapid expansion. Ted gives a quick critiscism of conservatives in this regard, stating, "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 without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values." Afterwards, he tells of how it is needed by this modern society to break up the family in order for it to be efficient, and that the break up of traditional values is part of breaking up the traditional family. The society also break up these small social groups by tempting them to move to foreign locations for works, further seperating these groups.
However, there is one specific trait that they all share to lead to these social problems in this era of industry. In the past, while these same supposed problems, rapid change, crowding, and the breakdown of communities, were present, they did not affect the psychological health of the past. In uncrowded rural areas, these same problems of psychological health effect the individuals living here, though it might be much more acute and less poewrful than in urban areas.Yet in pre industrial urban areas, there was mass overcrowding, yet there were not the same mental health issues as present as we see in modern man. During the American frontier of the 19th century, the nuclear family was living in this isolation from small communities like we see in modern society by choice, and have not been affected by these same psychological harms. The change in the american frontier society can also be said to be very rapid, and deeper than the change imposed on the modern man, yet this society has, unlike the modern society, a greatly optimistic and self confident tone and feel. Thus there is one trait that we must account for, and it goes all the way back to the power process and how modern society has corrupted it. In the generation of the frontiersman, they had a largely justified sense that they create change themselves, that they were the arbiters of their own private revolution of the self, that they created the shift in their lives they wanted to see. However, in the generation of the modern man, they had the also largely justified sense that change was imposed on him by society, that they are merely a cog in a machine, that they have no control, no freedom, in being able to change one's own situation, as it is all done by society. Thus is the main factor, the deciding factor, of the great psychological issues of the modern man.
Here we see how man has gone done to the abyss, to their own struggle of sisyphus, with which they can not handle. Industrial Society, in its goal to grow and mac efficiency, has discarded both man and nature from its focus, only progress. It only uses both as cogs in their machine, nature as resource, man as labour. It has herded us, make us as crowded, as they would do for cattle, and have made us seperate from nature, feeding us seed instead of pure grass. It has divided the community, wanting service and followship to the society first, and then afterwards the commmmunity. And it has destroyed our autonomy, our freedom,has moved our goals to either trivial or impossible, and has done made us unabled to be satisfied in this society, to fulfill this power process, and has left us with aggravation, depression, boredom, and insatisfaction, even with our surrogates, even if we go to full out hedonism. The Industrial Society, the Modern Society, has destroyed man's mind and spirit, and has left him a husk of what they could either once was or once could've been.
It is in these thoughts, these revelations, that the anarcho primitivist is enlightened to, and is thus why they wish to revolt, to destroy this modern society. It is in this though process that Theodore Kaczynski wrote this manifesto, and shared the reasons for how man has fallen from grace. It is from this that leads Ted to call from revolution, not for progress, but for regress, fo the betterment of man's spirit through the reconnection to nature, by destroying this moern society, and by living without this modern industrial system and its tools, leading to a happier and much healthier human race. Thus Ted calls up to arms, and cries for a revolution, as, "... the system cannot be reformed in such a way as to reconcile freedom with technology. The only way out is to dispense with the industrial technological system altogether." Thus is the beliefs of Anarcho Primitivism, thus is what has been brought from The Age of Technology, and thus is the antithesis to the Descent of Man's Mind.
Sources: Industrial Society and Its Future, By Theodore Kaczynski
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