Industrial Society and Its Future

Theodore Kaczynski



1. The Industrial Revolution and its consequences havebeen 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 being to greater in-dignities 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 physicalsuffering 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, butonly after passing through a long and very painful periodof 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 willbe 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 isto break down it had best break down sooner rather thanlater.

4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the in-dustrial system. This revolution may or may not make useof violence; it may be sudden or it may be a relativelygradual process spanning a few decades. We can’t predictany of that. But we do outline in a very general way themeasures that those who hate the industrial system shouldtake in order to prepare the way for a revolution againstthat form of society. This is not to be a POLITICAL revo-lution. Its object will be to overthrow not governmentsbut the economic and technological basis of the presentsociety.

5. In this article we give attention to only some ofthe negative developments that have grown out of theindustrial-technological system. Other such developmentswe mention only briefly or ignore altogether. This does notmean that we regard these other developments as unim-portant. For practical reasons we have to confine our dis-cussion to areas that have received insufficient public at-tention or in which we have something new to say. Forexample, since there are well-developed environmentaland wilderness movements, we have written very littleabout environmental degradation or the destruction ofwild nature, even though we consider these to be highlyimportant.


6. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeplytroubled society. One of the most widespread manifesta-tions of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discus-sion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduc-tion to the discussion of the problems of modern societyin general.

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

8. Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a gooddeal less clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seemto be any remedy for this. All we are trying to do here isindicate in a rough and approximate way the two psycho-logical tendencies that we believe are the main drivingforce of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be tel-ling the WHOLE truth about leftist psychology. Also, ourdiscussion is meant to apply to modern leftism only. Weleave open the question of the extent to which our discus-sion could be applied to the leftists of the 19th and early20th centuries.

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


10. By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only infe-riority feelings in the strict sense but a whole spectrumof related traits; low self-esteem, feelings of powerless-ness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred,1etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have some suchfeelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that thesefeelings are decisive in determining the direction of mo-dern leftism.

11. When someone interprets as derogatory almost any-thing that is said about him (or about groups with whomhe identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelingsor low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced amongminority rights activists, whether or not they belong to theminority groups whose rights they defend. They are hy-persensitive about the words used to designate minoritiesand about anything that is said concerning minorities. Theterms “negro”, “oriental”, “handicapped” or “chick” for anAfrican, an Asian, a disabled person or a woman origi-nally had no derogatory connotation. “Broad” and “chick”were merely the feminine equivalents of “guy”, “dude” or“fellow”. The negative connotations have been attachedto these terms by the activists themselves. Some animalrights activists have gone so far as to reject the word“pet” and insist on its replacement by “animal compa-nion”. Leftish anthropologists go to great lengths to avoidsaying anything about primitive peoples that could concei-vably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace theword “primitive” by “nonliterate”. They seem almost para-noid about anything that might suggest that any primitiveculture is inferior to our own. (We do not mean to imply that primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merelypoint out the hyper sensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)

12. Those who are most sensitive about “politically in-correct” terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled per-son, but a minority of activists, many of whom do noteven belong to any “oppressed” group but come fromprivileged strata of society. Political correctness has itsstronghold among university professors, who have secureemployment with comfortable salaries, and the majorityof whom are heterosexual white males from middle- toupper-middle-class families.

13. Many leftists have an intense identification with theproblems of groups that have an image of being weak(women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homo-sexuals) or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feelthat these groups are inferior. They would never admit tothemselves that they have such feelings, but it is preci-sely because they do see these groups as inferior that theyidentify with their problems. (We do not mean to suggestthat women, Indians, etc. ARE inferior; we are only ma-king a point about leftist psychology.)

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

15. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an imageof being strong, good and successful. They hate America,they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, theyhate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hatingthe West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their realmotives. They SAY they hate the West because it is war-like, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, butwhere these same faults appear in socialist countries orin primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them,or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whe-reas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatlyexaggerates) these faults where they appear in Westerncivilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not theleftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. Hehates America and the West because they are strong andsuccessful.

16. Words like “self-confidence”, “self-reliance”, “ini-tiative”, “enterprise”, “optimism”, etc., play little rolein the liberal and leftist vocabulary. The leftist is anti-individualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solveevery one’s problems for them, satisfy everyone’s needsfor them, take care of them. He is not the sort of personwho has an inner sense of confidence in his ability to solvehis own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist isantagohistic to the concept of competition because, deepinside, he feels like a loser.

17. Art forms that appeal to modern leftish intellec-tuals tend to focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, orelse they take an orgiastic tone, throwing off rationalcontrol as if there were no hope of accomplishing any-thing through rational calculation and all that was left wasto immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.

18. Modern leftish philosophers tend to dismiss reason,science, objective reality and to insist that everything isculturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious ques-tions about the foundations of scientific knowledge andabout how, if at all, the concept of objective reality canbe defined. But it is obvious that modern leftish philoso-phers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematicallyanalyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeplyinvolved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality.They attack these concepts because of their own psycho-logical needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet forhostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satis-fies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hatesscience and rationality because they classify certain beliefsas true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false(i.e., failed, inferior). The leftist’s feelings of inferiorityrun so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification ofsome things as successful or superior and other things asfailed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by manyleftists of the concept of mental illness and of the utility ofIQ tests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanationsof human abilities or behavior because such explanationstend to make some persons appear superior or inferior toothers. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or blamefor an individual’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is“inferior” it is not his fault, but society’s, because he hasnot been brought up properly.

19. The leftist is not typically the kind of person whosefeelings of inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, abully, a self-promoter, a ruthless competitor. This kind ofperson has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has a de-ficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can stillconceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong,and his efforts to make himself strong produce his un-pleasant behavior. [1] But the leftist is too far gone forthat. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and va-luable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feelstrong only as a member of a large organization or a massmovement with which he identifies himself.

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

21. Leftists may claim that their activism is motivatedby compassion or by moral principles, and moral principledoes play a role for the leftist of the oversocialized type.But compassion and moral principle cannot be the mainmotives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent acomponent of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power.Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calcula-ted to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claimto be trying to help. For example, if one believes that af-firmative action is good for black people, does it makesense to demand affirmative action in hostile or dogmaticterms? Obviously it would be more productive to take adiplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make atleast verbal and symbolic concessions to white people whothink that affirmative action discriminates against them.But leftist activists do not take such an approach becauseit would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping blackpeople is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serveas an excuse for them to express their own hostility andfrustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harmblack people, because the activists’ hostile attitude towardthe white majority tends to intensify race hatred.

22. If our society had no social problems at all, the lef-tists would have to INVENT problems in order to providethemselves with an excuse for making a fuss.

23. We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretendto be an accurate description of everyone who might beconsidered a leftist. It is only a rough indication of a ge-neral tendency of leftism.


24. Psychologists use the term “socialization” to desi-gnate the process by which children are trained to thinkand act as society demands. A person is said to be wellsocialized if he believes in and obeys the moral code ofhis society and fits in well as a functioning part of thatsociety. It may seem senseless to say that many leftists areover-socialized, since the leftist is perceived as a rebel.Ne-vertheless, the position can be defended. Many leftists arenot such rebels as they seem.

25. The moral code of our society is so demanding thatno one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way.For example, we are not supposed to hate anyone, yetalmost everyone hates somebody at some time or other,whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people areso highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel andact morally imposes a severe burden on them. In orderto avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceivethemselves about their own motives and find moral ex-planations for feelings and actions that in reality have anonmoral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to des-cribe such people. [2]

26. Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, asense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of themost important means by which our society socializeschildren is by making them feel ashamed of behavior orspeech that is contrary to society’s expectations. If this isoverdone, or if a particular child is especially susceptibleto such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMSELF.Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocia-lized person are more restricted by society’s expectationsthan are those of the lightly socialized person. The majo-rity of people engage in a significant amount of naughtybehavior. They lie, they commit petty thefts, they breaktraffic laws, they goof off at work, they hate someone, theysay spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick toget ahead of the other guy. The oversocialized person can-not do these things, or if he does do them he generatesin himself a sense of shame and self-hatred. The over-socialized person cannot even experience, without guilt,thoughts or feelings that are contrary to the accepted mo-rality; he cannot think “unclean” thoughts. And socializa-tion is not just a matter of morality; we are socialized toconform to many norms of behavior that do not fall underthe heading of morality. Thus the oversocialized person iskept on a psychological leash and spends his life runningon rails that society has laid down for him. In many over-socialized people this results in a sense of constraint andpowerlessness that can be a severe hardship. We suggestthat oversocialization is among the more serious crueltiesthat human being inflict on one another.

27. We argue that a very important and influential seg-ment of the modern left is oversocialized and that theiroversocialization is of great importance in determiningthe direction of modern leftism. Leftists of the overso-cialized type tend to be intellectuals or members of theupper-middle class. Notice that university intellectuals[3]constitute the most highly socialized segment of our so-ciety and also the most leftwing segment.

28. The leftist of the oversocialized type tries to get offhis psychological leash and assert his autonomy by rebel-ling. But usually he is not strong enough to rebel againstthe most basic values of society. Generally speaking, thegoals of today’s leftists are NOT in conflict with the accep-ted morality. On the contrary, the left takes an acceptedmoral principle, adopts it as its own, and then accusesmainstream society of violating that principle. Examples:racial equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people,peace as opposed to war, nonviolence generally, freedomof expression, kindness to animals. More fundamentally,the duty of the individual to serve society and the dutyof society to take care of the individual. All these havebeen deeply rooted values of our society (or at least of itsmiddle and upper classes [4] for a long time. These values are explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposedin most of the material presented to us by the mainstreamcommunications media and the educational system. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type, usuallydo not rebel against these principles but justify their hos-tility 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 over-socialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conven-tional attitudes of our society while pretending to be inrebellion aginst it. Many leftists push for affirmative ac-tion, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, forimproved education in black schools and more money forsuch schools; the way of life of the black “underclass” theyregard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate theblack man into the system, make him a business execu-tive, a lawyer, a scientist just like upper-middle-class whitepeople. The leftists will reply that the last thing they wantis to make the black man into a copy of the white man; ins-tead, they want to preserve African American culture. Butin what does this preservation of African American cultureconsist? It can hardly consist in anything more than ea-ting black-style food, listening to black-style music, wea-ring black-style clothing and going to a black-style churchor mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in su-perficial matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftistsof the oversocialized type want to make the black manconform to white, middle-class ideals. They want to makehim study technical subjects, become an executive or ascientist, spend his life climbing the status ladder to provethat black people are as good as white. They want to makeblack fathers “responsible,” they want black gangs to be-come nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values ofthe industrial- technological system. The system couldn’tcare less what kind of music a man listens to, what kindof clothes he wears or what religion he believes in as longas he studies in school, holds a respectable job, climbs thestatus ladder, is a “responsible” parent, is nonviolent andso forth. In effect, however much he may deny it, the over-socialized leftist wants to integrate the black man into thesystem and make him adopt its values.

30. We certainly do not claim that leftists, even of theoversocialized type, NEVER rebel against the fundamen-tal values of our society. Clearly they sometimes do. Someoversocialized leftists have gone so far as to rebel againstone of modern society’s most important principles by en-gaging in physical violence. By their own account, vio-lence is for them a form of “liberation.” In other words,by committing violence they break through the psycholo-gical restraints that have been trained into them. Becausethey are oversocialized these restraints have been moreconfining for them than for others; hence their need tobreak free of them. But they usually justify their rebellionin terms of mainstream values. If they engage in violencethey claim to be fighting against racism or the like.

31. We realize that many objections could be raised tothe foregoing thumbnail sketch of leftist psychology. Thereal situation is complex, and anything like a completedescription of it would take several volumes even if thenecessary data were available. We claim only to have in-dicated very roughly the two most important tendenciesin the psychology of modern leftism.

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


33. Human beings have a need (probably based in bio-logy) for something that we will call thepower process.This is closely related to the need for power (which iswidely recognized) but is not quite the same thing. Thepower 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 requireseffort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some ofhis goals.) The fourth element is more difficult to defineand may not be necessary for everyone. We call it auto-nomy and will discuss it later (paragraphs 42-44).

34. Consider the hypothetical case of a man who canhave anything he wants just by wishing for it. Such a manhas power, but he will develop serious psychological pro-blems. At first he will have a lot of fun, but by and by hewill become acutely bored and demoralized. Eventually hemay become clinically depressed. History shows that leisu-red aristocracies tend to become decadent. This is not trueof fighting aristocracies that have to struggle to maintaintheir power. But leisured, secure aristocracies that have noneed to exert themselves usually become bored, hedonis-tic and demoralized, even though they have power. Thisshows that power is not enough. One must have goals to-ward which to exercise one’s power.

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

36. Nonattainment of important goals results in deathif the goals are physical necessities, and in frustration ifnon-attainment of the goals is compatible with survival.Consistent failure to attain goals throughout life resultsindefeatism, low self-esteem or depression.

37. Thus, in order to avoid serious psychological pro-blems, a human being needs goals whose attainment re-quires effort, and he must have a reasonable rate of suc-cess in attaining his goals.


38. But not every leisured aristocrat becomes bored anddemoralized. For example, the emperor Hirohito, insteadof sinking into decadent hedonism, devoted himself tomarine biology, a field in which he became distinguished.When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfy4their physical needs they often set up artificial goals forthemselves. In many cases they then pursue these goalswith the same energy and emotional involvement thatthey otherwise would have put into the search for physi-cal necessities. Thus the aristocrats of the Roman Empirehad their literary pretensions; many European aristocratsa few centuries ago invested tremendous time and energyin hunting, though they certainly didn’t need the meat;other aristocracies have competed for status through ela-borate displays of wealth; and a few aristocrats, like Hiro-hito, have turned to science.

39. We use the term “surrogate activity” to designatean activity that is directed toward an artificial goal thatpeople set up for themselves merely in order to have somegoal to work toward, or let us say, merely for the qakeof the “fulfillment” that they get from pursuing the goal.Here is a rule of thumb for the identification of surro-gate activities. Given a person who devotes much timeand energy to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: Ifhe had to devote most of his time and energy to satisfyinghis biological needs, and if that effort required him to usehis physical and mental faculties in a varied and interes-ting way, would he feel seriously deprived because he didnot attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’spursuit of goal X is a surrogate activity. Hirohito’s studiesin marine biology clearly constituted a surrogate activity,since it is pretty certain that if Hirohito had had to spendhis time working at interesting non-scientific tasks in or-der to obtain the necessities of life, he would not havefelt deprived because he didn’t know all about the ana-tomy and life-cycles of marine animals. On the other handthe pursuit of sex and love (for example) is not a surro-gate activity, because most people, even if their existencewere otherwise satisfactory, would feel deprived if theypassed their lives without ever having a relationship witha member of the opposite sex. (But pursuit of an exces-sive amount of sex, more than one really needs, can be asurrogate activity.)

40. In modern industrial society only minimal effortis necessary to satisfy one’s physical needs. It is enoughto go through a training program to acquire some pettytechnical skill, then come to work on time and exert thevery modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requi-rements are a moderate amount of intelligence and, mostof all, simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, society takescare of one from cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an under-class that cannot take the physical necessities for granted,but we are speaking here of mainstream society.) Thus itis not surprising that modern society is full of surrogateactivities. These include scientific work, athletic achieve-ment, humanitarian work, artistic and literary creation,climbing the corporate ladder, acquisition of money andmaterial goods far beyond the point at which they ceaseto give any additional physical satisfaction, and social ac-tivism when it addresses issues that are not important forthe activist personally, as in the case of white activists whowork for the rights of nonwhite minorities. These are notalways PURE surrogate activities, since for many peoplethey may be motivated in part by needs other than theneed to have some goal to pursue. Scientific work may bemotivated in part by a drive for prestige, artistic creationby a need to express feelings, militant social activism byhostility. But for most people who pursue them, these ac-tivities are in large part surrogate activities. For example,the majority of scientists will probably agree that the “ful-fillment” they get from their work is more important thanthe money and prestige they earn.

41. For many if not most people, surrogate activities areless satisfying than the pursuit of real goals (that is, goalsthat people would want to attain even if their need for thepower process were already fulfilled). One indication ofthis is the fact that, in many or most cases, people whoare deeply involved in surrogate activities are never sa-tisfied, never at rest. Thus the money-maker constantlystrives for more and more wealth. The scientist no soo-ner solves one problem than he moves on to the next. Thelong-distance runner drives himself to run always fartherand faster. Many people who pursue surrogate activitieswill say that they get far more fulfillment from these ac-tivities than they do from the “mundane” business of sa-tisfying their biological needs, but that is because in oursociety the effort needed to satisfy the biological needshas been reduced to triviality. More importantly, in oursociety people do not satisfy their biological needs AUTO-NOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immensesocial machine. In contrast, people generally have a greatdeal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities.


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

43. It is true that some individuals seem to have littleneed for autonomy. Either their drive for power is weak orthey satisfy it by identifying themselves with some power-ful organization to which they belong. And then there areunthinking, animal types who seem to be satisfied with apurely physical sense of power (the good combat soldier,who gets his sense of power by developing fighting skillsthat he is quite content to use in blind obedience to hissuperiors).

44. But for most people it is through the power process— having a goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort andattaining the goal — that self-esteem, self-confidence anda sense of power are acquired. When one does not haveadequate opportunity to go through the power process theconsequences are (depending on the individual and onthe way the power process is disrupted) boredom, demo-ralization, low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, defeatism,depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse orchild abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual beha-vior, sleep disorders, eating disorders. etc. [6]


45. Any of the foregoing symptoms can occur in anysociety, but in modern industrial society they are presenton a massive scale. We aren’t the first to mention that theworld today seems to be going crazy. This sort of thing isnot normal for human societies. There is good reason tobelieve that primitive man suffered from less stress andfrustration and was better satisfied with his way of lifethan modern man is. It is true that not all was sweet-ness and light in primitive societies. Abuse of women wascommon among the Australian aborigines, transexualitywas fairly common among some of the American Indiantribes. But it does appear that GENERALLY SPEAKING thekinds of problems that we have listed in the preceding paragraph were far less common among primitive peoplesthan they are in modern society.

46. We attribute the social and psychological problemsof modern society to the fact that that society requirespeople to live under conditions radically different fromthose under which the human race evolved and to be-have in ways that conflict with the patterns of behaviorthat the human race developed while living under theearlier conditions. It is clear from what we have alreadywritten that we consider lack of opportunity to properlyexperience the power process as the most important ofthe abnormal conditions to which modern society subjectspeople. But it is not the only one. Before dealing with dis-ruption of the power process as a source of social pro-blems we will discuss some of the other sources.

47. Among the abnormal conditions present in modernindustrial society are excessive density of population, iso-lation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of socialchange and the breakdown of natural small-scale commu-nities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.

48. It is well known that crowding increases stress andaggression. The degree of crowding that exists today andthe isolation of man from nature are consequences of tech-nological progress. All pre-industrial societies were pre-dominantly rural. The Industrial Revolution vastly increa-sed the size of cities and the proportion of the populationthat lives in them, and modern agricultural technologyhas made it possible for the Earth to support a far den-ser population than it ever did before. (Also, technologyexacerbates the effects of crowding because it puts increa-sed disruptive powers in people’s hands. For example, avariety of noise-making devices: power mowers, radios,motorcycles, etc. If the use of these devices is unrestric-ted, people who want peace and quiet are frustrated bythe noise. If their use is restricted, people who use thedevices are frustrated by the regulations. But if these ma-chines had never been invented there would have been noconflict and no frustration generated by them.)

49. For primitive societies the natural world (whichusually changes only slowly) provided a stable frameworkand therefore a sense of security. In the modern world itis human society that dominates nature rather than theother way around, and modern society changes very ra-pidly owing to technological change. Thus there is nostable framework.

50. The conservatives are fools: They whine about thedecay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically sup-port technological progress and economic growth. Appa-rently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid,drastic changes in the technology and the economy of asociety without causing rapid changes in all other aspectsof the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevi-tably break down traditional values.

51. The breakdown of traditional values to some extentimplies the breakdown of the bonds that hold togethertraditional small-scale social groups. The disintegrationof small-scale social groups is also promoted by the factthat modern conditions often require or tempt individualsto move to new locations, separating themselves fromtheir communities. Beyond that, a technological societyHAS TO weaken family ties and local communities if it isto function efficiently. In modern society an individual’sloyalty must be first to the system and only secondarily toa smallscale community, because if the internal loyaltiesof small-scale communities were stronger than loyalty tothe system, such communities would pursue their own ad-vantage at the expense of the system.

52. Suppose that a public official or a corporation exe-cutive appoints his cousin, his friend or his co-religionistto a position rather than appointing the person best qua-lified for the job. He has permitted personal loyalty to su-persede his loyalty to the system, and that is “nepotism”or “discrimination,” both of which are terrible sins in mo-dern society. Would-be industrial societies that have donea poor job of subordinating personal or local loyalties toloyalty to the system are usually very inefficient. (Look atLatin America.) Thus an advanced industrial society cantolerate only those small-scale communities that are emas-culated, tamed and made into tools of the system. [7]

53. Crowding, rapid change and the breakdown of com-munities have been widely recognized as sources of socialproblems. But we do not believe tbey are enough to ac-count for the extent of the problems that are seen today.

54. A few pre-industrial cities were very large and crow-ded, yet their inhabitants do not seem to have sufferedfrom psychological problems to the same extent as mo-dern man. In America today there still are uncrowded ru-ral areas, and we find there the same problems as in urbanareas, though the problems tend to be less acute in the ru-ral areas. Thus crowding does not seem to be the decisivefactor.

55. On the growing edge of the American frontier du-ring the 19th century, the mobility of the population pro-bably broke down extended families and small-scale so-cial groups to at least the same extent as these are bro-ken down today. In fact, many nuclear families lived bychoice in such isolation, having no neighbors within seve-ral miles, that they belonged to no community at all, yetthey do not seem to have developed problems as a result.

56. Furthermore, change in American frontier societywas very rapid and deep. A man might be born and rai-sed in a log cabin, outside the reach of law and order andfed largely on wild meat; and by the time he arrived atold age he might be working at a regular job and livingin an ordered community with effective law enforcement.This was a deeper change than that which typically occursin the life of a modern individual, yet it does not seemto have led to psychological problems. In fact, 19th cen-tury American society had an optimistic and self-confidenttone, quite unlike that of today’s society. [8]

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

58. It would be possible to give other examples of so-cieties in which there has been rapid change and/or lackof close community ties without the kind of massive beha-vioral aberration that is seen in today’s industrial society.We contend that the most important cause of social andpsychological problems in modern society is the fact thatpeople have insufficient opportunity to go through the po-wer process in a normal way. We don’t mean to say thatmodern society is the only one in which the power processhas been disrupted. Probably most if not all civilized so-cieties have interfered with the power process to a greateror lesser extent. But in modern industrial society the pro-blem has become particularly acute. Leftism, at least in itsrecent (mid- to late-20th century) form, is in part a symp-tom of deprivation with respect to the power process.


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

60. In modern industrial society natural human drivestend to be pushed into the first and third groups, and thesecond group tends to consist increasingly of artificiallycreated drives.

61. In primitive societies, physical necessities generallyfall into group 2: They can be obtained, but only at thecost of serious effort. But modern society tends to gua-ranty the physical necessities to everyone [9] in exchangefor only minimal effort, hence physical needs are pushedinto group 1. (There may be disagreement about whetherthe effort needed to hold a job is “minimal”; but usually,in lower- to middle-level jobs, whatever effort is requiredis merely that of OBEDIENCE. You sit or stand where youare told to sit or stand and do what you are told to do inthe way you are told to do it. Seldom do you have to exertyourself seriously, and in any case you have hardly anyautonomy in work, so that the need for the power processis not well served.)

62. Social needs, such as sex, love and status, often re-main in group 2 in modern society, depending on the si-tuation of the individual. [10] But, except for people whohave a particularly strong drive for status, the effort re-quired to fulfill the social drives is insufficient to satisfyadequately the need for the power process.

63. So certain artificial needs have been created thatfall into group 2, hence serve the need for the power pro-cess. Advertising and marketing techniques have been de-veloped that make many people feel they need things thattheir grandparents never desired or even dreamed of. Itrequires serious effort to earn enough money to satisfythese artificial needs, hence they fall into group 2. (But seeparagraphs 80-82.) Modern man must satisfy his need forthe power process largely through pursuit of the artificialneeds created by the advertising and marketing industry[11], and through surrogate activities.

64. It seems that for many people, maybe the majo-rity, these artificial forms of the power process are insuffi-cient. A theme that appears repeatediy in the writings ofthe social critics of the second half of the 20th century isthe sense of purposelessness that afflicts many people inmodern society. (This purposelessness is often called byother names such as “anomic” or “middle-class vacuity.”)We suggest that the so-called “identity crisis” is actuallya search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment toa suitable surrogate activity. It may be that existentialismis in large part a response to the purposelessness of mo-dern life. [12] Very widespread in modern society is thesearch for “fulfillment.” But we think that for the majorityof people an activity whose main goal is fulfillment (thatis, a surrogate activity) does not bring completely satis-factory fulfillment. In other words, it does not fully satisfythe need for the power process. (See paragraph 41.) Thatneed can be fully satisfied only through activities that havesome external goal, such as physical necessities, sex, love,status, revenge, etc.

65. Moreover, where goals are pursued through earningmoney, climbing the status ladder or functioning as part ofthe system in some other way, most people are not in a position to pursue their goals AUTONOMOUSLY. Most wor-kers are someone else’s employee and, as we pointed outin paragraph 61, must spend their days doing what theyare told to do in the way they are told to do it. Even mostpeople who are in business for themselves have only limi-ted autonomy. It is a chronic complaint of small-businesspersons and entrepreneurs that their hands are tied byexcessive government regulation. Some of these regula-tions are doubtless unnecessary, but for the most part go-vernment regulations are essential and inevitable parts ofour extremely complex society. A large portion of smallbusiness today operates on the franchise system. It wasreported in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago thatmany of the franchise-granting companies require appli-cants for franchises to take a personality test that is de-signed to EXCLUDE those who have creativity and initia-tive, because such persons are not sufficiently docile to goalong obediently with the franchise system. This excludesfrom small business many of the people who most needautonomy.

66. Today people live more by virtue of what the sys-tem does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of whatthey do for themselves. And what they do for themselvesis done more and more along channels laid down by thesystem. Opportunities tend to be those that the systemprovides, the opportunities must be exploited in accordwith rules and regulations [13], and techniques prescri-bed by experts must be followed if there is to be a chanceof success.

67. Thus the power process is disrupted in our societythrough a deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of au-tonomy in the pursuit of goals. But it is also disruptedbecause of those human drives that fall into group 3:the drives that one cannot adequately satisfy no matterhow much effort one makes. One of these drives is theneed for security. Our lives depend on decisions made byother people; we have no control over these decisions andusually we do not even know the people who make them.(“We live in a world in which relatively few people —maybe 500 or 1,000 — make the important decisions”,Philip B. Heymann of Harvard Law School, quoted by An-thony Lewis, New York Times, April 21, 1995.) Our livesdepend on whether safety standards at a nuclear powerplant are properly maintained; on how much pesticide isallowed to get into our food or how much pollution intoour air; on how skillful (or incompetent) our doctor is;whether we lose or get a job may depend on decisionsmade by government economists or corporation execu-tives; and so forth. Most individuals are not in a positionto secure themselves against these threats to more [than]a very limited extent. The individual’s search for securityis therefore frustrated, which leads to a sense of power-lessness.

68. It may be objected that primitive man is physicallyless secure than modern man, as is shown by his shor-ter life expectancy; hence modern man suffers from less,not more than the amount of insecurity that is normal forhuman beings. But psychological security does not closelycorrespond with physical security. What makes us FEEL se-cure is not so much objective security as a sense of confi-dence in our ability to take care of ourselves. Primitiveman, threatened by a fierce animal or by hunger, can fightin self-defense or travel in search of food. He has no cer-tainty of success in these efforts, but he is by no meanshelpless against the things that threaten him. The mo-dern individual on the other hand is threatened by manythings against which he is helpless: nuclear accidents, car-cinogens in food, environmental pollution, war, increasingtaxes, invasion of his privacy by large organizations, na-tionwide social or economic phenomena that may disrupthis way of life.

69. It is true that primitive man is powerless againstsome of the things that threaten him; disease for example.But he can accept the risk of disease stoically. It is part ofthe nature of things, it is no one’s fault, unless it is the faultof some imaginary, impersonal demon. But threats to themodern individual tend to be MAN-MADE. They are notthe results of chance but are IMPOSED on him by otherpersons whose decisions he, as an individual, is unableto influence. Consequently he feels frustrated, humiliatedand angry.

70. Thus primitive man for the most part has his se-curity in his own hands (either as an individual or as amember of a SMALL group) whereas the security of mo-dern man is in the hands of persons or organizations thatare too remote or too large for him to be able personally toinfluence them. So modern man’s drive for security tendsto fall into groups 1 and 3; in some areas (food, shelteretc.) his security is assured at the cost of only trivial ef-fort, whereas in other areas he CANNOT attain security.(The foregoing greatly simplifies the real situation, but itdoes indicate in a rough, general way how the conditionof modern man differs from that of primitive man.)

71. People have many transitory drives or impulses thatare necessarily frustrated in modern life, hence fall intogroup 3. One may become angry, but modern society can-not permit fighting. In many situations it does not evenpermit verbal aggression. When going somewhere onemay be in a hurry, or one may be in a mood to travelslowly, but one generally has no choice but to move withthe flow of traffic and obey the traffic signals. One maywant to do one’s work in a different way, but usually onecan work only according to the rules laid down by one’semployer. In many other ways as well, modern man isstrapped down by a network of rules and regulations (ex-plicit or implicit) that frustrate many of his impulses andthus interfere with the power process. Most of these regu-lations cannot be dispensed with, because they are neces-sary for the functioning of industrial society.

72. Modern society is in certain respects extremely per-missive. In matters that are irrelevant to the functioningof the system we can generally do what we please. Wecan believe in any religion (as long as it does not encou-rage behavior that is dangerous to the system). We cango to bed with anyone we like (as long as we practice“safe sex”). We can do anything we like as long as it isUNIMPORTANT. But in all IMPORTANT matters the sys-tem tends increasingly to regulate our behavior.

73. Behavior is regulated not only through explicit rulesand not only by the government. Control is often exer-8cised through indirect coercion or through psychologicalpressure or manipulation, and by organizations other thanthe government, or by the system as a whole. Most largeorganizations use some form of propaganda [14] to ma-nipulate public attitudes or behavior. Propaganda is notlimited to “commercials” and advertisements, and some-times it is not even consciously intended as propagandaby the people who make it. For instance, the content ofentertainment programming is a powerful form of propa-ganda. An example of indirect coercion: There is no lawthat says we have to go to work every day and follow ouremployer’s orders. Legally there is nothing to prevent usfrom going to live in the wild like primitive people or fromgoing into business for ourselves. But in practice there isvery little wild country left, and there is room in the eco-nomy for only a limited number of small business owners.Hence most of us can survive only as someone else’s em-ployee.

74. We suggest that modern man’s obsession with lon-gevity, and with maintaining physical vigor and sexual at-tractiveness to an advanced age, is a symptom of unful-fillment resulting from deprivation with respect to the po-wer process. The “mid-lffe crisis” also is such a symptom.So is the lack of interest in having children that is fairlycommon in modern society but almost unheard-of in pri-mitive societies.

75. In primitive societies life is a succession of stages.The needs and purposes of one stage having been ful-filled, there is no particular reluctance about passing onto the next stage. A young man goes through the powerprocess by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or forfulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food. (Inyoung women the process is more complex, with greateremphasis on social power; we won’t discuss that here.)This phase having been successfully passed through, theyoung man has no reluctance about settling down to theresponsibilities of raising a family. (In contrast, some mo-dern people indefinitely postpone having children becausethey are too busy seeking some kind of “fulfillment.” Wesuggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate expe-rience of the power process — with real goals insteadof the artificial goals of surrogate activities.) Again, ha-ving successfully raised his children, going through thepower process by providing them with the physical neces-sities, the primitive man feels that his work is done andhe is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long)and death. Many modern people, on the other hand, aredisturbed by the prospect of physical deterioration anddeath, as is shown by the amount of effort they expendtrying to maintain their physical condition, appearanceand health. We argue that this is due to unfulfillment re-sulting from the fact that they have never put their physi-cal powers to any practical use, have never gone throughthe power process using their bodies in a serious way. Itis not the primitive man, who has used his body daily forpractical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, butthe modern man, who has never had a practical use for hisbody beyond walking from his car to his house. It is theman whose need for the power process has been satisfiedduring his life who is best prepared to accept the end ofthat life.

76. In response to the arguments of this section so-meone will say, “Society must find a way to give peoplethe opportunity to go through the power process.” Thiswon’t work for those who need autonomy in the powerprocess. For such people the value of the opportunity isdestroyed by the very fact that society gives it to them.What they need is to find or make their own opportuni-ties. As long as the system GIVES them their opportunitiesit still has them on a leash. To attain autonomy they mustget off that leash.


77. Not everyone in industrial-technological society suf-fers from psychological problems. Some people even pro-fess to be quite satisfied with society as it is. We now dis-cuss some of the reasons why people differ so greatly intheir response to modern society.

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

79. Some people may have some exceptional drive, inpursuing which they satisfy their need for the power pro-cess. For example, those who have an unusually strongdrive for social status may spend their whole lives clim-bing the status ladder without ever getting bored with thatgame.

80. People vary in their susceptibility to advertising andmarketing techniques. Some are so susceptible that, evenif they make a great deal of money, they cannot satisfytheir constant craving for the the shiny new toys that themarketing industry dangles before their eyes. So they al-ways feel hard-pressed financially even if their income islarge, and their cravings are frustrated.

81. Some people have low susceptibility to adverti-sing and marketing techniques. These are the people whoaren’t interested in money. Material acquisition does notserve their need for the power process.

82. People who have medium susceptibility to adverti-sing and marketing techniques are able to earn enoughmoney to satisfy their craving for goods and services, butonly at the cost of serious effort (putting in overtime, ta-king a second job, earning promotions, etc.). Thus mate-rial acquisition serves their need for the power process.But it does not necessarily follow that their need is fullysatisfied. They may have insufficient autonomy in the po-wer 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 para-graphs 80-82 because we have assumed that the desire9for material acquisition is entirely a creation of the ad-vertising and marketing industry. Of course it’s not thatsimple. [11]

83. Some people partly satisfy their need for powerby identifying themselves with a powerful organizationor mass movement. An individual lacking goals or powerjoins a movement or an organization, adopts its goals ashis own, then works toward those goals. When some ofthe goals are attained, the individual, even though his per-sonal efforts have played only an insignificant part in theattainment of the goals, feels (through his identificationwith the movement or organization) as if he had gonethrough the power process. This phenomenon was exploi-ted by the fascists, nazis and communists. Our society usesit too, though less crudely. Example: Manuel Noriega wasan irritant to the U.S. (goal: punish Noriega). The U.S.invaded Panama (effort) and punished Noriega (attain-ment of goal). Thus the U.S. went through the power pro-cess and many Americans, because of their identificationwith the U.S., experienced the power process vicariously.Hence the widespread public approval of the Panama in-vasion; it gave people a sense of power. [15] We see thesame phenomenon in armies, corporations, political par-ties, humanitarian organizations, religious or ideologicalmovements. In particular, leftist movements tend to at-tract people who are seeking to satisfy their need for po-wer. But for most people identification with a large organi-zation or a mass movement does not fully satisfy the needfor power.

84. Another way in which people satisfy their needfor the power process is through surrogate activities. Aswe explained in paragraphs 38-40, a surrogate activityis an activity that is directed toward an artificial goalthat the individual pursues for the sake of the “fulfill-ment” that he gets from pursuing the goal, not becausehe needs to attain the goal itself. For instance, there isno practical motive for building enormous muscles, hit-ting a little ball into a hole or acquiring a complete se-ries of postage stamps. Yet many people in our societydevote themselves with passion to bodybuilding, golf orstamp-collecting. Some people are more “other-directed”than others, and therefore will more readily attach impor-tance to a surrogate activity simply because the peoplearound them treat it as important or because society tellsthem it is important. That is why some people get veryserious about essentially trivial activities such as sports,or bridge, or chess, or arcane scholarly pursuits, whereasothers who are more clear-sighted never see these thingsas anything but the surrogate activities that they are, andconsequently never attach enough importance to them tosatisfy their need for the power process in that way. It onlyremains to point out that in many cases a person’s way ofearning a living is also a surrogate activity. Not a PUREsurrogate activity, since part of the motive for the activityis to gain the physical necessities and (for some people)social status and the luxuries that advertising makes themwant. But many people put into their work far more ef-fort than is necessary to earn whatever money and statusthey require, and this extra effort constitutes a surrogateactivity. This extra effort, together with the emotional in-vestment that accompanies it, is one of the most potentforces acting toward the continual development and per-fecting of the system, with negative consequences for in-dividual freedom (see paragraph 131). Especially, for themost creative scientists and engineers, work tends to belargely a surrogate activity. This point is so important thatit deserves a separate discussion, which we shall give in amoment (paragraphs 87-92).

85. In this section we have explained how many peoplein modern society do satisfy their need for the power pro-cess to a greater or lesser extent. But we think that forthe majority of people the need for the power process isnot fully satisfied. In the first place, those who have aninsatiable drive for status, or who get firmly “hooked” ona surrogate activity, or who identify strongly enough witha movement or organization to satisfy their need for po-wer in that way, are exceptional personalities. Others arenot fully satisfied with surrogate activities or by identifi-cation with an organization (see paragraphs 41, 64). Inthe second place, too much control is imposed by the sys-tem through explicit regulation or through socialization,which results in a deficiency of autonomy, and in frustra-tion due to the impossibility of attaining certain goals andthe necessity of restraining too many impulses.86. But even if most people in industrial-technologicalsociety were well satisfied, we (FC) would still be opposedto that form of society, because (among other reasons) weconsider it demeaning to fulfill one’s need for the powerprocess through surrogate activities or through identifica-tion with an organization, rather than through pursuit ofreal goals.


87. Science and technology provide the most importantexamples of surrogate activities. Some scientists claimthat they are motivated by “curiosity” or by a desire to “be-nefit humanity.” But it is easy to see that neither of thesecan be the principal motive of most scientists. As for “cu-riosity,” that notion is simply absurd. Most scientists workon highly specialized problems that are not the object ofany normal curiosity. For example, is an astronomer, a ma-thematician or an entomologist curious about the proper-ties of isopropyltrimethylmethane? Of course not. Only achemist is curious about such a thing, and he is curiousabout it only because chemistry is his surrogate activity.Is the chemist curious about the appropriate classificationof a new species of beetle? No. That question is of interestonly to the entomologist, and he is interested in it only be-cause entomology is his surrogate activity. If the chemistand the entomologist had to exert themselves seriously toobtain the physical necessities, and if that effort exerci-sed their abilities in an interesting way but in some nons-cientific pursuit, then they wouldn’t give a damn aboutisopropyltrimethylmethane or the classification of beetles.Suppose that lack of funds for postgraduate education hadled the chemist to become an insurance broker instead ofa chemist. In that case he would have been very interested10in insurance matters but would have cared nothing aboutisopropyltrimethylmethane. In any case it is not normal toput into the satisfaction of mere curiosity the amount oftime and effort that scientists put into their work. The “cu-riosity” explanation for the scientists’ motive just doesn’tstand up.

88. The “benefit of humanity” explanation doesn’t workany better. Some scientific work has no conceivable rela-tion to the welfare of the human race most of archaeo-logy or comparative linguistics for example. Some otherareas of science present obviously dangerous possibilities.Yet scientists in these areas are just as enthusiastic abouttheir work as those who develop vaccines or study air pol-lution. Consider the case of Dr. Edward Teller, who hadan obvious emotional involvement in promoting nuclearpower plants. Did this involvement stem from a desireto benefit humanity? If so, then why didn’t Dr. Teller getemotional about other “humanitarian” causes? If he wassuch a humanitarian then why did he help to develop theH-bomb? As with many other scientific achievements, it isvery much open to question whether nuclear power plantsactually do benefit humanity. Does the cheap electricityoutweigh the accumulating waste and the risk of acci-dents? Dr. Teller saw only one side of the question. Clearlyhis emotional involvement with nuclear power arose notfrom a desire to “benefit humanity” but from a personalfulfillment he got from his work and from seeing it put topractical use.

89. The same is true of scientists generally. With pos-sible rare exceptions, their motive is neither curiosity nora desire to benefit humanity but the need to go throughthe power process: to have a goal (a scientific problem tosolve), to make an effort (research) and to attain the goal(solution of the problem.) Science is a surrogate activitybecause scientists work mainly for the fulfillment they getout of the work itself.

90. Of course, it’s not that simple. Other motives do playa role for many scientists. Money and status for example.Some scientists may be persons of the type who have aninsatiable drive for status (see paragraph 79) and this mayprovide much of the motivation for their work. No doubtthe majority of scientists, like the majority of the generalpopulation, are more or less susceptible to advertising andmarketing techniques and need money to satisfy their cra-ving for goods and services. Thus science is not a PUREsurrogate activity. But it is in large part a surrogate acti-vity.

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

92. Thus science marches on blindly, without regardto the real welfare of the human race or to any otherstandard, obedient only to the psychological needs of thescientists and of the government of ficials and corporation executives who provide the funds for research.


93. We are going to argue that industrial-technologicalsociety cannot be reformed in such a way as to prevent itfrom progressively narrowing the sphere of human free-dom. But, because “freedom” is a word that can be inter-preted in many ways, we must first make clear what kindof freedom we are concerned with.

94. By “freedom” we mean the opportunity to gothrough the power process, with real goals not the artifi-cial goals of surrogate activities, and without interference,manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially fromany 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, clo-thing, shelter and defense against whatever threats theremay be in one’s environment. Freedom means having po-wer; not the power to control other people but the powerto control the circumstances of one’s own life. One doesnot have freedom if anyone else (especially a large organi-zation) 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 permis-siveness (see paragraph 72).

95. It is said that we live in a free society becausewe have a certain number of constitutionally guaranteedrights. But these are not as important as they seem. Thedegree of personal freedom that exists in a society is de-termined more by the economic and technological struc-ture of the society than by its laws or its form of govern-ment. [16] Most of the Indian nations of New Englandwere monarchies, and many of the cities of the ItalianRenaissance were controlled by dictators. But in readingabout these societies one gets the impression that they al-lowed far more personal freedom than our society does.In part this was because they lacked efficient mechanismsfor enforcing the ruler’s will: There were no modern, well-organized police forces, no rapid long-distance communi-cations, no surveillance cameras, no dossiers of informa-tion about the lives of average citizens. Hence it was rela-tively easy to evade control.

96. As for our constitutional rights, consider forexample that of freedom of the press. We certainly don’tmean to knock that right; it is very important tool for li-miting concentration of political power and for keepingthose who do have political power in line by publicly ex-posing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of thepress is of very little use to the average citizen as an in-dividual. The mass media are mostly under the controlof large organizations that are integrated into the system.Anyone who has a little money can have something prin-ted, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some suchway, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vastvolume of material put out by the media, hence it willhave no practical effect. To make an impression on societywith words is therefore almost impossible for most indivi-duals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If wehad never done anything violent and had submitted thepresent writings to a publisher, they probably would nothave been accepted. If they had been been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted manyreaders, because it’s more fun to watch the entertainmentput out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even ffthese writings had had many readers, most of these rea-ders would soon have forgotten what they had read astheir minds were flooded by the mass of material to whichthe media expose them. In order to get our message beforethe public with some chance of making a lasting impres-sion, we’ve had to kill people.

97. Constitutional rights are useful up to a point, butthey do not serve to guarantee much more than whatmight be called the bourgeois conception of freedom. Ac-cording to the bourgeois conception, a “free” man is essen-tially an element of a social machine and has only a cer-tain set of prescribed and delimited freedoms; freedomsthat are designed to serve the needs of the social machinemore than those of the individual. Thus the bourgeois’s“free” man has economic freedom because that promotesgrowth and progress; he has freedom of the press becausepublic criticism restrains misbehavior by political leaders;he has a right to a fair trial because imprisonment at thewhim of the powerful would be bad for the system. Thiswas clearly the attitude of Simon Bolivar. To him, peopledeserved liberty only if they used it to promote progress(progress as conceived by the bourgeois). Other bourgeoisthinkers have taken a similar view of freedom as a meremeans to collective ends. Chester C. Tan, “Chinese Politi-cal Thought in the Twentieth Century,” page 202, explainsthe philosophy of the Kuomintang leader Hu Han-min:“An individual is granted rights because he is a memberof society and his community life requires such rights. Bycommunity Hu meant the whole society of the nation.”And on page 259 Tan states that according to CarsumChang (Chang Chun-mai, head of the State Socialist Partyin China) freedom had to be used in the interest of thestate and of the people as a whole. But what kind of free-dom does one have if one can use it only as someone elseprescribes? FC’s conception of freedom is not that of Bo-livar, Hu, Chang or other bourgeois theorists. The troublewith such theorists is that they have made the develop-ment and application of social theories their surrogate ac-tivity. Consequently the theories are designed to serve theneeds of the theorists more than the needs of any peoplewho may be unlucky enough to live in a society on whichthe theories are imposed.

98. One more point to be made in this section: It shouldnot be assumed that a person has enough freedom justbecause he SAYS he has enough. Freedom is restricted inpart by psychological controls of which people are uncons-cious, and moreover many people’s ideas of what consti-tutes freedom are governed more by social conventionthan by their real needs. For example, it’s likely that manyleftists of the oversocialized type would say that mostpeople, including themselves, are socialized too little ra-ther than too much, yet the oversocialized leftist pays aheavy psychological price for his high level of socialization.


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

100. FIRST PRINCIPLE. If a SMALL change is made thataffects a long-term historical trend, then the effect of thatchange will almost always be transitory — the trend willsoon revert to its original state. (Example: A reform move-ment designed to clean up political corruption in a societyrarely has more than a short-term effect; sooner or laterthe reformers relax and corruption creeps back in. Thelevel of political corruption in a given society tends to re-main constant, or to change only slowly with the evolutionof the society. Normally, a political cleanup will be perma-nent only if accompanied by widespread social changes; a SMALL change in the society won’t be enough.) If a smallchange in a long-term historical trend appears to be per-manent, it is only because the change acts in the directionin which the trend is already moving, so that the trend isnot altered by only pushed a step ahead.

101. The first principle is almost a tautology. If a trendwere not stable with respect to small changes, it wouldwander at random rather than following a definite direc-tion; in other words it would not be a long-term trend atall.

102. SECOND PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that issufficiently large to alter permanently a long-term histori-cal trend, then it will alter the society as a whole. In otherwords, a society is a system in which all parts are inter-related, and you can’t permanently change any importantpart without changing all other parts as well.

103. THIRD PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that islarge enough to alter permanently a long-term trend, thenthe consequences for the society as a whole cannot be pre-dicted in advance. (Unless various other societies havepassed through the same change and have all experien-ced the same consequences, in which case one can pre-dict on empirical grounds that another society that passesthrough the same change will be like to experience similarconsequences.)

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

105. The third and fourth principles result from thecomplexity of human societies. A change in human be-havior will affect the economy of a society and its physi-cal environment; the economy will affect the environmentand vice versa, and the changes in the economy and theenvironment will affect human behavior in complex, un-predictable ways; and so forth. The network of causes andeffects is far too complex to be untangled and understood.

106. FIFTH PRINCIPLE. People do not consciously andrationally choose the form of their society. Societies de-velop through processes of social evolution that are notunder rational human control.

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

108. To illustrate: By the first principle, generally spea-king an attempt at social reform either acts in the directionin which the society is developing anyway (so that it me-rely accelerates a change that would have occurred in anycase) or else it has only a transitory effect, so that the so-ciety soon slips back into its old groove. To make a lastingchange in the direction of development of any importantaspect of a society, reform is insufficient and revolution isrequired. (A revolution does not necessarily involve an ar-med uprising or the overthrow of a government.) By thesecond principle, a revolution never changes only one as-pect of a society, it changes the whole society; and by thethird principle changes occur that were never expectedor desired by the revolutionaries. By the fourth principle,when revolutionaries or utopians set up a new kind of so-ciety, it never works out as planned.

109. The American Revolution does not provide a coun-terexample. The American “Revolution” was not a revo-lution in our sense of the word, but a war of indepen-dence followed by a rather far-reaching political reform.The Founding Fathers did not change the direction of de-velopment of American society, nor did they aspire to doso. They only freed the development of American societyfrom the retarding effect of British rule. Their politicalreform did not change any basic trend, but only pushedAmerican political culture along its natural direction ofdevelopment. British society, of which American societywas an offshoot, had been moving for a long time in thedirection of representative democracy. And prior to theWar of Independence the Americans were already prac-ticing a significant degree of representative democracy inthe colonial assemblies. The political system establishedby the Constitution was modeled on the British systemand on the colonial assemblies. With major alteration, tobe sure — there is no doubt that the Founding Fathers tooka very important step. But it was a step along the road thatEnglish-speaking world was already traveling. The proofis that Britain and all of its colonies that were popula-ted predominantly by people of British descent ended upwith systems of representative democracy essentially si-milar to that of the United States. If the Founding Fathershad lost their nerve and declined to sign the Declaration ofIndependence, our way of lffe today would not have beensignificantly different. Maybe we would have had somew-hat closer ties to Britain, and would have had a Parliamentand Prime Minister instead of a Congress and President.No big deal. Thus the American Revolution provides nota counterexample to our principles but a good illustrationof them.

110. Still, one has to use common sense in applyingthe principles. They are expressed in imprecise language that allows latitude for interpretation, and exceptions tothem can be found. So we present these principles not asinviolable laws but as rules of thumb, or guides to thin-king, that may provide a partial antidote to naive ideasabout the future of society. The principles should be borneconstantly in mind, and whenever one reaches a conciu-sion that conflicts with them one should carefully reexa-mine one’s thinking and retain the conclusion only if onehas good, solid reasons for doing so. INDUSTRIAL-TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY CANNOT BEREFORMED

111. The foregoing principles help to show how hope-lessly difficult it would be to reform the industrial systemin such a way as to prevent it from progressively narro-wing our sphere of freedom. There has been a consistenttendency, going back at least to the Industrial Revolu-tion for technology to strengthen the system at a highcost in individual freedom and local autonomy. Henceany change designed to protect freedom from technologywould be contrary to a fundamental trend in the develop-ment of our society. Consequently, such a change eitherwould be a transitory one — soon swamped by the tideof history — or, if large enough to be permanent wouldalter the nature of our whole society. This by the firstand second principles. Moreover, since society would bealtered in a way that could not be predicted in advance(third principle) there would be great risk. Changes largeenough to make a lasting difference in favor of freedomwould not be initiated because it would be realized thatthey would gravely disrupt the system. So any attempts atreform would be too timid to be effective. Even if changeslarge enough to make a lasting difference were initiated,they would be retracted when their disruptive effects be-came apparent. Thus, permanent changes in favor of free-dom could be brought about only by persons prepared toaccept radical, dangerous and unpredictable alteration ofthe entire system. In other words by revolutionaries, notreformers.

112. People anxious to rescue freedom without sacri-ficing the supposed benefits of technology will suggestnaive schemes for some new form of society that would re-concile freedom with technology. Apart from the fact thatpeople who make such suggestions seldom propose anypractical means by which the new form of society couldbe set up in the first place, it follows from the fourth prin-ciple that even if the new form of society could be onceestablished, it either would collapse or would give resultsvery different from those expected.

113. So even on very general grounds it seems highly improbable that any way of changing society could befound 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 paragraphs 65-67, 70-73, modernman is strapped down by a network of rules and regula-tions, and his fate depends on the actions of persons re-mote from him whose decisions he cannot influence. Thisis not accidental or a result of the arbitrariness of arrogantbureaucrats. It is necessary and inevitable in any technolo-gically advanced society. The system HAS TO regulate hu-man behavior closely in order to function. At work people have to do what they are told to do, otherwise productionwould be thrown into chaos. Bureaucracies HAVE TO berun according to rigid rules. To allow any substantial per-sonal discretion to lower-level bureaucrats would disruptthe system and lead to charges of unfairness due to dif-ferences in the way individual bureaucrats exercised theirdiscretion. It is true that some restrictions on our freedomcould be eliminated, but GENERALLY SPEAKING the re-gulation of our lives by large organizations is necessaryfor the functioning of industrial-technological society.Theresult is a sense of powerlessness on the part of the ave-rage person. It may be, however, that formal regulationswill tend increasingly to be replaced by psychological toolsthat make us want to do what the system requires of us.(Propaganda [14], educational techniques, “mental heal-th” programs, etc.)

115. The system HAS TO force people to behave in waysthat are increasingly remote from the natural pattern ofhuman behavior. For example, the system needs scientists,mathematicians and engineers. It can’t function withoutthem. So heavy pressure is put on children to excel inthese fields. It isn’t natural for an adolescent human beingto spend the bulk of his time sitting at a desk absorbed instudy. A normal adolescent wants to spend his time in ac-tive contact with the real world. Among primitive peoplesthe things that children are trained to do tend to be in rea-sonable harmony with natural human impulses. Amongthe American Indians, for example, boys were trained inactive outdoor pursuits — just the sort of thing that boyslike. But in our society children are pushed into studyingtechnical subjects, which most do grudgingly.116. Because of the constant pressure that the systemexerts to modify human behavior, there is a gradual in-crease in the number of people who cannot or will not ad-just to society’s requirements: welfare leeches, youth gangmembers, cultists, anti-government rebels, radical envi-ronmentalist saboteurs, dropouts and resisters of variouskinds.

117. In any technologically advanced society the indivi-dual’s fate MUST depend on decisions that he personallycannot influence to any great extent. A technological so-ciety cannot be broken down into small, autonomous com-munities, because production depends on the cooperationof very large numbers of people and machines. Such asociety MUST be highly organized and decisions HAVETO be made that affect very large numbers of people.When a decision affects, say, a million people, then eachof the affected individuals has, on the average, only a one-millionth share in making the decision. What usually hap-pens in practice is that decisions are made by public offi-cials or corporation executives, or by technical specialists,but even when the public votes on a decision the numberof voters ordinarily is too large for the vote of any oneindividual to be significant. [17] Thus most individualsare unable to influence measurably the major decisionsthat affect their lives. There is no conceivable way to re-medy this in a technologically advanced society. The sys-tem tries to “solve” this problem by using propaganda tomake people WANT the decisions that have been made forthem, but even if this “solution” were completely success-ful in making people feel better, it would be demeaning.

118. Conservatives and some others advocate more “lo-cal autonomy.” Local communities once did have auto-nomy, but such autonomy becomes less and less pos-sible as local communities become more enmeshed withand dependent on large-scale systems like public utilities,computer networks, highway systems, the mass communi-cations media, the modern health care system. Also ope-rating against autonomy is the fact that technology ap-plied in one location often affects people at other locationsfar way. Thus pesticide or chemical use near a creek maycontaminate the water supply hundreds of miles downs-tream, and the greenhouse effect affects the whole world.

119. The system does not and cannot exist to satisfyhuman needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has tobe modified to fit the needs of the system. This has no-thing to do with the political or social ideology that maypretend to guide the technological system. It is not thefault of capitalism and it is not the fault of socialism. Itis the fault of technology, because the system is guidednot by ideology but by technical necessity. [18] Of coursethe system does satisfy many human needs, but generallyspeaking it does this only to the extend that it is to theadvantage of the system to do it. It is the needs of the sys-tem that are paramount, not those of the human being.For example, the system provides people with food be-cause the system couldn’t function if everyone starved; itattends to people’s psychological needs whenever it canCONVENIENTLY do so, because it couldn’t function if toomany people became depressed or rebellious. But the sys-tem, for good, solid, practical reasons, must exert constantpressure on people to mold their behavior to the needsof the system. To much waste accumulating? The govern-ment, the media, the educational system, environmenta-lists, everyone inundates us with a mass of propagandaabout recycling. Need more technical personnel? A chorusof voices exhorts kids to study science. No one stops to askwhether it is inhumane to force adolescents to spend thebulk of their time studying subjects most of them hate.When skilled workers are put out of a job by technicaladvances and have to undergo “retraining,” no one askswhether it is humiliating for them to be pushed around inthis way. It is simply taken for granted that everyone mustbow to technical necessity. and for good reason: If humanneeds were put before technical necessity there would beeconomic problems, unemployment, shortages or worse.The concept of “mental health” in our society is definedlargely by the extent to which an individual behaves inaccord with the needs of the system and does so withoutshowing signs of stress.

120. Efforts to make room for a sense of purpose andfor autonomy within the system are no better than a joke.For example, one company, instead of having each of itsemployees assemble only one section of a catalogue, hadeach assemble a whole catalogue, and this was supposedto give them a sense of purpose and achievement. Somecompanies have tried to give their employees more auto-nomy in their work, but for practical reasons this usuallycan be done only to a very limited extent, and in any caseemployees are never given autonomy as to ultimate goals — their “autonomous” efforts can never be directed to-ward goals that they select personally, but only towardtheir employer’s goals, such as the survival and growth ofthe company. Any company would soon go out of businessif it permitted its employees to act otherwise. Similarly, inany enterprise within a socialist system, workers must direct their efforts toward the goals of the enterprise, other-wise the enterprise will not serve its purpose as part of thesystem. Once again, for purely technical reasons it is notpossible for most individuals or small groups to have muchautonomy in industrial society. Even the small-businessowner commonly has only limited autonomy. Apart fromthe necessity of government regulation, he is restricted bythe fact that he must fit into the economic system andconform to its requirements. For instance, when someone develops a new technology, the small- business person of-ten has to use that technology whether he wants to or not,in order to remain competitive.THE ’BAD’ PARTS OF TECHNOLOGY CANNOT BE SE-PARATED FROM THE ’GOOD’ PARTS

121. A further reason why industrial society cannot bereformed in favor of freedom is that modern technologyis a unified system in which all parts are dependent onone another. You can’t get rid of the “bad” parts of techno-logy and retain only the “good” parts. Take modern medi-cine, for example. Progress in medical science depends onprogress in chemistry, physics, biology, computer scienceand other fields. Advanced medical treatments require ex-pensive, high-tech equipment that can be made availableonly by a technologically progressive, economically richsociety. Clearly you can’t have much Progress in medicinewithout the whole technological system and everythingthat goes with it.

122. Even if medical progress could be maintained wi-thout the rest of the technological system, it would by it-self bring certain evils. Suppose for example that a curefor diabetes is discovered. People with a genetic tendencyto diabetes will then be able to survive and reproduce aswell as anyone else. Natural selection against genes fordiabetes will cease and such genes will spread throughoutthe population. (This may be occurring to some extent al-ready, since diabetes, while not curable, can be controlledthrough use of insulin.) The same thing will happen withmany other diseases susceptibility to which is affected bygenetic degradation of the population. The only solutionwill be some sort of eugenics program or extensive gene-tic engineering of human beings, so that man in the fu-ture 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 yourlife too much NOW, just wait till the government starts re-gulating the genetic constitution of your children. Such re-gulation will inevitably follow the introduction of geneticengineering of human beings, because the consequencesof unregulated genetic engineering would be disastrous.[19]

124. The usual response to such concerns is to talkabout “medical ethics.” But a code of ethics would notserve to protect freedom in the face of medical progress;it would only make matters worse. A code of ethics appli-cable to genetic engineering would be in effect a means ofregulating the genetic constitution of human beings. So-mebody (probably the upper-middle class, mostly) woulddecide that such and such applications of genetic enginee-ring were “ethical”. and others were not, so that in effectthey would be imposing their own values on the geneticconstitution of the population at large. Even if a code ofethics were chosen on a completely democratic basis, themajority would be imposing their own values on any mi-norities who might have a different idea of what consti-tuted an “ethical” use of genetic engineering. The onlycode of ethics that would truly protect freedom would beone that prohibited ANY genetic engineering of humanbeings, and you can be sure that no such code will everbe applied in a technological society. No code that redu-ced genetic engineering to a minor role could stand up forlong, because the temptation presented by the immensepower of biotechnology would be irresistible, especiallysince to the majority of people many of its applicationswill seem obviously and unequivocally good (eliminatingphysical and mental diseases, giving people the abilitiesthey need to get along in today’s world). Inevitably, gene-tic engineering will be used extensively, but only in waysconsistent with the needs of the industrial-technologicalsystem. [20]


125. It is not possible to make a LASTING compromisebetween technology and freedom, because technology isby far the more powerful social force and continually en-croaches on freedom through REPEATED compromises.Imagine the case of two neighbors, each of whom at theoutset owns the same amount of land, but one of whom ismore powerful than the other. The powerful one demandsa piece of the other’s land. The weak one refuses. Thepowerful one says, “OK, let’s compromise. Give me halfof what I asked.” The weak one has little choice but togive in. Some time later the powerful neighbor demandsanother piece of land, again there is a compromise, andso forth. By forcing a long series of compromises on theweaker man, the powerful one eventually gets all of hisland. So it goes in the conflict between technology andfreedom.

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

127. A technological advance that appears not to threa-ten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriouslylater on. For example, consider motorized transport. Awalking man formerly could go where he pleased, go athis own pace without observing any traffic regulations,and was independent of technological support-systems.When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared toincrease man’s freedom. They took no freedom away fromthe walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t want one, and anyone who did choose to buy anautomobile could travel much faster and farther than awalking man. But the introduction of motorized transportsoon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatlyman’s freedom of locomotion. When automobiles becamenumerous, it became necessary to regulate their use ex-tensively. 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 byvarious traffic laws. One is tied down by various obliga-tions: license requirements, driver test, renewing registra-tion, insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthlypayments on purchase price. Moreover, the use of moto-rized transport is no longer optional. Since the introduc-tion of motorized transport the arrangement of our citieshas changed in such a way that the majority of peopleno longer live within walking distance of their place ofemployment, shopping areas and recreational opportuni-ties, so that they HAVE TO depend on the automobile fortransportation. Or else they must use public transporta-tion, in which case they have even less control over theirown movement than when driving a car. Even the walker’sfreedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he conti-nually has to stop to wait for traffic lights that are desi-gned mainly to serve auto traffic. In the country, motortraffic makes it dangerous and unpleasant to walk alongthe highway. (Note this important point that we have justillustrated with the case of motorized transport: When anew item of technology is introduced as an option that anindividual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not ne-cessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new techno-logy changes society in such a way that people eventuallyfind themselves FORCED to use it.)

128. While technological progress AS A WHOLE conti-nually narrows our sphere of freedom, each new techni-cal advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears to be de-sirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid long-distancecommunications… how could one argue against any ofthese things, or against any other of the innumerable tech-nical advances that have made modern society? It wouldhave been absurd to resist the introduction of the tele-phone, for example. It offered many advantages and nodisadvantages. Yet, as we explained in paragraphs 59-76,all these technical advances taken together have created aworld in which the average man’s fate is no longer in hisown hands or in the hands of his neighbors and friends,but in those of politicians, corporation executives and re-mote, anonymous technicians and bureaucrats whom heas an individual has no power to influence. [21] The sameprocess will continue in the future. Take genetic enginee-ring, for example. Few people will resist the introductionof 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 toge-ther will make the human being into an engineered pro-duct rather than a free creation of chance (or of God, orwhatever, depending on your religious beliefs).

129. Another reason why technology is such a powerfulsocial force is that, within the context of a given society,technological progress marches in only one direction; itcan never be reversed. Once a technical innovation hasbeen introduced, people usually become dependent on it,so that they can never again do without it, unless it is re-placed by some still more advanced innovation. Not onlydo people become dependent as individuals on a new itemof technology, but, even more, the system as a whole be-comes dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen tothe system today if computers, for example, were elimi-nated.) Thus the system can move in only one direction,toward greater technologization. Technology repeatedlyforces freedom to take a step back, but technology cannever take a step back — short of the overthrow of thewhole technological system.

130. TechnoIogy advances with great rapidity andthreatens freedom at many different points at the sametime (crowding, rules and regulations, increasing depen-dence of individuals on large organizations, propagandaand other psychological techniques, genetic engineering,invasion of privacy through surveillance devices and com-puters, etc.). To hold back any ONE of the threats to free-dom would require a long and difficult social struggle.Those who want to protect freedom are overwhelmed bythe sheer number of new attacks and the rapidity withwhich they develop, hence they become apathetic and nolonger resist. To fight each of the threats separately wouldbe futile. Success can be hoped for only by fighting thetechnological system as a whole; but that is revolution,not reform.

131. Technicians (we use this term in its broad sense todescribe all those who perform a specialized task that re-quires training) tend to be so involved in their work (theirsurrogate activity) that when a conflict arises betweentheir technical work and freedom, they almost always de-cide in favor of their technical work. This is obvious inthe case of scientists, but it also appears elsewhere: edu-cators, humanitarian groups, conservation organizationsdo not hesitate to use propaganda[14] or other psycholo-gical techniques to help them achieve their laudable ends.Corporations and government agencies, when they find ituseful, do not hesitate to collect information about indi-viduals without regard to their privacy. Law enforcementagencies are frequently inconvenienced by the constitu-tional rights of suspects and often of completely innocentpersons, and they do whatever they can do legally (or so-metimes illegally) to restrict or circumvent those rights.Most of these educators, government officials and law offi-cers believe in freedom, privacy and constitutional rights,but when these conflict with their work, they usually feelthat their work is more important.

132. It is well known that people generally work bet-ter and more persistently when striving for a rewardthan when attempting to avoid a punishment or negativeoutcome. Scientists and other technicians are motivatedmainly by the rewards they get through their work. Butthose who oppose technological invasions of freedom areworking to avoid a negative outcome, consequently thereare few who work persistently and well at this discoura-ging task. If reformers ever achieved a signal victory thatseemed to set up a solid barrier against further erosion offreedom through technical progress, most would tend to16relax 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 spiteof 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, institu-tions, customs or ethical codes, can provide permanentprotection against technology. History shows that all social arrangements are transitory; they all change or breakdown eventually. But technological advances are perma-nent within the context of a given civilization. Suppose for example that it were possible to arrive at some so-cial arrangements that would prevent genetic engineeringfrom being applied to human beings, or prevent it frombeing applied in such a way as to threaten freedom and dignity. Still, the technology would remain waiting. Sooneror later the social arrangement would break down. Proba-bly sooner, given the pace of change in our society. Thengenetic engineering would begin to invade our sphere offreedom. and this invasion would be irreversible (shortof a breakdown of technological civilization itself). Anyillusions about achieving anything permanent through so-cial arrangements should be dispelled by what is currentlyhappening with environmental legislation. A few yearsago its seemed that there were secure legal barriers pre-venting at least SOME of the worst forms of environmen-tal degradation. A change in the political wind, and thosebarriers begin to crumble.

134. For all of the foregoing reasons, technology is amore powerful social force than the aspiration for free-dom. But this statement requires an important qualifica-tion. It appears that during the next several decades theindustrial-technological system will be undergoing severestresses due to economic and environmental problems,and especially due to problems of human behavior (alie-nation, rebellion, hostility, a variety of social and psy-chological difficulties). We hope that the stresses throughwhich the system is likely to pass will cause it to breakdown, or at least will weaken it sufficiently so that a re-volution against it becomes possible. If such a revolutionoccurs and is successful, then at that particular momentthe aspiration for freedom will have proved more power-ful than technology.

135. In paragraph 125 we used an analogy of a weakneighbor who is left destitute by a strong neighbor whotakes all his land by forcing on him a series of compro-mises. But suppose now that the strong neighbor gets sick,so tha he is unable to defend himself. The weak neigh-bor can force the strong one to give him his land back,or he can kill him. If he lets the strong man survive andonly forces him to give the land back, he is a fool, becausewhen the strong man gets well he will again take all theland for himself. The only sensible alternative for the wea-ker man is to kill the strong one while he has the chance.In the same way, while the industrial system is sick wemust 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 possibleto reform the system in such a way as to protect free-dom from technology, let him consider how clumsily andfor the most part unsuccessfully our society has dealtwith other social problems that are far more simple andstraighfforward. Among other things, the system has fai-led to stop environmental degradation, political corrup-tion, drug trafficking or domestic abuse.

137. Take our environmental problems, for example.Here the conflict of values is straightforward: economicexpedience now versus saving some of our natural re-sources for our grandchildren. [22] But on this subject weget only a lot of blather and obfuscation from the peoplewho have power, and nothing like a clear, consistentline of action, and we keep on piling up environmentalproblems that our grandchildren will have to live with.Attempts to resolve the environmental issue consist ofstruggles and compromises between different factions,some of which are ascendant at one moment, others atanother moment. The line of struggle changes with theshifting currents of public opinion. This is not a ratio-nal process, nor is it one that is likely to lead to a timelyand successful solution to the problem. Major social pro-blems, if they get “solved” at all, are rarely or never solvedthrough any rational, comprehensive plan. They just workthemselves out through a process in which various compe-ting groups pursuing their own (usually short-term) self-interest [23] arrive (mainly by luck) at some more or lessstable modus vivendi. In fact, the principles we formula-ted in paragraphs 100-106 make it seem doubtful that ra-tional long-term social planning can EVER be successful.

138. Thus it is clear that the human race has at best avery limited capacity for solving even relatively straight-forward social problems. How then is it going to solve thefar more difficult and subtle problem of reconciling free-dom with technology? Technology presents clear-cut ma-terial advantages, whereas freedom is an abstraction thatmeans different things to different people. and its loss iseasily obscured by propaganda and fancy talk.

139. And note this important difference: It is concei-vable that our environmental problems (for example) maysome day be settled through a rational, comprehensiveplan, but if this happens it will be only because it is inthe longterm interest of the system to solve these pro-blems. But it is NOT in the interest of the system to pre-serve freedom or small-group autonomy. On the contrary,it is in the interest of the system to bring human beha-vior under control to the greatest possible extent. [24]Thus, while practical considerations may eventually forcethe system to take a rational, prudent approach to envi-ronmental problems, equally practical considerations willforce the system to regulate human behavior ever moreclosely (preferably by indirect means that will disguisethe encroachment on freedom). This isn’t just our opi-nion. Eminent social scientists (e.g. James Q. Wilson) have stressed the importance of “socializing” people more effectively.


140. We hope we have convinced the reader that thesystem cannot be reformed in such a way as to reconcilefreedom with technology. The only way out is to dispensewith the industrialtechnological system altogether. Thisimplies revolution, not necessarily an armed uprising, butcertainly a radical and fundamental change in the natureof society.

141. People tend to assume that because a revolutioninvolves a much greater change than reform does, it ismore difficult to bring about than reform is. Actually, un-der certain circumstances revolution is much easier thanreform. The reason is that a revolutionary movement caninspire an intensity of commitment that a reform move-ment cannot inspire. A reform movement merely offersto solve a particular social problem. A revolutionary mo-vement offers to solve all problems at one stroke andcreate a whole new world; it provides the kind of idealfor which people will take great risks and make great sa-crifices. For this reasons it would be much easier to over-throw the whole technological system than to put effec-tive, permanent restraints on the development or appli-cation of any one segment of technology, such as gene-tic engineering, for example. Not many people will de-vote themselves with single-minded passion to imposingand maintaining restraints on genetic engineering, but un-der suitable conditions large numbers of people may de-vote themselves passionately to a revolution against theindustrial-technological system. As we noted in paragraph132, reformers seeking to limit certain aspects of tech-nology would be working to avoid a negative outcome.But revolutionaries work to gain a powerful reward —fulfillment of their revolutionary vision — and thereforework harder and more persistently than reformers do.

142. Reform is always restrained by the fear of painfulconsequences if changes go too far. But once a revolutio-nary fever has taken hold of a society, people are willingto undergo unlimited hardships for the sake of their revo-lution. This was clearly shown in the French and RussianRevolutions. It may be that in such cases only a minorityof the population is really committed to the revolution,but this minority is sufficiently large and active so that itbecomes the dominant force in society. We will have moreto say about revolution in paragraphs 180-205.


143. Since the beginning of civilization, organized so-cieties have had to put pressures on human beings ofthe sake of the functioning of the social organism. Thekinds of pressures vary greatly from one society to ano-ther. Some of the pressures are physical (poor diet, excessive labor, environmental pollution), some are psycholo-gical (noise, crowding, forcing human behavior into themold that society requires). In the past, human naturehas been approximately constant, or at any rate has va-ried only within certain bounds. Consequently, societieshave been able to push people only up to certain limits.When the limit of human endurance has been passed,things start going wrong: rebellion, or crime, or corrup-tion, or evasion of work, or depression and other mentalproblems, or an elevated death rate, or a declining birthrate or something else, so that either the society breaksdown, or its functioning becomes too inefficient and it is(quickly or gradually, through conquest, attrition or evo-lution) replaced by some more efficient form of society.[25]

144. Thus human nature has in the past put certain li-mits on the development of societies. People could be pu-shed only so far and no farther. But today this may bechanging, because modern technology is developing waysof modifying human beings.

145. Imagine a society that subjects people to condi-tions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives themdrugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction? Itis already happening to some extent in our own society. Itis well known that the rate of clinical depression has beengreatly increasing in recent decades. We believe that thisis due to disruption of the power process, as explainedin paragraphs 59-76. But even if we are wrong, the in-creasing rate of depression is certainly the result of SOMEconditions that exist in today’s society. Instead of remo-ving the conditions that make people depressed, modernsociety gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect, antide-pressants are a means of modifying an individual’s inter-nal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate socialconditions 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 environmentplays the predominant role.)

146. Drugs that affect the mind are only one exampleof the new methods of controlling human behavior thatmodern society is developing. Let us look at some of theother 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 tocollect and process vast amounts of information about in-dividuals. Information so obtained greatly increases theeffectiveness of physical coercion (i.e., law enforcement).[26] Then there are the methods of propaganda, for whichthe mass communication media provide effective vehicles.Efflcient techniques have been developed for winningelections, selling products, influencing public opinion. Theentertainment industry serves as an important psycho-logical tool of the system, possibly even when it is dis-hing out large amounts of sex and violence. Entertain-ment provides modern man with an essential means of es-cape. While absorbed in television, videos, etc., he can for-get stress, anxiety, frustration, dissatisfaction. Many primi-tive peoples, when they don’t have work to do, are quitecontent to sit for hours at a time doing nothing at all, be-cause they are at peace with themselves and their world.But most modern people must be constantly occupied or18entertained, otherwise they get “bored,” i.e., they get fid-gety, uneasy, irritable.

148. Other techniques strike deeper than the foregoing.Education is no longer a simple affair of paddling a kid’s behind when he doesn’t know his lessons and pattinghim on the head when he does know them. It is beco-ming a scientific technique for controlling the child’s deve-lopment. Sylvan Learning Centers, for example, have hadgreat success in motivating children to study, and psycho-logical techniques are also used with more or less successin many conventional schools. “Parenting” techniques thatare taught to parents are designed to make children ac-cept fundamental values of the system and behave in waysthat the system finds desirable. “Mental health” programs,“intervention” techniques, psychotherapy and so forth areostensibly designed to benefit individuals, but in practicethey usually serve as methods for inducing individuals tothink and behave as the system requires. (There is nocontradiction here; an individual whose attitudes or beha-vior bring him into conflict with the system is up againsta force that is too powerful for him to conquer or escapefrom, hence he is likely to suffer from stress, frustration,defeat. His path will be much easier if he thinks and be-haves as the system requires. In that sense the systemis acting for the benefit of the individual when it brain-washes him into conformity.) Child abuse in its gross andobvious forms is disapproved in most if not all cultures.Tormenting a child for a trivial reason or no reason atall is something that appalls almost everyone. But manypsychologists interpret the concept of abuse much morebroadly. Is spanking, when used as part of a rational andconsistent system of discipline, a form of abuse? The ques-tion will ultimately be decided by whether or not spankingtends to produce behavior that makes a person fit in wellwith the existing system of society. In practice, the word“abuse” tends to be interpreted to include any methodof child-rearing that produces behavior inconvenient forthe system. Thus, when they go beyond the prevention ofobvious, senseless cruelty, programs for preventing “childabuse” are directed toward the control of human behavioron behalf of the system.

149. Presumably, research will continue to increase theeffectiveness of psychological techniques for controllinghuman behavior. But we think it is unlikely that psycholo-gical techniques alone will be sufficient to adjust humanbeings to the kind of society that technology is creating.Biological methods probably will have to be used. We havealready mentioned the use of drugs in this connection.Neurology may provide other avenues for modifying thehuman mind. Genetic engineering of human beings is al-ready beginning to occur in the form of “gene therapy,”and there is no reason to assume that such methods willnot eventually be used to modify those aspects of the bodythat affect mental functioning.

150. As we mentioned in paragraph 134, industrial so-ciety seems likely to be entering a period of severe stress,due in part to problems of human behavior and in partto economic and environmental problems. And a consi-derable proportion of the system’s economic and envi-ronmental problems result from the way human beingsbehave. Alienation, low self-esteem, depression, hostility,rebellion; children who won’t study, youth gangs, ille-gal drug use, rape, child abuse, other crimes, unsafe sex,teen pregnancy, population growth, political corruption,race hatred, ethnic rivalry, bitter ideological conflict (e.g.,pro-choice vs. pro-life), political extremism, terrorism, sa-botage, anti-government groups, hate groups. All thesethreaten the very survival of the system. The system willtherefore be FORCED to use every practical means ofcontrolling human behavior.

151. The social disruption that we see today is certainlynot the result of mere chance. It can only be a result ofthe conditions of life that the system imposes on people.(We have argued that the most important of these condi-tions is disruption of the power process.) If the systemssucceeds in imposing sufficient control over human beha-vior to assure its own survival, a new watershed in hu-man history will have been passed. Whereas formerly thelimits of human endurance have imposed limits on thedevelopment of societies (as we explained in Paragraphs143, 144), industrial-technological society will be able topass those limits by modifying human beings, whether bypsychological methods or biological methods or both. Inthe future, social systems will not be adjusted to suit theneeds of human beings. Instead, human being will be ad-justed to suit the needs of the system. [27]

152. Generally speaking, technological control over hu-man behavior will probably not be introduced with a to-talitarian intention or even through a conscious desireto restrict human freedom. [28] Each new step in theassertion of control over the human mind will be ta-ken as a rational response to a problem that faces so-ciety, such as curing alcoholism, reducing the crime rateor inducing young people to study science and enginee-ring. In many cases there will be a humanitarian justifica-tion. For example, when a psychiatrist prescribes an anti-depressant for a depressed patient, he is clearly doing thatindividual a favor. It would be inhumane to withhold thedrug from someone who needs it. When Parents send theirchildren to Sylvan Learning Centers to have them manipu-lated into becoming enthusiastic about their studies, theydo so from concern for their children’s welfare. It may bethat some of these parents wish that one didn’t have tohave specialized training to get a job and that their kiddidn’t have to be brainwashed into becoming a computernerd. But what can they do? They can’t change society,and their child may be unemployable if he doesn’t havecertain skills. So they send him to Sylvan.

153. Thus control over human behavior will be intro-duced not by a calculated decision of the authorities butthrough a process of social evolution (RAPID evolution,however). The process will be impossible to resist, be-cause each advance, considered by itself, will appear tobe beneficial, or at least the evil involved in making theadvance will appear to be beneficial, or at least the evilinvolved in making the advance will seem to be less thanthat which would result from not making it (see para-graph 127). Propaganda for example is used for manygood purposes, such as discouraging child abuse or racehatred. [14] Sex education is obviously useful, yet the ef-19fect of sex education (to the extent that it is successful) isto take the shaping of sexual attitudes away from the fa-mily and put it into the hands of the state as representedby the public school system.

154. Suppose a biological trait is discovered that in-creases the likelihood that a child will grow up to be a cri-minal, and suppose some sort of gene therapy can removethis trait. [29] Of course most parents whose children pos-sess the trait will have them undergo the therapy. It wouldbe inhumane to do otherwise, since the child would pro-bably have a miserable life if he grew up to be a criminal.But many or most primitive societies have a low crimerate in comparison with that of our society, even thoughthey have neither high-tech methods of child-rearing norharsh systems of punishment. Since there is no reason tosuppose that more modern men than primitive men haveinnate predatory tendencies, the high crime rate of oursociety must be due to the pressures that modern condi-tions put on people, to which many cannot or will notadjust. Thus a treatment designed to remove potential cri-minal tendencies is at least in part a way of re-engineeringpeople so that they suit the requirements of the system.

155. Our society tends to regard as a “sickness” anymode of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for thesystem, and this is plausible because when an individualdoesn’t fit into the system it causes pain to the individualas well as problems for the system. Thus the manipulationof 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 useof a new item of technology is INITIALLY optional, it doesnot necessarily REMAIN optional, because the new tech-nology tends to change society in such a way that it be-comes difficult or impossible for an individual to func-tion without using that technology. This applies also to thetechnology of human behavior. In a world in which mostchildren are put through a program to make them enthu-siastic about studying, a parent will almost be forced toput his kid through such a program, because if he doesnot, then the kid will grow up to be, comparatively spea-king, an ignoramus and therefore unemployable. Or sup-pose a biological treatment is discovered that, without un-desirable side-effects, will greatly reduce the psychologi-cal stress from which so many people suffer in our society.If large numbers of people choose to undergo the treat-ment, then the general level of stress in society will be re-duced, so that it will be possible for the system to increasethe stress-producing pressures. This will lead more peopleto undergo the treatment; and so forth, so that eventuallythe pressures may become so heavy that few people willbe able to survive without undergoing the stress-reducingtreatment. In fact, something like this seems to have hap-pened already with one of our society’s most importantpsychological tools for enabling people to reduce (or atleast temporarily escape from) stress, namely, mass en-tertainment (see paragraph 147). Our use of mass enter-tainment is “optional”: No law requires us to watch tele-vision, listen to the radio, read magazines. Yet mass en-tertainment is a means of escape and stress-reduction onwhich most of us have become dependent. Everyone com-plains about the trashiness of television, but almost eve-ryone watches it. A few have kicked the TV habit, but itwould be a rare person who could get along today withoutusing ANY form of mass entertainment. (Yet until quite re-cently in human histoy most people got along very nicelywith no other entertainment than that which each localcommunity created for itself.) Without the entertainmentindustry the system probably would not have been able toget away with putting as much stressproducing pressureon us as it does.

157. Assuming that industrial society survives, it is li-kely that technology will eventually acquire something ap-proaching complete control over human behavior. It hasbeen established beyond any rational doubt that humanthought and behavior have a largely biological basis. Asexperimenters have demonstrated, feelings such as hun-ger, pleasure, anger and fear can be turned on and offby electrical stimulation of appropriate parts of the brain.Memories can be destroyed by damaging parts of the brainor they can be brought to the surface by electrical stimu-lation. Hallucinations can be induced or moods changedby drugs. There may or may not be an immaterial humansoul, but if there is one it clearly is less powerful that thebiological mechanisms of human behavior. For if that werenot the case then researchers would not be able so easilyto manipulate human feelings and behavior with drugsand electrical currents.

158. It presumably would be impractical for all peopleto have electrodes inserted in their heads so that theycould be controlled by the authorities. But the fact thathuman thoughts and feelings are so open to biologicalintervention shows that the problem of controlling hu-man behavior is mainly a technical problem; a problemof neurons, hormones and complex molecules; the kindof problem that is accessible to scientific attack. Given theoutstanding record of our society in solving technical pro-blems, it is overwhelmingly probable that great advanceswill be made in the control of human behavior.

159. Will public resistance prevent the introductionof technological control of human behavior? It certainlywould if an attempt were made to introduce such controlall at once. But since technological control will be intro-duced through a long sequence of small advances, therewill be no rational and effective public resistance. (Seeparagraphs 127, 132, 153.)

160. To those who think that all this sounds like science fiction, we point out that yesterday’s science fiction is to-day’s fact. The Industrial Revolution has radically alteredman’s environment and way of life, and it is only to beexpected that as technology is increasingly applied to thehuman 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 onething to develop in the laboratory a series of psychologi-cal or biological techniques for manipulating human beha-vior and quite another to integrate these techniques into a functioning social system. The latter problem is the moredifficult of the two. For example, while the techniques ofeducational psychology doubtless work quite well in the“lab schools” where they are developed, it is not neces-sarily easy to apply them effectively throughout our edu-cational system. We all know what many of our schoolsare like. The teachers are too busy taking knives and gunsaway from the kids to subject them to the latest techniquesfor making them into computer nerds. Thus, in spite ofall its technical advances relating to human behavior, thesystem to date has not been impressively successful incontrolling human beings. The people whose behavior isfairly well under the control of the system are those of thetype that might be called “bourgeois.” But there are gro-wing numbers of people who in one way or another arerebels against the system: welfare leaches, youth gangs,cultists, satanists, nazis, radical environmentalists, militia-men, etc.

162. The system is currently engaged in a desperatestruggle to overcome certain problems that threaten itssurvival, among which the problems of human behaviorare the most important. If the system succeeds in acqui-ring sufficient control over human behavior quickly en-ough, it will probably survive. Otherwise it will breakdown. We think the issue will most likely be resolved wi-thin the next several decades, say 40 to 100 years.

163. Suppose the system survives the crisis of the nextseveral decades. By that time it will have to have solved,or at least brought under control, the principal problemsthat confront it, in particular that of “socializing” humanbeings; that is, making people sufficiently docile so thatheir behavior no longer threatens the system. That beingaccomplished, it does not appear that there would be anyfurther obstacle to the development of technology, and itwould presumably advance toward its logical conclusion,which is complete control over everything on Earth, in-cluding human beings and all other important organisms.The system may become a unitary, monolithic organiza-tion, or it may be more or less fragmented and consist of anumber of organizations coexisting in a relationship thatincludes elements of both cooperation and competition,just as today the government, the corporations and otherlarge organizations both cooperate and compete with oneanother. Human freedom mostly will have vanished, be-cause individuals and small groups will be impotent vis-a-vis large organizations armed with supertechnology andan arsenal of advanced psychological and biological toolsfor manipulating human beings, besides instruments ofsurveillance and physical coercion. Only a small numberof people will have any real power, and even these proba-bly will have only very limited freedom, because their be-havior too will be regulated; just as today our politiciansand corporation executives can retain their positions ofpower only as long as their behavior remains within cer-tain fairly narrow limits.

164. Don’t imagine that the systems will stop develo-ping further techniques for controlling human beings andnature once the crisis of the next few decades is over andincreasing control is no longer necessary for the system’ssurvival. On the contrary, once the hard times are overthe system will increase its control over people and naturemore rapidly, because it will no longer be hampered by dif-ficulties of the kind that it is currently experiencing. Survi-val is not the principal motive for extending control. As weexplained in paragraphs 87-90, technicians and scientistscarry on their work largely as a surrogate activity; that is,they satisfy their need for power by solving technical pro-blems. They will continue to do this with unabated enthu-siasm, and among the most interesting and challengingproblems for them to solve will be those of understandingthe human body and mind and intervening in their deve-lopment. For the “good of humanity,” of course.

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

166. Therefore two tasks confront those who hate theservitude to which the industrial system is reducing thehuman race. First, we must work to heighten the socialstresses within the system so as to increase the likelihoodthat it will break down or be weakened sufficiently sothat a revolution against it becomes possible. Second, it isnecessary to develop and propagate an ideology that op-poses technology and the industrial system. Such an ideo-logy can become the basis for a revolution against indus-trial 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 remnantswill be smashed beyond repair, so that the system cannot be reconstituted. The factories should be destroyed, tech-nical books burned, etc.


167. The industrial system will not break down purelyas a result of revolutionary action. It will not be vulne-rable to revolutionary attack unless its own internal pro-blems of development lead it into very serious difficulties.So if the system breaks down it will do so either sponta-neously, or through a process that is in part spontaneousbut helped along by revolutionaries. If the breakdown issudden, many people will die, since the world’s popula-tion has become so overblown that it cannot even feeditself any longer without advanced technology. Even if thebreakdown is gradual enough so that reduction of the po-pulation can occur more through lowering of the birth ratethan through elevation of the death rate, the process of de-industrialization probably will be very chaotic and involvemuch suffering. It is naive to think it likely that technologycan be phased out in a smoothly managed, orderly way,21especially since the technophiles will fight stubbornly atevery step. Is it therefore cruel to work for the breakdownof the system? Maybe, but maybe not. In the first place,revolutionaries will not be able to break the system downunless it is already in enough trouble so that there wouldbe a good chance of its eventually breaking down by itselfanyway; and the bigger the system grows, the more di-sastrous the consequences of its breakdown will be; so itmay be that revolutionaries, by hastening the onset of thebreakdown, will be reducing the extent of the disaster.

168. In the second place, one has to balance struggleand death against the loss of freedom and dignity. Tomany of us, freedom and dignity are more important thana long life or avoidance of physical pain. Besides, we allhave to die some time, and it may be better to die fightingfor survival, or for a cause, than to live a long but emptyand purposeless life.

169. In the third place, it is not at all certain that sur-vival of the system will lead to less suffering than break-down of the system would. The system has already cau-sed, and is continuing to cause, immense suffering allover the world. Ancient cultures, that for hundreds ofyears gave people a satisfactory relationship with eachother and with their environment, have been shatteredby contact with industrial society, and the result has beena whole catalogue of economic, environmental, social andpsychological problems. One of the effects of the intrusionof industrial society has been that over much of the worldtraditional controls on population have been thrown outof balance. Hence the population explosion, with all thatthat implies. Then there is the psychological suffering thatis widespread throughout the supposedly fortunate coun-tries of the West (see paragraphs 44, 45). No one knowswhat will happen as a result of ozone depletion, the green-house effect and other environmental problems that can-not yet be foreseen. And, as nuclear proliferation hasshown, new technology cannot be kept out of the handsof dictators and irresponsible Third World nations. Wouldyou like to speculate about what Iraq or North Korea willdo with genetic engineering?

170. “Oh!” say the technophiles, “Science is going tofix all that! We will conquer famine, eliminate psychologi-cal suffering, make everybody healthy and happy!” Yeah,sure. That’s what they said 200 years ago. The Indus-trial Revolution was supposed to eliminate poverty, makeeverybody happy, etc. The actual result has been quitedifferent. The technophiles are hopelessly naive (or self-deceiving) in their understanding of social problems. Theyare unaware of (or choose to ignore) the fact that whenlarge changes, even seemingly beneficial ones, are intro-duced into a society, they lead to a long sequence of otherchanges, most of which are impossible to predict (para-graph 103). The result is disruption of the society. So itis very probable that in their attempts to end poverty anddisease, engineer docile, happy personalities and so forth,the technophiles will create social systems that are ter-ribly troubled, even more so than the present one. Forexample, the scientists boast that they will end famineby creating new, genetically engineered food plants. Butthis will allow the human population to keep expandingindefinitely, and it is well known that crowding leads to in-creased stress and aggression. This is merely one exampleof the PREDICTABLE problems that will arise. We empha-size that, as past experience has shown, technical progresswill lead to other new problems that CANNOT be predic-ted in advance (paragraph 103). In fact, ever since theIndustrial Revolution, technology has been creating newproblems for society far more rapidly than it has been sol-ving old ones. Thus it will take a long and difficult periodof trial and error for the technophiles to work the bugs outof their Brave New World (if they every do). In the mean-time there will be great suffering. So it is not at all clearthat the survival of industrial society would involve lesssuffering than the breakdown of that society would. Tech-nology has gotten the human race into a fix from whichthere is not likely to be any easy escape.


171. But suppose now that industrial society does sur-vive the next several decades and that the bugs do even-tually get worked out of the system, so that it functionssmoothly. What kind of system will it be? We will considerseveral possibilities.

172. First let us postulate that the computer scientistssucceed in developing intelligent machines that can do allthings better than human beings can do them. In that casepresumably all work will be done by vast, highly orga-nized systems of machines and no human effort will benecessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machinesmight be permitted to make all of their own decisions wi-thout human oversight, or else human control over themachines might be retained.

173. If the machines are permitted to make all theirown decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to theresults, because it is impossible to guess how such ma-chines might behave. We only point out that the fate ofthe human race would be at the mercy of the machines.It might be argued that the human race would never befoolish enough to hand over all power to the machines.But we are suggesting neither that the human race wouldvoluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that themachines would willfully seize power. What we do sug-gest is that the human race might easily permit itself todrift into a position of such dependence on the machinesthat it would have no practical choice but to accept all ofthe machines’ decisions. As society and the problems thatface it become more and more complex and as machinesbecome more and more intelligent, people will let ma-chines make more and more of their decisions for them,simply because machine-made decisions will bring betterresults than man-made ones. Eventually a stage may bereached at which the decisions necessary to keep the sys-tem running will be so complex that human beings will beincapable of making them intelligently. At that stage themachines will be in effective control. People won’t be ableto just turn the machine off, because they will be so de-pendent on them that turning them off would amount tosuicide.

174. On the other hand it is possible that human controlover the machines may be retained. In that case the ave-rage man may have control over certain private machinesof his own, such as his car or his personal computer,but control over large systems of machines will be in thehands of a tiny elite — just as it is today, but with two dif-ferences. Due to improved techniques the elite will havegreater control over the masses; and because human workwill no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous,a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthlessthey may simply decide to exterminate the mass of hu-manity. If they are humane they may use propaganda orother psychological or biological techniques to reduce thebirth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, lea-ving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of goodshepherds to the rest of the human race. They will seeto it that everyone’s physical needs are satisfied, that allchildren are raised under psychologically hygienic condi-tions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep himbusy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied un-dergoes “treatment” to cure his “problem.” Of course, lifewill be so purposeless that people will have to be biologi-cally or psychologically engineered either to remove theirneed for the power process or to make them “sublimate”their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These en-gineered human beings may be happy in such a society,but they most certainly will not be free. They will havebeen reduced to the status of domestic animals.

175. But suppose now that the computer scientists donot succeed in developing artificial intelligence, so thathuman work remains necessary. Even so, machines willtake care of more and more of the simpler tasks so thatthere will be an increasing surplus of human workers atthe lower levels of ability. (We see this happening already.There are many people who find it difficult or impos-sible to get work, because for intellectual or psychologi-cal reasons they cannot acquire the level of training ne-cessary to make themselves useful in the present system.)On those who are employed, ever-increasing demands willbe placed: They will need more and more training, moreand more ability, and will have to be ever more reliable,conforming and docile, because they will be more andmore like cells of a giant organism. Their tasks will beincreasingly specialized, so that their work will be, in asense, out of touch with the real world, being concentra-ted on one tiny slice of reality. The system will have to useany means that it can, whether psychological or biological,to engineer people to be docile, to have the abilities thatthe system requires and to “sublimate” their drive for po-wer into some specialized task. But the statement that thepeople of such a society will have to be docile may requirequalification. The society may find competitiveness useful,provided that ways are found of directing competitivenessinto channels that serve the needs of the system. We canimagine a future society in which there is endless competi-tion for positions of prestige and power. But no more thana very few people will ever reach the top, where the onlyreal power is (see end of paragraph 163). Very repellent isa society in which a person can satisfy his need for poweronly by pushing large numbers of other people out of theway and depriving them of THEIR opportunity for power.176. One can envision scenarios that incorporate as-pects of more than one of the possibilities that we havejust discussed. For instance, it may be that machines willtake over most of the work that is of real, practical impor-tance, but that human beings will be kept busy by beinggiven relatively unimportant work. It has been sugges-ted, for example, that a great development of the serviceindustries might provide work for human beings. Thuspeople would spent their time shining each other’s shoes,driving each other around in taxicabs, making handicraftsfor one another, waiting on each other’s tables, etc. Thisseems to us a thoroughly contemptible way for the humanrace to end up, and we doubt that many people would findfulfilling lives in such pointless busy-work. They wouldseek other, dangerous outlets (drugs, crime, “cults,” hategroups) unless they were biologically or psychologicallyengineered to adapt them to such a way of life.

177. Needless to say, the scenarios outlined above donot exhaust all the possibilities. They only indicate thekinds of outcomes that seem to us most likely. But we canenvision no plausible scenarios that are any more pala-table than the ones we’ve just described. It is overwhel-mingly probable that if the industrial-technological systemsurvives the next 40 to 100 years, it will by that time havedeveloped certain general characteristics: Individuals (atleast those of the “bourgeois” type, who are integratedinto the system and make it run, and who therefore haveall the power) will be more dependent than ever on largeorganizations; they will be more “socialized” than everand their physical and mental qualities to a significantextent (possibly to a very great extent) will be those thatare engineered into them rather than being the results ofchance (or of God’s will, or whatever); and whatever maybe left of wild nature will be reduced to remnants preser-ved for scientific study and kept under the supervision andmanagement of scientists (hence it will no longer be trulywild). In the long run (say a few centuries from now) itis likely that neither the human race nor any other impor-tant organisms will exist as we know them today, becauseonce you start modifying organisms through genetic engi-neering there is no reason to stop at any particular point,so that the modifications will probably continue until manand other organisms have been utterly transformed.178. Whatever else may be the case, it is certain thattechnology is creating for human beings a new physicaland social environment radically different from the spec-trum of environments to which natural selection has adap-ted the human race physically and psychologically. If manis not adjusted to this new environment by being artifi-cially re-engineered, then he will be adapted to it througha long and painful process of natural selection. The formeris far more likely than the latter.

179. It would be better to dump the whole stinking sys-tem and take the consequences.


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

181. As we stated in paragraph 166, the two main tasksfor the present are to promote social stress and instabi-lity in industrial society and to develop and propagate anideology that opposes technology and the industrial sys-tem. When the system becomes sufficiently stressed andunstable, a revolution against technology may be possible.The pattern would be similar to that of the French andRussian Revolutions. French society and Russian society,for several decades prior to their respective revolutions,showed increasing signs of stress and weakness. Meanw-hile, ideologies were being developed that offered a newworld view that was quite different from the old one. Inthe Russian case, revolutionaries were actively working toundermine the old order. Then, when the old system wasput under sufficient additional stress (by financial crisis inFrance, by military defeat in Russia) it was swept away byrevolution. What we propose is something along the samelines.

182. It will be objected that the French and Russian Re-volutions were failures. But most revolutions have twogoals. One is to destroy an old form of society and theother is to set up the new form of society envisioned bythe revolutionaries. The French and Russian revolutiona-ries failed (fortunately!) to create the new kind of societyof which they dreamed, but they were quite successful indestroying the old society. We have no illusions about thefeasibility of creating a new, ideal form of society. Our goalis only to destroy the existing form of society.

183. But an ideology, in order to gain enthusiastic sup-port, must have a positive ideal as well as a negative one;it must be FOR something as well as AGAINST some-thing. The positive ideal that we propose is Nature. Thatis, WILD nature: those aspects of the functioning of theEarth and its living things that are independent of humanmanagement and free of human interference and control.And with wild nature we include human nature, by whichwe mean those aspects of the functioning of the humanindividual that are not subject to regulation by organizedsociety 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 techno-logy for several reasons. Nature (that which is outside thepower of the system) is the opposite of technology (whichseeks to expand indefinitely the power of the system).Most people will agree that nature is beautiful; certainly ithas tremendous popular appeal. The radical environmen-talists ALREADY hold an ideology that exalts nature andopposes technology. [30] It is not necessary for the sakeof nature to set up some chimerical utopia or any newkind of social order. Nature takes care of itself: It was aspontaneous creation that existed long before any humansociety, and for countless centuries many different kindsof human societies coexisted with nature without doingit an excessive amount of damage. Only with the Indus-trial Revolution did the effect of human society on naturebecome really devastating. To relieve the pressure on na-ture it is not necessary to create a special kind of socialsystem, it is only necessary to get rid of industrial society.Granted, this will not solve all problems. Industrial societyhas already done tremendous damage to nature and itwill take a very long time for the scars to heal. Besides,even preindustrial societies can do significant damage tonature. Nevertheless, getting rid of industrial society willaccomplish a great deal. It will relieve the worst of thepressure on nature so that the scars can begin to heal.It will remove the capacity of organized society to keepincreasing its control over nature (including human na-ture). Whatever kind of society may exist after the demiseof the industrial system, it is certain that most people willlive close to nature, because in the absence of advancedtechnology there is no other way that people CAN live.To feed themselves they must be peasants or herdsmen orfishermen or hunters, etc. And, generally speaking, localautonomy should tend to increase, because lack of advan-ced technology and rapid communications will limit thecapacity of governments or other large organizations tocontrol local communities.

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

186. Most people hate psychological conflict. For thisreason they avoid doing any serious thinking about diffi-cult social issues, and they like to have such issues pre-sented to them in simple, black-and-white terms: THIS isall good and THAT is all bad. The revolutionary ideologyshould therefore be developed on two levels.

187. On the more sophisticated level the ideologyshould address itself to people who are intelligent,thoughtful and rational. The object should be to createa core of people who will be opposed to the industrialsystem on a rational, thought-out basis, with full appre-ciation of the problems and ambiguities involved, and ofthe 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 ininfluencing others. These people should be addressed onas rational a level as possible. Facts should never inten-tionally be distorted and intemperate language should beavoided. This does not mean that no appeal can be madeto the emotions, but in making such appeal care shouldbe taken to avoid misrepresenting the truth or doing any-thing else that would destroy the intellectual respectabi-lity of the ideology.

188. On a second level, the ideology should be propa-gated in a simplified form that will enable the unthin-king majority to see the conflict of technology vs. naturein unambiguous terms. But even on this second level theideology should not be expressed in language that is socheap, intemperate or irrational that it alienates people ofthe thoughfful and rational type. Cheap, intemperate pro-paganda sometimes achieves impressive short-term gains, but it will be more advantageous in the long run to keepthe loyalty of a small number of intelligently committedpeople than to arouse the passions of an unthinking, fi-ckle mob who will change their attitude as soon as so-meone comes along with a better propaganda gimmick.However, propaganda of the rabble-rousing type may benecessary when the system is nearing the point of collapseand there is a final struggle between rival ideologies to de-termine which will become dominant when the old world-view goes under.

189. Prior to that final struggle, the revolutionariesshould not expect to have a majority of people on theirside. History is made by active, determined minorities, notby the majority, which seldom has a clear and consistentidea of what it really wants. Until the time comes for thefinal push toward revolution [31], the task of revolutiona-ries will be less to win the shallow support of the majoritythan to build a small core of deeply committed people. Asfor the majority, it will be enough to make them aware ofthe existence of the new ideology and remind them of itfrequently; though of course it will be desirable to get ma-jority support to the extent that this can be done withoutweakening the core of seriously committed people.

190. Any kind of social conflict helps to destabi-lize the system, but one should be careful about whatkind of conflict one encourages. The line of conflictshould be drawn between the mass of the people andthe power-holding elite of industrial society (politicians,scientists, upper-level business executives, governmentof-ficials, etc.). It should NOT be drawn between the revo-lutionaries and the mass of the people. For example, itwould be bad strategy for the revolutionaries to condemnAmericans for their habits of consumption. Instead, theaverage American should be portrayed as a victim of theadvertising and marketing industry, which has suckeredhim into buying a lot of junk that he doesn’t need andthat is very poor compensation for his lost freedom. Ei-ther approach is consistent with the facts. It is merely amatter of attitude whether you blame the advertising in-dustry for manipulating the public or blame the public forallowing itself to be manipulated. As a matter of strategyone should generally avoid blaming the public.

191. One should think twice before encouraging anyother social conflict than that between the power-holdingelite (which wields technology) and the general public(over which technology exerts its power). For one thing,other conflicts tend to distract attention from the impor-tant conflicts (between power-elite and ordinary people,between technology and nature); for another thing, otherconflicts may actually tend to encourage technologization,because each side in such a conflict wants to use techno-logical power to gain advantages over its adversary. Thisis clearly seen in rivalries between nations. It also appearsin ethnic conflicts within nations. For example, in Americamany black leaders are anxious to gain power for AfricanAmericans by placing back individuals in the technologi-cal power-elite. They want there to be many black go-vernment officials, scientists, corporation executives andso forth. In this way they are helping to absorb the Afri-can American subculture into the technological system.Generally speaking, one should encourage only those so-cial conflicts that can be fitted into the framework of theconflicts of power-elite vs. ordinary people, technology vsnature.

192. But the way to discourage ethnic conflict is NOTthrough militant advocacy of minority rights (see para-graphs 21, 29). Instead, the revolutionaries should em-phasize that although minorities do suffer more or lessdisadvantage, this disadvantage is of peripheral signifi-cance. Our real enemy is the industrial- technological sys-tem, and in the struggle against the system, ethnic distinc-tions are of no importance.

193. The kind of revolution we have in mind will notnecessarily involve an armed uprising against any govern-ment. It may or may not involve physical violence, but itwill not be a POLITICAL revolution. Its focus will be ontechnology and economics, not politics. [32]

194. Probably the revolutionaries should even AVOIDassuming political power, whether by legal or illegalmeans, until the industrial system is stressed to the dan-ger point and has proved itself to be a failure in the eyesof most people. Suppose for example that some “green”party should win control of the United States Congressin an election. In order to avoid betraying or wateringdown their own ideology they would have to take vigrousmeasures to turn economic growth into economic shrin-kage. To the average man the results would appear di-sastrous: There would be massive unemployment, shor-tages of commodities, etc. Even if the grosser ill effectscould be avoided through superhumanly skillful manage-ment, still people would have to begin giving up the luxu-ries to which they have become addicted. Dissatisfactionwould grow, the “green” party would be voted out o,f off-fice and the revolutionaries would have suffered a severesetback. For this reason the revolutionaries should not tryto acquire political power until the system has gotten it-self into such a mess that any hardships will be seen asresulting from the failures of the industrial system itselfand not from the policies of the revolutionaries. The revo-lution against technology will probably have to be a revo-lution by outsiders, a revolution from below and not fromabove.

195. The revolution must be international and world-wide. It cannot be carried out on a nation-by-nation ba-sis. Whenever it is suggested that the United States, forexample, should cut back on technological progress oreconomic growth, people get hysterical and start screa-ming that if we fall behind in technology the Japanesewill get ahead of us. Holy robots! The world will fly off itsorbit if the Japanese ever sell more cars than we do! (Na-tionalism is a great promoter of technology.) More rea-sonably, it is argued that if the relatively democratic na-tions of the world fall behind in technology while nasty,dictatorial nations like China, Vietnam and North Koreacontinue to progress, eventually the dictators may cometo dominate the world. That is why the industrial systemshould be attacked in all nations simultaneously, to theextent that this may be possible. True, there is no assu-rance that the industrial system can be destroyed at ap-proximately the same time all over the world, and it is even conceivable that the attempt to overthrow the sys-tem could lead instead to the domination of the systemby dictators. That is a risk that has to be taken. And it isworth taking, since the difference between a “democra-tic” industrial system and one controlled by dictators issmall compared with the difference between an industrialsystem and a non-industrial one. [33] It might even beargued that an industrial system controlled by dictatorswould be preferable, because dictator-controlled systemsusually have proved ineffficient, hence they are presuma-bly more likely to break down. Look at Cuba.

196. Revolutionaries might consider favoring measuresthat tend to bind the world economy into a unified whole.Free trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT are probablyharmful to the environment in the short run, but in thelong run they may perhaps be advantageous because theyfoster economic interdependence between nations. It willbe easier to destroy the industrial system on a worldwidebasis if the world economy is so unified that its breakdownin any one major nation will lead to its breakdown in allindustrialized nations.

197. Some people take the line that modern man hastoo much power, too much control over nature; they arguefor a more passive attitude on the part of the humanrace. At best these people are expressing themselves un-clearly, because they fail to distinguish between powerfor LARGE ORGANIZATIONS and power for INDIVIDUALSand SMALL GROUPS. It is a mistake to argue for power-lessness and passivity, because people NEED power. Mo-dern man as a collective entity — that is, the industrialsystem — has immense power over nature, and we (FC)regard this as evil. But modern INDIVIDUALS and SMALLGROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS have far less power than pri-mitive man ever did. Generally speaking, the vast powerof “modern man” over nature is exercised not by indivi-duals or small groups but by large organizations. To theextent that the average modern INDIVIDUAL can wieldthe power of technology, he is permitted to do so onlywithin narrow limits and only under the supervision andcontrol of the system. (You need a license for everythingand with the license come rules and regulations.) The in-dividual has only those technological powers with whichthe system chooses to provide him. His PERSONAL powerover nature is slight.

198. Primitive INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS ac-tually had considerable power over nature; or maybe itwould be better to say power WITHIN nature. When pri-mitive man needed food he knew how to find and prepareedible roots, how to track game and take it with home-made weapons. He knew how to protect himself from heatcold, rain, dangerous animals, etc. But primitive man didrelatively little damage to nature because the COLLEC-TIVE power of primitive society was negligible comparedto the COLLECTIVE power of industrial society.

199. Instead of arguing for powerlessness and passi-vity, one should argue that the power of the INDUSTRIALSYSTEM should be broken, and that this will greatly IN-CREASE the power and freedom of INDIVIDUALS andSMALL GROUPS.

200. Until the industrial system has been thoroughlywrecked, the destruction of that system must be the re-volutionaries’ ONLY goal. Other goals would distract at-tention and energy from the main goal. More importantlyif the revolutionaries permit themselves to have any othergoal than the destruction of technology, they will be temp-ted to use technology as a tool for reaching that othergoal. If they give in to that temptation, they will fall rightback into the technological trap, because modern techno-logy is a unified, tightly organized system, so that, in or-der to retain SOME technology, one finds oneself obligedto retain MOST technology, hence one ends up sacrificingonly token amounts of technology.

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

202. It would be hopeless for revolutionaries to try to at-tack the system without using SOME modern technology.If nothing else they must use the communications mediato spread their message. But they should use modern tech-nology for only ONE purpose: to attack the technologicalsystem.

203. Imagine an alcoholic sitting with a barrel of winein front of him. Suppose he starts saying to himself, “Wineisn’t bad for you if used in moderation. Why, they saysmall amounts of wine are even good for you! It won’tdo me any harm if I take just one little drink….” Well youknow what is going to happen. Never forget that the hu-man race with technology is just like an alcoholic with abarrel of wine.

204. Revolutionaries should have as many children asthey can. There is strong scientific evidence that social at-titudes are to a significant extent inherited. No one sug-gests that a social attitude is a direct outcome of a per-son’s genetic constitution, but it appears that persona-lity traits are partly inherited and that certain persona-lity traits tend, within the context of our society, to makea person more likely to hold this or that social attitude.Objections to these findings have been raised, but the ob-jections are feeble and seem to be ideologically motiva-ted. In any event, no one denies that children tend on theaverage to hold social attitudes similar to those of theirparents. From our point of view it doesn’t matter all thatmuch whether the attitudes are passed on genetically orthrough childhood training. In either case they ARE pas-sed on.

205. The trouble is that many of the people who areinclined to rebel against the industrial system are alsoconcerned about the population problems, hence they are apt to have few or no children. In this way they may behanding the world over to the sort of people who sup-port or at least accept the industrial system. To ensurethe strength of the next generation of revolutionaries thepresent generation should reproduce itself abundantly. Indoing so they will be worsening the population problemonly slightly. And the important problem is to get rid ofthe industrial system, because once the industrial systemis gone the world’s population necessarily will decrease(see paragraph 167); whereas, if the industrial systemsurvives, it will continue developing new techniques offood production that may enable the world’s populationto keep increasing almost indefinitely.

206. With regard to revolutionary strategy, the onlypoints on which we absolutely insist are that the singleoverriding goal must be the elimination of modern tech-nology, and that no other goal can be allowed to competewith this one. For the rest, revolutionaries should take anempirical approach. If experience indicates that some ofthe recommendations made in the foregoing paragraphsare not going to give good results, then those recommen-dations should be discarded.


207. An argument likely to be raised against our pro-posed revolution is that it is bound to fail, because (it isclaimed) throughout history technology has always pro-gressed, never regressed, hence technological regressionis impossible. But this claim is false.

208. We distinguish between two kinds of technology,which we will call smallscale technology and organiza-tiondependent technology. Small-scale technology is tech-nology that can be used by small-scale communities wi-thout outside assistance. Organization-dependent tech-nology is technology that depends on large-scale socialorganization. We are aware of no significant cases ofregression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology DOES regress when the social or-ganization on which it depends breaks down. Example:When the Roman Empire fell apart the Romans’ small-scale technology survived because any clever villagecraftsman could build, for instance, a water wheel, anyskilled smith could make steel by Roman methods, and soforth. But the Romans’ organization- dependent techno-logy DID regress. Their aqueducts fell into disrepair andwere never rebuilt. Their techniques of road constructionwere lost. The Roman system of urban sanitation was for-gotten, so that not until rather recent times did the sani-tation of European cities equal that of Ancient Rome.

209. The reason why technology has seemed always toprogress is that, until perhaps a century or two before theIndustrial Revolution, most technology was small-scaletechnology. But most of the technology developed sincethe Industrial Revolution is organization-dependent tech-nology. Take the refrigerator for example. Without factory-made parts or the facilities of a postindustrial machineshop it would be virtually impossible for a handful of localcraftsmen to build a refrigerator. If by some miracle theydid succeed in building one it would be useless to themwithout a reliable source of electric power. So they wouldhave to dam a stream and build a generator. Generatorsrequire large amounts of copper wire. Imagine trying tomake that wire without modern machinery. And wherewould they get a gas suitable for refrigeration? It wouldbe much easier to build an icehouse or preserve food bydrying or picking, as was done before the invention of therefrigerator.

210. So it is clear that if the industrial system were oncethoroughly broken down, refrigeration technology wouldquickly be lost. The same is true of other organization-dependent technology. And once this technology had beenlost for a generation or so it would take centuries to re-build it, just as it took centuries to build it the first timearound. Surviving technical books would be few and scat-tered. An industrial society, if built from scratch withoutoutside help, can only be built in a series of stages: Youneed tools to make tools to make tools to make tools…A long process of economic development and progress insocial organization is required. And, even in the absenceof an ideology opposed to technology, there is no reasonto believe that anyone would be interested in rebuildingindustrial society. The enthusiasm for “progress” is a phe-nomenon peculiar to the modern form of society, and itseems not to have existed prior to the 17th century or the-reabouts.

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

212. Would society EVENTUALLY develop again towardan industrial-technological form? Maybe, but there is nouse in worrying about it, since we can’t predict or controlevents 500 or 1,000 years in the future. Those problemsmust be dealt with by the people who will live at thattime.


213. Because of their need for rebellion and for mem-bership in a movement, leftists or persons of similar psy-chological type often are unattracted to a rebellious oractivist movement whose goals and membership are notinitially leftist. The resulting influx of leftish types canea-sily turn a non-leftist movement into a leftist one, so thatleftist goals replace or distort the original goals of the mo-vement.

214. To avoid this, a movement that exalts natureand opposes technology must take a resolutely anti-leftist stance and must avoid all collaboration with leftists. Lef-tism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature, withhuman freedom and with the elimination of modern tech-nology. Leftism is collectivist; it seeks to bind together theentire world (both nature and the human race) into a uni-fied whole. But this implies management of nature andof human life by organized society, and it requires advan-ced technology. You can’t have a united world without ra-pid transportation and communication, you can’t make allpeople love one another without sophisticated psychologi-cal techniques, you can’t have a “planned society” withoutthe necessary technological base. Above all, leftism is dri-ven by the need for power, and the leftist seeks poweron a collective basis, through identification with a massmovement or an organization. Leftism is unlikely ever togive up technology, because technology is too valuable asource of collective power.

215. The anarchist [34] too seeks power, but he seeksit on an individual or small-group basis; he wants indivi-duals and small groups to be able to control the circum-stances of their own lives. He opposes technology becauseit makes small groups dependent on large organizations.

216. Some leftists may seem to oppose technology, butthey will oppose it only so long as they are outsiders andthe technological system is controlled by non-leftists. Ifleftism ever becomes dominant in society, so that the tech-nological system becomes a tool in the hands of leftists,they will enthusiastically use it and promote its growth. Indoing this they will be repeating a pattern that leftism hasshown again and again in the past. When the Bolsheviks inRussia were outsiders, they vigorously opposed censorshipand the secret police, they advocated self-determinationfor ethnic minorities, and so forth; but as soon as theycame into power themselves, they imposed a tighter cen-sorship and created a more ruthless secret police than anythat had existed under the tsars, and they oppressed eth-nic minorities at least as much as the tsars had done. Inthe United States, a couple of decades ago when leftistswere a minority in our universities, leftist professors werevigorous proponents of academic freedom, but today, inthose of our universities where leftists have become do-minant, they have shown themselves ready to take awayfrom everyone else’s academic freedom. (This is “politi-cal correctness.”) The same will happen with leftists andtechnology: They will use it to oppress everyone else ifthey 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 li-bertarian inclination, and later have double-crossed themto seize power for themselves. Robespierre did this in theFrench Revolution, the Bolsheviks did it in the Russian Re-volution, the communists did it in Spain in 1938 and Cas-tro and his followers did it in Cuba. Given the past historyof leftism, it would be utterly foolish for non-leftist revo-lutionaries today to collaborate with leftists.

218. Various thinkers have pointed out that leftism is akind of religion. Leftism is not a religion in the strict sensebecause leftist doctrine does not postulate the existence ofany supernatural being. But, for the leftist, leftism playsapsychological role much like that which religion plays forsome people. The leftist NEEDS to believe in leftism; itplays a vital role in his psychological economy. His beliefsare not easily modified by logic or facts. He has a deepconviction that leftism is morally Right with a capital R,and that he has not only a right but a duty to impose lef-tist morality on everyone. (However, many of the peoplewe are referring to as “leftists” do not think of themselvesas leftists and would not describe their system of beliefs asleftism. We use the term “leftism” because we don’t knowof any better words to designate the spectrum of relatedcreeds that includes the feminist, gay rights, political cor-rectness, etc., movements, and because these movementshave a strong affinity with the old left. See paragraphs227-230.)

219. Leftism is a totalitarian force. Wherever leftism isin a position of power it tends to invade every private cor-ner and force every thought into a leftist mold. In partthis is because of the quasi-religious character of leftism:everything contrary to leftist beliefs represents Sin. Moreimportantly, leftism is a totalitarian force because of theleftists’ drive for power. The leftist seeks to satisfy his needfor power through identification with a social movementand he tries to go through the power process by helpingto pursue and attain the goals of the movement (see pa-ragraph 83). But no matter how far the movement hasgone in attaining its goals the leftist is never satisfied, be-cause his activism is a surrogate activity (see paragraph41). That is, the leftist’s real motive is not to attain the os-tensible goals of leftism; in reality he is motivated by thesense of power he gets from struggling for and then rea-ching a social goal. [35] Consequently the leftist is neversatisfied with the goals he has already attained; his needfor the power process leads him always to pursue somenew goal. The leftist wants equal opportunities for mino-rities. When that is attained he insists on statistical equa-lity of achievement by minorities. And as long as anyoneharbors in some corner of his mind a negative attitudetoward some minority, the leftist has to re-educated him.And ethnic minorities are not enough; no one can be allo-wed to have a negative attitude toward homosexuals, di-sabled people, fat people, old people, ugly people, and onand on and on. It’s not enough that the public should beinformed about the hazards of smoking; a warning has tobe stamped on every package of cigarettes. Then cigaretteadvertising has to be restricted if not banned. The activistswill never be satisfied until tobacco is outlawed, and afterthat it will be alcohol, then junk food, etc. Activists havefought gross child abuse, which is reasonable. But nowthey want to stop all spanking. When they have done thatthey will want to ban something else they consider unw-holesome, then another thing and then another. They willnever be satisfied until they have complete control overall child rearing practices. And then they will move on toanother cause.

220. Suppose you asked leftists to make a list of ALLthe things that were wrong with society, and then supposeyou instituted EVERY social change that they demanded.It is safe to say that within a couple of years the majorityof 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 thanby the need to satisfy his drive for power by imposing hissolutions on society.

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

222. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type,are True Believers in the sense of Eric Hoffer’s book,TheTrue Believer. But not all True Believers are of the samepsychological type as leftists. Presumably a true-believingnazi, for instance, is very different psychologically fromatrue-believing leftist. Because of their capacity for single-minded devotion to a cause, True Believers are a useful,perhaps a necessary, ingredient of any revolutionary mo-vement. This presents a problem with which we must ad-mit we don’t know how to deal. We aren’t sure how toharness the energies of the True Believer to a revolutionagainst technology. At present all we can say is that noTrue Believer will make a safe recruit to the revolutionunless his commitment is exclusively to the destruction oftechnology. If he is committed also to another ideal, hemay want to use technology as a tool for pursuing thatother ideal (see paragraphs 200, 201).

223. Some readers may say, “This stuff about leftism isa lot of crap. I know John and Jane who are leftish typesand they don’t have all these totalitarian tendencies.” It’squite true that many leftists, possibly even a numericalmajority, are decent people who sincerely believe in tole-rating others’ values (up to a point) and wouldn’t wantto use high-handed methods to reach their social goals.Our remarks about leftism are not meant to apply to everyindividual leftist but to describe the general character ofleftism as a movement. And the general character of amovement is not necessarily determined by the numeri-cal proportions of the various kinds of people involved inthe movement.

224. The people who rise to positions of power in leftistmovements tend to be leftists of the most power-hungrytype, because power-hungry people are those who strivehardest 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 inwardlydisapprove of many of the actions of the leaders, but can-not bring themselves to oppose them. They NEED theirfaith in the movement, and because they cannot give upthis faith they go along with the leaders. True, SOME lef-tists do have the guts to oppose the totalitarian tendenciesthat emerge, but they generally lose, because the power-hungry types are better organized, are more ruthless andMachiavellian and have taken care to build themselves astrong power base.

225. These phenomena appeared clearly in Russia andother countries that were taken over by leftists. Similarly,before the breakdown of communism in the, USSR, lef-tish types in the West would, seldom criticize that coun-try. If prodded they would admit that the USSR did manywrong things, but then they would try to find excuses forthe communists and begin talking about the faults of theWest. They always opposed Western military resistanceto communist aggression. Leftish types all over the worldvigorously 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 becauseof their leftist faith, they just couldn’t bear to put them-selves in opposition to communism. Today, in those of ouruniversities where “political correctness” has become do-minant, there are probably many leftish types who priva-tely disapprove of the suppression of academic freedom,but they go along with it anyway.

226. Thus the fact that many individual leftists are per-sonally mild and fairly tolerant people by no means pre-vents leftism as a whole form having a totalitarian ten-dency.

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

228. But it will be helpful to list some criteria for diag-nosing leftism. These criteria cannot be applied in a cutand dried manner. Some individuals may meet some ofthe criteria without being leftists, some leftists may notmeet any of the criteria. Again, you just have to use yourjudgment.

229. The leftist is oriented toward large-scale collecti-vism. He emphasizes the duty of the individual to servesociety and the duty of society to take care of the indi-vidual. He has a negative attitude toward individualism.He often takes a moralistic tone. He tends to be for guncontrol, for sex education and other psychologically “en-lightened” educational methods, for social planning, foraffirmative action, for multiculturalism. He tends to iden-tify with victims. He tends to be against competition andagainst violence, but he ofte finds excuses for those lef-tists who do commit violence. He is fond of using thecommon catch-phrases of the left, like “racism,” “sexism,”“homophobia,” “capitalism,” “imperialism,” “neocolonia-lism,” “genocide,” “social change,” “social justice,” “so-cial responsibility.” Maybe the best diagnostic trait of theleftist is his tendency to sympathize with the followingmovements: feminism, gay rights, ethnic rights, disabilityrights, animal rights, political correctness. Anyone whostrongly sympathizes with ALL of these movements is al-most certainly a leftist. [36]

230. The more dangerous leftists, that is, those who are most power-hungry, are often characterized by arro-gance or by a dogmatic approach to ideology. However,the most dangerous leftists of all may be certain oversocia-lized types who avoid irritating displays of aggressivenessand refrain from advertising their leftism, but work quietlyand unobtrusively to promote collectivist values, “enligh-tened” psychological techniques for socializing children,dependence of the individual on the system, and so forth.These crypto-leftists (as we may call them) approximatecertain bourgeois types as far as practical action is concer-ned, but differ from them in psychology, ideology and mo-tivation. The ordinary bourgeois tries to bring people un-der control of the system in order to protect his way of life,or he does so simply because his attitudes are conventio-nal. The crypto-leftist tries to bring people under controlof the system because he is a True Believer in a collec-tivistic ideology. The crypto-leftist is differentiated fromthe average leftist of the oversocialized type by the factthat his rebellious impulse is weaker and he is more se-curely socialized. He is differentiated from the ordinarywell-socialized bourgeois by the fact that there is somedeep lack within him that makes it necessary for him todevote himself to a cause and immerse himself in a collec-tivity. And maybe his (well-sublimated) drive for power isstronger than that of the average bourgeois.


231. Throughout this article we’ve made imprecise sta-tements and statements that ought to have had all sortsof qualifications and reservations attached to them; andsome of our statements may be flatly false. Lack of suf-ficient information and the need for brevity made it im-possible for us to formulate our assertions more preciselyor add all the necessary qualifications. And of course ina discussion of this kind one must rely heavily on intui-tive judgment, and that can sometimes be wrong. So wedon’t claim that this article expresses more than a crudeapproximation to the truth.

232. All the same, we are reasonably confident that thegeneral outlines of the picture we have painted here areroughly correct. Just one possible weak point needs to bementioned. We have portrayed leftism in its modern formas a phenomenon peculiar to our time and as a symptomof the disruption of the power process. But we might pos-sibly be wrong about this. Oversocialized types who try tosatisfy their drive for power by imposing their morality oneveryone have certainly been around for a long time. Butwe THINK that the decisive role played by feelings of infe-riority, low self-esteem, powerlessness, identification withvictims by people who are not themselves victims, is a pe-culiarity of modern leftism. Identification with victims bypeople not themselves victims can be seen to some extentin 19th century leftism and early Christianity, but as far aswe can make out, symptoms of low self-esteem, etc., werenot nearly so evident in these movements, or in any othermovements, as they are in modern leftism. But we are notin a position to assert confidently that no such movementshave existed prior to modern leftism. This is a significantquestion to which historians ought to give their attention.


1. (Paragraph 19) We are asserting that ALL, or evenmost, bullies and ruthless competitors suffer from feelingsof inferiority.

2. (Paragraph 25) During the Victorian period manyoversocialized people suffered from serious psychologicalproblems as a result of repressing or trying to repress theirsexual feelings. Freud apparently based his theories onpeople of this type. Today the focus of socialization hasshifted from sex to aggression.

3. (Paragraph 27) Not necessarily including specialistsin engineering or the “hard” sciences.

4. (Paragraph 28) There are many individuals of themiddle and upper classes who resist some of these values,but usually their resistance is more or less covert. Such re-sistance appears in the mass media only to a very limitedextent. The main thrust of propaganda in our society isin favor of the stated values. The main reason why thesevalues have become, so to speak, the official values of oursociety is that they are useful to the industrial system. Vio-lence is discouraged because it disrupts the functioning ofthe system. Racism is discouraged because ethnic conflictsalso disrupt the system, and discrimination wastes the ta-lents of minority-group members who could be useful tothe system. Poverty must be “cured” because the under-class causes problems for the system and contact with theunderclass lowers the morale of the other classes. Womenare encouraged to have careers because their talents areuseful to the system and, more importantly, because byhaving regular jobs women become better integrated intothe system and tied directly to it rather than to their fami-lies. This helps to weaken family solidarity. (The leadersof the system say they want to strengthen the family, butthey really mean is that they want the family to serve asan effective tool for socializing children in accord with theneeds of the system. We argue in paragraphs 51, 52 thatthe 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 majorityof people don’t want to make their own decisions butwant leaders to do their thinking for them. There is anelement of truth in this. People like to make their own de-cisions in small matters, but making decisions on difficult,fundamental questions requires facing up to psychologi-cal conflict, and most people hate psychological conflict.Hence they tend to lean on others in making difficult de-cisions. But it does not follow that they like to have deci-sions imposed upon them without having any opportunityto influence those decisions. The majority of people arenatural followers, not leaders, but they like to have di-rect personal access to their leaders, they want to be ableto influence the leaders and participate to some extent inmaking even the difficult decisions. At least to that degreethey need autonomy.

6. (Paragraph 44) Some of the symptoms listed are si-milar to those shown by caged animals. To explain howthese symptoms arise from deprivation with respect to thepower process: common-sense understanding of humannature tells one that lack of goals whose attainment re-quires effort leads to boredom and that boredom, longcontinued, often leads eventually to depression. Failureto attain 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 beenshown that long-continued frustration commonly leads todepression and that depression tends to cause guilt, sleepdisorders, eating disorders and bad feelings about oneself.Those who are tending toward depression seek pleasureas an antidote; hence insatiable hedonism and excessivesex, with perversions as a means of getting new kicks. Bo-redom too tends to cause excessive pleasure-seeking since,lacking other goals, people often use pleasure as a goal.The foregoing is a simplification. Reality is more com-plex, and of course, deprivation with respect to the powerprocess is not the ONLY cause of the symptoms descri-bed. By the way, when we mention depression we do notnecessarily mean depression that is severe enough to betreated by a psychiatrist. Often only mild forms of depres-sion are involved. And when we speak of goals we do notnecessarily mean long-term, thought-out goals. For manyor most people through much of human history, the goalsof a hand-to-mouth existence (merely providing oneselfand one’s family with food from day to day) have beenquite sufficient.

7. (Paragraph 52) A partial exception may be made fora few passive, inwardlooking groups, such as the Amish,which have little effect on the wider society. Apart fromthese, some genuine small-scale communities do exist inAmerica today. For instance, youth gangs and “cults.” Eve-ryone regards them as dangerous, and so they are, be-cause the members of these groups are loyal primarilyto one another rather than to the system, hence the sys-tem cannot control them. Or take the gypsies. The gypsiescommonly get away with theft and fraud because theirloyalties are such that they can always get other gypsiesto give testimony that “proves” their innocence. Obviouslythe system would be in serious trouble if too many peoplebelonged to such groups. Some of the early-20th centuryChinese thinkers who were concerned with modernizingChina recognized the necessity breaking down small-scalesocial groups such as the family: “(According to Sun Yat-sen) the Chinese people needed a new surge of patrio-tism, which would lead to a transfer of loyalty from thefamily to the state…. (According to Li Huang) traditionalattachments, particularly to the family had to be abando-ned if nationalism were to develop in China.” (Chester C.Tan, “Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,”page 125, page 297.)

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

9. (Paragraph 61) We leave aside the “underclass.” Weare speaking of the mainstream.

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

11. (Paragraphs 63, 82) Is the drive for endless mate-rial acquisition really an artificial creation of the adverti-sing and marketing industry? Certainly there is no innatehuman drive for material acquisition. There have beenmany cultures in which people have desired little materialwealth beyond what was necessary to satisfy their basicphysical needs (Australian aborigines, traditional Mexi-can peasant culture, some African cultures). On the otherhand there have also been many pre-industrial cultures inwhich material acquisition has played an important role.So we can’t claim that today’s acquisition-oriented cultureis exclusively a creation of the advertising and marketingindustry. But it is clear that the advertising and marke-ting industry has had an important part in creating thatculture. The big corporations that spend millions on ad-vertising wouldn’t be spending that kind of money wi-thout solid proof that they were getting it back in in-creased sales. One member of FC met a sales managera couple of years ago who was frank enough to tell him,“Our job is to make people buy things they don’t wantand don’t need.” He then described how an untrained no-vice could present people with the facts about a product,and make no sales at all, while a trained and experien-ced professional salesman would make lots of sales to thesame people. This shows that people are manipulated intobuying things they don’t really want.

12. (Paragraph 64) The problem of purposelessnessseems to have become less serious during the last 15 yearsor so, because people now feel less secure physically andeconomically than they did earlier, and the need for se-curity provides them with a goal. But purposelessness hasbeen replaced by frustration over the difficulty of attai-ning security. We emphasize the problem of purposeless-ness because the liberals and leftists would wish to solveour social problems by having society guarantee everyo-ne’s security; but if that could be done it would only bringback the problem of purposelessness. The real issue is notwhether society provides well or poorly for people’s se-curity; the trouble is that people are dependent on thesystem for their security rather than having it in their ownhands. This, by the way, is part of the reason why somepeople get worked up about the right to bear arms; pos-session of a gun puts that aspect of their security in theirown hands.

13. (Paragraph 66) Conservatives’ efforts to decreasethe amount of government regulation are of little benefitto the average man. For one thing, only a fraction of theregulations can be eliminated because most regulationsare necessary. For another thing, most of the deregulationaffects business rather than the average individual, so thatits main effect is to take power from the government andgive it to private corporations. What this means for theaverage man is that government interference in his lifeis replaced by interference from big corporations, whichmay be permitted, for example, to dump more chemicalsthat get into his water supply and give him cancer. Theconservatives are just taking the average man for a sucker, exploiting his resentment of Big Government to promotethe power of Big Business.

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

15. (Paragraph 83) We are not expressing approval ordisapproval of the Panama invasion. We only use it to illus-trate a point.

16. (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies wereunder British rule there were fewer and less effective le-gal guarantees of freedom than there were after the Ame-rican Constitution went into effect, yet there was morepersonal freedom in pre-industrial America, both beforeand after the War of Independence, than there was af-ter the Industrial Revolution took hold in this country. Wequote from “Violence in America: Historical and Compara-tive Perspectives,” edited by Hugh Davis Graham and TedRobert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, pages 476-478:“The progressive heightening of standards of propriety,and with it the increasing reliance on official law enfor-cement (in l9th century America)… were common to thewhole society…. [T]he change in social behavior is so longterm and so widespread as to suggest a connection withthe most fundamental of contemporary social processes;that of industrial urbanization itself…. Massachusettsin1835 had a population of some 660,940, 81 percent ru-ral, overwhelmingly preindustrial and native born. It’s ci-tizens were used to considerable personal freedom. Whe-ther teamsters, farmers or artisans, they were all accusto-med to setting their own schedules, and the nature of theirwork made them physically independent of each other….Individual problems, sins or even crimes, were not gene-rally cause for wider social concern….”But the impact ofthe twin movements to the city and to the factory, bothjust gathering force in 1835, had a progressive effect onpersonal behavior throughout the 19th century and intothe 20th. The factory demanded regularity of behavior, alife governed by obedience to the rhythms of clock andcalendar, the demands of foreman and supervisor. In thecity or town, the needs of living in closely packed neigh-borhoods inhibited many actions previously unobjectio-nable. Both blue- and white-collar employees in larger es-tablishments were mutually dependent on their fellows;as one man’s work fit into anther’s, so one man’s businesswas no longer his own. The results of the new organiza-tion of life and work were apparent by 1900, when some76 percent of the 2,805,346 inhabitants of Massachusettswere classified as urbanites. Much violent or irregular be-havior which had been tolerable in a casual, independentsociety was no longer acceptable in the more formalized,cooperative atmosphere of the later period…. The move tothe cities had, in short, produced a more tractable, moresocialized, more ’civilized’ generation than its predeces-sors.”

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

18. (Paragraph 119) “Today, in technologically advan-ced lands, men live very similar lives in spite of geogra-phical, religious, and political differences. The daily livesof a Christian bank clerk in Chicago, a Buddhist bank clerkin Tokyo, and a Communist bank clerk in Moscow are farmore alike than the life of any one of them is like thatof any single man who lived a thousand years ago. Thesesimilarities are the result of a common technology….” L.Sprague de Camp, “The Ancient Engineers,” Ballantineedition, page 17. The lives of the three bank clerks arenot IDENTICAL. Ideology does have SOME effect. But alltechnological societies, in order to survive, must evolvealong APPROXIMATELY the same trajectory.

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

20. (Paragraph 124) For a further example of unde-sirable consequences of medical progress, suppose a re-liable cure for cancer is discovered. Even if the treatmentis too expensive to be available to any but the elite, it willgreatly reduce their incentive to stop the escape of carci-nogens into the environment.

21. (Paragraph 128) Since many people may find pa-radoxical the notion that a large number of good thingscan add up to a bad thing, we illustrate with an analogy.Suppose Mr. A is playing chess with Mr. B. Mr. C, a GrandMaster, is looking over Mr. A’s shoulder. Mr. A of coursewants to win his game, so if Mr. C points out a good movefor him to make, he is doing Mr. A a favor. But supposenow that Mr. C tells Mr. A how to make ALL of his moves.In each particular instance he does Mr. A a favor by sho-wing him his best move, but by making ALL of his movesfor him he spoils his game, since there is not point in Mr.A’s playing the game at all if someone else makes all hismoves. The situation of modern man is analogous to thatof Mr. A. The system makes an individual’s life easier forhim in innumerable ways, but in doing so it deprives himof control over his own fate.

22. (Paragraph 137) Here we are considering only theconflict of values within the mainstream. For the sake ofsimplicity we leave out of the picture “outsider” values likethe idea that wild nature is more important than humaneconomic welfare.

23. (Paragraph 137) Self-interest is not necessarily MA-TERIAL self-interest. It can consist in fulfillment of somepsychological need, for example, by promoting one’s ownideology or religion.

24. (Paragraph 139) A qualification: It is in the interestof the system to permit a certain prescribed degree of free-dom in some areas. For example, economic freedom (withsuitable limitations and restraints) has proved effectiveinpromoting economic growth. But only planned, circum-scribed, limited freedom is in the interest of the system.The individual must always be kept on a leash, even if theleash is sometimes long (see paragraphs 94, 97).

25. (Paragraph 143) We don’t mean to suggest that theefficiency or the potential for survival of a society has al-ways been inversely proportional to the amount of pres-sure or discomfort to which the society subjects people.That certainly is not the case. There is good reason to be-lieve that many primitive societies subjected people to lesspressure than European society did, but European society proved far more efficient than any primitive society andalways won out in conflicts with such societies because ofthe advantages conferred by technology.

26. (Paragraph 147) If you think that more effective lawenforcement is unequivocally good because it suppressescrime, then remember that crime as defined by the sys-tem is not necessarily what YOU would call crime. Today,smoking marijuana is a “crime,” and, in some places inthe U.S., so is possession of an unregistered handgun. To-morrow, possession of ANY firearm, registered or not, maybe made a crime, and the same thing may happen withdisapproved methods of child-rearing, such as spanking.In some countries, expression of dissident political opi-nions is a crime, and there is no certainty that this willnever happen in the U.S., since no constitution or politi-cal system lasts forever. If a society needs a large, power-ful law enforcement establishment, then there is some-thing gravely wrong with that society; it must be subjec-ting people to severe pressures if so many refuse to followthe rules, or follow them only because forced. Many so-cieties in the past have gotten by with little or no formallaw-enforcement.

27. (Paragraph 151) To be sure, past societies havehad means of influencing human behavior, but these havebeen primitive and of low effectiveness compared with thetechnological means that are now being developed.

28. (Paragraph 152) However, some psychologists havepublicly expressed opinions indicating their contempt forhuman freedom. And the mathematician Claude Shannonwas quoted in Omni (August 1987) as saying, “I visualizea 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 wri-ting paragraph 154 we came across an article in Scien-tific American according to which scientists are activelydeveloping techniques for identffying possible future cri-minals and for treating them by a combination of biolo-gical and psychological means. Some scientists advocatecompulsory application of the treatment, which may beavailable in the near future. (See “Seeking the CriminalElement,” by W. Wayt Gibbs, Scientific American, March1995.) Maybe you think this is okay because the treatmentwould be applied to those who might become violent cri-minals. But of course it won’t stop there. Next, a treatmentwill be applied to those who might become drunk drivers(they endanger human life too), then perhaps to peel whospank their children, then to environmentalists who sabo-tage logging equipment, eventually to anyone whose be-havior is inconvenient for the system.

30. (Paragraph 184) A further advantage of nature asa counter-ideal to technology is that, in many people, na-ture inspires the kind of reverence that is associated withreligion, so that nature could perhaps be idealized on a re-ligious basis. It is true that in many societies religion hasserved as a support and justification for the establishedorder, but it is also true that religion has often provideda basis for rebellion. Thus it may be useful to introducea religious element into the rebellion against technology,the more so because Western society today has no strongreligious foundation. Religion, nowadays either is used ascheap and transparent support for narrow, short-sightedselfishness (some conservatives use it this way), or even iscynically exploited to make easy money (by many evange-lists), or has degenerated into crude irrationalism (funda-mentalist protestant sects, “cults”), or is simply stagnant(Catholicism, main-line Protestantism). The nearest thingto a strong, widespread, dynamic religion that the Westhas seen in recent times has been the quasi-religion of lef-tism, but leftism today is fragmented and has no clear,unified, inspiring goal. Thus there is a religious vacuumin our society that could perhaps be filled by a religion fo-cused on nature in opposition to technology. But it wouldbe a mistake to try to concoct artificially a religion to fillthis role. Such an invented religion would probably be afailure. Take the “Gaia” religion for example. Do its adhe-rents REALLY believe in it or are they just play-acting? Ifthey are just play-acting their religion will be a flop in theend. It is probably best not to try to introduce religion intothe conflict of nature vs. technology unless you REALLYbelieve in that religion yourself and find that it arouses adeep, strong, genuine response in many other people.

31. (Paragraph 189) Assuming that such a final pushoccurs. Conceivably the industrial system might be elimi-nated in a somewhat gradual or piecemeal fashion (seeparagraphs 4, 167 and Note 32).

32. (Paragraph 193) It is even conceivable (remotely)that the revolution might consist only of a massive changeof attitudes toward technology resulting in a relativelygradual and painless disintegration of the industrial sys-tem. But if this happens we’ll be very lucky. It’s far moreprobably that the transition to a nontechnological societywill be very difficult and full of conflicts and disasters.

33. (Paragraph 195) The economic and technologicalstructure of a society are far more important than its po-litical structure in determining the way the average manlives (see paragraphs 95, 119 and Notes 16, 18).

34. (Paragraph 215) This statement refers to our par-ticular brand of anarchism. A wide variety of social at-titudes have been called “anarchist,” and it may be thatmany who consider themselves anarchists would not ac-cept our statement of paragraph 215. It should be noted,by the way, that there is a nonviolent anarchist movementwhose members probably would not accept FC as anar-chist and certainly would not approve of FC’s violent me-thods.

35. (Paragraph 219) Many leftists are motivated also byhostility, but the hostility probably results in part from afrustrated need for power.36. (Paragraph 229) It is important to understand thatwe mean someone who sympathizes with these move-ments as they exist today in our society. One who believesthat women, homosexuals, etc., should have equal rightsis not necessary a leftist. The feminist, gay rights, etc., mo-vements that exist in our society have the particular ideo-logical tone that characterizes leftism, and if one believes,for example, that women should have equal rights it doesnot necessarily follow that one must sympathize with thefeminist movement as it exists today.

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