(AA) The Unabomber - an anarchist? (It)

esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Wed, 19 Jun 1996 04:13:38 +0200

A little late but to go with your Italian version ;-)


A reclusive eccentric called Theodore Kazcinsky is in custody in
Montana. As we go to press, he is charged only with possession of 'an
unauthorised weapon', a collection of junk alleged to be the makings of a
bomb. His arrest, however, was reported throughout the international news
media, because he is suspected of being the 'Unabomber', the terrorist who
mailed and planted sixteen bombs in seventeen years, killing three and
injuring more than twenty persons in the United States. Wealthier news
media will report and comment on the case as it develops. We do not
propose to speculate on whether Mr Kazcinsky is the Unabomber, but to
discuss whether the Unabomber, whoever that may be, is an anarchist.
Anarchists are, by definition, opposed to people dominating other people by
means of threats, especially if the coercive relationship is institutionalised.
That is to say, they are opposed to government in all its forms. They may
sometimes use one coercive institution against another, for instance the law
courts against over-active police, but this is always a matter of expediency,
never of principle. The only kinds of society with which anarchists can be
content are those where nobody is the boss, and all relationships are on the
basis of voluntary cooperation. But the term Anarchist' is often misapplied to
mean anyone who uses illegal, secretive, violent means in pLIrs@it of any
social objective, however authoritarian.
A BBC radio commentator, one 5th November, described Guy Fawkes as
an anarchist'. But the objective of Guy Fawkes and his associates was to
restore Roman Catholicism. and the old custom of suppressing heresy by
burning people.
EveIl a sllpposedly seriolls work, the Fontana Dictionary of Modern
Thought, describes Auguste Blanqui as a precursor of anarchism, and says
Bakunin "continued the Blanqui line", although Blanqui advocated the seizure
and use of coercive power, not its abolition. The Unabomber was described
in some newspapers as an anarchist his, her or their motives and opinions.
These opinions are now manifest. In April 1995, after seventeen years of
unclaimed bombings, "the terrorist group FC" wrote to the press giving
sufficient evidence for himself, herself or themselves to be confirmed as the
Unabomber. As the price of discontinuing the bombs, the letter demanded
that a manifesto of 232 numbered, long-winded paragraphs should be
published in the New York Times and the Washington Post. This was done,
and the full text has since been published as a pamphlet by our
contemporary Green Anarchist. The manifesto denounces technology:
" 130. Technology advances with great rapidity and threatens freedom at
many different points at the same time (crowding, rules and regulations,
increasing dependence of individuals on large organisations, propaganda and
other psychological techniques. genetic engineering. invasion of privacy
through surveillance devices and computer, etc.. To hold back any ONE of
the threat to freedom would require a long different [sic; misprint for
difficult?] social struggle. Those who want to protect freedom are
overwhelmed by lhe sheer number of new attacks and the rapidity with which
they develop, hence they become pathetic and no longer resist. To fight each
of the threat separately would be futile. Success can be hoped for only by
fighting the technological system as a whole; but that is revolution not
Mr Kazcinsky eschews technology, dwelling in a shack without electricity or
water, and riding a bicycle (a triumph of industrial technology which some
cyclists like to imagine is primitive). The Unabomber denounces technology
but uses it- sophisticated electrical equipment in the preparation of bombs,
and something more sophisticated than a bicycle for moving bombs around
the United States. A problem for those preparing the case against Mr
Kazcinsky will be to show that, while living low-tech, he had access to high-
tech when it suited him. Dislike of technology is compatible with anarchism.
A valued contributor to Freedonl enjoys the occasional rant against
technology, 'the scientists' and 'progress'. But delight in technology is also
compatible with anarchism (if less fashionable), and the keenest opponents of
technology are authoritarian 'eco-fascists'. An anti-technology stance is not
essential to anarchism, and does not imply anarchism. Nor does the use of
home-made bombs, for which the Unabomber presents an interesting

"96.... Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and
had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not
have been accepted. If they had been accepted and published, they probably
would not have attracted many readers, because it's more fun to watch the
entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these
writings had many readers, most of these readers would soon have l`orgotten
what they read as their minds were llooded by the mass of material to which
the media exposes them. In order to get our message before the public with
some chance of making a lasting impression, we had to kill people."

Some anarchists have used bombs, but most would rather remain unheard
than kill people to attract attention. The majority of murderous fanatics are
authoritarians. The obvious way to find out whether the Unabomber is an
anarchist is to search the Manifesto for references to government. And in fact
we need read only paragraph 4 of 232 to find the information we require:

"4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system ... This is
not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not
governments but the economic and technological basis of the present

Admirably clear. The Unabomber is not an anarchist. Since we have no
intention of killing anyone to emphasise our point, it will probably not be
widely noticed. But for what it is worth, we call upon the media to stop
referring to the Unabomber as an 'anti-tech anarchist'. 'Anti-tech' is true,
'anarchist' is false.