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Based on the readinganswer each question in less than 50 words (per answer). Use your own words unless you feel that a quotation is necessary. If you use a quote, provide a citation. Citing page numbers is encouraged.1. In your own words, explain Kaczynski’s idea of the Power Process. According to Kaczinsky, what kind of human need is the Power Process?2. Why does Kaczynski think that human freedom (by his definition of power or control over the circumstances of one’s life) is incompatible with a technological society?3. How does Kaczynski use the example of science and scientists to illustrate the idea of a “surrogate activity”?Techno1ogica1
He that
sell his
hath n o
S 1 av e ry
let him
and buy
-Luke 22:36
The Collected Writings of

Theodore J. Kaczyr:ski, a.k. a. “The Ur:abomber”
Technological Slavery is a revised and enlarged version of the
book, RMd to Revolution, published in an English edition of
400 copies, and also in a Freneh edition in 2008 by �ditio ns
Xenia ofVevey Switzerland.
Technological Shvery © 2008 by Theodore J. Kaczyn ski
Introduction © 2010 by Dr. David Skrbina
All ri ghts reserved.
10 9 876 5 432 1
Feral J-Jouse
1240 W. Sims Way, Suire 124
Port Townsend WA 98368
Design by Bill Smith
To the memory
of Joy
with love.
From tbe PUblisber
Theodore J. Kaczynski has been convicted for illegally transporting, mailing,
and using bombs, as well as killing two people in California and one in New
Jersey. He is now serving a life sentence in the supermax prison in Florence,
Feral House has not published this book to justify the crimes committed by
Mr. Kaczynski. But we do feel that there is a great deal oflegitimate thought
in this book, and the First Amendment allows readers to judge whether or
not this is the case.
Tcchnophilcs like Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy also expressed their regard
for Theodore Kaczynski’s writing:
“Like many of my colleagues, I felt that I could easily have been the
Unabombcr’s next target. He is clearly a Luddite, but simply saying this does
not dismiss his argument. . . . As difficult as it is for me to acknowledge, I
saw some merit in the reasoning in [Kaczynski’s writing]. I started showing
friends the Kaczynski quote from Ray Kurzweil’s The Age ofSpiritual
Machines; I would hand them Kurzweil’s book, let them read the quote, and
then watch their reaction as they discovered who had written it.”
-BillJoy,founder ojSun Microsystems,
in �Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us, “Wired magazine
Author’s Note to the Second Edition
Introduction: A Revolutionary for Our Times,
by Dr. David Skrbina ….. …. .. . ………….. … . . . ……….. ……. ….. ……… p.16
II!II Industrial Society and Its Future (ISAIF) . … …… …… … …… p.36
� Postscript to the Manifesto . …………… …….. ………… ………… ……. P .122
.. The Truth About Primitive Life:
A Critique of Anarcho-primitivism … .. … . . . ……….. ……. ….. ……. p.126
1m The System’s Neatest Trick.. . …. …… …… … …… …… … …… p.190
.. The Coming Revolution ………………………………………………….. p.206
Is. The Road to Revolution …………………………………………………… p.222
.. Morality and Revolution
. p.232
lim Hit Where It Hurts
. p.246
Letters to David Skrbina … . …. …… …… … …… …… … …… p.254
Excerpts from Letters to a German
. p.350
l1li Extract from Letter to A. O
. p.368
Letter To Scientijic American . . .. . . . .. .. … … .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. .. …. . p.371
Letter to M. K… . ………… . … .. ….. …………… ….. ………….. . . ……….. p.373
Letter to J. N .. . …. …… … .. … …… …… … …… …… … …… p.381
l1li An Interview with Ted …………………………………………………….. p.392
l1li United States of America v.Theodore John Kaczynski
(An Explanation of the Judicial Opinions) …. ………….. . . ……….. p.410
Afterthoughts .. … …… …… … …… …… … …… …… … …… p.415
Bibliography ………. …….. ………… …………… ………… ……………….. p. 424
About tht: AuthoIs………………………………………………………….. p.435

I n t r o duct i o n
1. The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for
the human race. They have greatly increased the life expectancy of those of
us who live in “advanced” countries, but they have destabilized society, have
made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have
led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical
suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the narural world.
The continued development of technology will worsen the siruation. It will
certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater
damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption
and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering
even in “advanced” countries.
2. The industrial-technological system may survive or it may break
down. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and
psychological suffering, but only after passing through a long and very
painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing
human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and
mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore, if the system survives, the
consequences will be inevitable: There is no way of reforming or modifying
the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy.
3. If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very painfuL
But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the results of its
breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner
rather than later.
4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system. This
revolution mayor may not make use of violence; it may be sudden or it may
be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can’t predict any
of that. But we do outline in a very general way the measures that those
who hate the industrial system should take in order to prepare the way for
a revolution against that form of society. This is not to be a POLITICAL
II.dust.l·lal S O C l � t y aI.d It.s FUtUI’�
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revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the economic
and technological basis of the present society.
5. In this article we give attention to only some of the negative
developments that have grown out of the industrial-technological system.
Other sueh developments we mention only briefly or ignore altogether. This
docs not mean that we regard these other developments as unimportant. For
practical reasons we have to confine our discussion to areas that have received
insufficient public attention or in which we have something new to say.
For example, since there are well-developed environmental and wilderness
movements, we have written very little about environmental degradation or
the destruction of wild narure, even though we consider these to be highly
The P s y c h ology
of Mo dern Lef t i s m
6. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society.
One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world
is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an
introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general.
7. But what is leftism? During the first half of the 20th century leftism
could have been practically identified with socialism. Today the movement is
fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a leftist. When we
speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists,
“politically correct” types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights
activists and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these
movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing leftism is
not so much a movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather
a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by “leftism”will emerge
more clearly in the course of our discussion of leftist psychology. (Also, see
paragraphs 227-230.)
8. Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a good deal less clear
than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for this. All
we are trying to do here is indicate in a rough and approximate way the
two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main driving force
of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be telling the WHOLE
truth about leftist psychology. Also, our discussion is meant to apply to
modern leftism only. We leave open the question of the extent to which
our discussion could be applied to the leftists of the 19th and early 20th
9. The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism
we callftelings ofinferiority and oversocialization. Feelings of inferiority
are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is
characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment
is highly influentiaL
Fee� ings o f
I n feri o r i t y
10. By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings in the
strict sense but a whole spectrum of related traits: low self-esteem, feelings
of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self-hatred, etc. We
argue that modern leftists tend to have some such feelings (possibly more
or less repressed), and that these feelings are decisive in determining the
direction of modern leftism.
1 1 . When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is
said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies), we conclude that
he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced
among minority-rights activists, whether or not they belong to the minority
groups whose rights they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words
used to designate minorities and about anything that is said concerning
minorities. The terms “Negro,” “oriental,” “handicapped,” or “chick” for
an African, an Asian, a disabled person or a woman originally had no
derogatory connotation. “Broad” and “chick” were merely the feminine
equivalents of “guy,” “dude” or “fellow.”The negative connotations have
been attached to these terms by the activists themselveso Some animal
rights activists have gone so far as to reject the word “pet” and insist on
its replacement by “animal companion.” Leftish anthropologists go to
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great lengths to avoid saying anything about primitive peoples that could
conceivably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace the word
“primitive” by “nonliterate.”They seem almost paranoid about anything that
might suggest that any primitive culture is inferior to our own. (We do not
mean to imply that primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point
out the hypersensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)
12. Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect”
terminology are not the average black ghetto-dweller, Asian immigrant,
abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom
do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged
strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university
professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the
majority of whom are heterosexual white males from middle to upper-class
13. Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of
groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American
Indians), repellent (homosexuals), or otherwise inferior. The leftists
themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit to
themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see
these groups as inferior that they identifY with their problems. (We do not
mean to suggest that women, Indians, etc., ARE inferior; we are only making
a point about leftist psychology.)
14. Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong
and as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may
NOT be as strong and as capable as men.
15. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong,
good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization,
they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists
give for hating the West, etc., clearly do not correspond with their real
motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic,
sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but whcre these same faults appear in
socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for
them,or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he
ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these
faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these
faults are not the leftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. He
hates America and the West because they are strong and successful.
16. Words like “self-confidence,” “self-reliance,””initiative,” “enterprise,”
“optimism,” etc., play little role in the liberal and leftist vocabulary. The leftist
is anti-individualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone’s
problems for them, satisfy everyone’s needs for them, take care of them. He is
not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his ability to
solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic
to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.
17. Art forms that appeal to modern leftish intellecruals tend to focus on
sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an orgiastic tone, throwing
off rational control as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything
through rational calculation and all that was left was to immerse oneself in
the sensations of the moment.
18. Modern leftish philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective
reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one
can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge
and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But
it is obvious that modern lcftish philosophers are not simply cool-headed
logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are
deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack
these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing,
their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful,
it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hates science
and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful,
superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e., failed, inferior). The leftist’s feelings
of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some
things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also
underlies the rejection by many leftists of the concept of mental illness and
of the utility ofIQtests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanations of
human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some
persons appear superior or inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society
the credit or blame for an individual’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is
“inferior” it is not his fault, but society’s, because he has not been brought up
19. The leftist is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of
inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter, a ruthless
competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has
a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can still conceive of
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himself as having the capacity to be strong, and his efforts to make himself
strong produce his unpleasant behavior. [1] But the leftist is too far gone for
that. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of
himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the
leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass
movement with which he identifies himself.
20. Notice the masochistic tendency of leftist tactics. Leftists protest by
lying down in front of vehicles , they intentionally provoke police or racists
to abuse them, etc. These tactics may often be effective, but many leftists
use them not as a means to an end but because they PREFER masochistic
tactics. Self-hatred is a leftist trait.
2 1 . Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion
or by moral principles, and moral principle does play a role for the leftist of
the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle cannot be the
main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of
leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior
is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists
claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that affirmative action
is good for black people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action
in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to
take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal
and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative action
discriminates against them. But leftist activists do not take such an approach
because it would not satisfY their emotional needs. Helping black people
is not their real goaL Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to
express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they
aChlally harm black people, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the
white majority tends to intensifY race hatred.
22. If our society had no social problems at all, the leftists would have
to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse for
making a fuss.
23. We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate
description of everyone who might be considered a leftist. It is only a rough
indication of a general tendency of leftism.
Overso c iali z a t ion
24. Psychologists use the term “socialization” to designate the process by
which children are trained to think and act as society demands. A person
is said to be well socialized if he believes in and obeys the moral code of
his society and fits in well as a functioning part of that society. It may seem
senseless to say that many leftists are oversocialized, since the leftist is
perceived as a rebel. Nevertheless, the position can be defended. Many leftists
are not such rebels as they seem.
25. The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can
think, feel and act in a completely moral way. For example, we are not
supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some time
or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are so highly
socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe
burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually havc to
deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for
feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin. We use the term
“oversocialized” to describe such people.l2J
26. Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of
powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means
by which our society socializes children is by making them feel ashamed
of behavior or speech that is contrary to society’s expectations. If this is
overdone, or if a particular child is especially susceptible to such feelings,
he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMS ELF. Moreover the thought and
the behavior of the over-socialized person arc more restricted by society’s
expectations than are those of the lightly socialized person. The majority of
people engage in a significant amount of naughty behavior. They lie, they
commit petty thefts, they break traffic laws, they goof off at work, they hate
someone, they say spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick to get
ahead of the other guy. The oversocialized person cannot do these things, or
if he does do them he generates in himself a sense of shame and self-hatred.
The oversocialized person cannot even experience, without guilt, thoughts or
feelings that are contrary to the accepted morality; he cannot think “unclean”
thoughts. And socialization is not just a matter of morality; we are socialized
to conform to many norms of behavior that do not fall under the heading of
morality. Thus the oversocialized person is kept on a psychological leash and
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spends his life running on rails that society has laid down for him. In many
oversocialized people this results in a sense of constraint and powerlessness
that can be a severe hardship. We suggest that oversocialization is among the
more serious cruelties that human beings inflict on one another.
27. We argue that a very important and influential segment of the
modern left is oversocialized and that their oversocialization is of great
importance in determining the direction of modern leftism. Leftists of
the oversocialized type tend to be intellectuals or members of the upper
middle class. Notice that university intellectualsl31constitute the most highly
socialized segment of our society and also the most left-wing segment.
28.The leftist of the oversocialized type tries to get off his psychological
leash and assert his autonomy by rebelling. But usually he is not strong
enough to rebel against the most basic values of society. Generally speaking,
the goals of today’s leftists are NOT in conflict with the accepted morality.
On the contrary, the left takes an accepted moral principle, adopts it as
its own, and then accuses mainstream society of violating that principle.
Examples: racial equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people, peace
as opposed to war, nonviolence generally, freedom of expression, kindness
to animals. More fimdamentally, the duty of the individual to serve society
and the duty of society to take care of the individual. All these have been
deeply rooted values of our society (or at least of its middle and upper
classesl41) for a long time. These values are explicitly or implicitly expressed
or presupposed in most of the material presented to us by the mainstream
communications media and the educational system. Leftists, especially those
of the oversocialized type, usually do not rebel against these principles but
justifY their hostility to society by claiming (with some degree of truth) that
society is not living up to these principles.
29. Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized leftist
shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while
pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists push for affirmative
action, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, for improved
education in black schools and more money for such schools; the way of
life of the black “underclass” they regard as a social disgrace. They want to
integrate the black man into the system, make him a business executive, a
lawyer, a scientist just like upper middle-class white people.1he leftists will
reply that the last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of
the white man; instead, they want to preserve African-American culture.
But in what does this preservation of African-American culture consist? It
can hardly consist in anything more than eating black-style food, listening
to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going to a black-style
church or mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial
matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftists of the oversocialized type
want to make the black man conform to white middle-class ideals.lhey want
to make him study technical subjects, become an executive or a scientist,
spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that black people are as
good as white. rn1ey want to make black fathers “responsible,” they want
black gangs to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of
the industrial-technological system. The system couldn’t care less what kind
of music a man listens to, what kind of clothes he wears or what religion he
believes in as long as he studies in school, holds a respectable job, climbs the
stahlS ladder, is a “responsible” parent, is nonviolent and so forth. In eftect,
however much he may deny it, the oversocialized leftist wants to integrate
the black man into the system and make him adopt its values.
30. We certainly do not claim that leftists, even of the over-socialized
type, NEVER rebel against the fundamental values of our society. Clearly
they sometimes do. Some oversocialized leftists have gone so far as to rebel
against one of modern society’s most important principles by engaging
in physical violence. By their own account, violence is for them a form of
“liberation.” In other words, by committing violence they break through the
psychological restraints that have been trained into them. Because they are
oversocialized these restraints have been more confining for them than for
others; hence their need to break free of them. But they usually justify their
rebellion in terms of mainstream values. If they engage in violence they claim
to be fighting against racism or the like.
31. We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing
thumbnail sketch ofleftist psychology. The real situation is complex, and
anything like a complete description of it would take several volumes even if
the necessary data were available. We claim only to have indicated very roughly
the two most important tendencies in the psychology of modern leftism.
32. The problems of the leftist are indicative of the problems of our
society as a whole. Low self-esteem, depressive tendencies and defeatism are
not restricted to the left. Though they are especially noticeable in the left,
they are widespread in our society. And today’s society tries to socialize us to
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a greater extent than any previous society. We are even told by experts how to
eat, how to exercise, how to make love, how to raise our kids and so forth.
The P ower Pro c ess
33. Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something
that we will call the powerprocess. This is closely related to the need for
power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same thing. The
power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut of these we call
goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs to have goals whose
attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some
of his goals.) The fourth element is more difficult to define and may not
be necessary for everyone. We call it autonomy and will discuss it later
(paragraphs 42-44).
34. Consider the hypothetical case of a man who can have anything
he wants just by wishing for it. Such a man has power, but he will develop
serious psychological problems. At first he will have a lot of fun, but by and
by he will become acutely bored and demoralized. Eventually he may become
clinically depressed. History shows that leisured aristocracies tend to become
decadent.1his is not true of fighting aristocracies that have to struggle to
maintain their power. But leisured, secure aristocracies that have no need to
exert themselves usually become bored, hedonistic and demoralized, even
though they have power. This shows that power is not enough. One must
have goals toward which to exercise one’s power.
35. Everyone has goals; if nothing else, to obtain the physical necessities
of life: food, water and whatever clothing and shelter are made necessary by
the climate. But the leisured aristocrat obtains these things without effort.
Hence his boredom and demoralization.
36. Non-attainment of important goals results in death if the goals
are physical necessities, and in frustration if non-attainment of the goals is
compatible with survivaL Consistent failure to attain goals throughout life
results in defeatism, low self-esteem or depression.
37. 1hus, in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a human
being needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a
reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals.
Surro g ate A c t iv i t ies
38. But not every leisured aristocrat becomes bored and demoralized. For
example, the emperor Hirohito, instead of sinking into decadent hedonism,
devoted himself to marine biology, a field in which he became distinguished.
When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfY their physical
needs they often set up artificial goals for themselves. In many cases they
then pursue these goals with the same energy and emotional involvement
that they otherwise would have put into the search for physical necessities.
Thus the aristocrats of the Roman Empire had their literary pretensions;
many European aristocrats a few centuries ago invested tremendous time
and energy in hunting, though they certainly didn’t need the meat; other
aristocracies have competed for status through elaborate displays of wealth;
and a few aristocrats, like Hirohito, have turned to science.
39. We usc the term “surrogate activity” to designate an activity that is
directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for themselves merely in
order to have some goal to work toward, or, let us say, merely for the sake of
the “fulfillment” that they get from pursuing the goal. Here is a rule of thumb
for the identification of surrogate activities. Given a person who devotes
much time and energy to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: Ifhe had to
devote most of his time and energy to satisfYing his biological needs, and if
that effort required him to use his physical and mental faculties in a varied
and interesting way, would he feel seriously deprived because he did not
attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’s pursuit of a goal X is a
surrogate activity. Hirohito’s studies in marine biology clearly constituted a
surrogate activity, since it is pretty certain that if Hirohito had had to spend
his time working at interesting non-scientific tasks in order to obtain the
necessities oflife, he would not have felt deprived because he didn’t know
all about the anatomy and life-cycles of marine animals. On the other hand
the pursuit of sex and love (for example) is not a surrogate activity, because
most people, even if their existence were otherwise satisfactory, would feel
deprived if they passed their lives without ever having a relationship with a
member of the opposite sex. (But pursuit of an excessive amount of sex, more
than one really needs, can be a surrogate activity.)
40. In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to
satisfY one’s physical needs. It is enough to go through a training program
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to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on time and exert
the very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requirements arc a
moderate amount of intelligence and, most of all, simple OBEDIENCE. If
one has those, society takes care of one from cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an
underclass that cannot take the physical necessities for granted, but we are
speaking here of mainstream society.) Thus it is not surprising that modern
society is full of surrogate activities. These include scientific work, athletic
achievement, humanitarian work, artistic and literary creation, climbing
the corporate ladder, acquisition of money and material goods far beyond
the point at which they cease to give any additional physical satisfaction,
and social activism when it addresses issues that are not important for the
activist personally, as in the case ofwhite activists who work for the rights of
nonwhite minorities. These are not always PURE surrogate activities, since
for many people they may be motivated in part by needs other than the need
to have some goal to pursue. Scientific work may be motivated in part by
a drive for prestige, artistic creation by a need to express feelings, militant
social activism by hostility. But for most people who pursue them, these
activities are in large part surrogate activities. For example, the majority of
scientists will probably agree that the “fulfillment” they get from their work is
more important than the money and prestige they earn.
41. For many if not most people, surrogate activities are less satistying
than the pursuit of real goals ( that is, goals that people would want to
attain even if their need for the power process were already fulfilled). One
indication of this is the fact that, in many or most cases, people who are
deeply involved in surrogate activities are never satisfied, never at rest.
Thus the money-maker constantly strives for more and more wealth. The
scientist no sooner solves one problem than he moves on to the next. The
long-distance runner drives himself to run always farther and faster. Many
people who pursue surrogate activities will say that they get far more
fulfillment from these activities than they do from the “mundane”business
of satistying their biological needs, but that is because in our society the
effort required to satisty the biological needs has been reduced to triviality.
More importantly, in our society people do not satisty their biological needs
AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immense social
machine. In contrast, people generally have a great deal of autonomy in
pursuing their surrogate activities.
Au t onomy
42. Autonomy as a part of the power process may not be necessary for every
individual. But most people need a greater or lesser degree of autonomy in
working toward their goals. Their efforts must be undertaken on their own
initiative and must be under their own direction and control. Yet most people
do not have to exert this initiative, direction and control as single individuals.
It is usually enough to act as a member of a SMALL group. rnlUS if half a
dozen people discuss a goal among themselves and make a successful joint
effort to attain that goal, their need for the power process will be served. But
if they work under rigid orders handed down from above that leave them no
room for autonomous decision and initiative, then their need for the power
process will not be served. The same is true when decisions are made on a
collective basis if the group making the collective decision is so large that the
role of each individual is insignificant.[S]
43. It is true that some individuals seem to have little need for autonomy.
Either their drive for power is weak or they satisfY it by identifYing
themselves with some powerful organization to which they belong. And
then there are unthinking, animal types who seem to be satisfied with a
purely physical sense of power (the good combat soldier, who gets his sense
of power by developing fighting skills that he is quite content to use in blind
obedience to his superiors).
44. But for most people it is through the power process-having a
goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining the goal-that
self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. When one
does not have adequate opporhlnity to go through the power process the
consequences are (depending on the individual and on the way the power
process is disrupted) boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem, inferiority
feelings, defeatism, depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or
child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders,
eating disorders, etc.[6]
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S ources o f S o c ia 1 Prob1ems
45. Any ofthe foregoing symptoms can occur in any society, but in modern
industrial society they are present on a massive scale. We aren’t the first to
mention that the world today seems to be going crazy. This sort of thing is
not normal for human societies. There is good reason to believe that primitive
man suffered from less stress and frustration and was better satisfied with his
way oflife than modern man is. It is true that not all was sweetness and light
in primitive societies. Abuse of women was common among the Australian
aborigines, transsexuality was fairly common among some of the American
Indian tribes. But is does appear that GENERALLY SPEAKING the kinds
of problems that we have listed in the preceding paragraph were far less
common among primitive peoples than they are in modern society.
46. We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern
society to the fact that that society requires pcople to live under conditions
radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to
behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human
race developed while living under the earlier conditions. It is clear from what
we have already written that we consider lack of opportunity to properly
experience the power process as the most important of the abnormal
conditions to which modern society subjects people. But it is not the only
one. Before dealing with disruption of the power process as a source of social
problems we will discuss some of the other sources.
47. Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial
society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature,
excessive rapidity of social change and the breakdown of natural small-scale
communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.
48. It is well known that crowding increases stress and aggression. The
degree of crowding that exists today and thc isolation of man from nature
arc consequences of technological progress. All preindustrial societies were
predominantly rural.1he industrial Revolution vastly increased the size of
cities and the proportion of the population that lives in them, and modern
agricultural technology has made it possible for the Earth to support a far
denser population than it ever did before. (Also, technology exacerbates the
effects of crowding because it puts increased disruptive powers in people’s
hands. For example, a variety of noise-making devices: power mowers, radios,
motorcycles, etc. If the use of these devices is unrestricted, people who
want peace and quiet are frustrated by the noise. If their use is restricted,
people who use the devices are frustrated by the regulations. But if these
machines had never been invented there would have been no conflict and no
frustration generated by them.)
49. For primitive societies the natural world (which usually changes
only slowly) provided a stable framework and therefore a sense of security.
In the modern world it is human society that dominates nature rather than
the other way around, and modern society changes very rapidly owing to
technological change. Thus there is no stable framework.
50. The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional
values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic
growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic
changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing
rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid
changes inevitably break down traditional values.
5l.The breakdown of traditional values to some extent implies the
breakdown of the bonds that hold together traditional small-scale social
groups. The disintegration of small-scale social groups is also promoted
by the fact that modern conditions often require or tempt individuals to
move to new locations, separating themselves from their communities.
Beyond that, a technological society HAS TO weaken family ties and local
communities if it is to function efficiently. In modern society an individual’s
loyalty must be first to the system and only secondarily to a small-scale
community, because if the internal loyalties of small-scale communities were
stronger than loyalty to the system, such communities would pursue their
own advantage at the expense of the system.
52. Suppose that a public official or a corporation executive appoints
his cousin, his friend or his coreligionist to a position rather than
appointing the person best qualified for the job. He has permitted personal
loyalty to supersede his loyalty to the system, and that is “nepotism”
or “discrimination,” both of which are terrible sins in modern society.
Would-be industrial societies that have done a poor job of subordinating
personal or local loyalties to loyalty to the system are usually very
inefficient. (Look at Latin America.) Thus an advanced industrial society
can tolerate only those small-scale communities that are emasculated,
tamed and made into tools of the system. 171
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53. Crowding, rapid change and the breakdown of communities have
been widely recognized as sources of social problems. But we do not believe
they arc enough to account for the extent of the problems that arc seen today.
54. A few preindustrial cities were very large and crowded, yet their
inhabitants do not seem to have suffered from psychological problems to
the same extent as modern man. In America today there still are uncrowded
rural areas, and we find there the same problems as in urban areas, though
the problems tend to be less acute in the rural areas. Thus crowding does not
seem to be the decisive factor.
55. On the growing edge of the American frontier during the 19th
century, the mobility of the population probably broke down extended
families and small-scale social groups to at least the same extent as these
are broken down today. In fact, many nuclear families lived by choice in
such isolation, having no neighbors within several miles, that they belonged
to no community at all, yet they do not seem to have developed problems
as a result.
56. Furthermore, change in American frontier society was very rapid
and deep. A man might be born and raised in a log cabin, outside the reach
of law and order and fed largely on wild meat; and by the time he arrived
at old age he might be working at a regular job and living in an ordered
community with effective law enforcement. This was a deeper change
than that which typically occurs in the life of a modern individual, yet it
does not seem to have led to psychological problems. In fact, 19th century
American society had an optimistic and self-confident tone, quite unlike
that of today’s society. l81
57. The diiference, we argue, is that modern man has the sense (largely
justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the 19th century
frontiersman had the sense (also largely justified) that he created change
himself, by his own choice. Thus a pioneer settled on a piece of land of his
own choosing and made it into a farm through his own effort. In those days
an entire counry might have only a couple of hundred inhabitants and was
a far more isolated and autonomous entity than a modern county is. Hence
the pioneer farmer participated as a member of a relatively small group in the
creation of a new, ordered community. One may well question whether the
creation of this community was an improvement, but at any rate it satisfied
the pioneer’s need for the power process.
58. It would be possible to give other examples of societies in which
there has been rapid change andlor lack of close community ties without the
kind of massive behavioral aberration that is seen in today’s industrial society.
We contend that the most important cause of social and psychological
problems in modern society is the fact that people have insufficient
opportunity to go through the power process in a normal way. We don’t
mean to say that modern society is the only one in which the power process
has been disrupted. Probably most if not all civilized societies have interfered
with the power process to a greater or lesser extent. But in modern industrial
society the problem has become particularly acute. Leftism, at least in its
recent (mid- to late-20th century) form, is in part a symptom of deprivation
with respect to the power process.
D isrup t i on o f tbe P ow e r
P r o c ess in M o d e rn S o c i e t y
59. We divide human drives into three groups: (1) those drives that can be
satisfied with minimal effort; (2) those that can be satisfied but only at the
cost of serious effort; (3) those that cannot be adequately satisfied no matter
how much effort one makes. The power process is the process of satistying
the drives of the second group.1he more drives there are in the third group,
the more there is frustration, anger, eventually defeatism, depression, etc.
60. In modern industrial society natural human drives tend to be
pushed into the first and third groups, and the second group tends to consist
increasingly of artificially created drives.
61. In primitive societies, physical necessities generally fall into group
2: They can be obtained, but only at the cost of serious effort. But modern
society tends to guarantee the physical necessities to everyone!?] in exchange
for only minimal effort, hence physical needs are pushed into group 1.
(There may be disagreement about whether the effort needed to hold a job
is “minimal”; but usually, in lower- to middle-level jobs, whatever effort is
required is merely that of OBEDIENCE. You sit or stand where you are
told to sit or stand and do what you are told to do in the way you are told
to do it. Seldom do you have to exert yourself seriously, and in any case you
have hardly any autonomy in work, so that the need for the power process
is not well served.)
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62. Social needs, such as sex, love and status, often remain in group 2 in
modern society, depending on the situation of the individuaLlIOJ But, except
for people who have a particularly strong drive for status, the dfort required
to fulfill the social drives is insufficient to satisfY adequately the need for the
power process.
63. So certain artificial needs have been created that fall into group
2, hence serve the need for the power process. Advertising and marketing
techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need
things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of It requires
serious effort to earn enough money to satisfy these artificial needs,
hence they fall into group 2. (But see paragraphs 80-82.) Modern man
must satisfy his need for the power process largely through pursuit of the
artificial needs created by the advertising and marketing industry,Pi] and
through surrogate activities.
64. It seems that for many people, maybe the majority, these artificial
forms of the power process arc insufficient. A theme that appears repeatedly
in the writings of the social critics of the second half of the 20th century
is the sense of purposelessness that afflicts many people in modern society.
(This purposelessness is often called by other names such as “anomie” or
“middle-class vacuity.”) We suggest that the so-called “identity crisis” is
actually a search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable
surrogate activity. It may be that existentialism is in large part a response to
the purposelessness of modern life. fill Very widespread in modern society is
the search for “fulfillment.” But we think that for the majority of people an
activity whose main goal is fulfillment (that is, a surrogate activity) does not
bring completely satisfactory fulfillment. In other words, it does not fully
satisfy the need for the power process. (See paragraph 41.) That need can be
fully satisfied only through activities that have some external goal, such as
physical necessities, sex, love, status, revenge, etc.
65. Moreover, where goals are pursued through earning money,
climbing the status ladder or functioning as part of the system in
some other way, most people are not in a position to pursue their goals
AUTONOMOUSLY. Most workers are someone else’s employee and, as
we pointed out in paragraph 6 1 , must spend their days doing what they
are told to do in the way they are told to do it. Even most people who
are in business for themselves have only limited autonomy. It is a chronic
complaint of small-business persons and entrepreneurs that their hands
are tied by excessive government regulation. Some of these regulations
are doubtless unnecessary, but for the most part government regulations
are essential and inevitable parts of our extremely complex society. A
large portion of small business today operates on the franchise system. It
was reported in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago that many of the
franchise-granting companies require applicants for franchises to take a
personality test that is designed to EXCLUDE those who have creativity
and initiative, because such persons are not sufficiently docile to go along
obediently with the franchise system. This excludes from small business
many of the people who most need autonomy.
66. Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR
them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves. And what
they do for themselves is done more and more along channels laid down
by the system. Opportunities tend to be those that the system provides, the
opportunities must be exploited in accord with the rules and regulationsl131,
and techniques prescribed by experts must be followed if there is to be a
chance of success.
67. Thus the power process is disrupted in our society through a
deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in the pursuit of goals.
But it is also disrupted because of those human drives that fall into group
3: the drives that one cannot adequately satisfy no matter how much effort
one makes. One of these drives is the need for security. Our lives depend
on decisions made by other people; we have no control over these decisions
and usually we do not even know the people who make them. (“We live
in a world in which relatively few people-maybe 500 or 1,000-make
the important decisions,” Philip B. Heymann of Harvard Law School,
quoted by Anthony Lewis, New York Times, April 21, 1995.) Our lives
depend on whether safety standards at a nuclear power plant are properly
maintained; on how much pesticide is allowed to get into our food or how
much pollution into our air; on how skillful (or incompetent) our doctor is;
whether we lose or get a job may depend on decisions made by government
economists or corporation executives; and so forth. Most individuals are not
in a position to secure themselves against these threats to more than a very
limited extent. lhe individual’s search for security is therefore frustrated,
which leads to a sense of powerlessness.
68. It may be objected that primitive man is physically less secure than
modern man, as is shown by his shorter life expectancy; hence modern man
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suffers from less, not more than the amount of insecurity that is normal for
human beings. But psychological security does not closely correspond with
physical security. What makes us FEEL seeure is not so much objective
security as a sense of confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves.
Primitive man, threatened by a fierce animal or by hunger, can fight in
self-defense or travel in search of food. He has no certainty of success in
these efforts, but he is by no means helpless against the things that threaten
him. The modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many
things against which he is helpless; nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food,
environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his privacy by large
organizations, nationwide social or economic phenomena that may disrupt
his way of life.
69. It is true that primitive man is powerless against some of the
things that threaten him; disease for example. But he can accept the risk
of disease stoically. It is part of the nature of things, it is no one’s fault,
unless it is the fault of some imaginary, impersonal demon. But threats to
the modern individual tend to be MAN-MADE. They arc not the results
of chance but arc IMPOSED on him by other persons whose decisions he,
as an individual, is unable to influence. Consequently he feels frustrated,
humiliated and angry.
70. Thus primitive man for the most part has his security in his own
hands (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group), whereas
the security of modern man is in the hands of persons or organizations that
are too remote or too large for him to be able personally to influence them.
So modern man’s drive for security tends to fall into groups 1 and 3; in some
areas (food, shelter, etc.) his security is assured at the cost of only trivial
effort, whereas in other areas he CANNOT attain security. (The foregoing
greatly simplifies the real situation, but it does indicate in a rough, general
way how the condition of modern man differs from that of primitive man.)
71. People have many transitory drives or impulses that are necessarily
frustrated in modern life, hence fall into group 3. One may become angry,
but modern society cannot permit fighting. In many situations it does not
even permit verbal aggression. When going somewhere one may be in a
hurry, or one may be in a mood to travel slowly, but one generally has no
choice but to move with the flow of traffic and obey the traffic signals. One
may want to do one’s work in a different way, but usually one can work only
according to the rules laid down by one’s employer. In many other ways as
well, modern man is strapped down by a network of rules and regulations
(explicit or implicit) that frustrate many of his impulses and thus interfere
with the power process. Most of these regulations cannot be dispensed with,
because they are necessary for the functioning of industrial society.
72. Modern society is in certain respects extremely permissive. In matters
that are irrelevant to the functioning of the system we can generally do
what we please. We can believe in any religion we like (as long as it does not
encourage behavior that is dangerous to the system). We can go to bed with
anyone we like (as long as we practice “safe sex”). We can do anything we
like as long as it is UNIMPORTANT. But in all IMPORTANT matters the
system tends increasingly to regulate our behavior.
73. Behavior is regulated not only through explicit rules and not only
by the government. Control is often exercised through indirect coercion or
through psychological pressure or manipulation, and by organizations other
than the government, or by the system as a whole. Most large organizations
use some form of propagandal14] to manipulate public attitudes or behavior.
Propaganda is not limited to “commercials” and advertisements, and
sometimes it is not even consciously intended as propaganda by the people
who make it. i
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