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«There are many people today who see that modern society is heading toward disaster in one form or another, and who moreover recognize technology as the common thread linking the principal dangers that hang over us... The purpose of this book is to show people how to begin thinking in practical, grand-strategic terms about what must be done in order to get our society off the road to destruction that it is now on.» —from the Preface. Publishers Description: A comprehensive historical analysis explaining the futility of social control and the catastrophic influence of technological growth on human social and planetary ecological systems. Distilled from the critical socio-historical analysis is the authors own theoretical framework for effecting meaningful and lasting change.
Year:
2016
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Fitch & Madison Publishers
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236 / 250
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9781944228002
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Entscheidung, Rationalität und Determinismus

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ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION:
WHY AND HOW

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION:

WHY AND HOW
THEODORE JOHN KACZYNSKI

FITCH & MADISON
PUBLISHERS

Copyright © 2015 by Theodore John Kaczynski
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning,
or otherwise without the express written consent of the publisher.

First edition, 2016.
Published by Fitch & Madison Publishers.
Inquiries to the publisher should be addressed to Fitch & Madison Publishers,
15150 North Hayden Road, Suite 210, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, Tel: 602-457-4800,
Fax: 602-457-4802, or via e-mail at info@fitchmadison.com.
Fitch & Madison and Fitch & Madison Publishers are trademarks of
Fitch & Madison Publishers, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company.
www.fitchmadison.com
Theodore John Kaczynski does not receive any remuneration for this book.
Printed in the United States of America
§

This paper meets the requirements of ANSIINISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).
10987654321
Publisher's Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kaczynski, Theodore John, 1942author.
Anti-tech revolution: why and how / Theodore John
Kaczynski. - First edition.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
LCCN 2016937645
ISBN 978-1-944228-00-2
1. Technology-Social aspects. 2. Technology and
civilization. 3. Revolutions-History.
4. Environmental degradation. 5. Nature-Effect of human
beings on. 6. Social action. 1. Title.

T14.5.K3242016

303.48'3-dc23

Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every continent,
and left free, it would be better than it now is.
-Thomas Jefferson

CONTENTS

Epigraph .......................................................... v
The epigraph is from Jefferson's letter to William Short, January 1793,
quoted by David McCullough,JohnAdams, Simon & Schuster, New York,
2002, p. 438.
Preface ........................................................... 1
Chapter One. The Development of a Soc; iety Can Never Be Subject to
Rational Human Control
Part I ............................................................ 7
Part II .......................................................... 13
Part III. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 17
Part IV .......................................................... 28
Part V ........................................................... 29
Part VI .......................................................... 31
Notes ........................................................... 34
Chapter Two. Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself
Part I ...........................................................
Part II ..........................................................
Part IlL .. .......................................................
Part IV ..........................................................
Part V ...........................................................
Notes ...........................................................

41
42
56
58
68
75

Chapter Three. How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid
Part I ........................................................... 89
Part II .......................................................... 92
Part III. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 100
Part IV ......................................................... 119
Notes .......................................................... 125
Chapter Four. Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement
Section 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 135
Section 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 136
Section 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 136

vii

viii

CONTENTS

Section 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 5 .......................................................
Section 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 8 .......................................................
Section 9 .......................................................
Section 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 11 ......................................................
Section 12 ......................................................
Section 13 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 14 ......................................................
Section 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 17 ......................................................
Section 18 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 19 ......................................................
Section 20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 22 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 23 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 26 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 27 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Section 28 ......................................................
Section 29 ......................................................
Section 30 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
Notes ..........................................................

137
138
138
139
142
143
145
148
149
153
154
154
155
155
156
158
159
161
162
166
166
167
168
169
170
171
174
176

Appendix One. In Support of Chapter One
Part A ..........................................................
Part B ..........................................................
Part C ..........................................................
Part D .........................................................
Notes ..........................................................

187
187
189
191
192

Appendix Two. In Support of Chapter Two
Part A .......................................................... 193
PartB .......................................................... 195
Part C .......................................................... 196

CONTENTS

Part D .........................................................
Part E ..........................................................
Part F ..........................................................
Part G .........................................................
Notes ..........................................................

ix

197
199
200

203
204

Appendix Three. Stay on Target .................................. 209
Appendix Four. The Long-Term Outcome of Geo-Engineering ....... 215
List of Works Cited .............................................. 219
Index .......................................................... 231

PREFACE

1. There are many people today who see that modern society is heading toward disaster in one form or another, and who moreover recognize
technology as the common thread linking the principal dangers that hang
over us.! Nearly all such people fall into one of two categories:
First, there are those who are appalled at what technology is doing
to our society and our planet, but are not motivated to take any action
against the technological system because they feel helpless to accomplish
anything in that direction. They read an anti-tech book-say, for example,
Jacques Ellul's Technological Society-and it makes them feel better because
they've found someone who has eloquently articulated their own anxieties
about technology. But the effect soon wears off and their discomfort with
the technological world begins to nag them again, so they turn for relief
to another anti-tech book-Ivan Illich, Kirkpatrick Sale, Daniel Qyinn,
my own Industrial Society and Its Future, or something else-and the cycle
repeats itself. In other words, for these people anti-tech literature is merely
a kind of therapy: It alleviates their discomfort with technology, but it does
not serve them as a call to action.
In the second category are people who are appalled at modern
technology and actually aspire to accomplish something against the technological system, but have no practical sense of how to go about it. At a
purely tacticallevel some of these people may have excellent practical sense;
they may know very well, for example, how to organize a demonstration
against some particular atrocity that is being committed against our environment. But when it comes to grand strategy2 they are at a loss. Most
perhaps recognize that any victory against an environmental atrocity or
other technology-related evil can only be temporary, at best, as long as the
technological system remains in existence. But they can think of nothing better to do than to continue attacking particular evils while vaguely
hoping that their work will somehow help to solve the overall problem of
technology. In reality their work is counterproductive, because it distracts
attention from the technological system itself as the underlying source of
the evils and leads people to focus instead on problems oflimited significance that moreover cannot be permanently solved while the technological
system continues to exist.

2

PREFACE

The purpose of this book is to show people how to begin thinking
in practical, grand-strategic terms about what must be done in order to get
our society off the road to destruction that it is now on.
On the basis of past experience I feel safe in saying that virtually all
people-even people of exceptional intelligence-who merely read this
book once or twice at an ordinary pace will miss many of its most important points. This book, therefore, is not a book to be read; it is a book to be
studied with the same care that one would use in studying, for example, a
textbook of engineering. There is of course a difference between this book
and a textbook of engineering. An engineering textbook provides precise
rules which, if followed mechanically, will consistently give the expected
results. But no such precise and reliable rules are possible in the social
sciences. The ideas in this book therefore need to be applied thoughtfully
and creatively, not mechanically or rigidly. Intelligent application of the
ideas will be greatly facilitated by a broad knowledge of history and some
understanding of how societies develop and change.
II. This book represents only a part, though the most important
part, of a longer work that I hope to publish later. I've been anxious to get
the most important part of the work into print as soon as possible, because
the growth of technology and the destruction of our environment move
at an ever-accelerating rate, and the time to begin organizing for action
is-as soon as possible. Moreover, I'm 72 years old, and I could be put out
of action at any time by some medical misfortune, so I want to get the most
important material into print while I can.
The entire work-the part published here together with the parts
that at present exist only in the form of imperfect drafts-goes far beyond
my earlier works, Industrial Society and Its Future and Technological Slavery,
and it represents the more-or-Iess final result of a lifetime of thought and
reading-during the last thirty-five years, intensive thought and specifically
purposeful reading. The factual basis of the work is drawn primarily from
my reading over all those years, and especially from the reading I've done
since 1998 while confined in a federal prison. As of 2011, however, there
remained important loose ends that needed to be tied up, gaps that needed
to be filled in, and I've been able to tie up those loose ends and fill in those
gaps only with the generous help of several people outside the prison who
have delved for the information I've requested and have answered almost all
of the questions-sometimes very difficult questions-that I've asked them.

PREFACE

3

My thanks are owing above all to Susan Gale. Susan has played the
key role in this project and has been indispensable. She has been my star
researcher, producing more results and solving more problems, by far, than
anyone else; she has ably coordinated the work of other researchers and has
done most of the typing.
After Susan, the most important person in this project has been Dr.
Julie Ault. Julie has read drafts of the various chapters and has called my
attention to many weak points in the exposition. I've tried to correct these,
though I haven't been able to correct all of them to my (or, I assume, her)
satisfaction. In addition, Julie has provided valuable advice on manuscript
preparation. 3 But most important of all has been the encouragement I've
taken from the fact of having an intellectual heavyweight like Julie Ault
on my side.
Several people other than Susan have made important research contributions through steady work over a period of time: Brandon Manwell,
Deborah_ _, G.G. Gomez, Valerie vE _ _, and one other person whose
name will not be mentioned here. Patrick S _ _ and another person, who
prefers not to be named, have provided critically important financial support
and have been helpful in other ways as well.
The foregoing are the people who have made major contributions to
the project, but lowe thanks also to nine other people whose contributions
have been oflesser magnitude: Blake Janssen, Jon H _ _, and Philip R _ _
each dug up several pieces of information for me; Lydia Eccles, Dr. David
Skrbina, Isumatag (pseudonym), and (J1timo Reducto (pseudonym) have
called my attention to information or sent me copies of articles that I've
found useful; Lydia has also performed other services, and an assistant of
Dr. Skrbina's typed early drafts of Chapter Three and Appendix Three. On
the legal front, lowe thanks to two attorneys for their pro-bono assistance:
Nancy J. Flint, who took care of copyright registration, and Edward T.
Ramey, whose intervention removed a bureaucratic obstacle to the preparation of this book.
My thanks to all!
III. Despite the generous help I've received, I've had to make use
at many points of sources of information that are of doubtful reliability;
for example, media reports (all too often irresponsible!) or encyclopedia
articles, which, because of their necessary brevity, commonly give only
sketchy accounts of the subjects they cover. None of the individuals named

4

PREFACE

above are in any way responsible for the resulting defects of this book. It
is only since 2011 that I've had people who have been willing and able to
spend substantial amounts of time and effort in doing research for me,
and all of them have had to carryon simultaneously with other necessary
aspects of their lives, such as earning a living. If I had asked them to find
solid authority for every piece of information for which I've relied on a
questionable source, the completion of this book would have been delayed
for a matter of years. I do not believe that my use of questionable sources
of information will be found to weaken significantly the arguments or the
conclusions that I offer in this book. Even if some of the bits of information
I've cited turn out to be false, inaccurate, or misleading, the basic structure
of the book will remain sound.
IV. Note on referencing. In the notes that follow each chapter or appendix, I generally cite sources of information by giving the author's last name
and a page number. The reader can find the author's full name, the title
of the book or article cited, the date of publication, and other necessary
information by looking up the author's name in the List of Works Cited
that appears at the end of the book. When a source without named author
is cited, the reader will in some cases be able to find additional information
about the source by consulting the list of works without named author that
concludes the List of Works Cited.
Two abbreviations are used repeatedly in the notes:
"ISAIF" refers to my Industrial Society and Its Future, of which only
one correct version has been published in English; it appears on pages
36-120 of my book Technological Slavery (Feral House, 2010).
"NEB" means The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition.
The Fifteenth Edition has been modified repeatedly, so "NEB" is always
followed by a date in parentheses that indicates the particular version of
NEB that is cited. For example, "NEB (2003)" means the version of The
New Encyclopaedia Britannica that bears the copyright date 2003.
Ted Kaczynski
May 2014

PREFACE

5

NOTES
1. I've received many letters from such people, not only from within the
United States but from a score of countries around the world.
2. "Tactics," "strategy," and "grand strategy" are, in origin at least, military
terms. Tactics are techniques used for the immediate purpose of winning a particular battle; strategy deals with broader issues and longer intervals of time, and
includes advance preparations for winning a battle or a series of battles; grand
strategy addresses the entire process of achieving a nation's objectives through
warfare, and takes into account not only the strictly military aspect of the process
but also the political, psychological, economic, etc. factors involved. See, e.g.,
NEB (2003), Vol. 29, "War, Theory and Conduct of," p. 647. The terms "tactics,"
"strategy," and "grand strategy" are used by analogy in contexts that have nothing
to do with warfare or the military.
3. For reasons connected with the need to get the manuscript for the present
work prepared quickly, I've disregarded some of Julie Ault's recommendations
concerning manuscript preparation. Needless to say, Julie is in no way responsible
for any resulting defects that may be found in this book.

CHAPTER ONE

The Development of a Society
Can Never Be Subject to Rational
Human Control

Adonde un bien se concierta
hay un mal que 10 desvia;
mas el bien viene y no acierta,
y el mal acierta y porfia.
-Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
(1503-1575)1
The wider the scope of my reflection on the present and the
past, the more am I impressed by their mockery of human
plans in every transaction.
-Tacitus 2

I. In specific contexts in which abundant empirical evidence is
available, fairly reliable short-term prediction and control of a society's
behavior may be possible. For example, economists can predict some of the
immediate consequences for a modern industrial society of a rise or a fall
in the interest rates. Hence, by raising or lowering interest rates they can
manipulate such variables as the levels of inflation and of unemployment. 3
Indirect consequences are harder to predict, and prediction of the consequences of more elaborate financial manipulations is largely guesswork.
That's why the economic policies of the U. S. government are subject to
so much controversy: No one knows for certain what the consequences of
those policies really are.
Outside of contexts in which abundant empirical evidence is available, or when longer-term effects are at issue, successful prediction-and
therefore successful management of a society's development-is far more
difficult. In fact, failure is the norm.

7

8

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

• During the first half of the second century BC, sumptuary laws
(laws intended to limit conspicuous consumption) were enacted in an effort
to forestall the incipient decadence of Roman society. As is usual with sumptuary laws, these failed to have the desired effect, and the decay of Roman
mores continued unchecked. 4 By the early first century BC, Rome had
become politically unstable. With the help of soldiers under his command,
Lucius Cornelius Sulla seized control of the city, physically exterminated
the opposition, and carried out a comprehensive program of reform that
was intended to restore stable government. But Sulla's intervention only
made the situation worse, because he had killed off the "defenders oflawful
government" and had filled the Senate with unscrupulous men "whose tradition was the opposite of that sense of mission and public service that had
animated the best of the aristocracy."5 Consequently the Roman political
system continued to unravel, and by the middle of the first century BC
Rome's traditional republican government was essentially defunct.
• In Italy during the 9th century AD certain kings promulgated
laws intended to limit the oppression and exploitation of peasants by the
aristocracy. "The laws proved futile, however, and aristocratic landowning
and political dominance continued to grow."6
• Simon Bolivar was the principal leader of the revolutions through
which Spain's American colonies achieved their independence. He had
hoped and expected to establish stable and "enlightened" government
throughout Spanish America, but he made so little progress toward that
objective that he wrote in bitterness shortly before his death in 1830: "He
who serves a revolution plows the sea." Bolivar went on to predict that
Spanish America would "infallibly fall into the hands of the unrestrained
multitude to pass afterward to those of... petty tyrants of all races and
colors ... [We will be] devoured by all crimes and extinguished by ferocity
[so that] the Europeans will not deign to conquer us ...."7 Allowing for a
good deal of exaggeration attributable to the emotion under which Bolivar
wrote, this prediction held (roughly) true for a century and a half after his
death. But notice that Bolivar did not arrive at this prediction until too
late; and that it was a very general prediction that asserted nothing specific.
• In the United States during the late 19th century there were
worker-housing projects sponsored by a number of individual philanthropists and housing reformers. Their objective was to show that

CHAPTER ONE: PART

I

9

efforts to improve the living conditions of workers could be combined
with ... profits of 5 percent annually....
Reformers believed that the model dwellings would set a standard that other landlords would be forced to meet ... mostly because
of the workings of competition. Unfortunately, this solution to the
housing problem did not take hold .... The great mass of urban workers ... were crowded into ... tenements that operated solely for profit. 8

It is not apparent that there has been any progress over the centuries
in the capacity of humans to guide the development of their societies.
Relatively recent (post-1950) efforts in this direction may seem superficially
to be more sophisticated than those of earlier times, but they do not appear
to be more successful.
• The social reform programs of the mid-1960s in the United States,
spearheaded by President Lyndon Johnson, revealed that beliefs about the
causes and cures of such social problems as crime, drug abuse, poverty,
and slums had little validity. For example, according to one disappointed
reformer:
Once upon a time we thought that if we could only get our problem
families out of those dreadful slums, then papa would stop taking
dope, mama would stop chasing around, and junior would stop carrying a knife. Well, we've got them in a nice new apartment with
modern kitchens and a recreation center. And they're the same bunch
of bastards they always were. 9
This doesn't mean that all of the reform programs were total failures, but the general level of success was so low as to indicate that the
reformers did not understand the workings of society well enough to know
what should be done to solve the social problems that they addressed.
Where they achieved some modest level of success they probably did so
mainly through luck.lO
One could go on and on citing examples like the foregoing ones.
One could also cite many examples of efforts to control the development
of societies in which the immediate goals of the efforts have been achieved.
But in such cases the longer-term consequences for society as a whole have
not been what the reformers or revolutionaries have expected or desiredY

10

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

• The legislation of the Athenian statesman Solon (6th century
BC) was intended to abolish hektemorage (roughly equivalent to serfdom)
in Attica while allowing the aristocracy to retain most of its wealth and
privilege. In this respect the legislation was successful. But it also had
unexpected consequences that Solon surely would not have approved. The
liberation of the "serfs" resulted in a labor shortage that led the Athenians to
purchase or capture numerous slaves from outside Attica, so that Athens was
transformed into a slave society. Another indirect consequence of Solon's
legislation was the Peisistratid "tyranny" (populist dictatorship) that ruled
Athens during a substantial part of the 6th century BC.12
• Otto von Bismarck, one of the most brilliant statesmen in
European history, had an impressive list of successes to his credit. Among
other things:
-He achieved the unification of Germany in 1867-1871.
-He engineered the Franco-Prussian war o£1870-71, but his successful efforts for peace thereafter earned him the respect of European
leaders.
-He successfully promoted the industrialization of Germany.
-By such means he won for the monarchy the support of the middle
class.
-Thus Bismarck achieved his most important objective: He prevented (temporarily) the democratization of Germany.
-Though Bismarck was forced to resign in 1890, the political structure he had established for Germany lasted until 1918, when it was brought
down by the German defeat in World War 1.13
Notwithstanding his remarkable successes Bismarck felt that he had
failed, and in 1898 he died an embittered old man. 14 Clearly, Germany
was not going the way he had intended. Probably it was the resumption of
Germany's slow drift toward democratization that angered him most. But
his bitterness would have been deeper if he had foreseen the future. One
can only speculate as to what the history of Germany might have been after
1890 if Bismarck hadn't led the country up to that date, but it is certain
that he did not succeed in putting Germany on a course leading to results
of which he would have approved; for Bismarck would have been horrified
by the disastrous war of 1914-18, by Germany's defeat in it, and above all
by the subsequent rise of Adolf Hitler.
• In the United States, reformers' zeal led to the enactment in 1919
of "Prohibition" (prohibition of the manufacture, sale, or transportation

CHAPTER ONE: PART

I

11

of alcoholic beverages) as a constitutional amendment. Prohibition was
partly successful in achieving its immediate objective, for it did decrease
the alcohol consumption of the "lower" classes and reduce the incidence of
alcohol-related diseases and deaths; it moreover "eradicated the saloon." On
the other hand, it provided criminal gangs with opportunities to make huge
profits through the smuggling and/or the illicit manufacture of alcoholic
drinks; thus Prohibition greatly promoted the growth of organized crime.
In addition, it tended to corrupt otherwise respectable people who were
tempted to purchase the illegal beverages. It became clear that Prohibition
was a serious mistake, and it was repealed through another constitutional
amendment in 1933. 15
• The so-called "Green Revolution" of the latter part of the 20th
century-the introduction of new farming technologies and of recently
developed, highly productive varieties of grain-was supposed to alleviate hunger in the Third World by providing more abundant harvests. It
did indeed provide more abundant harvests. But: "[A]lthough the 'Green
Revolution' seems to have been a success as far as the national total cereal
production figures are concerned, a look at it from the perspective of
communities and individual humans indicates that the problems have far
outweighed the successes ...."16 In some parts of the world the consequences of the Green Revolution have been nothing short of catastrophic.
For example, in the Punjab (a region lying partly in India and partly in
Pakistan), the Green Revolution has ruined "thousands of hectares of [formerly] productive land," and has led to severe lowering of the water table,
contamination of the water with pesticides and fertilizers, numerous cases
of cancer (probably due to the contaminated water), and many suicides.
"The green revolution has brought us only downfall,' says Jarnail Singh ....
'It ruined our soil, our environment, our water table. Used to be we had
fairs in villages where people would come together and have fun. Now we
gather in medical centers."'17
From other parts of the world as well come reports of negative consequences, of varying degrees of severity, that have followed the Green
Revolution. These consequences include economic, behavioral, and medical
effects in addition to environmental damage (e.g., desertification).18
• In 1953, U.S. President Eisenhower announced an "Atoms for
Peace" program according to which the nations of the world were supposed to pool nuclear information and materials under the auspices of an
international agency. In 1957 the International Atomic Energy Agency

12

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

was established to promote the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and in
1968 the United Nations General Assembly approved a "non-proliferation"
treaty under which signatories agreed not to develop nuclear weapons and
in return were given nuclear technology that they were supposed to use
only for peaceful purposes. 19 The people involved in this effort should have
known enough history to realize that nations generally abide by treaties
only as long as they consider it in their own (usually short-term) interest
to do so, which commonly is not very long. But apparently the assumption
was that the nations receiving nuclear technology would be so grateful, and
so happy cooperating in its peaceful application, that they would forever
put aside the aspirations for power and the bitter rivalries that throughout
history had led to the development of increasingly destructive weapons.
This idea seems to have originated with scientists like Robert
Oppenheimer and Niels Bohr who had helped to create the first atomic
bomb. 20 That physicists would come up with something so naive was only
to be expected, since specialists in the physical sciences almost always
are grossly obtuse about human affairs. It seems surprising, however, that
experienced politicians would act upon such an idea. But then, politicians
often do things for propaganda purposes and not because they really believe
in them.
The "Atoms for Peace" idea worked fine-for a while. Some 140
nations signed the non-proliferation treaty in 1968 (others later),21 and
nuclear technology was spread around the world. Iran, in the early 1970s,
was one of the countries that received nuclear technology from the U.S. 22
And the nations receiving such technology didn't try to use it to develop
nuclear weapons. Not immediately, anyway. Of course, we know what has
happened since then. "[H]ard-nosed politicians and diplomats [e.g., Henry
Kissinger] ... argue that proliferation of nuclear weapons is fast approaching
a 'tipping point' beyond which it will be impossible to check their spread."
These "veterans of America's cold-war security establishment with impeccable credentials as believers in nuclear deterrence" now claim that such
weapons "ha[ve] become a source of intolerable risk."23 And there is the
inconvenient fact that the problem of safe disposal of radioactive waste from
the peaceful uses of nuclear energy still has not been solved. 24
The "Atoms for Peace" fiasco suggests that humans' capacity to control the development of their societies not only has failed to progress, but
has actually retrogressed. Neither Solon nor Bismarck would have supported
anything as stupid as "Atoms for Peace."

CHAPTER ONE: PART

II

13

II. There are good reasons why humans' capacity to control the
development of their societies has failed to progress. In order to control
the development of a society you would have to be able to predict how the
society would react to any given action you might take, and such predictions have generally proven to be highly unreliable. Human societies are
complex systems-technologically advanced societies are most decidedly
complex-and prediction of the behavior of complex systems presents difficulties that are not contingent on the present state of our knowledge or
our level of technological development.
[U]nintended consequences [are] a well-known problem with the
design and use of technology.... The cause of many [unintended consequences] seems clear: The systems involved are complex, involving
interaction among and feedback between many parts. Any changes
to such a system will cascade in ways that are difficult to predict; this
is especially true when human actions are involved. 25
Problems in economics can give us some idea of how impossibly
difficult it would be to predict or control the behavior of a system as complex as that of a modern human society. It is convincingly argued that a
modern economy can never be rationally planned to maximize efficiency,
because the task of carrying out such planning would be too overwhelmingly
complex. 26 Calculation of a rational system of prices for the U. S. economy
alone would require manipulation of a conservatively estimated 6xl0 13
(sixty trillion!) simultaneous equations. 27 That takes into account only the
economic factors involved in establishing prices and leaves out the innumerable psychological, sociological, political, etc., factors that continuously
interact with the economy.
Even if we make the wildly improbable assumption that the behavior of our society could be predicted through the manipulation of, say,
a million trillion simultaneous equations and that sufficient computing
power to conduct such manipulation were available, collection of the data
necessary for insertion of the appropriate numbers into the equations would
be impracticable,28 especially since the data would have to meet impossibly
high standards of precision if the predictions were expected to remain
valid over any considerable interval of time. Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist, was the first to call widespread attention to the fact that even
the most minute inaccuracy in the data provided can totally invalidate a

14

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

prediction about the behavior of a complex system. This fact came to be
called the "butterfly effect" because in 1972, at a meeting of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, Lorenz gave a talk that he
titled "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off
a Tornado in Texas?"29 Lorenz's work is said to have been the inspiration
for the development of what is called "chaos theory"30-the butterfly effect
being an example of "chaotic" behavior.
Chaotic behavior is not limited to complex systems; in fact, some
surprisingly simple systems can behave chaotically.31 The Encyclopaedia
Britannica illustrates this with a purely mathematical example. Let A and
Xo be any two given numbers with O<A<4 and O<xo<1, and let a sequence of
numbers be generated according to the formula Xn+l =Ax n(l- xJ For certain
values of A, e.g., A=3.7, the sequence behaves chaotically: In order to bring
about a linear increase in the number of terms of the sequence that one can
predict to a reasonable approximation, one needs to achieve an exponential
improvement in the accuracy of one's estimate of Xo. In other words, in order
to predict the nth term of the sequence, one needs to know the value of Xo
with an error not exceeding lO- kn , k a constant. 32 This is characteristic of
chaotic systems generally: Any small extension of the range of prediction
requires an exponential improvement in the accuracy of the data.
[A]ll chaotic systems share the property that every extra place of
decimals in one's knowledge of the starting point only pushes the
horizon [of predictability] a small distance away. In practical terms,
the horizon of predictability is an impassable barrier.... [O]nce it
becomes clear how many systems are sufficiently nonlinear to be
considered for chaos, it has to be recognized that prediction may be
limited to short stretches set by the horizon of predictability. Full
comprehension ... must frequently remain a tentative process ... with
frequent recourse to observation and experiment in the event that
prediction and reality have diverged too far. 33
It should be noted that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle sets an
absolute limit to the precision of data used for the prediction of physical
phenomena. This principle, which implies that certain events involving
subatomic particles are unpredictable, is inferred mathematically from other
known laws of physics; hence, successful prediction at the subatomic level
would entail violations of the laws of physics. If a prediction about the

CHAPTER ONE: PART

II

IS

behavior of a macroscopic system requires data so precise that their accuracy
can be disturbed by events at the subatomic level, then no reliable prediction
is possible. Hence, for a chaotic physical system, there is a point beyond
which the horizon of predictability can never be extended.
Of course, the behavior of a human society is not in every respect
chaotic; there are empirically observable historical trends that can last for
centuries or millennia. But it is wildly improbable that a modern technological society could be free of all chaotic subsystems whose behavior is
capable of affecting the society as a whole, so it is safe to assume that the
development of a modern society is necessarily chaotic in at least some
respects and therefore unpredictable.
This doesn't mean that no predictions at all are possible. In reference
to weather forecasting the Britannica writes:

It is highly probable that atmospheric movements ... are in a state
of chaos. If so, there can be little hope of extending indefinitely the
range of weather forecasting except in the most general terms. There
are clearly certain features of climate, such as annual cycles of temperature and rainfall, which are exempt from the ravages of chaos.
Other large-scale processes may still allow long-range prediction,
but the more detail one asks for in a forecast, the sooner it will lose
its validity. 34
Much the same can be said of the behavior of human society (though
human society is far more complex even than the weather). In some contexts, reasonably reliable and specific short-term predictions can be made,
as we noted above in reference to the relationship between interest rates,
inflation, and unemployment. Long-term predictions of an imprecise and
nonspecific character are often possible; we've already mentioned Bolivar's
correct prediction of the failure of stable and "enlightened" government in
Spanish America. (Here it is well to note that predictions that something
will not work can generally be made with greater confidence than predictions that something will work. 35) But reliable long-term predictions that
are at all specific can seldom be made.
There are exceptions. Moore's Law makes a specific prediction about
the rate of growth of computing power, and as of 2012 the law has held
true for some fifty years. 36 But Moore's Law is not an inference derived
from an understanding of society, it is simply a description of an empirically

16

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

observed trend, and no one knows how long the trend will continue. The
law may have predictable consequences for many areas of technology, but
no one knows in any specific way how all this technology will interact with
society as a whole. Though Moore's Law and other empirically observed
trends may playa useful role in attempts to foresee the future, it remains
true that any effort to understand the development of our society must (to
borrow the Britannica's phrases) "remain a tentative process ... with frequent
recourse to observation and experiment...."
But just in case someone declines to assume that our society includes
any important chaotic components, let's suppose for the sake of argument
that the development of society could in principle be predicted through
the solution of some stupendous system of simultaneous equations and
that the necessary numerical data at the required level of precision could
actually be collected. No one will claim that the computing power required
to solve such a system of equations is currently available. But let's assume
that the unimaginably vast computing power predicted by Ray Kurzweil 37
will become a reality for some future society, and let's suppose that such a
quantity of computing power would be capable of handling the enormous
complexity of the present society and predicting its development over some
substantial interval of time. It does not follow that a future society of that
kind would have sufficient computing power to predict its own development, for such a society necessarily would be incomparably more complex
than the present one: The complexity of a society will grow right along
with its computing power, because the society's computational devices are
part of the society.
There are in fact certain paradoxes involved in the notion of a system
that predicts its own behavior. These are reminiscent of Russell's Paradox
in set theory38 and of the paradoxes that arise when one allows a statement
to talk about itself (e.g., consider the statement, "This statement is false").
When a system makes a prediction about its own behavior, that prediction may itself change the behavior of the system, and the change in the
behavior of the system may invalidate the prediction. Of course, not every
statement that talks about itselfis paradoxicaL For example, the statement,
"This statement is in the English language" makes perfectly good sense.
Similarly, many predictions that a system may make about itself will not be
self-invalidating; they may even cause the system to behave in such a way
as to fulfill the prediction. 39 But it is too much to hope for that a society's
predictions about itself will never be (unexpectedly) self-invalidating.

CHAPTER ONE: PART

III

17

A society's ability to predict its own behavior moreover would seem to
require something like complete self-knowledge, and here too one runs into
paradoxes. We need not discuss these here; some thought should suffice to
convince the reader that any attempt to envision a system having complete
self-knowledge will encounter difficulties.
Thus, from several points of view-past and present experience, complexity, chaos theory, and logical difficulties {paradoxes)-it is clear that
no society can accurately predict its own behavior over any considerable
span of time. Consequently, no society can be consistently successful in
planning its own future in the long term.
This conclusion is in no way unusual, surprising, or original. Astute
observers of history have known for a long time that a society can't plan its
own future. Thus Thurston writes: "[N]o government has ever been able
physically to manage the total existence of a country, ... or to foresee all
the complications that would ensue from a decision made at the center."40
Heilbroner and Singer write: "Technology made America a 'middleclass' nation. This process was not, of course, the outcome of anyone's
decision. Like much of the economic history we have traced, it followed
from the blind workings of the market mechanism."41
Norbert Elias wrote: "[T]he actual course of... historical change as
a whole is intended and planned by no-one."42 And: "Civilization ... is set
in motion blindly, and kept in motion by the autonomous dynamics of a
web of relationships ...."43
III. The expected answer to the foregoing will be: Even granting
that the behavior of a society is unpredictable in the long term, it may
nevertheless be possible to steer a society rationally by means of continual
short-term interventions. To take an analogy, if we let a car without a driver
roll down a rugged, irregular hillside, the only prediction we can make
is that the car will not follow any predetermined course but will bounce
around erratically. However, if the car has a driver, he may be able to steer
it so as to avoid the worst bumps and make it roll instead through relatively
smooth places. With a good deal of luck he may even be able to make the
car arrive approximately at a preselected point at the foot of the hill. For
these purposes the driver only needs to be able to predict very roughly how
far the car will veer to the right or to the left when he turns the steering
wheel. If the car veers too far or not far enough, he can correct with another
turn of the wheel.

18

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

Perhaps something similar could be done with an entire society. It
is conceivable that a combination of empirical studies with increasingly
sophisticated theory may eventually make possible fairly reliable short-term
predictions of the way a society will react to any given change-just as
fairly reliable short-term weather forecasting has become possible. Perhaps,
then, a society might be successfully steered by means of frequent, intelligent interventions in such a way that undesirable outcomes could usually
be avoided and some desirable outcomes achieved. The steering process
would not have to be infallible; errors could be corrected through further
interventions. Just possibly, one might even hope to succeed in steering a
society so that it would arrive in the long run at something approximating
one's conception of a good society.
But this proposal too runs into difficulties of a fundamental kind.
The first problem is: Who decides what outcomes are desirable or undesirable, or what kind of "good" society should be our long-term goal? There
is never anything resembling general agreement on the answers to such
questions. Friedrich Engels wrote in 1890:
History is made in such a way that the final result always arises from
the conflicts among many individual wills, each of which is made
into what it is by a multitude of special conditions oflife; thus there
are innumerable intersecting forces, an infinite collection of parallelograms of forces, and from them emerges a resultant-the historical
event-which from another point of view can be regarded as the
product of one power that, as a whole, operates unconsciously and
without volition. For what each individual wants runs up against the
opposition of every other, and what comes out of it all is something
that no one wanted. 44
Norbert Elias, who was not a Marxist, made a very similar remark:
[F]rom the interweaving of countless individual interests and intentions-whether tending in the same direction or in divergent and
hostile directions-something comes into being that was planned and
intended by none of these individuals, yet has emerged nevertheless
from their intentions and actions. 45

CHAPTER ONE: PART

III

19

Even in those rare cases in which almost everyone agrees on a policy,
effective implementation of the policy may be prevented by what is called
the "problem of the commons." The problem of the commons consists in
the fact that it may be to everyone's advantage that everyone should act in
a certain way, yet it may be to the advantage of each individual to act in a
contraryway.46 For example, in modern society it is to everyone's advantage
that everyone should pay a portion of his income to support the functions
of government. Yet it is to the advantage of each individual to keep all his
income for himself, and that's why hardly anyone pays taxes voluntarily,
or pays more than he has to.
The answer to the foregoing arguments will be that political institutions exist precisely in order to resolve such problems: The concrete decisions
made in the process of governing a society are not the resultant of conflicts
among the innumerable individual wills of the population at large; instead,
a small number of political leaders are formally empowered (through elections or otherwise) to make necessary decisions for everyone, and to enact
laws that compensate for the problem of the commons by compelling individuals to do what is required for the common welfare (for example, laws
that compel payment of taxes). Since the top political leaders are relatively
few in number, it is not unreasonable to hope that they can resolve their
differences well enough to steer the development of a society rationally.
Actually, experience shows that when the top political leaders number
more than, say, half a dozen or so, it must seriously be doubted whether
they can ever resolve their differences well enough to be able to govern in
a consistently rational way. But even where no conflicts exist among the
top leaders, the real power of such leaders is very much less than the power
that is formally assigned to them. Consequently, their ability to steer the
development of their society rationally is extremely limited at best.
When this writer was in the Sacramento County Main Jail in
1996-98, he had some interesting conversations with the jail administrator, Lieutenant Dan Lewis. In the course of one such conversation, on
December 31, 1996, Lewis complained that it was not easy to get some of his
officers to follow his orders, and he described the problems that a person in
a position of formal power faces when he tries to exert that power to make
his organization do what he wants it to do. If the leader takes measures
that are resented by too many of the people under his command, he will
meet with so much resistance that his organization will be paralyzed. 47

20

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

It's not only jail administrators whose power is far more limited
than it appears to an outsider. Julius Caesar reportedly said, "The higher
our station, the less is our freedom of action."48 According to an English
author of the 17th century: "Men in great place (saith one) are thrice servants; servants of the sovereign, or state; servants of fame; and servants of
business. So as they have no freedom, neither in their persons, nor in their
actions, nor in their times."49 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln wrote: "I
claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have
controlled me."50
While F.W. de Klerk was President of South Mrica, Nelson Mandela
asked him why he did not prevent acts of violence that in some cases were
being carried out with the collusion of the police. De Klerk replied, "Mr.
Mandela, when you join me [as a member of the government] you will
realise I do not have the power which you think I have."51 It's possible that
de Klerk was pleading powerlessness as an excuse for tolerating violence that
in reality he might have been able to prevent. Nevertheless, when Mandela
himself became President, he "quickly realized, as de Klerk had warned
him, that a President had less power than he appeared to. He could rule
effectively only through his colleagues and civil servants, who had to be
patiently persuaded ...."52
In line with this, a thorough student of the American presidency,
Clinton Rossiter, has explained how severely the power of the President of
the United States is limited, not only by public opinion and by the power
of Congress, but also by conflicts with members of his own administration
who, in theory, are totally under his command. 53 Rossiter refers to "the trials
undergone by [Presidents] Truman and Eisenhower in persuading certain
chiefs of staff, whose official lives depend entirely on the President's pleasure, to shape their acts and speeches to the policies of the administration."54
One of our most powerful presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, complained:
The Treasury is so large and far-flung and ingrained in its practices
that I find it is almost impossible to get the actions and results I
want .... But the Treasury is not to be compared with the State
Department. You should go through the experience of trying to get
any changes in the thinking, policy and action of the career diplomats
and then you'd know what a real problem was. But the Treasury and
the State Department put together are nothing compared with the
Na-a-vy. The admirals are really something to cope with-and I

CHAPTER ONE: PART

III

21

should know. To change anything in the Na-a-vy is like punching a
feather bed. You punch it with your right and you punch it with your
left until you are finally exhausted, and then you find the damn bed
just as it was before you started punching. 55
Roosevelt's capable successor in the presidency, Harry S. Truman, said:
[PJeople talk about the powers of a President, all the powers that
a Chief Executive has, and what he can do. Let me tell you something-from experience!
The President may have a great many powers given to him by
the Constitution and may have certain powers under certain laws
which are given to him by the Congress of the United States; but the
principal power that the President has is to bring people in and try
to persuade them to do what they ought to do without persuasion.
That's what I spend most of my time doing. That's what the powers
of the President amount to.56
Thus, concentration of formal power in the hands of a few top leaders by no means liberates decision-making from Engels's "conflicts among
many individual wills." Some people may be surprised to learn that this
is true even in a society governed by a single, theoretically absolute ruler.
• From 200 BC to 1911 AD, all Chinese dynasties were headed by
an emperor who "was the state's sole legislator, ultimate executive authority,
and highest judge. His pronouncements were, quite literally, the law, and
he alone was not bound by his own laws."57 The emperor was supposed
to be restrained by "Confucian norms and the values perpetuated by the
scholar-official elite,"58 but in the absence of an explicit codification or
any mechanism for enforcement, these restraints were effective against the
emperor only to the extent that some of his subjects were brave enough to
challenge him on their own initiative, though the emperor, "ifhe insisted,
would prevail."59
More important, therefore, were the practical limitations to which
the emperor was subject. "As the head of a vast governmental apparatus ...
he was ... forced to delegate his powers to others who conducted the routine
operations of government .... Institutions inherited from previous dynasties
were the main vehicles through which he delegated political responsibilities," for "in seeking alternatives to that immediate past, one had no models

22

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

outside of China to draw upon."60 Needless to say, the actual power wielded
by an emperor depended on the energy and ability of the individual who
occupied the office at any given time,61 but it seems clear that that power
was in every case far less than what might naively be inferred from the fact
that the emperor's word was law.
To illustrate the practical limitations on the emperor's power with a
concrete example, in 1069 AD the emperor Shenzong (Shen-tsung), having
recognized the brilliance of the political thinker Wang Anshi (An-shih),
appointed him Vice Chief Councillor in charge of administration and gave
him full power to implement his ideas in the emperor's name. 62 Wang based
his reforms on thorough study, but both he and the emperor failed to take
account of the bitter opposition that the new policies would arouse among
those whose private interests were threatened by them. 63 "Even in the short
run, the cost of the divisive factionalism that the reforms generated had
disastrous effects."64 Opposition to Wang was so intense that he resigned
permanently in 1076, and during the eight years following Shenzong's
death in 1085 most of the reforms were rescinded or drastically revised. 65
Under two subsequent emperors, Zhezong (Che-tsung; reigned in effect,
circa 1093-1100) and Huizong (Hui-tsung; reigned 1100-1126), some of
the reforms were restored, but "Wang's own former associates were gone,
and his policies became nothing more than an instrument in bitter political warfare."66 "[A]lthough Emperor Huizong's reign saw some of the
reform measures reinstated, the atmosphere at his court was not one of
high-minded commitment,"67 but was characterized by "debased political behavior."68 "Leading officials engaged in corrupt practices," and the
rapacity of the emperor's agents "aroused serious revolts of people who in
desperation took up arms against them."69 The fall of the Northern Song
(Sung) Dynasty in 1126-27 marked the final demise of whatever was left
of Wang's reforms. 7o
• Norbert Elias makes clear that the "absolute" monarchs of the
"Age of Absolutism" in Europe were not so absolute as they seemed.71
For example, Louis XIV of France is generally seen as the archetype of
the "absolute" monarch; he could probably have had any individual's head
chopped off at will. But by no means could he use his power freely:
The vast human network that Louis XIV ruled ha[d] its own momentum and its own centre of gravity which he had to respect. It cost

CHAPTER ONE: PART

III

23

immense effort and self-control to preserve the balance of people and
groups and, by playing on the tensions, to steer the whole.72
Elias might have added that Louis XIV could "steer" his realm only
within certain narrow limits. Elias himself refers elsewhere to "the realization that even the most absolute government is helpless in the face of the
dynamisms of social development ...."73
• The theoretically absolute emperor Joseph II ruled Austria from
1780 to 1790 and instituted major reforms of a "progressive" (i.e., modernizing) character. But:
"By 1787 resistance to Joseph and his government was intensifying.
.. . Resistance simmered in the Austrian Netherlands ....
"[By 1789]. .. The war [against the Turks] caused an outpouring of
popular agitation against his foreign policy, the people of the Austrian
Netherlands rose in outright revolution, and reports of trouble in Galicia
increased ....
"Faced with these difficulties, Joseph revoked many of the reforms
that he had enacted earlier....
"... Uoseph II] tried to do too much too quickly and so died a deeply
disappointed man."74
Especially to be noted is the fact that Joseph II failed even though
most of his reforms were modernizing ones; that is, they merely attempted
to accelerate Austria's movement in obedience to a powerful pre-existing
trend in European history.
Revolutionary dictators of the 20th century, such as Hitler and Stalin,
were probably more powerful than traditional "absolute" monarchs, because
the revolutionary character of their regimes had done away with many of
the traditional, formal or informal social structures and customary restraints
that had curbed the "legitimate" monarchs' exercise of their power. But even
the revolutionary dictators' power was in practice far less than absolute.
• During the 1930s, when the Hitler regime was rearming Germany
in preparation for anticipated warfare, resistance by the working class "kept
the government from curtailing the production of consumers' goods,
although civilian output interfered seriously with arms production."75
It is said that, from 1938, resistance to the regime included some ten
attempts to kill Hitler or otherwise remove him from power. 76 The most
important of these efforts was initiated in 1943 by a conspiracy of civilian

24

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

dignitaries and military officers, who on July 20, 1944 tried to blow the
Fuhrer up with a bomb, after which they planned to seize control of the
government. The assassination attempt was nearly successful, and it was
only through luck that Hitler escaped with his life. 77 It appears that many
of the conspirators were motivated not only by the fact that Hitler had
gotten them into a losing war, but also by disgust at the atrocities that
Germans, under Nazi leadership, were committing against Jews, Slavs,
and other groupS.78
• In the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1941, the Stalin regime was
unable to regulate its own labor force, for the" demand for labor created a
situation that overrode ... the efforts of the regime to control labor through
legislation."79 The government naturally wanted a stable work force in which
workers would remain at their jobs as long as they were needed, but in
practice they "continued to change jobs at a high rate."80 Laws were evaded
or simply ignored, and "hardly slowed down the movement of workers."81
More significantly, the Terror of the middle to late 1930s was not a
calculated and effective measure undertaken by Stalin to crush resistance
to his rule. Instead, a frightened dictator initiated a process that rapidly
spiraled out of his control. "Stalin was a man initiating and reacting to
developments, not the cold mastermind of a plot to subdue the party and the
nation." "It now appears that Stalin and his close associates, having helped
create a tense and ugly atmosphere, nonetheless repeatedly reacted [during
the Terror] to events they had not planned or foreseen." ''An atmosphere of
panic had set in reminiscent of the European witch-hunts ...." "Stalin seems
to have become steadily more worried as the purges uncovered alleged spies
and Trotskyites. Finally he struck at them, almost incoherently. [~] During
1937 and 1938 events spun out of... control." "[T]he police fabricated cases,
tortured people not targeted in Stalin's directives, and became a power unto
themselves." "Terror was producing avoidance of responsibility, which was
dysfunctional. Whatever the goal at the top, events were again out of control." "[Stalin] reacted, and over-reacted, to events .... He was sitting at the
peak of a pyramid oflies and incomplete information ...." "The evidence
is now strong that [Stalin] did not plan the Terror."82
~ite apart from any resistance by subordinates or other "conflicts
among individual wills" within a system, purely technical factors narrowly
limit the options open even to a leader whose power over his system is
theoretically absolute.

CHAPTER ONE: PART

III

25

• In Frank Norris's immortal novel, The Octopus-about wheat
farmers whose livelihood is destroyed by railroad rate increases-the protagonist, Presley, confronts the apparently ruthless businessman Shelgrim,
President of the railroad. But Shelgrim tells him:
"'You are dealing with forces, young man, when you speak of wheat
and the railroads, not with men .... Men have only little to do with the
whole business .... Blame conditions, not men.'
"'But-but', faltered Presley, 'You are the head, you control the road.'
"' ... Control the road! ... I can go into bankruptcy if you like. But
otherwise, if I run my road as a business proposition, I can do nothing. I
can not control it.'"83
The Octopus is a work of fiction, but it does truthfully represent, in
dramatized form, the economic realities of the era in which Norris wrote
(about the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century). At
that time, "railway labor and material costs" had increased, and "many
American railroads, already struggling to stay alive economically, could
not afford rate reductions." State railroad commissions "seeking... ways of
establishing fair, 'scientific' rates" found that "there was no such thing as
'scientific' rate making. They discovered that it was extraordinarily difficult
to define the 'public interest' or to take the rate question 'out of politics.'
Setting rates meant assigning economic priorities, and someone-shipper,
carrier, consumer-inevitably got hurt."84 So it's likely that a railroad like
Shelgrim's would indeed have gone bankrupt if it had tried to set rates in
such a way as to treat everyone "fairly" and humanely.
It is probably true in general that the ruthless behavior of business
enterprises is more often compelled by economic realities than voluntarily
chosen by a rapacious management.
• In the 1830s, at an early stage of the U.S. industrial revolution,
the textile manufacturers of Massachusetts treated their employees benevolently. Nowadays their system would no doubt be decried as "paternalistic,"
but in material terms the workers could consider themselves fortunate, for
working conditions and housing were very good by the standards of the
time. But during the 1840s the situation of the workers began to deteriorate. Wages were reduced, hours of work increased, and greater effort was
demanded of the workers; and this was the result not of employers' greed
but of market conditions that grew out of economic competition. 85 "As
business became nationwide ... the competition of different manufacturing

26

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

areas meant that prices and wages were no longer determined by local
conditions. They fluctuated as a consequence of economic changes wholly
beyond the control of the employers or workers immediately concerned."86
• A recent (2012) article by Adam Davidson discusses some of
the reasons behind the problem of unemployment in the U.S. Taking as
an example a company he has personally investigated, Davidson writes:
"It's tempting to look to the owners of Standard Motor Products and ask
them to help [unskilled workers]: to cut costs a little less relentlessly, take
slightly lower profits, and maybe even help solve America's jobs crisis in
some small way." Davidson then goes on to explain why a company like
Standard Motor Products would not be able to survive in the face of competition if it did not cut costs relentlessly and, therefore, replace human
workers with machines whenever it was profitable to do SO.87 Here again
we see that "[t]he businessman ... [is] only the agent of economic forces
and developments beyond his control."88
In the last two examples the options open to leaders of organizations
were limited not by technical factors alone, but by these in conjunction
with competition from outside the organization. But even independently
of external competition and of any "conflict of wills" within a system,
technical factors by themselves severely limit the choices available to the
system's leaders. Not even dictators can escape these limitations.
• In the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Spain we find: "For
almost 20 years after the [Spanish Civil War], the [Franco regime] followed
a policy of... national economic self-sufficiency.... Spain's policies of economic self-sufficiency were a failure, and by the late 1950s the country was
on the verge of economic collapse."89
Unwilling to rely solely on the foregoing brief passage for twenty years
of Spanish economic history, this writer consulted a Spanish correspondent,
who sent him copies of pages from relevant historical works. 90 It turned
out that the Britannica's account-perhaps unavoidably in view of its brevity-was oversimplified to the point of being seriously misleading. Among
other things, it isn't clear to what extent Spain's policy of self-sufficiency
was voluntarily chosen and to what extent it was forced on the country, first
by the conditions prevailing during World War II and later by the Western
democracies' hostility to the authoritarian regime of Franco. Much of this
history is beyond the understanding of those of us who have no specialized knowledge of economics, but one thing does emerge clearly: Qyite
apart from any external competition or internal conflict, economic reality

CHAPTER ONE: PART

III

27

imposes narrow limits on what even an authoritarian regime can do with
a nation's economy. A dictator cannot run an economy the way a general
runs an army-by giving orders from above-because the economy won't
follow orders.91 In other words, not even a powerful dictator like Francisco
Franco can overrule the laws of economics.
Nor can idealistic zeal overcome those laws.
• In the years following the Cuban Revolution of 1956-59, U.S.
media propaganda portrayed Fidel Castro as motivated by a lust for power,
but actually Castro started out with generalized humanitarian and democratic goals. 92 Once he had overthrown the Batista government, he found
that, despite the immense power conferred on him by his personal charisma,93 the options open to him were extremely limited. Circumstances
forced him to choose between democracy and the deep social reforms that
he envisioned; he couldn't have both. Since his basic goals were his social
ones he had to abandon democracy, become a dictator, and Stalinize and
militarize Cuban society.94
There can be no doubt about the idealistic zeal of the Cuban rev0lutionaries,95 and Castro was as powerful as any charismatic dictator
could ever be. 96 Even so, the revolutionary regime was unable to control
the development of Cuban society: Castro admitted that he had failed
to curb the bureaucratic tendencies of Cuba's administrative apparatus. 97
Notwithstanding the regime's strong ideological opposition to racism, "the
drive to promote ... blacks and mixed race Cubans to leadership positions
within the government and Party" was only partly successful, as Castro
himself acknowledged. 98 In fact, Cuban efforts to combat racism do not
seem to have been any more successful than those of the United States.99
The Castro regime achieved no more than minimal success in its attempt to
free the Cuban economy from its almost total dependence on sugar and to
industrialize the country.lOG To survive at all economically, the regime was
forced to abandon its attempt to build "socialism" (as conceived by Cuba's
idealistic leaders) within a short period. It was found necessary instead to
make ideologically painful compromises with economic reality,101 and even
with these compromises the Cuban economy has remained no more than
barely viable.102
A contributing factor in Cuba's economic failure was the embargo
imposed by the United States: U.S. firms were forbidden to trade with
Cuba. But this factor was not decisive, and not as important as admirers
of the Castro regime liked to think. Cuba could trade with most of the

28

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

economically important countries of the world other than the U.S., and
was even able to trade indirectly with major U.S. corporations by dealing with their subsidiaries in other countries. 103 The embargo was far less
important than Cuba's inability to free itself from its excessive dependence on sugar or even to run its sugar industry efficiently.l04 Another
factor in Cuba's economic failure was a lack of cooperation within Cuban
society-Engels's "conflicts among many individual wills." There were
absenteeism, passive resistance to production quotas, and "stolid peasant
resistance." 105 "Individualistic" tendencies led to pilfering, waste, and even
to major criminal activity.106 In addition, there were conflicts within the
Cuban power-structure. 107 Almost certainly, however, the decisive factor
in Cuba's failure has been the Castro regime's refusal to comply with the
technical requirements for economic success: The regime compromised
its ideology only as far as was necessary for bare survival, and declined to
accept those elements of the free market and of capitalism that might have
made vigorous development possible. That this factor was decisive is shown
by the fact that purely socialist economies have failed a11 over the world. 108
IV. There is yet another-and critica11y important-reason why a
society cannot "steer" itself in the manner suggested at the beginning of
Part III of this chapter: Every complex, large-scale society is subject to
internal developments generated by "natural selection" operating on systems
that exist within the society. This factor is discussed at length in Chapter
Two; here we will only sketch the argument in the briefest possible terms.
Through a process analogous to biological evolution there arise,
within any complex, large-scale society, self-preserving or self-reproducing
systems large and small (including, for example, business enterprises, political parties or movements, open or covert social networks such as networks of
corrupt officials) that struggle to survive and propagate themselves. Because
power is a cardinal tool for survival, these systems compete for power.
Biological organisms, evolving through natural selection, eventually invade every niche in which biological survival is possible at a11,
and, whatever measures may be taken to suppress them, some organisms
will find ways of surviving nonetheless. Within any complex, large-scale
society, a similar process will produce self-propagating systems that
will invade every corner and circumvent a11 attempts to suppress them.
These systems will compete for power without regard to the objectives
of any government (or other entity) that may try to steer the society. Our

CHAPTER ONE: PART

V

29

argument-admittedly impossible at present to prove conclusively-is that
these self-propagating systems will constitute uncontrollable forces that
will render futile in the long run all efforts to steer the society rationally.
For details, see Chapter Two.
V Notwithstanding all the arguments we've reviewed in the present
chapter up to this point, let's make the unrealistic assumption that techniques for manipulating the internal dynamics of a society will some day
be developed to such a degree that a single, all-powerful leader (we'll be
charitable and call him a philosopher-king109 rather than a dictator)-or a
group ofleaders small enough « 6?) to be free of "conflicts among individual wills" within the group-will be able to steer a society as suggested
at the beginning of Part III, above.
The notion of authoritarian rule by a single leader or a small group
of leaders is not as far-fetched as it may appear to the denizens of modern,
liberal democracies. Many people in the world already live under the authority of one man or a few, and when the technological society gets itself into
sufficiently serious trouble, as it is likely to do in the coming decades, even
the denizens of liberal democracies will begin looking for solutions that
today seem out of the question. During the Great Depression of the 1930s,
many Americans-mainstream people, not kooks out on the fringes-felt
disillusioned with democracyllO and advocated rule by a dictator or an oligarchy (a "supercouncil" or a "directorate").111 Many admired Mussolini. ll2
During the same period, many Britons admired Hitler's Germany. "Lloyd
George's reaction to Hitler was typical: 'If only we had a man of his supreme
quality in England today,' he said."1l3
Returning, then, to our hypothetical dictator, or philosopher-king
as we've decided to call him, we'll assume, however implausibly, that he
will somehow be able to overcome the problems of complexity, of the conflicts of many individual wills, of resistance by subordinates, and of the
competitive, power-seeking groups or systems that will evolve within any
complex, large-scale society. Even under this unreal assumption we will
still run into fundamental difficulties.
The first problem is: Who is going to choose the philosopher-king
and how will they put him into power? Given the vast disparities of goals
and values ("conflicts among individual wills") in any large-scale society, it
is hardly likely that the rule of anyone philosopher-king could be consistent
with the goals and values of a majority of the population, or even with the

30

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

goals and values of a majority of any elite stratum (the intellectuals, say, or
scientists, or rich people)-except to the extent that the philosopher-king,
once in power, might use propaganda or other techniques of human engineering to bring the values of the majority into line with his own. If the
realities of practical politics are taken into account, it seems that anyone
who might actually become a philosopher-king either would have to be a
compromise candidate, a bland fellow whose chief concern would be to
avoid offending anyone, or else would have to be the ruthless leader of an
aggressive faction that drives its way to power. In the latter case he might
be an unscrupulous person intent only on attaining power for himself (a
Hitler), or he might be a sincere fanatic convinced of the righteousness of his
cause (a Lenin), but either way he would stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
Thus, the citizen who might find the idea of a philosopher-king
attractive should bear in mind that he himself would not select the
philosopher-king, and that any philosopher-king who might come into
power would probably not be the kind that he imagines or hopes for.
A further problem is that of selecting a successor when the
philosopher-king dies. Each philosopher-king will have to be able to preselect reliably a successor whose goals and values are virtually identical to
his own; for, otherwise, the first philosopher-king will steer the society
in one direction, the second philosopher-king will steer the society in a
somewhat different direction, the third philosopher-king will steer it in yet
another direction, and so forth. The result will be that the development
of the society in the long term will wander at random, rather than being
steered in any consistent direction or in accord with any consistent policy
as to what constitute desirable or undesirable outcomes.
Historically, in absolute monarchies of any kind-the Roman Empire
makes a convenient example-it has proven impossible even to ensure
the succession of rulers who are reasonably competent and conscientious.
Capable, conscientious rulers have alternated with those who have been
irresponsible, corrupt, vicious or incompetent. As for a long, unbroken
succession of rulers, each of whom not only is competent and conscientious
but also has goals and values closely approximating those of his predecessor-you can forget it. All of these arguments, by the way, apply not only to
philosopher-kings but also to philosopher-oligarchs-ruling groups small
enough so that Engels's "conflicts among many individual wills" do not
come into play.
.

CHAPTER ONE: PART

VI

31

All the same, let's assume that it would somehow be possible to
ensure the succession of a long line of philosopher-kings all of whom would
govern in accord with a single, permanently stable system of values. In that
event ... but hold on ... let's pause and take stock of the assumptions we've
been making. We're assuming, among other things, that the problems
of complexity, chaos, and the resistance of subordinates, also the purely
technical factors that limit the options open to leaders, as well as the
competitive, power-seeking groups that evolve within a society under the
influence of natural selection, can all be overcome to such an extent that
an all-powerful leader will be able to govern the society rationally; we're
assuming that the "conflicts among many individual wills" within the
society can be resolved well enough so that it will be possible to make a
rational choice ofleader; we're assuming that means will be found to put the
chosen leader into a position of absolute power and to guarantee forever the
succession of competent and conscientious leaders who will govern in accord
with some stable and permanent system of values. And if the hypothetical
possibility of steering a society rationally is to afford any comfort to the
reader, he will have to assume that the system of values according to which
the society is steered will be one that is at least marginally acceptable to
himself-which is a sufficiently daring assumption.
It's now clear that we have wandered into the realm of fantasy. It is
impossible to prove with mathematical certainty that the development of a
society can never be guided rationally over any significant interval of time,
but the series of assumptions that we've had to make in order to entertain
the possibility of rational guidance is so wildly improbable that for practical
purposes we can safely assume that the development of societies will forever
remain beyond rational human contro1. 114
VI. It's likely that the chief criticism to be leveled at this chapter
will be that the writer has expended a great deal of ink and paper to prove
what "everyone" already knows. Unfortunately, however, not everyone does
know that the development of societies can never be subject to rational
human control; and even many who would agree with that proposition as
an abstract principle fail to apply the principle in concrete cases. Again and
again we find seemingly intelligent people proposing elaborate schemes
for solving society's problems, completely oblivious to the fact that such
schemes never, never, never are carried out successfully. In a particularly

32

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

fuddled excursion into fantasy written several decades ago, the noted technology critic Ivan Illich asserted that "society must be reconstructed to
enlarge the contribution of autonomous individuals and primary groups
to the total effectiveness of a new system of production designed to satisfy
the human needs which it also determines," and that a "convivial society
should be designed to allow all its members the most autonomous action
by means of tools least controlled by others"115-as if a society could be
consciously and rationally "reconstructed" or "designed." Other egregious
examples of this sort of folly were provided by Arne Naess 116 and Chellis
Glendinning ll7 in 1989 and 1990, respectively; these are discussed in Part
IV of Chapter Three of the present work.
Right down to the present (2013), people who should know better
have continued to ignore the fact that the development of societies can
never be rationally controlled. Thus, we often find technophiles making
such absurd statements as: "humanity is in charge ofits own fate"; "[we will]
take charge of our own evolution"; or, "people [will] seize control of the
evolutionary process."118 The technophiles want to "guide research so that
technology improve[s] society"; they have created a "Singularity University"
and a "Singularity Institute" that are supposed to "shape the advances and
help society cope with the ramifications" of technological progress, and
"make sure ... that artificial intelligence ... is friendly" to humans.ll9
Of course, the technophiles won't be able to "shape the advances" of
technology or make sure that they "improve society" and are friendly to
humans. Technological advances will be "shaped" in the long run by unpredictable and uncontrollable power-struggles among rival groups that will
develop and apply technology for the sole purpose of gaining advantages
over their competitors. See Chapter Two of this book.
It's not likely that the majority of technophiles fully believe in this
drivel about "shaping the advances" of technology to "improve society." In
practice, Singularity University serves mainly to promote the interests of
technology-oriented businessmen,t2o while the fantasies about "improving
society" function as propaganda that helps to forestall public resistance to
radical technological innovation. But such propaganda is effective only
because many laymen are naive enough to take the fantasies seriously.
Whatever may be the motives behind the technophiles' schemes for
"improving society," other such schemes unquestionably are sincere. For
recent examples, see the books by Jeremy Rifkin (2011)121 and Bill Ivey
(2012).122 There are other examples that superficially look more sophisticated

CHAPTER ONE: PART

VI

33

than the proposals of Rifkin and Ivey but are equally impossible to carry
out in practice. In a book published in 2011, Nicholas Ashford and Ralph P.
Hall 123 "offer a unified, transdisciplinary approach for achieving sustainable
development in industrialized nations .... The authors argue for the design
of multipurpose solutions to the sustain ability challenge that integrate economics, employment, technology, environment, industrial development,
national and international law, trade, finance, and public and worker health
and safety."124 Ashford and Hall do not intend their book to be merely an
abstract speculation like Plato's Republic 125 or Thomas More's Utopia; they
imagine themselves to be offering a practical program. 126
In another example (2011), Naomi Klein proposes massive, elaborate,
worldwide "planning"!27 that is supposed to bring global warming under
control,128 help with many of our other environmental problems,129 and at
the same time bring us "real democracy,"130 "rein in"131 the corporations,
alleviate unemployment,132 reduce wasteful consumption in rich countries 133
while allowing poor countries to continue their economic growth,134 foster
"interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than
dominance and cooperation rather than hierarchy,"135 "elegantly weav[e]
all these struggles into a coherent narrative about how to protect life on
earth,"l36 and overall promote a "progressive" agenda 137 so as to create a
"healthy, just world."!38
One is tempted to ask whether the schemes concocted by people like
Ashford, Hall, and Klein are meant as an elaborate joke of some sort; but
no, the intentions of these authors are quite serious. How can they possibly
believe that schemes like theirs will ever be carried out in the real world?
Are they totally devoid of any practical sense about human affairs? Maybe.
But a more likely explanation is unwittingly offered by Naomi Klein herself: "[I]t is always easier to deny reality than to watch your worldview get
shattered ...."139 The worldview of most members of the upper middle class,
including most intellectuals, is deeply dependent on the existence of a thoroughlyorganized, culturally "advanced," large-scale society characterized by
a high level of social order. It would be extremely difficult psychologically
for such people to recognize that the only way to get off the road to disaster
that we are now on would be through a total collapse of organized society
and therefore a descent into chaos. So they cling to any scheme, however
unrealistic, that promises to preserve the society on which their lives and
their worldview are dependent; and one suspects that the threat to their
worldview is more important to them than the threat to their lives.

34

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

NOTES
1. Redondilla, in Barja, p. 176. Free translation: "Where there is a plan for
good, some evil derails it. The good comes but proves ineffective, while the evil
is effective and persists."
2. Tacitus, Book III, Chapt. 18, p. 112.
3. This is somewhat of an oversimplification, but it's close enough to the
truth for our purposes. See NEB (2003), Vol. 4, "Federal Reserve System," p. 712,
and Vol. 8, "monetary policy," pp. 251-52; World Book Encyclopedia, 2011, Vol. 7,
"Federal Reserve System," p. 65.
4. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, "Greek and Roman Civilizations," pp. 295-96.
5. Ibid., pp. 304-05.
6. NEB (1997), Vol. 22, "Italy," p. 195.
7. Simon Bolivar, Letter to Gen. Juan Jose Flores, Nov. 9, 1830, in Soriano,
p.169.
8. Heilbroner & Singer, p. 122.
9. Patterson, pp. 402-03.
10. The facts are outlined by Patterson, pp. 396-405, but the conclusions
drawn from the facts are my own.
11. There are at least three categories of exceptions to this rule, as noted in
Kaczynski, p. 279, but these exceptions have little relevance to the present chapter.
12. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, "Greek and Roman Civilizations," pp. 228-29.
But see Starr, pp. 314, 315, 317, 334 & note 8, 350, 358.
13. NEB (2003), Vol. 20, "Germany," p. 114.
14. NEB (2003), Vol. 15, "Bismarck," p. 124. For Bismarck's career generally, see ibid., pp. 121-24; ibid., Vol. 20, "Germany," pp.109-114; Zimmermann,
Chapts. 1&7; Dorpalen, pp. 219-220, 229-231, 255-56, 259-260 & note 53.
15. Constitution ofthe United States, Amendments XVIII &XXI. Patterson,
pp. 167-69. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, "United States of America," pp. 254-55. Vergano,
p. 3A, says that according to Arthur Lurigio of Loyola University Chicago,
"Prohibition ... was unique in its widespread loathing by the populace and that
opening is what enabled organized crime to gain its political footing in Chicago."
16. Naruo Uehara, p. 235.
17. Bourne, pp. 46-47.
18. E.g.: Sohail Ejaz et al., pp. 98-102 (Pakistan, medical effects); Yukinori
Okada & Susumu Wakai, pp. 236-242 (Thailand, economic and medical effects);
Naruo Uehara, p. 235 (various effects, including desertification in unspecified
countries); Aditya Batra (Sri Lanka, medical effects); Guillette et aI., pp. 347-353
(Mexico, medical and behavioral effects); Watts (entire work) (various countries,
various effects).

CHAPTER ONE: NOTES

35

19. NEB (2003), Vol. 4, "Eisenhower, Dwight D(avid)," p. 405; Vol. 18,
"Energy Conversion," p. 383; Vol. 29, "United Nations," p. 144.
20. Smith & Weiner, pp. 271, 291, 295, 310, 311, 328.
21. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, "United Nations," p. 144.
22. F. Zakaria, p. 34.
23. The Economist, June 18,2011, "Move the base camp," pp. 18,20, and
"The growing appeal of zero," p. 69.
24. See Kaczynski, pp. 314-15, 417-18; "Radioactive fuel rods: The silent
threat," The Week, April 15, 2011, p. 13.
25. Joy, p. 239.
26. Steele, pp. 5-21. It is also claimed that a free market provides a mechanism that "automatically" maximizes the efficiency of an economy. This last
contention is unproven and probably far from accurate, but the argument that
excessive complexity makes rationally planned economies impossible is very strong.
27. Ibid., p. 83. Stigler, p. 113.
28. "It is 'absurd' to suppose that the information could be collected ...."
Steele, p. 83.
29. The text of the talk can be found in Lorenz, pp. 181-84.
30. Time, May 5,2008, p. 18. The Week, May 2,2008, p. 35.
31. NEB (2003), Vol. 3, "chaos," p. 92.
32. Ibid., Vol. 25, "Physical Sciences, Principles of," p. 826.
33. Ibid., pp. 826-27.
34. Ibid., p. 826.
35. See Kaczynski, pp. 357-58.
36. See Kelly, pp. 159ff. But Moore himself thinks the law is a "selffulfilling prophecy," i.e., it continues to hold true only because people believe in
it. Ibid., p. 162.
37. Kurzweil, e.g., pp. 351-368.
38. Russell's Paradox: Let a set be called "ordinary" if, and only if, it is not
a member of itself, and let S be the set of all ordinary sets. Is S ordinary, or not?
39. See note 36.
40. Thurston, p. xviii.
41. Heilbroner & Singer, p. 112.
42. Elias, p. 543 note 1.
43. Ibid., p. 367. However, Elias continues: "But it is by no means impossible that we can make of it something more 'reasonable,' something that functions
better in terms of our needs and purposes. For it is precisely in conjunction with
the civilizing process that the blind dynamics of people intertwining in their deeds
and aims gradually leads toward greater scope for planned intervention into both
the social and individual structures-intervention based on a growing knowledge
of the unplanned dynamics of these structures." But Elias does not even pretend

36

ANTI-TECH REVOLUTION

to offer any evidence to support this statement, which is mere speculation-in
contrast to his statements about the unplanned and unintended character of all
earlier historical change, which are abundantly supported by his empirical studies
of the ways in which European society changed in the past. What Elias suggests
here looks very much like the proposal set forth at the beginning of Part III of
the present chapter, and that proposal is disposed of in Part III.
When Elias claims that "we can make of [society]' .. something that functions better in terms of our needs and purposes," he fails to explain who this "we"
is. Obviously, "we" don't all have the same purposes, and the effort to fulfill some
of "our" needs (e.g., status, power) inevitably brings us into conflict with others
among the "we." See Parts III and IV of this chapter.
Though the edition of Elias's book cited here is dated 2000, the content
was written several decades earlier. Since that time there has been no discernible
improvement in humans' capacity for "planned intervention" in the development
of their societies. If anything, our statesmen seem even less in control of events
than they were in the past. Elias's formative years were in the first half of the 20th
century, when a belief in "progress" was still widely current. Elias seems to have
been reluctant-not for rational reasons-to relinquish that belief. His remarks
on that subject, ibid., pp. 462-63, are ill-advised.
44. Engels, Letter to Joseph Bloch, as referenced in our List ofWorks Cited.
Engels of course wrote in German. The translation given here is influenced both
by the English translation in Historical Materialism (see the List of Works Cited),
pp. 294-96, and by the Spanish translation provided by Carrillo, pp.lll-12. Since
Carrillo was Secretary General of the Communist Party of Spain, he presumably
was learned in Engels's ideas.
45. Elias, p. 311. But see note 43, above.
46. See Kaczynski, p. 314. The problem of the commons is also called the
"tragedy of the commons," and the term is often used in a narrower sense than that
in which I use it here. See, e.g., Diamond, pp. 428-430. But the term is also used
in the broader sense in which I apply it. E.g., The Economist, April 2, 2011, p. 75.
Without using the term "problem" or "tragedy of the commons," Surowiecki, p. 25,
has illustrated the concept by giving several excellent examples of ways in which
"individually rational decisions [can] add[ ] up to a collectively irrational result."
47. The second sentence of this paragraph is based on my notes of a conversation with Lt. Lewis, written within a couple of hours after the end of that
conversation. The relevant pages are No. 04-1013 and No. 04-1016 of my Batesnumbered notes to my attorneys, which should now be in the Labadie Collection
at the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library. The last sentence of
the paragraph is based on my recollection (2012) of the same conversation.
48. From a speech attributed to Caesar by Sallust, ConspiracyojCatiline,
section 51, p. 217. Roman historians commonly invented the speeches that they

CHAPTER ONE: NOTES

37

attributed to famous people, but the quoted statement is worth noting whether it
represented Caesar's opinion or Sallust's.
49. Brathwait, quoted by Boorstin, pp. 99-100. I've taken the liberty of
modernizing spelling and capitalization.
50. NEB (2003), Vol. 23, "Lincoln," p. 36.
51. Sampson, pp. 454-55. See also p. 436 (Mandela "'was still operating
under the illusion, cherished by so many revolutionaries,' complained de Klerk. .. ,
'that possession of the levers of government enabled those in power to achieve
whatever goals they wanted."').
52. Ibid., p. 498.
53. Rossiter, pp. 52-64.
54. Ibid., p. 54.
55. Ibid.
56. Ibid., pp. 167-68.
57. Mote, p. 98.
58. Ibid., p. 99.
59. Ibid.
60. Ibid.
61. See ibid., pp. 99-100.
62. Ibid., p. 139.
63. NEB (2003), Vol. 16, "China," p. 100. Mote, pp. 139-142.
64. NEB (2003), loc. cit.
65. Mote, p. 142. NEB (2003), loco cit.
66. Mote, p. 142. For emperors' dates see ibid., p. 105, Chart 2. Zhezong
technically became emperor in 1085, but the country was governed by a regent
until approximately 1093.
67. Ibid., p. 207.
68. Ibid., p. 143.
69. Ibid., p. 207.
70. Ibid., p. 143.
71. Elias, pp. 312-344.
72. Ibid., pp. 343-44.
73. Ibid., p. 38. For an inkling of the limitations on what one very nearly
absolute monarch can do today, see Goldberg, pp. 44-55 (about King Abdullah
II of Jordan).
74. NEB (2003), Vol. 14, "Austria," pp. 518-520.
75. Dorpalen, p. 418.
76. Cebrian et aI., p. 1058 (journalistic account).
77. NEB (2003), Vol. 29, "World Wars," p. 1016. Gilbert, Second World War,
pp. 551, 553, 555-59. Cebrian et aI., pp. 1058-1063, provide interesting details.

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78. The conspirators were "[a]larmed at the calamitous course of events
and disgusted by the crimes of the Nazi regime." NEB (2003), loco cit. Col.
Stauffenberg, the "chief conspirator. .. became disillusioned with the German occupation's brutal policies toward Slavs and Jews." NEB (2010), Vol. 11, "Stauffenberg,
Claus, Graf Schenk von," p. 226. After the failure of the assassination attempt
another of the chief conspirators, Major General Tresckow, declared before committing suicide: "God once promised Abraham to spare Sodom, should there be
ten just men in the city. He will, I hope, spare Germany because of what we have
done, and not destroy her." Gilbert, Second World War, p. 558.
79. Thurston, p. 169. For other information on the regime's inability to
control its labor force, see ibid., pp. 167-172, 176, 184.
80. Ibid., p. 172.
81. Ibid., p. 171.
82. Ibid., pp. 17,57,90,106, 112, 147,227-28,233.
83. Norris, Book II, Chapter VIII, pp. 285-86. I've taken the liberty of
improving the capitalization and punctuation.
84. Patterson, p. 65.
85. Dulles, pp. 73-75.
86. Ibid., p. 99.
87. Davidson, pp. 66f£
88. Heilbroner & Singer, p. 84.
89. NEB (2003), Vol. 28, "Spain," p. 10.
90. Sueiro & Diaz Nosty, pp. 309-317. Suarez, pp. 231-33, 418, 471-72,
483-88. Payne, pp. 16-23.
91. See Payne, p. 17 ("[Franco era] un ignorante del funcionamiento de la
economia-como casi todos los dictadores-y erda que se podia lidiar con ella
como 10 hacia un general con su ejercito: dando ordenes y directrices desde arriba
sobre como debia comportarse.").
92. Matthews, pp. 79, 108. Horowitz, pp. 64, 127-28.
93. Matthews, pp. 76, 96-97, 337. Horowitz, pp. 46, 146-47.
94. Matthews, pp. 108,201. Horowitz, pp. 41-84,128,130-32,145,157.
95. Matthews, pp. 83, 337-38. Horowitz, pp. 129-130, 133. Saney, pp.
19,40 note 1.
96. E.g., Matthews, pp. 76,254, 337; Horowitz, pp. 41, 46, 47, 56.
97. Horowitz, p. 120. Cf. Saney, pp. 20-21.
98. Saney, pp. 112-13.
99. This is the impression one gets from Saney, pp. 100-121. Cf. Horowitz,
p.117.
100. Saney, pp. 19-21. Horowitz, pp. 46, 48,60, 77, 175. Steele, p. 405
note 17. NEB (2003), Vol. 3, "Cuba," p. 773; Vol. 29, "West Indies," pp. 735, 739.

CHAPTER ONE: NOTES

39

101. Saney, pp. 19-20. Horowitz, pp. 129-134. Matthews, p. 201 (" ... in so
many... ways, [Castro] found that his 'utopian' ideas did not satisfy his real needs").
102. See USA Today, Sept. 9, 2010, p. 4A, May 10, 2011, p. 6A, and June
8-10,2012, p. 9A; Time, Sept. 27, 2010, p. 11; The Week, April 29, 2011, p. 8;
Horowitz, p. 175.
103. Horowitz, pp. 111-12, 129, 158, 161-63, 174-75.
104. See ibid., pp. 175-76.
105. Ibid., pp. 43, 77, 123.
106. Saney, p. 21.
107. Horowitz, e.g., pp. 30, 75-77, 120.
108. Other factors contributing to Cuba's economic failure were: (i) The
limited natural and human resources of the island. Saney, pp. 15, 19. Horowitz,
p. 145. But Singapore had negligible natural resources, yet built an impressively
powerful economy. Human resources (trained technical personnel, etc.) can be
created in a relatively short time, as in Japan following the Meiji Restoration. The
Cubans would not have had to be as industrious or as skillful as the Singaporeans
or the Japanese in order to build merely an adequate economy. (ii) Cuba's economic
dependence on the Soviet Union. Saney, p. 21. Horowitz, pp. 77, 99, 111, 120,
128,147. But Cuba's dependence was only a result ofits failure from other causes.
An economically sound nation would have been able to avoid total dependence
on a single foreign power.
109. The idea ofa "philosopher-king" originated with Plato (see in Buchanan:
"The Republic," Book V, p. 492; Book VI), who seems to have entertained not only
the notion of a single philosopher-king (ibid., Book VI, pp. 530-31), but also that
of a philosopher-oligarchy (ibid., Book VII, p. 584: "...when the true philosopher
kings are born in a State, one or more of them ..."). From respect for the female
sex, let's note that the hypothetical philosopher "king" considered in Part V of
this chapter could just as well be a philosopher-queen.
110. Leuchtenburg, pp. 26, 27.
111. Ibid., p. 30.
112. Ibid., pp. 30 note 43, 221-22.
113. Gilbert, European Powers, pp. 191-92.
114. True believers in technology like Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Kelly will no
doubt propose futuristic, hypertechnological solutions to the problem of rational
guidance of a society. For our answer, see Appendix One.
115. Illich, pp. 10, 20.
116. Naess, pp. 92-103.
117. Glendinning, as referenced in our List of Works Cited.
118. Grossman, p. 49, col. 1, col. 3. Vance, p. 1.
119. Grossman, p. 48, col. 3. Markoff, "Ay Robot!," p. 4, col. 2, col. 3
(columns occupied entirely by advertisements are not counted).

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120. See, e.g., Vance, p. 1 (Singularity University "focuses on introducing
entrepreneurs to promising technologies ... ," etc.).
121. Rifkin, as referenced in our List of Works Cited.
122. Ivey, as referenced in our List of Works Cited.
123. Ashford & Hall, as referenced in our List of Works Cited.
124. Publisher's description located online as of March 28,2016 at:
http://yalebooks .com/book/9 78 03 0 0 169 72 O/tech nology-glo balization -andsustainable-development. The bit quoted here does truthfully describe the content
of the book.
125. Plato did not regard his "Republic" as mere abstract speculation; he
thought he was describing, at least to a rough approximation, a practical possibility.
See in Buchanan: "The Republic," Book V, pp. 491-92; Book VI, pp. 530-31;
Book VII, p. 584. But in modern times-as far