“A Comment on the Oil Spill” by Theodore J. Kaczynski

Today I received a letter from Ted Kaczynski with his brief reflection on the Gulf Oil Spill. Here it is. — Adam Parfrey


A Comment on the Oil Spill
by Theodore J. Kaczynski, author of Technological Slavery

Most people blame the disaster on British Petroleum, on the oil industry, or on big corporations generally. It’s true of course that the corporations are greedy, ruthless and dishonest, and that the oil industry and British Petroleum in particular bear immediate responsibility for what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico.

But as long as modern technology continues to progress, there will be human-caused disasters of one kind or another. No amount of government supervision can prevent all such disasters, not only because there will always be irresponsibility, carelessness, and mistakes, but also because the introduction of new technology inevitably has consequences that no one, no matter how careful and responsible, can predict in advance. (1) that’s why the disasters usually come from some unexpected direction. And the greater the powers unleashed by technology, the bigger the disasters get. (2)

So the immediate cause of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is insufficient care on the part of British Petroleum, but the underlying cause is modern technology itself. People make the mistake of seeing modern problems in isolation: There’s a disaster in the Gulf, so we have to crack down on the oil companies; the rate of clinical depression keeps rising, so we have to find better therapies; the planet is heating up, so we have to develop new ways of generating electricity; etc., etc., etc. People need to take account of the fact that these problems and practically all of the most serious problems of modern times are direct or indirect consequences of technological progress. (3) As technology advances we get deeper and deeper into trouble, and we will never get out of trouble until we do away with the entire technological system. If we don’t do away with the technological system, then sooner or later it will do away with us.

Ted Kaczynski
June 10, 2010

1. See Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski (Feral House, 2010), page 92.
2. See same, page 278.
3. See same, page 268.

Read more about (or purchase) the book Technological Slavery HERE.