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Jorn Barger

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Jul 27, 2002, 2:38:27 PM7/27/02
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[I had to reformat the pdf file from www.greenanarchy.org, so
there may be slight differences like paragraph breaks.]


Green Anarchy #8 SPRING 2002

Hit Where It Hurts By Ted Kaczynski

1. The Purpose Of This Article. The purpose of this
article is to point out a very simple principle of
human conflict, a principle that opponents of the
techno-industrial system seem to be overlooking. The
principle is that in any form of conflict, if you want
to win, you must hit your adversary where it hurts.

I have to explain that when I talk about "hitting
where it hurts" I am not necessarily referring to
physical blows or to any other form of physical
violence. For example, in oral debate, "hitting where
it hurts" would mean making the arguments to which
your opponent's position is most vulnerable. In a
presidential election, "hitting where it hurts" would
mean winning from your opponent the states that have
the most electoral votes. Still, in discussing this
principle I will use the analogy of physical combat,
because it is vivid and clear.

If a man punches you, you can't defend yourself by
hitting back at his fist, because you can't hurt the
man that way. In order to win the fight, you have to
hit him where it hurts. That means you have to go
behind the fist and hit the sensitive and vulnerable
parts of the man's body. Suppose a bulldozer belonging
to a logging company has been tearing up the woods
near your home and you want to stop it. It is the
blade of the bulldozer that rips the earth and knocks
trees over, but it would be a waste of time to take a
sledgehammer to the blade. If you spent a long, hard
day working on the blade with the sledge, you might
succeed in damaging it enough so that it became
useless. But, in comparison with the rest of the
bulldozer, the blade is relatively inexpensive and
easy to replace. The blade is only the "fist" with
which the bulldozer hits the earth. To defeat the
machine you must go behind the "fist" and attack the
bulldozers vital parts. The engine, for example, can
be ruined with very little expenditure of time and
effort by means well known to many radicals.

At this point I must make clear that I am not
recommending that anyone should damage a bulldozer
(unless it is his own property). Nor should anything
in this article be interpreted as recommending illegal
activity of any kind. I am a prisoner, and if I were
to encourage illegal activity this article would not
even be allowed to leave the prison. I use the
bulldozer analogy only because it it clear and vivid
and will be appreciated by radicals.


2. Technology Is The Target.

It is widely recognized that "the basic variable which
determines the contemporary historic process is
provided by technological development" (Celso
Furtado*). Technology, above all else, is responsible
for the current condition of the world and will
control its future development. Thus, the "bulldozer"
that we have to destroy is modern technology itself.
Many radicals are aware of this, and therefore realize
that there task is to eliminate the entire techno-
industrial system. But unfortunately they have paid
little attention to the need to hit the system where
it hurts.

Smashing up McDonald's or Starbuck's is pointless. Not
that I give a damn about McDonald's or Starbuck's. I
don't care whether anyone smashes them up or not. But
that is not a revolutionary activity. Even if every
fast-food chain in the world were wiped out the
techno-industrial system would suffer only minimal
harm as a result, since it could easily survive
without fast-food chains. When you attack McDonald's
or Starbuck's, you are not hitting where it hurts.

Some months ago I received a letter from a young man
in Denmark who believed that the techno-industrial
system had to be eliminated because, as he put it,
"What will happen if we go on this way?" Apparently,
however, his form of "revolutionary" activity was
raiding fur farms. As a means of weakening the
techno-industrial system this activity is utterly
useless. Even if animal liberationists succeed in
eliminating the fur industry completely they would do
no harm at all to the system, because the system can
get along perfectly well without furs.

I agree that keeping wild animals in cages is
intolerable, and that putting an end to such practices
is a noble cause. But there are many other noble
causes, such as preventing traffic accidents,
providing shelter for the homeless, recycling, or
helping old people cross the street. Yet no one if
foolish enough to mistake these for revolutionary
activities, or to imagine that they do anything to
weaken the system.


3. The Timber Industry Is A Side Issue.

To take another example, no one in his right mind
believes that anything like real wilderness can
survive very long if the techno-industrial system
continues to exist. Many environmental radicals agree
that this is the case and hope for the collapse of the
system. But in practice all they do is attack the
timber industry.

I certainly have no objection to their attack on the
timber industry. In fact, it's an issue that is close
to my heart and I'm delighted by any successes that
radicals may have against the timber industry. In
addition, for reasons that I need to explain here, I
think that opposition to the timber industry should be
one component of the efforts to overthrow the system.

But, by itself, attacking the timber industry is not
an effective way of working against the system, for
even in the unlikely event that radicals succeeded in
stopping all logging everywhere in the world, that
would not bring down the system. And it would not
permanently save wilderness. Sooner or later the
political climate would change and logging would
resume. Even if logging never resumed, there would be
other venues through which wilderness would be
destroyed, or if not destroyed then tamed and
domesticated. Mining and mineral exploration, acid
rain, climate changes, and species extinction destroy
wilderness; wilderness is tamed and domesticated
through recreation, scientific study, and resource
management, including among other things electronic
tracking of animals, stocking of streams with
hatchery-bred fish, and planting of genetically-
engineered trees.

Wilderness can be saved permanently only by
eliminating the techno-industrial system, and you
cannot eliminate the system by attacking the timber
industry. The system would easily survive the death of
the timber industry because wood products, though very
useful to the system, can if necessary be replaced
with other materials. Consequently, when you attack
the timber industry, you are not hitting the system
where it hurts. The timber industry is only the "fist"
(or one of the fists) with which the system destroys
wilderness, and, just as in a fist-fight, you can't
win by hitting at the fist. You have to go behind the
fist and strike at the most sensitive and vital organs
of the system. By legal means, of course, such as
peaceful protests.


4. Why The System Is Tough.

The techno-industrial system is exceptionally tough
due to its so-called "democratic" structure and its
resulting flexibility. Because dictatorial systems
tend to be rigid, social tensions and resistance can
be built up in them to the point where they damage and
weaken the system and may lead to revolution. But in a
"democratic" system, when social tension and
resistance build up dangerously the system backs off
enough, it compromises enough, to bring the tensions
down to a safe level.

During the 1960s people first became aware that
environmental pollution was a serious problem, the
more so because the visible and smellable filth in the
air over our major cities was beginning to make people
physically uncomfortable. Enough protest arose so that
an Environmental Protection Agency was established
and other measures were taken to alleviate the
problem. Of course, we all know that our pollution
problems are a long, long way from being solved. But
enough was done so that public complaints subsided and
the pressure on the system was reduced for a number of
years.

Thus, attacking the system is like hitting a piece of
rubber. A blow with a hammer can shatter cast iron,
because cast iron is rigid and brittle. But you can
pound a piece of rubber without hurting it because it
is flexible: it gives way before protest, just enough
so that the protest loses its force and momentum. Then
the system bounces back. So, in order to hit the
system where it hurts, you need to select issues on
which the system will not back off, in which it will
fight to the finish. For what you need is not
compromise with the system but a life-and-death
struggle.


5. It Is Useless To Attack The System In Terms Of Its
Own Values.

It is absolutely essential to attack the system not in
terms of its own technologically-oriented values, but
in terms of values that are inconsistent with the
values of the system. As long as you attack the system
in terms of its own values, you do not hit the system
where it hurts, and you allow the system to deflate
protest by giving way, by backing off.

For example, if you attack the timber industry
primarily on the basis that forests are needed to
preserve water resources and recreational
opportunities, then the system can give ground to
defuse protest without compromising its own values:
Water resources and recreation are fully consistent
with the values of the system, and if the system backs
off, if it restricts logging in the name of water
resources and recreation, then it only makes a
tactical retreat and does not suffer a strategic
defeat for its code of values.

If you push victimization issues (such as racism,
sexism, homophobia, or poverty) you are not
challenging the system's values and you are not even
forcing the system to back off or compromise. You are
directly helping the system. All of the wisest
proponents of the system recognize that racism,
sexism, homophobia, and poverty are harmful to the
system, and this is why the system itself works to
combat these and similar forms of victimization.

"Sweatshops", with their low pay and wretched working
conditions, may bring profit to certain corporations,
but wise proponents of the system know very well that
the system as a whole functions better when workers
are treated decently. In making an issue of
sweatshops, you are helping the system, not weakening
it.

Many radicals fall into the temptation of focusing on
non-essential issues like racism, sexism and
sweatshops because it is easy. They pick an issue on
which the system can afford a compromise and on which
they will get support from people like Ralph Nader,
Winona LaDuke, the labor unions, and all the other
pink reformers. Perhaps the system, under pressure,
will back off a bit, the activists will see some
visible result from their efforts, and they will have
the satisfying illusion that they have accomplished
something. But in reality they have accomplished
nothing at all toward eliminating the techno-
industrial system.

The globalization issue is not completely irrelevant
to the technology problem. The package of economic and
political measures termed "globalization" does promote
economic growth and, consequently, technological
progress. Still, globalization is an issue of marginal
importance and not a well-chosen target of
revolutionaries. The system can afford to give ground
on the globalization issue. Without giving up global-
ization as such, the system can take steps to
mitigate the negative environmental and economic
consequences of globalization so as to defuse protest.
At a pinch, the system could even afford to give up
globalization altogether. Growth and progress would
still continue, only at a slightly lower rate.

And when you fight globalization you are not attacking
the system's fundamental values. Opposition to
globalization is motivated in terms of securing decent
wages for workers and protecting the environment, both
of which are completely consistent with the values of
the system. (The system, for its own survival, can't
afford to let environmental degradation go too far.)
Consequently, in fighting globalization you do not hit
the system where it really hurts. Your efforts may
promote reform, but they are useless for the purpose
of overthrowing the techno-industrial system.


6. Radicals Must Attack The System At The Decisive
Points.

To work effectively toward the elimination of the
techno-industrial system, revolutionaries must attack
the system at points at which it cannot afford to give
ground. They must attack the vital organs of the
system. Of course, when I use the word "attack," I am
not referring to physical attack but only to legal
forms of protest and resistance.

Some examples of vital organs of the system are:

A. The electric-power industry. The system is utterly
dependent on its electric-power grid.

B. The communications industry. Without rapid
communications, as by telephone, radio, television,
email, and so forth, the system could not survive.

C. The computer industry. We all know that without
computers the system would promptly collapse.

D. The propaganda industry. The propaganda industry
includes the entertainment industry, the educational
system, journalism, advertising, public relations, and
much of politics and of the mental-health industry.
The system can't function unless people are
sufficiently docile and conforming and have the
attitudes that the system needs them to have. It is
the function of the propaganda industry to teach
people that kind of thought and behavior.

E. The biotechnology industry. The system is not yet
(as far as I know) physically dependent on advanced
bio-technology. Nevertheless, the system cannot afford
to give way on the biotechnology issue, which is a
critically important issue for the system, as I will
argue in a moment.


Again: When you attack these vital organs of the
system, it is essential not to attack them in terms of
the system's own values but in terms of values
inconsistent with those of the system. For example, if
you attack the electric-power industry on the basis
that it pollutes the environment, the system can
defuse protest by developing cleaner methods of
generating electricity. If worse came to worse, the
system could even switch entirely to wind and solar
power. This might do a great deal to reduce
environmental damage, but it would not put an end to
the techno-industrial system. Nor would it represent a
defeat for the system's fundamental values.

To accomplish anything against the system you have to
attack all electric-power generation as a matter of
principle, on the ground that dependence on
electricity makes people dependent on the system. This
is a ground incompatible with the system's values.


7. Biotechnology May Be The Best Target For Political
Attack.

Probably the most promising target for political
attack is the biotechnology industry. Though
revolutions are generally carried out by minorities,
it is very useful to have some degree of support,
sympathy, or at least acquiescence from the general
population.

To get that kind of support or acquiescence is one of
the goals of political action. If you concentrated
your political attack on, for example, the electric-
power industry, it would be extremely difficult to get
any support outside of a radical minority, because
most people resist change to their way of living,
especially any change that inconveniences them.

For this reason, few would be willing to give up
electricity. But people do not yet feel themselves
dependent on advanced biotechnology as they do on
electricity. Eliminating biotechnology will not
radically change their lives. On the contrary, it
would be possible to show people that the continued
development of biotechnology will transform their way
of life and wipe out age-old human values. Thus, in
challenging biotechnology, radicals should be able to
mobilize in their own favor the natural human
resistance to change.

And biotechnology is an issue on which the system
cannot afford to lose. It is an issue on which the
system will have to fight to the finish, which is
exactly what we need. But-- to repeat once more-- it
is essential to attack biotechnology not in terms of
the system's own values but in terms of values
inconsistent with those of the system.

For example, if you attack biotechnology, primarily
on the basis that it may damage the environment, or
that genetically-modified foods may be harmful to
health, then the system can and will cushion your
attack by giving ground or compromising-- for
instance, by introducing increased supervision of
genetic research and more rigorous testing and
regulation of genetically-modified crops. People's
anxiety will then subside and protest will wither.


8. All Biotechnology Must Be Attacked As A Matter Of
Principle.

So, instead of protesting one or another negative
consequence of biotechnology, you have to attack all
modern biotechnology on principle, on grounds such as
(a) that it is an insult to all living things; (b)
that it puts too much power in the hands of the
system; (c) that it will radically transform
fundamental human values that have existed for
thousands of years; and similar grounds that are
inconsistent with the values of the system.

In response to this kind of attack the system will
have to stand and fight. It cannot afford to cushion
your attack by backing off to any great extent,
because biotechnology is too central to the whole
enterprise of technological progress, and because in
backing off the system would not be making only a
tactical retreat, but would be taking a major
strategic defeat to its code of values. Those values
would be undermined and the door would be opened to
further political attacks that would hack away at the
foundations of the system.

Now it's true that the U. S. House of Representatives
recently voted to ban cloning of human beings, and at
least some congressmen even gave the right kinds of
reasons for doing so. The reasons I read about were
framed in religious terms, but whatever you may think
of the religious terms involved, these reasons were
not technologically acceptable reasons. And that is
what counts.

Thus, the congressmen's vote on human cloning was a
genuine defeat for the system. But it was only a very,
very small defeat, because of the narrow scope of the
ban-- only one tiny part of biotechnology was
affected-- and because for the near future cloning of
human beings would be of little practical use to the
system anyway. But the House of Representatives'
action does suggest that this may be a point at which
the system is vulnerable, and that a broader attack
on all of biotechnology might inflict severe damage
on the system and its values.


9. Radicals Are Not Yet Attacking Biotech Effectively.

Some radicals do attack the biotechnology, whether
politically or physically, but as far as I know they
explain their opposition to biotech in terms of the
system's own values. That is, their main complaints
are the risks of environmental damage and of harm to
health. And they are not hitting the biotech industry
where it hurts.

To use an analogy of physical combat once again,
suppose you had to defend yourself against a giant
octopus. You would not be able to fight back
effectively by hacking at the tips of its tentacles.
You have to strike at its head. From what I've read of
their activities, radicals who work against
bio-technology still do no more than hack at the tips
of the octopus's tentacles. They try to persuade
ordinary farmers, individually, to refrain from
planting genetically-engineered seed.

But there are many thousands of farms in America, so
that persuading farmers individually is an extremely
inefficient way to combat genetic engineering. It
would be much more effective to persuade research
scientists engaged in biotechnological work, or
executives of companies like Monsanto, to leave the
biotech industry. Good research scientists are people
who have special talents and extensive training, so
they are difficult to replace. The same is true of
top corporate executives. Persuading just a few of
these people to get out of biotech would do more
damage to the biotechnology industry than
persuading a thousand farmers not to plant
genetically-engineered seed.


10. Hit Where It Hurts.

It is open to argument whether I am right in thinking
that biotechnology is the best issue on which to
attack the system politically. But it is beyond
argument that radicals today are wasting much of their
energy on issues that have little or no relevance to
the survival of the technological system. And even
when they do address the right issues, radicals do not
hit where it hurts. So instead of trotting off to the
next world trade summit to have temper tantrums over
globalization, radicals ought to put in some time
thinking how to hit the system where it really hurts.
By legal means, of course.

(Theodore Kaczynski retains copyright to this article)


Place The Blame Where It Belongs: The GA Collective
Respond To "Hit Where It Hurts" by Ted Kaczynski

Although the Green Anarchy editorial collective whole-
heartedly supports Ted Kaczynski as an anarchist
political prisoner, we had serious reservations about
running this article due to Ted's hostility towards
feminism and his casual, off-hand dismissal of other
liberation struggles which he chooses not to
prioritize in his own life. Racism, sexism, homophobia
and poverty are not "non-essential issues" to us, as
they appear to be to Ted; compulsory heterosexuality,
socially-enforced sexual conformity, racism, misogyny,
and class division are all products of a hierarchical,
patriarchal power structure, and none of these
problems can ever be fully solved within the context
of civilization. It's not "technology, above all else,
which is responsible for the current condition of the
world", as Ted claims-- it's civilization/patriarchy--
and if we want to dismantle the technological
megamachine that is now devouring the biosphere, then
we need to understand how the megamachine came to be,
what led to its creation, and how it serves the
interests of civilization's rulers.

We ultimately decided to print this article because
Ted is a sharp strategic thinker, and because we feel
strongly that more discussions like this need to be
occuring in the pages of the anarchist press. At the
same time, we feel compelled to say that Ted's
analysis of patriarchy and civilization is severely
lacking, and we take offence to his disparaging use of
the queer-identified term "pink," which is reminiscent
of the fairly overt homophobia we have seen in
previous pieces by Ted, like Ship Of Fools. Simply and
solely removing technology as the total liberatory
answer is a limited and mechanistic approach. We face
a totality of domination which oppresses all life and
we need to try to see the whole picture. For anti-
authoritarian transformation, many struggles are
necessary and need to be respected along with an
awareness of the underlying connectedness.

Of course, there can be no doubt that technology is a
major link on the chain of our oppression and it's
important that anarchists/anti-authoritarians purge
themselves of the liberal belief that technology is
"neutral." There are five books that we can recommend
to our readers that will help get them started on the
process of deconstructing their faith in and
allegiance to technology. They are:

- The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul
(out-of-print, but readilly available in any good
used bookstore)

- Technics and Human Development: The Myth Of The
Machine Volume 1 by Lewis Mumford

- Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford

- My Name Is Chellis & I'm In Recovery From
Civilization by Chellis Glendinng

and

- Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television by
Jerry Mander, which focuses on the destructive
impact of a very specific technology but which also
offers an incredibly strong critique of
technological mediation which has a much wider
applicability.

Elis M. Windham

unread,
Jul 27, 2002, 8:58:20 PM7/27/02
to
Bless you for providing the text file. You'd think Zerzan et al.
would think ASCII, would you not?

E M Windham


o...@enteract.com (Jorn Barger) wrote in message news:<16e613ec.02072...@posting.google.com>...

Scott Corey & Mary Foley

unread,
Aug 2, 2002, 10:06:56 AM8/2/02
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Jorn,

Thank you for alerting me to the availability of Green Anarchy on line,
and for the effort in posting it here.

After reading it, I have to say it hurts the argument that TK's writing
proves him insane. The essay is very clear and well written, no matter
what we say about its content.

Scott

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