PHF: How do the computers fit into this?

Genesis P- Orridge: We're going to invade the Internet and cyberspace as far as we can. One of the theories that we're working with is that there are four brains. DNA, if you like, is the first brain, and we call that the Nanosphere. Then the individual human brain is the Neurosphere. The group consciousness, the social or tribal brain, is the Kaosphere. Then the Internet and all the computers which are, in a sense, at the moment a whole. Literally a whole brain is being built, it's not a metaphor for a brain, it actually is a brain. We call that the Psychosphere. What we're really thinking about is when you plug in and go online, you're plugging into all the brains of all the other people who've been there, some of those people being psychotic and paranoid, some of them being into control, and some of them being very benign. But it is not implicitly benign. Taking that further -- this is just a TOPI/Process/Transmedia interpretation -- we suggest that when enough people believe in something, it becomes a deity. At a certain point it can separate from its source and have an agenda of its own. It can physically or psychically manifest separate from its source, which is originally the human brain. That's what's going to happen with cyberspace. We're building a god, but we're building a god with the flaws and the gifts of everyone on the planet almost, at this rate -- millions of people -- with no real unified agenda and no real dialogue about what the psychic and neurological and social and economic effect really will be of that acceleration and separation of this larger brain. It will be the first all-encompassing and contrived and constructed brain so far, that we know of.

PHF: You believe that the psychosphere will literally become an artificial intelligence?

Genesis P- Orridge: Absolutely. It will be a deity. Then you get back to these other questions: If DNA is a program, who programmed the program? As Burroughs said, "In a prerecorded universe, who made the first recordings?" We posit that there has to be some fifth brain or intelligence that we call Unity. The basic point of all of this is Unity. Maybe that's been the program all along. If this is the case, then we have to look at the pros and cons and give people survival and navigation tools. And at least suggest this way of perceiving and viewing everything. Have you thought of looking at it this way? If you look at it this way, what might be those philosophical and material implications? Whether we are correct or not in our speculations, we feel they are important speculations to throw into the arena in order to widen people's vision of what may be going on and what the implications may be down the line.

PHF: Have you been getting much response to TOPI from the cyberspace realm?

Genesis P-Orridge: Not as many as I'd expected. It's hard to tell. Of course, we basically so far have been directing people to the ftp site (, and I've not been monitoring that. I do know that it's been very busy. I know they've had tens of thousands of people pass through. It was over 30,000 the last time I asked them, and I think it's gone up a lot. So the ftp site is a busy site, and it's not even fully formed and fully structured.

I think we're all coming up to a really exciting time. And I think the idea of the virtual sigil is nearly upon us. There's lots of ways that could go. People could incorporate being online at a certain point during a community ritual of some form, and actually type in or transmit any information they receive during trance or other states. You could actually have some interaction going on at certain points.

PHF: I've seen it happening, already to some degree. Some groups on America Online have regular online rituals. I was a little disappointed with the ones I sat in on, because they were more like the kind of rituals they would do offline, just typed in.

Genesis P-Orridge: It wasn't designed from the hardware out?

PHF: Right.

Genesis P- Orridge: I think that's the way it should go. People should observe the hardware at first, let that speak to them, let that design its story, then look at the software and let that design its story, and almost be the last in the line, in terms of composition. The individuals themselves would almost be perceiving and tuning into what the internet and the hardware was communicating.


Editor's Note: This is the text of a 35,000-word manifesto as submitted to The Washington Post and the New York Times by the serial mail bomber called the Unabomber. The manifesto appeared in The Washington Post as an eight-page supplement that was not part of the news sections. This document contains corrections that appeared in the Friday, Sept. 22, 1995 editions of Washington Post. The text was sent in June, 1995 to The New York Times and The Washington Post by the person who calls himself “FC,” identified by the FBI as the Unabomber, whom authorities have implicated in three murders and 16 bombings. The author threatened to send a bomb to an unspecified destination “with intent to kill” unless one of the newspapers published this manuscript. The Attorney General and the Director of the FBI recommended publication.





























1. The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of those of us who live in “advanced” countries, but they have destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering even in “advanced” countries.

2. The industrial-technological system may survive or it may break down. If it survives, it MAY eventually achieve a low level of physical and psychological suffering, but only after passing through a long and very painful period of adjustment and only at the cost of permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine. Furthermore, if the system survives, the consequences will be inevitable: There is no way of reforming or modifying the system so as to prevent it from depriving people of dignity and autonomy.

3. If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very painful. But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner rather than later.

4. We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system. This revolution may or may not make use of violence; it may be sudden or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can’t predict any of that. But we do outline in a very general way the measures that those who hate the industrial system should take in order to prepare the way for a revolution against that form of society. This is not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the economic and technological basis of the present society.

5. In this article we give attention to only some of the negative developments that have grown out of the industrial-technological system. Other such developments we mention only briefly or ignore altogether. This does not mean that we regard these other developments as unimportant. For practical reasons we have to confine our discussion to areas that have received insufficient public attention or in which we have something new to say. For example, since there are well-developed environmental and wilderness movements, we have written very little about environmental degradation or the destruction of wild nature, even though we consider these to be highly important.


6. Almost everyone will agree that we live in a deeply troubled society. One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism, so a discussion of the psychology of leftism can serve as an introduction to the discussion of the problems of modern society in general.

7. But what is leftism? During the first half of the 20th century leftism could have been practically identified with socialism. Today the movement is fragmented and it is not clear who can properly be called a leftist. When we speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists, “politically correct” types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like. But not everyone who is associated with one of these movements is a leftist. What we are trying to get at in discussing leftism is not so much movement or an ideology as a psychological type, or rather a collection of related types. Thus, what we mean by “leftism” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of leftist psychology. (Also, see paragraphs 227-230.)

8. Even so, our conception of leftism will remain a good deal less clear than we would wish, but there doesn’t seem to be any remedy for this. All we are trying to do here is indicate in a rough and approximate way the two psychological tendencies that we believe are the main driving force of modern leftism. We by no means claim to be telling the WHOLE truth about leftist psychology. Also, our discussion is meant to apply to modern leftism only. We leave open the question of the extent to which our discussion could be applied to the leftists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

9. The two psychological tendencies that underlie modern leftism we call “feelings of inferiority” and “oversocialization.” Feelings of inferiority are characteristic of modern leftism as a whole, while oversocialization is characteristic only of a certain segment of modern leftism; but this segment is highly influential.


10. By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strict sense but a whole spectrum of related traits; low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self- hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have some such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism.

11. When someone interprets as derogatory almost anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identifies) we conclude that he has inferiority feelings or low self-esteem. This tendency is pronounced among minority rights activists, whether or not they belong to the minority groups whose rights they defend. They are hypersensitive about the words used to designate minorities and about anything that is said concerning minorities. The terms “negro,” “oriental,” “handicapped” or “chick” for an African, an Asian, a disabled person or a woman originally had no derogatory connotation. “Broad” and “chick” were merely the feminine equivalents of “guy,” “dude” or “fellow.” The negative connotations have been attached to these terms by the activists themselves. Some animal rights activists have gone so far as to reject the word “pet” and insist on its replacement by “animal companion.” Leftish anthropologists go to great lengths to avoid saying anything about primitive peoples that could conceivably be interpreted as negative. They want to replace the world “primitive” by “nonliterate.” They seem almost paranoid about anything that might suggest that any primitive culture is inferior to our own. (We do not mean to imply that primitive cultures ARE inferior to ours. We merely point out the hypersensitivity of leftish anthropologists.)

12. Those who are most sensitive about “politically incorrect” terminology are not the average black ghetto- dweller, Asian immigrant, abused woman or disabled person, but a minority of activists, many of whom do not even belong to any “oppressed” group but come from privileged strata of society. Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual white males from middle- to upper-middle-class families.

13. Many leftists have an intense identification with the problems of groups that have an image of being weak (women), defeated (American Indians), repellent (homosexuals) or otherwise inferior. The leftists themselves feel that these groups are inferior. They would never admit to themselves that they have such feelings, but it is precisely because they do see these groups as inferior that they identify with their problems. (We do not mean to suggest that women, Indians, etc. ARE inferior; we are only making a point about leftist psychology.)

14. Feminists are desperately anxious to prove that women are as strong and as capable as men. Clearly they are nagged by a fear that women may NOT be as strong and as capable as men.

15. Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the leftist’s real motive for hating America and the West. He hates America and the West because they are strong and successful.

16. Words like “self-confidence,” “self-reliance,” “initiative,” “enterprise,” “optimism,” etc., play little role in the liberal and leftist vocabulary. The leftist is anti-individualistic, pro-collectivist. He wants society to solve everyone’s problems for them, satisfy everyone’s needs for them, take care of them. He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs. The leftist is antagonistic to the concept of competition because, deep inside, he feels like a loser.

17. Art forms that appeal to modern leftish intellectuals tend to focus on sordidness, defeat and despair, or else they take an orgiastic tone, throwing off rational control as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything through rational calculation and all that was left was to immerse oneself in the sensations of the moment.

18. Modern leftish philosophers tend to dismiss reason, science, objective reality and to insist that everything is culturally relative. It is true that one can ask serious questions about the foundations of scientific knowledge and about how, if at all, the concept of objective reality can be defined. But it is obvious that modern leftish philosophers are not simply cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality. They attack these concepts because of their own psychological needs. For one thing, their attack is an outlet for hostility, and, to the extent that it is successful, it satisfies the drive for power. More importantly, the leftist hates science and rationality because they classify certain beliefs as true (i.e., successful, superior) and other beliefs as false (i.e., failed, inferior). The leftist’s feelings of inferiority run so deep that he cannot tolerate any classification of some things as successful or superior and other things as failed or inferior. This also underlies the rejection by many leftists of the concept of mental illness and of the utility of IQ tests. Leftists are antagonistic to genetic explanations of human abilities or behavior because such explanations tend to make some persons appear superior or inferior to others. Leftists prefer to give society the credit or blame for an individual’s ability or lack of it. Thus if a person is “inferior” it is not his fault, but society’s, because he has not been brought up properly.

19. The leftist is not typically the kind of person whose feelings of inferiority make him a braggart, an egotist, a bully, a self-promoter, a ruthless competitor. This kind of person has not wholly lost faith in himself. He has a deficit in his sense of power and self-worth, but he can still conceive of himself as having the capacity to be strong, and his efforts to make himself strong produce his unpleasant behavior. [1] But the leftist is too far gone for that. His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.

20. Notice the masochistic tendency of leftist tactics. Leftists protest by lying down in front of vehicles, they intentionally provoke police or racists to abuse them, etc. These tactics may often be effective, but many leftists use them not as a means to an end but because they PREFER masochistic tactics. Self-hatred is a leftist trait.

21. Leftists may claim that their activism is motivated by compassion or by moral principles, and moral principle does play a role for the leftist of the oversocialized type. But compassion and moral principle cannot be the main motives for leftist activism. Hostility is too prominent a component of leftist behavior; so is the drive for power. Moreover, much leftist behavior is not rationally calculated to be of benefit to the people whom the leftists claim to be trying to help. For example, if one believes that affirmative action is good for black people, does it make sense to demand affirmative action in hostile or dogmatic terms? Obviously it would be more productive to take a diplomatic and conciliatory approach that would make at least verbal and symbolic concessions to white people who think that affirmative action discriminates against them. But leftist activists do not take such an approach because it would not satisfy their emotional needs. Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists’ hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred.

22. If our society had no social problems at all, the leftists would have to INVENT problems in order to provide themselves with an excuse for making a fuss.

23. We emphasize that the foregoing does not pretend to be an accurate description of everyone who might be considered a leftist. It is only a rough indication of a general tendency of leftism.


24. Psychologists use the term “socialization” to designate the process by which children are trained to think and act as society demands. A person is said to be well socialized if he believes in and obeys the moral code of his society and fits in well as a functioning part of that society. It may seem senseless to say that many leftists are oversocialized, since the leftist is perceived as a rebel. Nevertheless, the position can be defended. Many leftists are not such rebels as they seem.

25. The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. For example, we are not supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a non-moral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe such people. [2]

26. Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means by which our society socializes children is by making them feel ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to society’s expectations. If this is overdone, or if a particular child is especially susceptible to such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMSELF. Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocialized person are more restricted by society’s expectations than are those of the lightly socialized person. The majority of people engage in a significant amount of naughty behavior. They lie, they commit petty thefts, they break traffic laws, they goof off at work, they hate someone, they say spiteful things or they use some underhanded trick to get ahead of the other guy. The oversocialized person cannot do these things, or if he does do them he generates in himself a sense of shame and self-hatred. The oversocialized person cannot even experience, without guilt, thoughts or feelings that are contrary to the accepted morality; he cannot think “unclean” thoughts. And socialization is not just a matter of morality; we are socialized to conform to many norms of behavior that do not fall under the heading of morality. Thus the oversocialized person is kept on a psychological leash and spends his life running on rails that society has laid down for him. In many oversocialized people this results in a sense of constraint and powerlessness that can be a severe hardship. We suggest that oversocialization is among the more serious cruelties that human beings inflict on one another.

27. We argue that a very important and influential segment of the modern left is oversocialized and that their oversocialization is of great importance in determining the direction of modern leftism. Leftists of the oversocialized type tend to be intellectuals or members of the upper-middle class. Notice that university intellectuals [3] constitute the most highly socialized segment of our society and also the most left-wing segment.

28. The leftist of the oversocialized type tries to get off his psychological leash and assert his autonomy by rebelling. But usually he is not strong enough to rebel against the most basic values of society. Generally speaking, the goals of today’s leftists are NOT in conflict with the accepted morality. On the contrary, the left takes an accepted moral principle, adopts it as its own, and then accuses mainstream society of violating that principle. Examples: racial equality, equality of the sexes, helping poor people, peace as opposed to war, nonviolence generally, freedom of expression, kindness to animals. More fundamentally, the duty of the individual to serve society and the duty of society to take care of the individual. All these have been deeply rooted values of our society (or at least of its middle and upper classes [4] for a long time. These values are explicitly or implicitly expressed or presupposed in most of the material presented to us by the mainstream communications media and the educational system. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type, usually do not rebel against these principles but justify their hostility to society by claiming (with some degree of truth) that society is not living up to these principles.

29. Here is an illustration of the way in which the oversocialized leftist shows his real attachment to the conventional attitudes of our society while pretending to be in rebellion against it. Many leftists push for affirmative action, for moving black people into high-prestige jobs, for improved education in black schools and more money for such schools; the way of life of the black “underclass” they regard as a social disgrace. They want to integrate the black man into the system, make him a business executive, a lawyer, a scientist just like upper-middle-class white people. The leftists will reply that the last thing they want is to make the black man into a copy of the white man; instead, they want to preserve African American culture. But in what does this preservation of African American culture consist? It can hardly consist in anything more than eating black-style food, listening to black-style music, wearing black-style clothing and going to a black- style church or mosque. In other words, it can express itself only in superficial matters. In all ESSENTIAL respects most leftists of the oversocialized type want to make the black man conform to white, middle-class ideals. They want to make him study technical subjects, become an executive or a scientist, spend his life climbing the status ladder to prove that black people are as good as white. They want to make black fathers “responsible,” they want black gangs to become nonviolent, etc. But these are exactly the values of the industrial-technological system. The system couldn’t care less what kind of music a man listens to, what kind of clothes he wears or what religion he believes in as long as he studies in school, holds a respectable job, climbs the status ladder, is a “responsible” parent, is nonviolent and so forth. In effect, however much he may deny it, the oversocialized leftist wants to integrate the black man into the system and make him adopt its values.

30. We certainly do not claim that leftists, even of the oversocialized type, NEVER rebel against the fundamental values of our society. Clearly they sometimes do. Some oversocialized leftists have gone so far as to rebel against one of modern society’s most important principles by engaging in physical violence. By their own account, violence is for them a form of “liberation.” In other words, by committing violence they break through the psychological restraints that have been trained into them. Because they are oversocialized these restraints have been more confining for them than for others; hence their need to break free of them. But they usually justify their rebellion in terms of mainstream values. If they engage in violence they claim to be fighting against racism or the like.

31. We realize that many objections could be raised to the foregoing thumbnail sketch of leftist psychology. The real situation is complex, and anything like a complete description of it would take several volumes even if the necessary data were available. We claim only to have indicated very roughly the two most important tendencies in the psychology of modern leftism.

32. The problems of the leftist are indicative of the problems of our society as a whole. Low self-esteem, depressive tendencies and defeatism are not restricted to the left. Though they are especially noticeable in the left, they are widespread in our society. And today’s society tries to socialize us to a greater extent than any previous society. We are even told by experts how to eat, how to exercise, how to make love, how to raise our kids and so forth.


33. Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something that we will call the “power process.” This is closely related to the need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it autonomy and will discuss it later (paragraphs 42-44).

34. Consider the hypothetical case of a man who can have anything he wants just by wishing for it. Such a man has power, but he will develop serious psychological problems. At first he will have a lot of fun, but by and by he will become acutely bored and demoralized. Eventually he may become clinically depressed. History shows that leisured aristocracies tend to become decadent. This is not true of fighting aristocracies that have to struggle to maintain their power. But leisured, secure aristocracies that have no need to exert themselves usually become bored, hedonistic and demoralized, even though they have power. This shows that power is not enough. One must have goals toward which to exercise one’s power.

35. Everyone has goals; if nothing else, to obtain the physical necessities of life: food, water and whatever clothing and shelter are made necessary by the climate. But the leisured aristocrat obtains these things without effort. Hence his boredom and demoralization.

36. Nonattainment of important goals results in death if the goals are physical necessities, and in frustration if nonattainment of the goals is compatible with survival. Consistent failure to attain goals throughout life results in defeatism, low self-esteem or depression.

37, Thus, in order to avoid serious psychological problems, a human being needs goals whose attainment requires effort, and he must have a reasonable rate of success in attaining his goals.


38. But not every leisured aristocrat becomes bored and demoralized. For example, the emperor Hirohito, instead of sinking into decadent hedonism, devoted himself to marine biology, a field in which he became distinguished. When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfy their physical needs they often set up artificial goals for themselves. In many cases they then pursue these goals with the same energy and emotional involvement that they otherwise would have put into the search for physical necessities. Thus the aristocrats of the Roman Empire had their literary pretensions; many European aristocrats a few centuries ago invested tremendous time and energy in hunting, though they certainly didn’t need the meat; other aristocracies have competed for status through elaborate displays of wealth; and a few aristocrats, like Hirohito, have turned to science.

39. We use the term “surrogate activity” to designate an activity that is directed toward an artificial goal that people set up for themselves merely in order to have some goal to work toward, or let us say, merely for the sake of the “fulfillment” that they get from pursuing the goal. Here is a rule of thumb for the identification of surrogate activities. Given a person who devotes much time and energy to the pursuit of goal X, ask yourself this: If he had to devote most of his time and energy to satisfying his biological needs, and if that effort required him to use his physical and mental faculties in a varied and interesting way, would he feel seriously deprived because he did not attain goal X? If the answer is no, then the person’s pursuit of goal X is a surrogate activity. Hirohito’s studies in marine biology clearly constituted a surrogate activity, since it is pretty certain that if Hirohito had had to spend his time working at interesting non-scientific tasks in order to obtain the necessities of life, he would not have felt deprived because he didn’t know all about the anatomy and life-cycles of marine animals. On the other hand the pursuit of sex and love (for example) is not a surrogate activity, because most people, even if their existence were otherwise satisfactory, would feel deprived if they passed their lives without ever having a relationship with a member of the opposite sex. (But pursuit of an excessive amount of sex, more than one really needs, can be a surrogate activity.)

40. In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to satisfy one’s physical needs. It is enough to go through a training program to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on time and exert the very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence and, most of all, simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, society takes care of one from cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an underclass that cannot take the physical necessities for granted, but we are speaking here of mainstream society.) Thus it is not surprising that modern society is full of surrogate activities. These include scientific work, athletic achievement, humanitarian work, artistic and literary creation, climbing the corporate ladder, acquisition of money and material goods far beyond the point at which they cease to give any additional physical satisfaction, and social activism when it addresses issues that are not important for the activist personally, as in the case of white activists who work for the rights of nonwhite minorities. These are not always PURE surrogate activities, since for many people they may be motivated in part by needs other than the need to have some goal to pursue. Scientific work may be motivated in part by a drive for prestige, artistic creation by a need to express feelings, militant social activism by hostility. But for most people who pursue them, these activities are in large part surrogate activities. For example, the majority of scientists will probably agree that the “fulfillment” they get from their work is more important than the money and prestige they earn.

41. For many if not most people, surrogate activities are less satisfying than the pursuit of real goals (that is, goals that people would want to attain even if their need for the power process were already fulfilled). One indication of this is the fact that, in many or most cases, people who are deeply involved in surrogate activities are never satisfied, never at rest. Thus the money-maker constantly strives for more and more wealth. The scientist no sooner solves one problem than he moves on to the next. The long-distance runner drives himself to run always farther and faster. Many people who pursue surrogate activities will say that they get far more fulfillment from these activities than they do from the “mundane” business of satisfying their biological needs, but that is because in our society the effort needed to satisfy the biological needs has been reduced to triviality. More importantly, in our society people do not satisfy their biological needs AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immense social machine. In contrast, people generally have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities.


42. Autonomy as a part of the power process may not be necessary for every individual. But most people need a greater or lesser degree of autonomy in working toward their goals. Their efforts must be undertaken on their own initiative and must be under their own direction and control. Yet most people do not have to exert this initiative, direction and control as single individuals. It is usually enough to act as a member of a SMALL group. Thus if half a dozen people discuss a goal among themselves and make a successful joint effort to attain that goal, their need for the power process will be served. But if they work under rigid orders handed down from above that leave them no room for autonomous decision and initiative, then their need for the power process will not be served. The same is true when decisions are made on a collective basis if the group making the collective decision is so large that the role of each individual is insignificant. [5]

43. It is true that some individuals seem to have little need for autonomy. Either their drive for power is weak or they satisfy it by identifying themselves with some powerful organization to which they belong. And then there are unthinking, animal types who seem to be satisfied with a purely physical sense of power (the good combat soldier, who gets his sense of power by developing fighting skills that he is quite content to use in blind obedience to his superiors).

44. But for most people it is through the power process—having a goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining the goal—that self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. When one does not have adequate opportunity to go through the power process the consequences are (depending on the individual and on the way the power process is disrupted) boredom, demoralization, low self-esteem, inferiority feelings, defeatism, depression, anxiety, guilt, frustration, hostility, spouse or child abuse, insatiable hedonism, abnormal sexual behavior, sleep disorders, eating disorders, etc. [6]


45. Any of the foregoing symptoms can occur in any society, but in modern industrial society they are present on a massive scale. We aren’t the first to mention that the world today seems to be going crazy. This sort of thing is not normal for human societies. There is good reason to believe that primitive man suffered from less stress and frustration and was better satisfied with his way of life than modern man is. It is true that not all was sweetness and light in primitive societies. Abuse of women was common among the Australian aborigines, transexuality was fairly common among some of the American Indian tribes. But it does appear that GENERALLY SPEAKING the kinds of problems that we have listed in the preceding paragraph were far less common among primitive peoples than they are in modern society.

46. We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact that that society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human race developed while living under the earlier conditions. It is clear from what we have already written that we consider lack of opportunity to properly experience the power process as the most important of the abnormal conditions to which modern society subjects people. But it is not the only one. Before dealing with disruption of the power process as a source of social problems we will discuss some of the other sources.

47. Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of social change and the breakdown of natural small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.

48. It is well known that crowding increases stress and aggression. The degree of crowding that exists today and the isolation of man from nature are consequences of technological progress. All pre-industrial societies were predominantly rural. The Industrial Revolution vastly increased the size of cities and the proportion of the population that lives in them, and modern agricultural technology has made it possible for the Earth to support a far denser population than it ever did before. (Also, technology exacerbates the effects of crowding because it puts increased disruptive powers in people’s hands. For example, a variety of noise- making devices: power mowers, radios, motorcycles, etc. If the use of these devices is unrestricted, people who want peace and quiet are frustrated by the noise. If their use is restricted, people who use the devices are frustrated by the regulations. But if these machines had never been invented there would have been no conflict and no frustration generated by them.)

49. For primitive societies the natural world (which usually changes only slowly) provided a stable framework and therefore a sense of security. In the modern world it is human society that dominates nature rather than the other way around, and modern society changes very rapidly owing to technological change. Thus there is no stable framework.

50. The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.

51. The breakdown of traditional values to some extent implies the breakdown of the bonds that hold together traditional small-scale social groups. The disintegration of small-scale social groups is also promoted by the fact that modern conditions often require or tempt individuals to move to new locations, separating themselves from their communities. Beyond that, a technological society HAS TO weaken family ties and local communities if it is to function efficiently. In modern society an individual’s loyalty must be first to the system and only secondarily to a small-scale community, because if the internal loyalties of small-scale communities were stronger than loyalty to the system, such communities would pursue their own advantage at the expense of the system.

52. Suppose that a public official or a corporation executive appoints his cousin, his friend or his co- religionist to a position rather than appointing the person best qualified for the job. He has permitted personal loyalty to supersede his loyalty to the system, and that is “nepotism” or “discrimination,” both of which are terrible sins in modern society. Would-be industrial societies that have done a poor job of subordinating personal or local loyalties to loyalty to the system are usually very inefficient. (Look at Latin America.) Thus an advanced industrial society can tolerate only those small-scale communities that are emasculated, tamed and made into tools of the system. [7]

53. Crowding, rapid change and the breakdown of communities have been widely recognized as sources of social problems. But we do not believe they are enough to account for the extent of the problems that are seen today.

54. A few pre-industrial cities were very large and crowded, yet their inhabitants do not seem to have suffered from psychological problems to the same extent as modern man. In America today there still are uncrowded rural areas, and we find there the same problems as in urban areas, though the problems tend to be less acute in the rural areas. Thus crowding does not seem to be the decisive factor.

55. On the growing edge of the American frontier during the 19th century, the mobility of the population probably broke down extended families and small-scale social groups to at least the same extent as these are broken down today. In fact, many nuclear families lived by choice in such isolation, having no neighbors within several miles, that they belonged to no community at all, yet they do not seem to have developed problems as a result.

56. Furthermore, change in American frontier society was very rapid and deep. A man might be born and raised in a log cabin, outside the reach of law and order and fed largely on wild meat; and by the time he arrived at old age he might be working at a regular job and living in an ordered community with effective law enforcement. This was a deeper change than that which typically occurs in the life of a modern individual, yet it does not seem to have led to psychological problems. In fact, 19th century American society had an optimistic and self-confident tone, quite unlike that of today’s society. [8]

57. The difference, we argue, is that modern man has the sense (largely justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the 19th century frontiersman had the sense (also largely justified) that he created change himself, by his own choice. Thus a pioneer settled on a piece of land of his own choosing and made it into a farm through his own effort. In those days an entire county might have only a couple of hundred inhabitants and was a far more isolated and autonomous entity than a modern county is. Hence the pioneer farmer participated as a member of a relatively small group in the creation of a new, ordered community. One may well question whether the creation of this community was an improvement, but at any rate it satisfied the pioneer’s need for the power process.

58. It would be possible to give other examples of societies in which there has been rapid change and/or lack of close community ties without the kind of massive behavioral aberration that is seen in today’s industrial society. We contend that the most important cause of social and psychological problems in modern society is the fact that people have insufficient opportunity to go through the power process in a normal way. We don’t mean to say that modern society is the only one in which the power process has been disrupted. Probably most if not all civilized societies have interfered with the power process to a greater or lesser extent. But in modern industrial society the problem has become particularly acute. Leftism, at least in its recent (mid- to late-20th century) form, is in part a symptom of deprivation with respect to the power process.

Or take the gypsies. The gypsies commonly get away with theft and fraud because their loyalties are such that they can always get other gypsies to give testimony that “proves” their innocence. Obviously the system would be in serious trouble if too many people belonged to such groups.

Some of the early-20th century Chinese thinkers who were concerned with modernizing China recognized the necessity breaking down small-scale social groups such as the family: “(According to Sun Yat-sen) the Chinese people needed a new surge of patriotism, which would lead to a transfer of loyalty from the family to the state.... (According to Li Huang) traditional attachments, particularly to the family had to be abandoned if nationalism were to develop in China.” (Chester C. Tan, “Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,” page 125, page 297.)


59. We divide human drives into three groups: (1) those drives that can be satisfied with minimal effort; (2) those that can be satisfied but only at the cost of serious effort; (3) those that cannot be adequately satisfied no matter how much effort one makes. The power process is the process of satisfying the drives of the second group. The more drives there are in the third group, the more there is frustration, anger, eventually defeatism, depression, etc.

60. In modern industrial society natural human drives tend to be pushed into the first and third groups, and the second group tends to consist increasingly of artificially created drives.

61. In primitive societies, physical necessities generally fall into group 2: They can be obtained, but only at the cost of serious effort. But modern society tends to guaranty the physical necessities to everyone [9] in exchange for only minimal effort, hence physical needs are pushed into group 1. (There may be disagreement about whether the effort needed to hold a job is “minimal”; but usually, in lower- to middle- level jobs, whatever effort is required is merely that of OBEDIENCE. You sit or stand where you are told to sit or stand and do what you are told to do in the way you are told to do it. Seldom do you have to exert yourself seriously, and in any case you have hardly any autonomy in work, so that the need for the power process is not well served.)

62. Social needs, such as sex, love and status, often remain in group 2 in modern society, depending on the situation of the individual. [10] But, except for people who have a particularly strong drive for status, the effort required to fulfill the social drives is insufficient to satisfy adequately the need for the power process.

63. So certain artificial needs have been created that fall into group 2, hence serve the need for the power process. Advertising and marketing techniques have been developed that make many people feel they need things that their grandparents never desired or even dreamed of. It requires serious effort to earn enough money to satisfy these artificial needs, hence they fall into group 2. (But see paragraphs 80-82.) Modern man must satisfy his need for the power process largely through pursuit of the artificial needs created by the advertising and marketing industry [11], and through surrogate activities.

64. It seems that for many people, maybe the majority, these artificial forms of the power process are insufficient. A theme that appears repeatedly in the writings of the social critics of the second half of the 20th century is the sense of purposelessness that afflicts many people in modern society. (This purposelessness is often called by other names such as “anomic” or “middle-class vacuity.”) We suggest that the so-called “identity crisis” is actually a search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable surrogate activity. It may be that existentialism is in large part a response to the purposelessness of modern life. [12] Very widespread in modern society is the search for “fulfillment.” But we think that for the majority of people an activity whose main goal is fulfillment (that is, a surrogate activity) does not bring completely satisfactory fulfillment. In other words, it does not fully satisfy the need for the power process. (See paragraph 41.) That need can be fully satisfied only through activities that have some external goal, such as physical necessities, sex, love, status, revenge, etc.

65. Moreover, where goals are pursued through earning money, climbing the status ladder or functioning as part of the system in some other way, most people are not in a position to pursue their goals AUTONOMOUSLY. Most workers are someone else’s employee and, as we pointed out in paragraph 61, must spend their days doing what they are told to do in the way they are told to do it. Even people who are in business for themselves have only limited autonomy. It is a chronic complaint of small-business persons and entrepreneurs that their hands are tied by excessive government regulation. Some of these regulations are doubtless unnecessary, but for the most part government regulations are essential and inevitable parts of our extremely complex society. A large portion of small business today operates on the franchise system. It was reported in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago that many of the franchise-granting companies require applicants for franchises to take a personality test that is designed to EXCLUDE those who have creativity and initiative, because such persons are not sufficiently docile to go along obediently with the franchise system. This excludes from small business many of the people who most need autonomy.

66. Today people live more by virtue of what the system does FOR them or TO them than by virtue of what they do for themselves. And what they do for themselves is done more and more along channels laid down by the system. Opportunities tend to be those that the system provides, the opportunities must be exploited in accord with rules and regulations [13], and techniques prescribed by experts must be followed if there is to be a chance of success.

67. Thus the power process is disrupted in our society through a deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in the pursuit of goals. But it is also disrupted because of those human drives that fall into group 3: the drives that one cannot adequately satisfy no matter how much effort one makes. One of these drives is the need for security. Our lives depend on decisions made by other people; we have no control over these decisions and usually we do not even know the people who make them. (“We live in a world in which relatively few people—maybe 500 or 1,000—make the important decisions”—Philip B. Heymann of Harvard Law School, quoted by Anthony Lewis, New York Times, April 21, 1995.) Our lives depend on whether safety standards at a nuclear power plant are properly maintained; on how much pesticide is allowed to get into our food or how much pollution into our air; on how skillful (or incompetent) our doctor is; whether we lose or get a job may depend on decisions made by government economists or corporation executives; and so forth. Most individuals are not in a position to secure themselves against these threats to more [than] a very limited extent. The individual’s search for security is therefore frustrated, which leads to a sense of powerlessness.

68. It may be objected that primitive man is physically less secure than modern man, as is shown by his shorter life expectancy; hence modern man suffers from less, not more than the amount of insecurity that is normal for human beings. But psychological security does not closely correspond with physical security. What makes us FEEL secure is not so much objective security as a sense of confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves. Primitive man, threatened by a fierce animal or by hunger, can fight in self-defense or travel in search of food. He has no certainty of success in these efforts, but he is by no means helpless against the things that threaten him. The modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many things against which he is helpless: nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food, environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his privacy by large organizations, nationwide social or economic phenomena that may disrupt his way of life.

69. It is true that primitive man is powerless against some of the things that threaten him; disease for example. But he can accept the risk of disease stoically. It is part of the nature of things, it is no one’s fault, unless it is the fault of some imaginary, impersonal demon. But threats to the modern individual tend to be MAN-MADE. They are not the results of chance but are IMPOSED on him by other persons whose decisions he, as an individual, is unable to influence. Consequently he feels frustrated, humiliated and angry.

70. Thus primitive man for the most part has his security in his own hands (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) whereas the security of modern man is in the hands of persons or organizations that are too remote or too large for him to be able personally to influence them. So modern man’s drive for security tends to fall into groups 1 and 3; in some areas (food, shelter etc.) his security is assured at the cost of only trivial effort, whereas in other areas he CANNOT attain security. (The foregoing greatly simplifies the real situation, but it does indicate in a rough, general way how the condition of modern man differs from that of primitive man.)

71. People have many transitory drives or impulses that are necessarily frustrated in modern life, hence fall into group 3. One may become angry, but modern society cannot permit fighting. In many situations it does not even permit verbal aggression. When going somewhere one may be in a hurry, or one may be in a mood to travel slowly, but one generally has no choice but to move with the flow of traffic and obey the traffic signals. One may want to do one’s work in a different way, but usually one can work only according to the rules laid down by one’s employer. In many other ways as well, modern man is strapped down by a network of rules and regulations (explicit or implicit) that frustrate many of his impulses and thus interfere with the power process. Most of these regulations cannot be dispensed with, because they are necessary for the functioning of industrial society.

72. Modern society is in certain respects extremely permissive. In matters that are irrelevant to the functioning of the system we can generally do what we please. We can believe in any religion we like (as long as it does not encourage behavior that is dangerous to the system). We can go to bed with anyone we like (as long as we practice “safe sex”). We can do anything we like as long as it is UNIMPORTANT. But in all IMPORTANT matters the system tends increasingly to regulate our behavior.

73. Behavior is regulated not only through explicit rules and not only by the government. Control is often exercised through indirect coercion or through psychological pressure or manipulation, and by organizations other than the government, or by the system as a whole. Most large organizations use some form of propaganda [14] to manipulate public attitudes or behavior. Propaganda is not limited to “commercials” and advertisements, and sometimes it is not even consciously intended as propaganda by the people who make it. For instance, the content of entertainment programming is a powerful form of propaganda. An example of indirect coercion: There is no law that says we have to go to work every day and follow our employer’s orders. Legally there is nothing to prevent us from going to live in the wild like primitive people or from going into business for ourselves. But in practice there is very little wild country left, and there is room in the economy for only a limited number of small business owners. Hence most of us can survive only as someone else’s employee.

74. We suggest that modern man’s obsession with longevity, and with maintaining physical vigor and sexual attractiveness to an advanced age, is a symptom of unfulfillment resulting from deprivation with respect to the power process. The “mid-life crisis” also is such a symptom. So is the lack of interest in having children that is fairly common in modern society but almost unheard-of in primitive societies.

75. In primitive societies life is a succession of stages. The needs and purposes of one stage having been fulfilled, there is no particular reluctance about passing on to the next stage. A young man goes through the power process by becoming a hunter, hunting not for sport or for fulfillment but to get meat that is necessary for food. (In young women the process is more complex, with greater emphasis on social power; we won’t discuss that here.) This phase having been successfully passed through, the young man has no reluctance about settling down to the responsibilities of raising a family. (In contrast, some modern people indefinitely postpone having children because they are too busy seeking some kind of “fulfillment.” We suggest that the fulfillment they need is adequate experience of the power process—with real goals instead of the artificial goals of surrogate activities.) Again, having successfully raised his children, going through the power process by providing them with the physical necessities, the primitive man feels that his work is done and he is prepared to accept old age (if he survives that long) and death. Many modern people, on the other hand, are disturbed by the prospect of physical deterioration and death, as is shown by the amount of effort they expend trying to maintain their physical condition, appearance and health. We argue that this is due to unfulfillment resulting from the fact that they have never put their physical powers to any practical use, have never gone through the power process using their bodies in a serious way. It is not the primitive man, who has used his body daily for practical purposes, who fears the deterioration of age, but the modern man, who has never had a practical use for his body beyond walking from his car to his house. It is the man whose need for the power process has been satisfied during his life who is best prepared to accept the end of that life.

76. In response to the arguments of this section someone will say, “Society must find a way to give people the opportunity to go through the power process.” For such people the value of the opportunity is destroyed by the very fact that society gives it to them. What they need is to find or make their own opportunities. As long as the system GIVES them their opportunities it still has them on a leash. To attain autonomy they must get off that leash. 9. (Paragraph 61) We leave aside the “underclass.” We are speaking of the mainstream.


77. Not everyone in industrial-technological society suffers from psychological problems. Some people even profess to be quite satisfied with society as it is. We now discuss some of the reasons why people differ so greatly in their response to modern society.

78. First, there doubtless are differences in the strength of the drive for power. Individuals with a weak drive for power may have relatively little need to go through the power process, or at least relatively little need for autonomy in the power process. These are docile types who would have been happy as plantation darkies in the Old South. (We don’t mean to sneer at the “plantation darkies” of the Old South. To their credit, most of the slaves were NOT content with their servitude. We do sneer at people who ARE content with servitude.)

79. Some people may have some exceptional drive, in pursuing which they satisfy their need for the power process. For example, those who have an unusually strong drive for social status may spend their whole lives climbing the status ladder without ever getting bored with that game.

80. People vary in their susceptibility to advertising and marketing techniques. Some are so susceptible that, even if they make a great deal of money, they cannot satisfy their constant craving for the the shiny new toys that the marketing industry dangles before their eyes. So they always feel hard-pressed financially even if their income is large, and their cravings are frustrated.

81. Some people have low susceptibility to advertising and marketing techniques. These are the people who aren’t interested in money. Material acquisition does not serve their need for the power process.

82. People who have medium susceptibility to advertising and marketing techniques are able to earn enough money to satisfy their craving for goods and services, but only at the cost of serious effort (putting in overtime, taking a second job, earning promotions, etc.). Thus material acquisition serves their need for the power process. But it does not necessarily follow that their need is fully satisfied. They may have insufficient autonomy in the power process (their work may consist of following orders) and some of their drives may be frustrated (e.g., security, aggression). (We are guilty of oversimplification in paragraphs 80- 82 because we have assumed that the desire for material acquisition is entirely a creation of the advertising and marketing industry. Of course it’s not that simple. [11]

83. Some people partly satisfy their need for power by identifying themselves with a powerful organization or mass movement. An individual lacking goals or power joins a movement or an organization, adopts its goals as his own, then works toward those goals. When some of the goals are attained, the individual, even though his personal efforts have played only an insignificant part in the attainment of the goals, feels (through his identification with the movement or organization) as if he had gone through the power process. This phenomenon was exploited by the fascists, nazis and communists. Our society uses it too, though less crudely. Example: Manuel Noriega was an irritant to the U.S. (goal: punish Noriega). The U.S. invaded Panama (effort) and punished Noriega (attainment of goal). Thus the U.S. went through the power process and many Americans, because of their identification with the U.S., experienced the power process vicariously. Hence the widespread public approval of the Panama invasion; it gave people a sense of power. [15] We see the same phenomenon in armies, corporations, political parties, humanitarian organizations, religious or ideological movements. In particular, leftist movements tend to attract people who are seeking to satisfy their need for power. But for most people identification with a large organization or a mass movement does not fully satisfy the need for power.

84. Another way in which people satisfy their need for the power process is through surrogate activities. As we explained in paragraphs 38-40, a surrogate activity is an activity that is directed toward an artificial goal that the individual pursues for the sake of the “fulfillment” that he gets from pursuing the goal, not because he needs to attain the goal itself. For instance, there is no practical motive for building enormous muscles, hitting a little ball into a hole or acquiring a complete series of postage stamps. Yet many people in our society devote themselves with passion to bodybuilding, golf or stamp-collecting. Some people are more “other-directed” than others, and therefore will more readily attach importance to a surrogate activity simply because the people around them treat it as important or because society tells them it is important. That is why some people get very serious about essentially trivial activities such as sports, or bridge, or chess, or arcane scholarly pursuits, whereas others who are more clear-sighted never see these things as anything but the surrogate activities that they are, and consequently never attach enough importance to them to satisfy their need for the power process in that way. It only remains to point out that in many cases a person’s way of earning a living is also a surrogate activity. Not a PURE surrogate activity, since part of the motive for the activity is to gain the physical necessities and (for some people) social status and the luxuries that advertising makes them want. But many people put into their work far more effort than is necessary to earn whatever money and status they require, and this extra effort constitutes a surrogate activity. This extra effort, together with the emotional investment that accompanies it, is one of the most potent forces acting toward the continual development and perfecting of the system, with negative consequences for individual freedom (see paragraph 131). Especially, for the most creative scientists and engineers, work tends to be largely a surrogate activity. This point is so important that it deserves a separate discussion, which we shall give in a moment (paragraphs 87-92).

85. In this section we have explained how many people in modern society do satisfy their need for the power process to a greater or lesser extent. But we think that for the majority of people the need for the power process is not fully satisfied. In the first place, those who have an insatiable drive for status, or who get firmly “hooked” on a surrogate activity, or who identify strongly enough with a movement or organization to satisfy their need for power in that way, are exceptional personalities. Others are not fully satisfied with surrogate activities or by identification with an organization (see paragraphs 41, 64). In the second place, too much control is imposed by the system through explicit regulation or through socialization, which results in a deficiency of autonomy, and in frustration due to the impossibility of attaining certain goals and the necessity of restraining too many impulses.

86. But even if most people in industrial-technological society were well satisfied, we (FC) would still be opposed to that form of society, because (among other reasons) we consider it demeaning to fulfill one’s need for the power process through surrogate activities or through identification with an organization, rather than through pursuit of real goals.


87. Science and technology provide the most important examples of surrogate activities. Some scientists claim that they are motivated by “curiosity” or by a desire to “benefit humanity.” But it is easy to see that neither of these can be the principal motive of most scientists. As for “curiosity,” that notion is simply absurd. Most scientists work on highly specialized problems that are not the object of any normal curiosity. For example, is an astronomer, a mathematician or an entomologist curious about the properties of isopropyltrimethylmethane? Of course not. Only a chemist is curious about such a thing, and he is curious about it only because chemistry is his surrogate activity. Is the chemist curious about the appropriate classification of a new species of beetle? No. That question is of interest only to the entomologist, and he is interested in it only because entomology is his surrogate activity. If the chemist and the entomologist had to exert themselves seriously to obtain the physical necessities, and if that effort exercised their abilities in an interesting way but in some nonscientific pursuit, then they wouldn’t give a damn about isopropyltrimethylmethane or the classification of beetles. Suppose that lack of funds for postgraduate education had led the chemist to become an insurance broker instead of a chemist. In that case he would have been very interested in insurance matters but would have cared nothing about isopropyltrimethylmethane. In any case it is not normal to put into the satisfaction of mere curiosity the amount of time and effort that scientists put into their work. The “curiosity” explanation for the scientists’ motive just doesn’t stand up.

88. The “benefit of humanity” explanation doesn’t work any better. Some scientific work has no conceivable relation to the welfare of the human race—most of archaeology or comparative linguistics for example. Some other areas of science present obviously dangerous possibilities. Yet scientists in these areas are just as enthusiastic about their work as those who develop vaccines or study air pollution. Consider the case of Dr. Edward Teller, who had an obvious emotional involvement in promoting nuclear power plants. Did this involvement stem from a desire to benefit humanity? If so, then why didn’t Dr. Teller get emotional about other “humanitarian” causes? If he was such a humanitarian then why did he help to develop the H- bomb? As with many other scientific achievements, it is very much open to question whether nuclear power plants actually do benefit humanity. Does the cheap electricity outweigh the accumulating waste and the risk of accidents? Dr. Teller saw only one side of the question. Clearly his emotional involvement with nuclear power arose not from a desire to “benefit humanity” but from a personal fulfillment he got from his work and from seeing it put to practical use.

89. The same is true of scientists generally. With possible rare exceptions, their motive is neither curiosity nor a desire to benefit humanity but the need to go through the power process: to have a goal (a scientific problem to solve), to make an effort (research) and to attain the goal (solution of the problem.) Science is a surrogate activity because scientists work mainly for the fulfillment they get out of the work itself.

90. Of course, it’s not that simple. Other motives do play a role for many scientists. Money and status for example. Some scientists may be persons of the type who have an insatiable drive for status (see paragraph 79) and this may provide much of the motivation for their work. No doubt the majority of scientists, like the majority of the general population, are more or less susceptible to advertising and marketing techniques and need money to satisfy their craving for goods and services. Thus science is not a PURE surrogate activity. But it is in large part a surrogate activity.

91. Also, science and technology constitute a power mass movement, and many scientists gratify their need for power through identification with this mass movement (see paragraph 83).

92. Thus science marches on blindly, without regard to the real welfare of the human race or to any other standard, obedient only to the psychological needs of the scientists and of the government officials and corporation executives who provide the funds for research.


93. We are going to argue that industrial-technological society cannot be reformed in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing the sphere of human freedom. But, because “freedom” is a word that can be interpreted in many ways, we must first make clear what kind of freedom we are concerned with.

94. By “freedom” we mean the opportunity to go through the power process, with real goals not the artificial goals of surrogate activities, and without interference, manipulation or supervision from anyone, especially from any large organization. Freedom means being in control (either as an individual or as a member of a SMALL group) of the life-and-death issues of one’s existence; food, clothing, shelter and defense against whatever threats there may be in one’s environment. Freedom means having power; not the power to control other people but the power to control the circumstances of one’s own life. One does not have freedom if anyone else (especially a large organization) has power over one, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised. It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness (see paragraph 72).

95. It is said that we live in a free society because we have a certain number of constitutionally guaranteed rights. But these are not as important as they seem. The degree of personal freedom that exists in a society is determined more by the economic and technological structure of the society than by its laws or its form of government. [16] Most of the Indian nations of New England were monarchies, and many of the cities of the Italian Renaissance were controlled by dictators. But in reading about these societies one gets the impression that they allowed far more personal freedom than our society does. In part this was because they lacked efficient mechanisms for enforcing the ruler’s will: There were no modern, well-organized police forces, no rapid long-distance communications, no surveillance cameras, no dossiers of information about the lives of average citizens. Hence it was relatively easy to evade control.

96. As for our constitutional rights, consider for example that of freedom of the press. We certainly don’t mean to knock that right; it is very important tool for limiting concentration of political power and for keeping those who do have political power in line by publicly exposing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of the press is of very little use to the average citizen as an individual. The mass media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect. To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it’s more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.

97. Constitutional rights are useful up to a point, but they do not serve to guarantee much more than what might be called the bourgeois conception of freedom. According to the bourgeois conception, a “free” man is essentially an element of a social machine and has only a certain set of prescribed and delimited freedoms; freedoms that are designed to serve the needs of the social machine more than those of the individual. Thus the bourgeois’s “free” man has economic freedom because that promotes growth and progress; he has freedom of the press because public criticism restrains misbehavior by political leaders; he has a right to a fair trial because imprisonment at the whim of the powerful would be bad for the system. This was clearly the attitude of Simon Bolivar. To him, people deserved liberty only if they used it to promote progress (progress as conceived by the bourgeois). Other bourgeois thinkers have taken a similar view of freedom as a mere means to collective ends. Chester C. Tan, “Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,” page 202, explains the philosophy of the Kuomintang leader Hu Han-min: “An individual is granted rights because he is a member of society and his community life requires such rights. By community Hu meant the whole society of the nation.” And on page 259 Tan states that according to Carsum Chang (Chang Chun-mai, head of the State Socialist Party in China) freedom had to be used in the interest of the state and of the people as a whole. But what kind of freedom does one have if one can use it only as someone else prescribes? FC’s conception of freedom is not that of Bolivar, Hu, Chang or other bourgeois theorists. The trouble with such theorists is that they have made the development and application of social theories their surrogate activity. Consequently the theories are designed to serve the needs of the theorists more than the needs of any people who may be unlucky enough to live in a society on which the theories are imposed.

98. One more point to be made in this section: It should not be assumed that a person has enough freedom just because he SAYS he has enough. Freedom is restricted in part by psychological controls of which people are unconscious, and moreover many people’s ideas of what constitutes freedom are governed more by social convention than by their real needs. For example, it’s likely that many leftists of the oversocialized type would say that most people, including themselves, are socialized too little rather than too much, yet the oversocialized leftist pays a heavy psychological price for his high level of socialization.


99. Think of history as being the sum of two components: an erratic component that consists of unpredictable events that follow no discernible pattern, and a regular component that consists of long-term historical trends. Here we are concerned with the long-term trends.

100. FIRST PRINCIPLE. If a SMALL change is made that affects a long-term historical trend, then the effect of that change will almost always be transitory—the trend will soon revert to its original state. (Example: A reform movement designed to clean up political corruption in a society rarely has more than a short-term effect; sooner or later the reformers relax and corruption creeps back in. The level of political corruption in a given society tends to remain constant, or to change only slowly with the evolution of the society. Normally, a political cleanup will be permanent only if accompanied by widespread social changes; a SMALL change in the society won’t be enough.) If a small change in a long-term historical trend appears to be permanent, it is only because the change acts in the direction in which the trend is already moving, so that the trend is not altered by only pushed a step ahead.

101. The first principle is almost a tautology. If a trend were not stable with respect to small changes, it would wander at random rather than following a definite direction; in other words it would not be a long- term trend at all.

102. SECOND PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that is sufficiently large to alter permanently a long-term historical trend, then it will alter the society as a whole. In other words, a society is a system in which all parts are interrelated, and you can’t permanently change any important part without changing all other parts as well.

103. THIRD PRINCIPLE. If a change is made that is large enough to alter permanently a long-term trend, then the consequences for the society as a whole cannot be predicted in advance. (Unless various other societies have passed through the same change and have all experienced the same consequences, in which case one can predict on empirical grounds that another society that passes through the same change will be like to experience similar consequences.)

104. FOURTH PRINCIPLE. A new kind of society cannot be designed on paper. That is, you cannot plan out a new form of society in advance, then set it up and expect it to function as it was designed to do.

105. The third and fourth principles result from the complexity of human societies. A change in human behavior will affect the economy of a society and its physical environment; the economy will affect the environment and vice versa, and the changes in the economy and the environment will affect human behavior in complex, unpredictable ways; and so forth. The network of causes and effects is far too complex to be untangled and understood.

106. FIFTH PRINCIPLE. People do not consciously and rationally choose the form of their society. Societies develop through processes of social evolution that are not under rational human control.

107. The fifth principle is a consequence of the other four.

108. To illustrate: By the first principle, generally speaking an attempt at social reform either acts in the direction in which the society is developing anyway (so that it merely accelerates a change that would have occurred in any case) or else it has only a transitory effect, so that the society soon slips back into its old groove. To make a lasting change in the direction of development of any important aspect of a society, reform is insufficient and revolution is required. (A revolution does not necessarily involve an armed uprising or the overthrow of a government.) By the second principle, a revolution never changes only one aspect of a society, it changes the whole society; and by the third principle changes occur that were never expected or desired by the revolutionaries. By the fourth principle, when revolutionaries or utopians set up a new kind of society, it never works out as planned.

109. The American Revolution does not provide a counterexample. The American “Revolution” was not a revolution in our sense of the word, but a war of independence followed by a rather far-reaching political reform. The Founding Fathers did not change the direction of development of American society, nor did they aspire to do so. They only freed the development of American society from the retarding effect of British rule. Their political reform did not change any basic trend, but only pushed American political culture along its natural direction of development. British society, of which American society was an offshoot, had been moving for a long time in the direction of representative democracy. And prior to the War of Independence the Americans were already practicing a significant degree of representative democracy in the colonial assemblies. The political system established by the Constitution was modeled on the British system and on the colonial assemblies. With major alteration, to be sure—there is no doubt that the Founding Fathers took a very important step. But it was a step along the road that English-speaking world was already traveling. The proof is that Britain and all of its colonies that were populated predominantly by people of British descent ended up with systems of representative democracy essentially similar to that of the United States. If the Founding Fathers had lost their nerve and declined to sign the Declaration of Independence, our way of life today would not have been significantly different. Maybe we would have had somewhat closer ties to Britain, and would have had a Parliament and Prime Minister instead of a Congress and President. No big deal. Thus the American Revolution provides not a counterexample to our principles but a good illustration of them.

110. Still, one has to use common sense in applying the principles. They are expressed in imprecise language that allows latitude for interpretation, and exceptions to them can be found. So we present these principles not as inviolable laws but as rules of thumb, or guides to thinking, that may provide a partial antidote to naive ideas about the future of society. The principles should be borne constantly in mind, and whenever one reaches a conclusion that conflicts with them one should carefully reexamine one’s thinking and retain the conclusion only if one has good, solid reasons for doing so.


111. The foregoing principles help to show how hopelessly difficult it would be to reform the industrial system in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing our sphere of freedom. There has been a consistent tendency, going back at least to the Industrial Revolution for technology to strengthen the system at a high cost in individual freedom and local autonomy. Hence any change designed to protect freedom from technology would be contrary to a fundamental trend in the development of our society. Consequently, such a change either would be a transitory one—soon swamped by the tide of history—or, if large enough to be permanent would alter the nature of our whole society. This by the first and second principles. Moreover, since society would be altered in a way that could not be predicted in advance (third principle) there would be great risk. Changes large enough to make a lasting difference in favor of freedom would not be initiated because it would be realized that they would gravely disrupt the system. So any attempts at reform would be too timid to be effective. Even if changes large enough to make a lasting difference were initiated, they would be retracted when their disruptive effects became apparent. Thus, permanent changes in favor of freedom could be brought about only by persons prepared to accept radical, dangerous and unpredictable alteration of the entire system. In other words by revolutionaries, not reformers.

112. People anxious to rescue freedom without sacrificing the supposed benefits of technology will suggest naive schemes for some new form of society that would reconcile freedom with technology. Apart from the fact that people who make such suggestions seldom propose any practical means by which the new form of society could be set up in the first place, it follows from the fourth principle that even if the new form of society could be once established, it either would collapse or would give results very different from those expected.

113. So even on very general grounds it seems highly improbable that any way of changing society could be found that would reconcile freedom with modern technology. In the next few sections we will give more specific reasons for concluding that freedom and technological progress are incompatible.


114. As explained in paragraphs 65-67, 70-73, modern man is strapped down by a network of rules and regulations, and his fate depends on the actions of persons remote from him whose decisions he cannot influence. This is not accidental or a result of the arbitrariness of arrogant bureaucrats. It is necessary and inevitable in any technologically advanced society. The system HAS TO regulate human behavior closely in order to function. At work people have to do what they are told to do, otherwise production would be thrown into chaos. Bureaucracies HAVE TO be run according to rigid rules. To allow any substantial personal discretion to lower-level bureaucrats would disrupt the system and lead to charges of unfairness due to differences in the way individual bureaucrats exercised their discretion. It is true that some restrictions on our freedom could be eliminated, but GENERALLY SPEAKING the regulation of our lives by large organizations is necessary for the functioning of industrial-technological society. The result is a sense of powerlessness on the part of the average person. It may be, however, that formal regulations will tend increasingly to be replaced by psychological tools that make us want to do what the system requires of us. (Propaganda [14], educational techniques, “mental health” programs, etc.)

115. The system HAS TO force people to behave in ways that are increasingly remote from the natural pattern of human behavior. For example, the system needs scientists, mathematicians and engineers. It can’t function without them. So heavy pressure is put on children to excel in these fields. It isn’t natural for an adolescent human being to spend the bulk of his time sitting at a desk absorbed in study. A normal adolescent wants to spend his time in active contact with the real world. Among primitive peoples the things that children are trained to do tend to be in reasonable harmony with natural human impulses. Among the American Indians, for example, boys were trained in active outdoor pursuits—

just the sort of thing that boys like. But in our society children are pushed into studying technical subjects, which most do grudgingly.

116. Because of the constant pressure that the system exerts to modify human behavior, there is a gradual increase in the number of people who cannot or will not adjust to society’s requirements: welfare leeches, youth-gang members, cultists, anti-government rebels, radical environmentalist saboteurs, dropouts and resisters of various kinds.

117. In any technologically advanced society the individual’s fate MUST depend on decisions that he personally cannot influence to any great extent. A technological society cannot be broken down into small, autonomous communities, because production depends on the cooperation of very large numbers of people and machines. Such a society MUST be highly organized and decisions HAVE TO be made that affect very large numbers of people. When a decision affects, say, a million people, then each of the affected individuals has, on the average, only a one-millionth share in making the decision. What usually happens in practice is that decisions are made by public officials or corporation executives, or by technical specialists, but even when the public votes on a decision the number of voters ordinarily is too large for the vote of any one individual to be significant. [17] Thus most individuals are unable to influence measurably the major decisions that affect their lives. There is no conceivable way to remedy this in a technologically advanced society. The system tries to “solve” this problem by using propaganda to make people WANT the decisions that have been made for them, but even if this “solution” were completely successful in making people feel better, it would be demeaning.

118. Conservatives and some others advocate more “local autonomy.” Local communities once did have autonomy, but such autonomy becomes less and less possible as local communities become more enmeshed with and dependent on large-scale systems like public utilities, computer networks, highway systems, the mass communications media, the modern health care system. Also operating against autonomy is the fact that technology applied in one location often affects people at other locations far way. Thus pesticide or chemical use near a creek may contaminate the water supply hundreds of miles downstream, and the greenhouse effect affects the whole world.

119. The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system. This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technical necessity. [18] Of course the system does satisfy many human needs, but generally speaking it does this only to the extend that it is to the advantage of the system to do it. It is the needs of the system that are paramount, not those of the human being. For example, the system provides people with food because the system couldn’t function if everyone starved; it attends to people’s psychological needs whenever it can CONVENIENTLY do so, because it couldn’t function if too many people became depressed or rebellious. But the system, for good, solid, practical reasons, must exert constant pressure on people to mold their behavior to the needs of the system. To much waste accumulating? The government, the media, the educational system, environmentalists, everyone inundates us with a mass of propaganda about recycling. Need more technical personnel? A chorus of voices exhorts kids to study science. No one stops to ask whether it is inhumane to force adolescents to spend the bulk of their time studying subjects most of them hate. When skilled workers are put out of a job by technical advances and have to undergo “retraining,” no one asks whether it is humiliating for them to be pushed around in this way. It is simply taken for granted that everyone must bow to technical necessity. and for good reason: If human needs were put before technical necessity there would be economic problems, unemployment, shortages or worse. The concept of “mental health” in our society is defined largely by the extent to which an individual behaves in accord with the needs of the system and does so without showing signs of stress.

120. Efforts to make room for a sense of purpose and for autonomy within the system are no better than a joke. For example, one company, instead of having each of its employees assemble only one section of a catalogue, had each assemble a whole catalogue, and this was supposed to give them a sense of purpose and achievement. Some companies have tried to give their employees more autonomy in their work, but for practical reasons this usually can be done only to a very limited extent, and in any case employees are never given autonomy as to ultimate goals—their “autonomous” efforts can never be directed toward goals that they select personally, but only toward their employer’s goals, such as the survival and growth of the company. Any company would soon go out of business if it permitted its employees to act otherwise. Similarly, in any enterprise within a socialist system, workers must direct their efforts toward the goals of the enterprise, otherwise the enterprise will not serve its purpose as part of the system. Once again, for purely technical reasons it is not possible for most individuals or small groups to have much autonomy in industrial society. Even the small-business owner commonly has only limited autonomy. Apart from the necessity of government regulation, he is restricted by the fact that he must fit into the economic system and conform to its requirements. For instance, when someone develops a new technology, the small-business person often has to use that technology whether he wants to or not, in order to remain competitive.


121. A further reason why industrial society cannot be reformed in favor of freedom is that modern technology is a unified system in which all parts are dependent on one another. You can’t get rid of the “bad” parts of technology and retain only the “good” parts. Take modern medicine, for example. Progress in medical science depends on progress in chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and other fields. Advanced medical treatments require expensive, high-tech equipment that can be made available only by a technologically progressive, economically rich society. Clearly you can’t have much progress in medicine without the whole technological system and everything that goes with it.

122. Even if medical progress could be maintained without the rest of the technological system, it would by itself bring certain evils. Suppose for example that a cure for diabetes is discovered. People with a genetic tendency to diabetes will then be able to survive and reproduce as well as anyone else. Natural selection against genes for diabetes will cease and such genes will spread throughout the population. (This may be occurring to some extent already, since diabetes, while not curable, can be controlled through use of insulin.) The same thing will happen with many other diseases susceptibility to which is affected by genetic degradation of the population. The only solution will be some sort of eugenics program or extensive genetic engineering of human beings, so that man in the future will no longer be a creation of nature, or of chance, or of God (depending on your religious or philosophical opinions), but a manufactured product.

123. If you think that big government interferes in your life too much NOW, just wait till the government starts regulating the genetic constitution of your children. Such regulation will inevitably follow the introduction of genetic engineering of human beings, because the consequences of unregulated genetic engineering would be disastrous. [19]

124. The usual response to such concerns is to talk about “medical ethics.” But a code of ethics would not serve to protect freedom in the face of medical progress; it would only make matters worse. A code of ethics applicable to genetic engineering would be in effect a means of regulating the genetic constitution of human beings. Somebody (probably the upper-middle class, mostly) would decide that such and such applications of genetic engineering were “ethical” and others were not, so that in effect they would be imposing their own values on the genetic constitution of the population at large. Even if a code of ethics were chosen on a completely democratic basis, the majority would be imposing their own values on any minorities who might have a different idea of what constituted an “ethical” use of genetic engineering. The only code of ethics that would truly protect freedom would be one that prohibited ANY genetic engineering of human beings, and you can be sure that no such code will ever be applied in a technological society. No code that reduced genetic engineering to a minor role could stand up for long, because the temptation presented by the immense power of biotechnology would be irresistible, especially since to the majority of people many of its applications will seem obviously and unequivocally good (eliminating physical and mental diseases, giving people the abilities they need to get along in today’s world). Inevitably, genetic engineering will be used extensively, but only in ways consistent with the needs of the industrial- technological system. [20]


125. It is not possible to make a LASTING compromise between technology and freedom, because technology is by far the more powerful social force and continually encroaches on freedom through REPEATED compromises. Imagine the case of two neighbors, each of whom at the outset owns the same amount of land, but one of whom is more powerful than the other. The powerful one demands a piece of the other’s land. The weak one refuses. The powerful one says, “OK, let’s compromise. Give me half of what I asked.” The weak one has little choice but to give in. Some time later the powerful neighbor demands another piece of land, again there is a compromise, and so forth. By forcing a long series of compromises on the weaker man, the powerful one eventually gets all of his land. So it goes in the conflict between technology and freedom.

126. Let us explain why technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom.

127. A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared to increase man’s freedom. They took no freedom away from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn’t want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel much faster and farther than a walking man. But the introduction of motorized transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly man’s freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car, especially in densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one likes at one’s own pace one’s movement is governed by the flow of traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration, insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation. Or else they must use public transportation, in which case they have even less control over their own movement than when driving a car. Even the walker’s freedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he continually has to stop to wait for traffic lights that are designed mainly to serve auto traffic. In the country, motor traffic makes it dangerous and unpleasant to walk along the highway. (Note this important point that we have just illustrated with the case of motorized transport: When a new item of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)

128. While technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears to be desirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid long-distance communications ... how could one argue against any of these things, or against any other of the innumerable technical advances that have made modern society? It would have been absurd to resist the introduction of the telephone, for example. It offered many advantages and no disadvantages. Yet, as we explained in paragraphs 59-76, all these technical advances taken together have created a world in which the average man’s fate is no longer in his own hands or in the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians, corporation executives and remote, anonymous technicians and bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence. [21] The same process will continue in the future. Take genetic engineering, for example. Few people will resist the introduction of a genetic technique that eliminates a hereditary disease. It does no apparent harm and prevents much suffering. Yet a large number of genetic improvements taken together will make the human being into an engineered product rather than a free creation of chance (or of God, or whatever, depending on your religious beliefs).

129. Another reason why technology is such a powerful social force is that, within the context of a given society, technological progress marches in only one direction; it can never be reversed. Once a technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become dependent on it, so that they can never again do without it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen to the system today if computers, for example, were eliminated.) Thus the system can move in only one direction, toward greater technologization. Technology repeatedly forces freedom to take a step back, but technology can never take a step back—short of the overthrow of the whole technological system.

130. Technology advances with great rapidity and threatens freedom at many different points at the same time (crowding, rules and regulations, increasing dependence of individuals on large organizations, propaganda and other psychological techniques, genetic engineering, invasion of privacy through surveillance devices and computers, etc.). To hold back any ONE of the threats to freedom would require a long and difficult social struggle. Those who want to protect freedom are overwhelmed by the sheer number of new attacks and the rapidity with which they develop, hence they become apathetic and no longer resist. To fight each of the threats separately would be futile. Success can be hoped for only by fighting the technological system as a whole; but that is revolution, not reform.

131. Technicians (we use this term in its broad sense to describe all those who perform a specialized task that requires training) tend to be so involved in their work (their surrogate activity) that when a conflict arises between their technical work and freedom, they almost always decide in favor of their technical work. This is obvious in the case of scientists, but it also appears elsewhere: Educators, humanitarian groups, conservation organizations do not hesitate to use propaganda or other psychological techniques to help them achieve their laudable ends. Corporations and government agencies, when they find it useful, do not hesitate to collect information about individuals without regard to their privacy. Law enforcement agencies are frequently inconvenienced by the constitutional rights of suspects and often of completely innocent persons, and they do whatever they can do legally (or sometimes illegally) to restrict or circumvent those rights. Most of these educators, government officials and law officers believe in freedom, privacy and constitutional rights, but when these conflict with their work, they usually feel that their work is more important.

132. It is well known that people generally work better and more persistently when striving for a reward than when attempting to avoid a punishment or negative outcome. Scientists and other technicians are motivated mainly by the rewards they get through their work. But those who oppose technological invasions of freedom are working to avoid a negative outcome, consequently there are few who work persistently and well at this discouraging task. If reformers ever achieved a signal victory that seemed to set up a solid barrier against further erosion of freedom through technical progress, most would tend to relax and turn their attention to more agreeable pursuits. But the scientists would remain busy in their laboratories, and technology as it progresses would find ways, in spite of any barriers, to exert more and more control over individuals and make them always more dependent on the system.

133. No social arrangements, whether laws, institutions, customs or ethical codes, can provide permanent protection against technology. History shows that all social arrangements are transitory; they all change or break down eventually. But technological advances are permanent within the context of a given civilization. Suppose for example that it were possible to arrive at some social arrangements that would prevent genetic engineering from being applied to human beings, or prevent it from being applied in such a way as to threaten freedom and dignity. Still, the technology would remain waiting. Sooner or later the social arrangement would break down. Probably sooner, given the pace of change in our society. Then genetic engineering would begin to invade our sphere of freedom, and this invasion would be irreversible (short of a breakdown of technological civilization itself). Any illusions about achieving anything permanent through social arrangements should be dispelled by what is currently happening with environmental legislation. A few years ago its seemed that there were secure legal barriers preventing at least SOME of the worst forms of environmental degradation. A change in the political wind, and those barriers begin to crumble.

134. For all of the foregoing reasons, technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom. But this statement requires an important qualification. It appears that during the next several decades the industrial-technological system will be undergoing severe stresses due to economic and environmental problems, and especially due to problems of human behavior (alienation, rebellion, hostility, a variety of social and psychological difficulties). We hope that the stresses through which the system is likely to pass will cause it to break down, or at least will weaken it sufficiently so that a revolution against it becomes possible. If such a revolution occurs and is successful, then at that particular moment the aspiration for freedom will have proved more powerful than technology.

135. In paragraph 125 we used an analogy of a weak neighbor who is left destitute by a strong neighbor who takes all his land by forcing on him a series of compromises. But suppose now that the strong neighbor gets sick, so that he is unable to defend himself. The weak neighbor can force the strong one to give him his land back, or he can kill him. If he lets the strong man survive and only forces him to give the land back, he is a fool, because when the strong man gets well he will again take all the land for himself. The only sensible alternative for the weaker man is to kill the strong one while he has the chance. In the same way, while the industrial system is sick we must destroy it. If we compromise with it and let it recover from its sickness, it will eventually wipe out all of our freedom.


136. If anyone still imagines that it would be possible to reform the system in such a way as to protect freedom from technology, let him consider how clumsily and for the most part unsuccessfully our society has dealt with other social problems that are far more simple and straightforward. Among other things, the system has failed to stop environmental degradation, political corruption, drug trafficking or domestic abuse.

137. Take our environmental problems, for example. Here the conflict of values is straightforward: economic expedience now versus saving some of our natural resources for our grandchildren. [22] But on this subject we get only a lot of blather and obfuscation from the people who have power, and nothing like a clear, consistent line of action, and we keep on piling up environmental problems that our grandchildren will have to live with. Attempts to resolve the environmental issue consist of struggles and compromises between different factions, some of which are ascendant at one moment, others at another moment. The line of struggle changes with the shifting currents of public opinion. This is not a rational process, nor is it one that is likely to lead to a timely and successful solution to the problem. Major social problems, if they get “solved” at all, are rarely or never solved through any rational, comprehensive plan. They just work themselves out through a process in which various competing groups pursuing their own (usually short- term) self-interest [23] arrive (mainly by luck) at some more or less stable modus vivendi. In fact, the principles we formulated in paragraphs 100-106 make it seem doubtful that rational, long-term social planning can EVER be successful.

138. Thus it is clear that the human race has at best a very limited capacity for solving even relatively straightforward social problems. How then is it going to solve the far more difficult and subtle problem of reconciling freedom with technology? Technology presents clear-cut material advantages, whereas freedom is an abstraction that means different things to different people, and its loss is easily obscured by propaganda and fancy talk.

139. And note this important difference: It is conceivable that our environmental problems (for example) may some day be settled through a rational, comprehensive plan, but if this happens it will be only because it is in the long-term interest of the system to solve these problems. But it is NOT in the interest of the system to preserve freedom or small-group autonomy. On the contrary, it is in the interest of the system to bring human behavior under control to the greatest possible extent. [24] Thus, while practical considerations may eventually force the system to take a rational, prudent approach to environmental problems, equally practical considerations will force the system to regulate human behavior ever more closely (preferably by indirect means that will disguise the encroachment on freedom). This isn’t just our opinion. Eminent social scientists (e.g. James Q. Wilson) have stressed the importance of “socializing” people more effectively.


140. We hope we have convinced the reader that the system cannot be reformed in such a way as to reconcile freedom with technology. The only way out is to dispense with the industrial-technological system altogether. This implies revolution, not necessarily an armed uprising, but certainly a radical and fundamental change in the nature of society.

141. People tend to assume that because a revolution involves a much greater change than reform does, it is more difficult to bring about than reform is. Actually, under certain circumstances revolution is much easier than reform. The reason is that a revolutionary movement can inspire an intensity of commitment that a reform movement cannot inspire. A reform movement merely offers to solve a particular social problem. A revolutionary movement offers to solve all problems at one stroke and create a whole new world; it provides the kind of ideal for which people will take great risks and make great sacrifices. For this reasons it would be much easier to overthrow the whole technological system than to put effective, permanent restraints on the development or application of any one segment of technology, such as genetic engineering, for example. Not many people will devote themselves with single-minded passion to imposing and maintaining restraints on genetic engineering, but under suitable conditions large numbers of people may devote themselves passionately to a revolution against the industrial-technological system. As we noted in paragraph 132, reformers seeking to limit certain aspects of technology would be working to avoid a negative outcome. But revolutionaries work to gain a powerful reward—fulfillment of their revolutionary vision—and therefore work harder and more persistently than reformers do.

142. Reform is always restrained by the fear of painful consequences if changes go too far. But once a revolutionary fever has taken hold of a society, people are willing to undergo unlimited hardships for the sake of their revolution. This was clearly shown in the French and Russian Revolutions. It may be that in such cases only a minority of the population is really committed to the revolution, but this minority is sufficiently large and active so that it becomes the dominant force in society. We will have more to say about revolution in paragraphs 180-205.


143. Since the beginning of civilization, organized societies have had to put pressures on human beings of the sake of the functioning of the social organism. The kinds of pressures vary greatly from one society to another. Some of the pressures are physical (poor diet, excessive labor, environmental pollution), some are psychological (noise, crowding, forcing human behavior into the mold that society requires). In the past, human nature has been approximately constant, or at any rate has varied only within certain bounds. Consequently, societies have been able to push people only up to certain limits. When the limit of human endurance has been passed, things start going wrong: rebellion, or crime, or corruption, or evasion of work, or depression and other mental problems, or an elevated death rate, or a declining birth rate or something else, so that either the society breaks down, or its functioning becomes too inefficient and it is (quickly or gradually, through conquest, attrition or evolution) replaced by some more efficient form of society. [25]

144. Thus human nature has in the past put certain limits on the development of societies. People could be pushed only so far and no farther. But today this may be changing, because modern technology is developing ways of modifying human beings.

145. Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them drugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some extent in our own society. It is well known that the rate of clinical depression has been greatly increasing in recent decades. We believe that this is due to disruption of the power process, as explained in paragraphs 59-76. But even if we are wrong, the increasing rate of depression is certainly the result of SOME conditions that exist in today’s society. Instead of removing the conditions that make people depressed, modern society gives them antidepressant drugs. In effect, antidepressants are a means of modifying an individual’s internal state in such a way as to enable him to tolerate social conditions that he would otherwise find intolerable. (Yes, we know that depression is often of purely genetic origin. We are referring here to those cases in which environment plays the predominant role.)

146. Drugs that affect the mind are only one example of the new methods of controlling human behavior that modern society is developing. Let us look at some of the other methods.

147. To start with, there are the techniques of surveillance. Hidden video cameras are now used in most stores and in many other places, computers are used to collect and process vast amounts of information about individuals. Information so obtained greatly increases the effectiveness of physical coercion (i.e., law enforcement). [26] Then there are the methods of propaganda, for which the mass communication media provide effective vehicles. Efficient techniques have been developed for winning elections, selling products, influencing public opinion. The entertainment industry serves as an important psychological tool of the system, possibly even when it is dishing out large amounts of sex and violence. Entertainment provides modern man with an essential means of escape. While absorbed in television, videos, etc., he can forget stress, anxiety, frustration, dissatisfaction. Many primitive peoples, when they don’t have work to do, are quite content to sit for hours at a time doing nothing at all, because they are at peace with themselves and their world. But most modern people must be constantly occupied or entertained, otherwise they get “bored,” i.e., they get fidgety, uneasy, irritable.

148. Other techniques strike deeper than the foregoing. Education is no longer a simple affair of paddling a kid’s behind when he doesn’t know his lessons and patting him on the head when he does know them. It is becoming a scientific technique for controlling the child’s development. Sylvan Learning Centers, for example, have had great success in motivating children to study, and psychological techniques are also used with more or less success in many conventional schools. “Parenting” techniques that are taught to parents are designed to make children accept fundamental values of the system and behave in ways that the system finds desirable. “Mental health” programs, “intervention” techniques, psychotherapy and so forth are ostensibly designed to benefit individuals, but in practice they usually serve as methods for inducing individuals to think and behave as the system requires. (There is no contradiction here; an individual whose attitudes or behavior bring him into conflict with the system is up against a force that is too powerful for him to conquer or escape from, hence he is likely to suffer from stress, frustration, defeat. His path will be much easier if he thinks and behaves as the system requires. In that sense the system is acting for the benefit of the individual when it brainwashes him into conformity.) Child abuse in its gross and obvious forms is disapproved in most if not all cultures. Tormenting a child for a trivial reason or no reason at all is something that appalls almost everyone. But many psychologists interpret the concept of abuse much more broadly. Is spanking, when used as part of a rational and consistent system of discipline, a form of abuse? The question will ultimately be decided by whether or not spanking tends to produce behavior that makes a person fit in well with the existing system of society. In practice, the word “abuse” tends to be interpreted to include any method of child-rearing that produces behavior inconvenient for the system. Thus, when they go beyond the prevention of obvious, senseless cruelty, programs for preventing “child abuse” are directed toward the control of human behavior on behalf of the system.

149. Presumably, research will continue to increase the effectiveness of psychological techniques for controlling human behavior. But we think it is unlikely that psychological techniques alone will be sufficient to adjust human beings to the kind of society that technology is creating. Biological methods probably will have to be used. We have already mentioned the use of drugs in this connection. Neurology may provide other avenues for modifying the human mind. Genetic engineering of human beings is already beginning to occur in the form of “gene therapy,” and there is no reason to assume that such methods will not eventually be used to modify those aspects of the body that affect mental functioning.

150. As we mentioned in paragraph 134, industrial society seems likely to be entering a period of severe stress, due in part to problems of human behavior and in part to economic and environmental problems. And a considerable proportion of the system’s economic and environmental problems result from the way human beings behave. Alienation, low self-esteem, depression, hostility, rebellion; children who won’t study, youth gangs, illegal drug use, rape, child abuse, other crimes, unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, population growth, political corruption, race hatred, ethnic rivalry, bitter ideological conflict (e.g., pro-choice vs. pro- life), political extremism, terrorism, sabotage, anti-government groups, hate groups. All these threaten the very survival of the system. The system will therefore be FORCED to use every practical means of controlling human behavior.

151. The social disruption that we see today is certainly not the result of mere chance. It can only be a result of the conditions of life that the system imposes on people. (We have argued that the most important of these conditions is disruption of the power process.) If the systems succeeds in imposing sufficient control over human behavior to assure its own survival, a new watershed in human history will have been passed. Whereas formerly the limits of human endurance have imposed limits on the development of societies (as we explained in paragraphs 143, 144), industrial-technological society will be able to pass those limits by modifying human beings, whether by psychological methods or biological methods or both. In the future, social systems will not be adjusted to suit the needs of human beings. Instead, human being will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system. [27]

152. Generally speaking, technological control over human behavior will probably not be introduced with a totalitarian intention or even through a conscious desire to restrict human freedom. [28] Each new step in the assertion of control over the human mind will be taken as a rational response to a problem that faces society, such as curing alcoholism, reducing the crime rate or inducing young people to study science and engineering. In many cases there will be a humanitarian justification. For example, when a psychiatrist prescribes an anti-depressant for a depressed patient, he is clearly doing that individual a favor. It would be inhumane to withhold the drug from someone who needs it. When parents send their children to Sylvan Learning Centers to have them manipulated into becoming enthusiastic about their studies, they do so from concern for their children’s welfare. It may be that some of these parents wish that one didn’t have to have specialized training to get a job and that their kid didn’t have to be brainwashed into becoming a computer nerd. But what can they do? They can’t change society, and their child may be unemployable if he doesn’t have certain skills. So they send him to Sylvan.

153. Thus control over human behavior will be introduced not by a calculated decision of the authorities but through a process of social evolution (RAPID evolution, however). The process will be impossible to resist, because each advance, considered by itself, will appear to be beneficial, or at least the evil involved in making the advance will appear to be beneficial, or at least the evil involved in making the advance will seem to be less than that which would result from not making it (see paragraph 127). Propaganda for example is used for many good purposes, such as discouraging child abuse or race hatred. [14] Sex education is obviously useful, yet the effect of sex education (to the extent that it is successful) is to take the shaping of sexual attitudes away from the family and put it into the hands of the state as represented by the public school system.

154. Suppose a biological trait is discovered that increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to be a criminal, and suppose some sort of gene therapy can remove this trait. [29] Of course most parents whose children possess the trait will have them undergo the therapy. It would be inhumane to do otherwise, since the child would probably have a miserable life if he grew up to be a criminal. But many or most primitive societies have a low crime rate in comparison with that of our society, even though they have neither high- tech methods of child-rearing nor harsh systems of punishment. Since there is no reason to suppose that more modern men than primitive men have innate predatory tendencies, the high crime rate of our society must be due to the pressures that modern conditions put on people, to which many cannot or will not adjust. Thus a treatment designed to remove potential criminal tendencies is at least in part a way of re-engineering people so that they suit the requirements of the system.

155. Our society tends to regard as a “sickness” any mode of thought or behavior that is inconvenient for the system, and this is plausible because when an individual doesn’t fit into the system it causes pain to the individual as well as problems for the system. Thus the manipulation of an individual to adjust him to the system is seen as a “cure” for a “sickness” and therefore as good.

156. In paragraph 127 we pointed out that if the use of a new item of technology is INITIALLY optional, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional, because the new technology tends to change society in such a way that it becomes difficult or impossible for an individual to function without using that technology. This applies also to the technology of human behavior. In a world in which most children are put through a program to make them enthusiastic about studying, a parent will almost be forced to put his kid through such a program, because if he does not, then the kid will grow up to be, comparatively speaking, an ignoramus and therefore unemployable. Or suppose a biological treatment is discovered that, without undesirable side-effects, will greatly reduce the psychological stress from which so many people suffer in our society. If large numbers of people choose to undergo the treatment, then the general level of stress in society will be reduced, so that it will be possible for the system to increase the stress-producing pressures. In fact, something like this seems to have happened already with one of our society’s most important psychological tools for enabling people to reduce (or at least temporarily escape from) stress, namely, mass entertainment (see paragraph 147). Our use of mass entertainment is “optional”: No law requires us to watch television, listen to the radio, read magazines. Yet mass entertainment is a means of escape and stress-reduction on which most of us have become dependent. Everyone complains about the trashiness of television, but almost everyone watches it. A few have kicked the TV habit, but it would be a rare person who could get along today without using ANY form of mass entertainment. (Yet until quite recently in human history most people got along very nicely with no other entertainment than that which each local community created for itself.) Without the entertainment industry the system probably would not have been able to get away with putting as much stress-producing pressure on us as it does.

157. Assuming that industrial society survives, it is likely that technology will eventually acquire something approaching complete control over human behavior. It has been established beyond any rational doubt that human thought and behavior have a largely biological basis. As experimenters have demonstrated, feelings such as hunger, pleasure, anger and fear can be turned on and off by electrical stimulation of appropriate parts of the brain. Memories can be destroyed by damaging parts of the brain or they can be brought to the surface by electrical stimulation. Hallucinations can be induced or moods changed by drugs. There may or may not be an immaterial human soul, but if there is one it clearly is less powerful that the biological mechanisms of human behavior. For if that were not the case then researchers would not be able so easily to manipulate human feelings and behavior with drugs and electrical currents.

158. It presumably would be impractical for all people to have electrodes inserted in their heads so that they could be controlled by the authorities. But the fact that human thoughts and feelings are so open to biological intervention shows that the problem of controlling human behavior is mainly a technical problem; a problem of neurons, hormones and complex molecules; the kind of problem that is accessible to scientific attack. Given the outstanding record of our society in solving technical problems, it is overwhelmingly probable that great advances will be made in the control of human behavior.

159. Will public resistance prevent the introduction of technological control of human behavior? It certainly would if an attempt were made to introduce such control all at once. But since technological control will be introduced through a long sequence of small advances, there will be no rational and effective public resistance. (See paragraphs 127, 132, 153.)

160. To those who think that all this sounds like science fiction, we point out that yesterday’s science fiction is today’s fact. The Industrial Revolution has radically altered man’s environment and way of life, and it is only to be expected that as technology is increasingly applied to the human body and mind, man himself will be altered as radically as his environment and way of life have been.


161. But we have gotten ahead of our story. It is one thing to develop in the laboratory a series of psychological or biological techniques for manipulating human behavior and quite another to integrate these techniques into a functioning social system. The latter problem is the more difficult of the two. For example, while the techniques of educational psychology doubtless work quite well in the “lab schools” where they are developed, it is not necessarily easy to apply them effectively throughout our educational system. We all know what many of our schools are like. The teachers are too busy taking knives and guns away from the kids to subject them to the latest techniques for making them into computer nerds. Thus, in spite of all its technical advances relating to human behavior, the system to date has not been impressively successful in controlling human beings. The people whose behavior is fairly well under the control of the system are those of the type that might be called “bourgeois.” But there are growing numbers of people who in one way or another are rebels against the system: welfare leaches, youth gangs, cultists, satanists, nazis, radical environmentalists, militiamen, etc.

162. The system is currently engaged in a desperate struggle to overcome certain problems that threaten its survival, among which the problems of human behavior are the most important. If the system succeeds in acquiring sufficient control over human behavior quickly enough, it will probably survive. Otherwise it will break down. We think the issue will most likely be resolved within the next several decades, say 40 to 100 years.

163. Suppose the system survives the crisis of the next several decades. By that time it will have to have solved, or at least brought under control, the principal problems that confront it, in particular that of “socializing” human beings; that is, making people sufficiently docile so that heir behavior no longer threatens the system. That being accomplished, it does not appear that there would be any further obstacle to the development of technology, and it would presumably advance toward its logical conclusion, which is complete control over everything on Earth, including human beings and all other important organisms. The system may become a unitary, monolithic organization, or it may be more or less fragmented and consist of a number of organizations coexisting in a relationship that includes elements of both cooperation and competition, just as today the government, the corporations and other large organizations both cooperate and compete with one another. Human freedom mostly will have vanished, because individuals and small groups will be impotent vis-a-vis large organizations armed with supertechnology and an arsenal of advanced psychological and biological tools for manipulating human beings, besides instruments of surveillance and physical coercion. Only a small number of people will have any real power, and even these probably will have only very limited freedom, because their behavior too will be regulated; just as today our politicians and corporation executives can retain their positions of power only as long as their behavior remains within certain fairly narrow limits.

164. Don’t imagine that the systems will stop developing further techniques for controlling human beings and nature once the crisis of the next few decades is over and increasing control is no longer necessary for the system’s survival. On the contrary, once the hard times are over the system will increase its control over people and nature more rapidly, because it will no longer be hampered by difficulties of the kind that it is currently experiencing. Survival is not the principal motive for extending control. As we explained in paragraphs 87-90, technicians and scientists carry on their work largely as a surrogate activity; that is, they satisfy their need for power by solving technical problems. They will continue to do this with unabated enthusiasm, and among the most interesting and challenging problems for them to solve will be those of understanding the human body and mind and intervening in their development. For the “good of humanity,” of course.

165. But suppose on the other hand that the stresses of the coming decades prove to be too much for the system. If the system breaks down there may be a period of chaos, a “time of troubles” such as those that history has recorded at various epochs in the past. It is impossible to predict what would emerge from such a time of troubles, but at any rate the human race would be given a new chance. The greatest danger is that industrial society may begin to reconstitute itself within the first few years after the breakdown. Certainly there will be many people (power-hungry types especially) who will be anxious to get the factories running again.

166. Therefore two tasks confront those who hate the servitude to which the industrial system is reducing the human race. First, we must work to heighten the social stresses within the system so as to increase the likelihood that it will break down or be weakened sufficiently so that a revolution against it becomes possible. Second, it is necessary to develop and propagate an ideology that opposes technology and the industrial society if and when the system becomes sufficiently weakened. And such an ideology will help to assure that, if and when industrial society breaks down, its remnants will be smashed beyond repair, so that the system cannot be reconstituted. The factories should be destroyed, technical books burned, etc.


167. The industrial system will not break down purely as a result of revolutionary action. It will not be vulnerable to revolutionary attack unless its own internal problems of development lead it into very serious difficulties. So if the system breaks down it will do so either spontaneously, or through a process that is in part spontaneous but helped along by revolutionaries. If the breakdown is sudden, many people will die, since the world’s population has become so overblown that it cannot even feed itself any longer without advanced technology. Even if the breakdown is gradual enough so that reduction of the population can occur more through lowering of the birth rate than through elevation of the death rate, the process of de- industrialization probably will be very chaotic and involve much suffering. It is naive to think it likely that technology can be phased out in a smoothly managed, orderly way, especially since the technophiles will fight stubbornly at every step. Is it therefore cruel to work for the breakdown of the system? Maybe, but maybe not. In the first place, revolutionaries will not be able to break the system down unless it is already in enough trouble so that there would be a good chance of its eventually breaking down by itself anyway; and the bigger the system grows, the more disastrous the consequences of its breakdown will be; so it may be that revolutionaries, by hastening the onset of the breakdown, will be reducing the extent of the disaster.

168. In the second place, one has to balance struggle and death against the loss of freedom and dignity. To many of us, freedom and dignity are more important than a long life or avoidance of physical pain. Besides, we all have to die some time, and it may be better to die fighting for survival, or for a cause, than to live a long but empty and purposeless life.

169. In the third place, it is not at all certain that survival of the system will lead to less suffering than breakdown of the system would. The system has already caused, and is continuing to cause, immense suffering all over the world. Ancient cultures, that for hundreds of years gave people a satisfactory relationship with each other and with their environment, have been shattered by contact with industrial society, and the result has been a whole catalogue of economic, environmental, social and psychological problems. One of the effects of the intrusion of industrial society has been that over much of the world traditional controls on population have been thrown out of balance. Hence the population explosion, with all that that implies. Then there is the psychological suffering that is widespread throughout the supposedly fortunate countries of the West (see paragraphs 44, 45). No one knows what will happen as a result of ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect and other environmental problems that cannot yet be foreseen. And, as nuclear proliferation has shown, new technology cannot be kept out of the hands of dictators and irresponsible Third World nations. Would you like to speculate about what Iraq or North Korea will do with genetic engineering?

170. “Oh!” say the technophiles, “Science is going to fix all that! We will conquer famine, eliminate psychological suffering, make everybody healthy and happy!” Yeah, sure. That’s what they said 200 years ago. The Industrial Revolution was supposed to eliminate poverty, make everybody happy, etc. The actual result has been quite different. The technophiles are hopelessly naive (or self-deceiving) in their understanding of social problems. They are unaware of (or choose to ignore) the fact that when large changes, even seemingly beneficial ones, are introduced into a society, they lead to a long sequence of other changes, most of which are impossible to predict (paragraph 103). The result is disruption of the society. So it is very probable that in their attempts to end poverty and disease, engineer docile, happy personalities and so forth, the technophiles will create social systems that are terribly troubled, even more so than the present once. For example, the scientists boast that they will end famine by creating new, genetically engineered food plants. But this will allow the human population to keep expanding indefinitely, and it is well known that crowding leads to increased stress and aggression. This is merely one example of the PREDICTABLE problems that will arise. We emphasize that, as past experience has shown, technical progress will lead to other new problems that CANNOT be predicted in advance (paragraph 103). In fact, ever since the Industrial Revolution, technology has been creating new problems for society far more rapidly than it has been solving old ones. Thus it will take a long and difficult period of trial and error for the technophiles to work the bugs out of their Brave New World (if they every do). In the meantime there will be great suffering. So it is not at all clear that the survival of industrial society would involve less suffering than the breakdown of that society would. Technology has gotten the human race into a fix from which there is not likely to be any easy escape.


171. But suppose now that industrial society does survive the next several decades and that the bugs do eventually get worked out of the system, so that it functions smoothly. What kind of system will it be? We will consider several possibilities.

172. First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.

173. If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave. We only point out that the fate of the human race would be at the mercy of the machines. It might be argued that the human race would never be foolish enough to hand over all power to the machines. But we are suggesting neither that the human race would voluntarily turn power over to the machines nor that the machines would willfully seize power. What we do suggest is that the human race might easily permit itself to drift into a position of such dependence on the machines that it would have no practical choice but to accept all of the machines’ decisions. As society and the problems that face it become more and more complex and as machines become more and more intelligent, people will let machines make more and more of their decisions for them, simply because machine-made decisions will bring better results than man-made ones. Eventually a stage may be reached at which the decisions necessary to keep the system running will be so complex that human beings will be incapable of making them intelligently. At that stage the machines will be in effective control. People won’t be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide.

174. On the other hand it is possible that human control over the machines may be retained. In that case the average man may have control over certain private machines of his own, such as his car or his personal computer, but control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a tiny elite—just as it is today, but with two differences. Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft- hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human race. They will see to it that everyone’s physical needs are satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes “treatment” to cure his “problem.” Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power process or to make them “sublimate” their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human beings may be happy in such a society, but they most certainly will not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic animals.

175. But suppose now that the computer scientists do not succeed in developing artificial intelligence, so that human work remains necessary. Even so, machines will take care of more and more of the simpler tasks so that there will be an increasing surplus of human workers at the lower levels of ability. (We see this happening already. There are many people who find it difficult or impossible to get work, because for intellectual or psychological reasons they cannot acquire the level of training necessary to make themselves useful in the present system.) On those who are employed, ever-increasing demands will be placed: They will need more and more training, more and more ability, and will have to be ever more reliable, conforming and docile, because they will be more and more like cells of a giant organism. Their tasks will be increasingly specialized, so that their work will be, in a sense, out of touch with the real world, being concentrated on one tiny slice of reality. The system will have to use any means that it can, whether psychological or biological, to engineer people to be docile, to have the abilities that the system requires and to “sublimate” their drive for power into some specialized task. But the statement that the people of such a society will have to be docile may require qualification. The society may find competitiveness useful, provided that ways are found of directing competitiveness into channels that serve the needs of the system. We can imagine a future society in which there is endless competition for positions of prestige and power. But no more than a very few people will ever reach the top, where the only real power is (see end of paragraph 163). Very repellent is a society in which a person can satisfy his need for power only by pushing large numbers of other people out of the way and depriving them of THEIR opportunity for power.

176. One can envision scenarios that incorporate aspects of more than one of the possibilities that we have just discussed. For instance, it may be that machines will take over most of the work that is of real, practical importance, but that human beings will be kept busy by being given relatively unimportant work. It has been suggested, for example, that a great development of the service industries might provide work for human beings. Thus people would spent their time shining each other’s shoes, driving each other around in taxicabs, making handicrafts for one another, waiting on each other’s tables, etc. This seems to us a thoroughly contemptible way for the human race to end up, and we doubt that many people would find fulfilling lives in such pointless busy-work. They would seek other, dangerous outlets (drugs, crime, “cults,” hate groups) unless they were biologically or psychologically engineered to adapt them to such a way of life.

177. Needless to say, the scenarios outlined above do not exhaust all the possibilities. They only indicate the kinds of outcomes that seem to us most likely. But we can envision no plausible scenarios that are any more palatable than the ones we’ve just described. It is overwhelmingly probable that if the industrial- technological system survives the next 40 to 100 years, it will by that time have developed certain general characteristics: Individuals (at least those of the “bourgeois” type, who are integrated into the system and make it run, and who therefore have all the power) will be more dependent than ever on large organizations; they will be more “socialized” than ever and their physical and mental qualities to a significant extent (possibly to a very great extent) will be those that are engineered into them rather than being the results of chance (or of God’s will, or whatever); and whatever may be left of wild nature will be reduced to remnants preserved for scientific study and kept under the supervision and management of scientists (hence it will no longer be truly wild). In the long run (say a few centuries from now) it is likely that neither the human race nor any other important organisms will exist as we know them today, because once you start modifying organisms through genetic engineering there is no reason to stop at any particular point, so that the modifications will probably continue until man and other organisms have been utterly transformed.

178. Whatever else may be the case, it is certain that technology is creating for human beings a new physical and social environment radically different from the spectrum of environments to which natural selection has adapted the human race physically and psychologically. If man is not adjusted to this new environment by being artificially re-engineered, then he will be adapted to it through a long and painful process of natural selection. The former is far more likely than the latter.

179. It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences.


180. The technophiles are taking us all on an utterly reckless ride into the unknown. Many people understand something of what technological progress is doing to us yet take a passive attitude toward it because they think it is inevitable. But we (FC) don’t think it is inevitable. We think it can be stopped, and we will give here some indications of how to go about stopping it.

181. As we stated in paragraph 166, the two main tasks for the present are to promote social stress and instability in industrial society and to develop and propagate an ideology that opposes technology and the industrial system. When the system becomes sufficiently stressed and unstable, a revolution against technology may be possible. The pattern would be similar to that of the French and Russian Revolutions. French society and Russian society, for several decades prior to their respective revolutions, showed increasing signs of stress and weakness. Meanwhile, ideologies were being developed that offered a new world view that was quite different from the old one. In the Russian case, revolutionaries were actively working to undermine the old order. Then, when the old system was put under sufficient additional stress (by financial crisis in France, by military defeat in Russia) it was swept away by revolution. What we propose is something along the same lines.

182. It will be objected that the French and Russian Revolutions were failures. But most revolutions have two goals. One is to destroy an old form of society and the other is to set up the new form of society envisioned by the revolutionaries. The French and Russian revolutionaries failed (fortunately!) to create the new kind of society of which they dreamed, but they were quite successful in destroying the old society. We have no illusions about the feasibility of creating a new, ideal form of society. Our goal is only to destroy the existing form of society.

183. But an ideology, in order to gain enthusiastic support, must have a positive ideal as well as a negative one; it must be FOR something as well as AGAINST something. The positive ideal that we propose is Nature. That is, WILD nature: those aspects of the functioning of the Earth and its living things that are independent of human management and free of human interference and control. And with wild nature we include human nature, by which we mean those aspects of the functioning of the human individual that are not subject to regulation by organized society but are products of chance, or free will, or God (depending on your religious or philosophical opinions).

184. Nature makes a perfect counter-ideal to technology for several reasons. Nature (that which is outside the power of the system) is the opposite of technology (which seeks to expand indefinitely the power of the system). Most people will agree that nature is beautiful; certainly it has tremendous popular appeal. The radical environmentalists ALREADY hold an ideology that exalts nature and opposes technology. [30] It is not necessary for the sake of nature to set up some chimerical utopia or any new kind of social order. Nature takes care of itself: It was a spontaneous creation that existed long before any human society, and for countless centuries many different kinds of human societies coexisted with nature without doing it an excessive amount of damage. Only with the Industrial Revolution did the effect of human society on nature become really devastating. To relieve the pressure on nature it is not necessary to create a special kind of social system, it is only necessary to get rid of industrial society. Granted, this will not solve all problems. Industrial society has already done tremendous damage to nature and it will take a very long time for the scars to heal. Besides, even pre-industrial societies can do significant damage to nature. Nevertheless, getting rid of industrial society will accomplish a great deal. It will relieve the worst of the pressure on nature so that the scars can begin to heal. It will remove the capacity of organized society to keep increasing its control over nature (including human nature). Whatever kind of society may exist after the demise of the industrial system, it is certain that most people will live close to nature, because in the absence of advanced technology there is no other way that people CAN live. To feed themselves they must be peasants or herdsmen or fishermen or hunters, etc. And, generally speaking, local autonomy should tend to increase, because lack of advanced technology and rapid communications will limit the capacity of governments or other large organizations to control local communities.

185. As for the negative consequences of eliminating industrial society—well, you can’t eat your cake and have it too. To gain one thing you have to sacrifice another.

186. Most people hate psychological conflict. For this reason they avoid doing any serious thinking about difficult social issues, and they like to have such issues presented to them in simple, black-and-white terms: THIS is all good and THAT is all bad. The revolutionary ideology should therefore be developed on two levels.

187. On the more sophisticated level the ideology should address itself to people who are intelligent, thoughtful and rational. The object should be to create a core of people who will be opposed to the industrial system on a rational, thought-out basis, with full appreciation of the problems and ambiguities involved, and of the price that has to be paid for getting rid of the system. It is particularly important to attract people of this type, as they are capable people and will be instrumental in influencing others. These people should be addressed on as rational a level as possible. Facts should never intentionally be distorted and intemperate language should be avoided. This does not mean that no appeal can be made to the emotions, but in making such appeal care should be taken to avoid misrepresenting the truth or doing anything else that would destroy the intellectual respectability of the ideology.

188. On a second level, the ideology should be propagated in a simplified form that will enable the unthinking majority to see the conflict of technology vs. nature in unambiguous terms. But even on this second level the ideology should not be expressed in language that is so cheap, intemperate or irrational that it alienates people of the thoughtful and rational type. Cheap, intemperate propaganda sometimes achieves impressive short-term gains, but it will be more advantageous in the long run to keep the loyalty of a small number of intelligently committed people than to arouse the passions of an unthinking, fickle mob who will change their attitude as soon as someone comes along with a better propaganda gimmick. However, propaganda of the rabble-rousing type may be necessary when the system is nearing the point of collapse and there is a final struggle between rival ideologies to determine which will become dominant when the old world-view goes under.

189. Prior to that final struggle, the revolutionaries should not expect to have a majority of people on their side. History is made by active, determined minorities, not by the majority, which seldom has a clear and consistent idea of what it really wants. Until the time comes for the final push toward revolution [31], the task of revolutionaries will be less to win the shallow support of the majority than to build a small core of deeply committed people. As for the majority, it will be enough to make them aware of the existence of the new ideology and remind them of it frequently; though of course it will be desirable to get majority support to the extent that this can be done without weakening the core of seriously committed people.

190. Any kind of social conflict helps to destabilize the system, but one should be careful about what kind of conflict one encourages. The line of conflict should be drawn between the mass of the people and the power-holding elite of industrial society (politicians, scientists, upper-level business executives, government officials, etc.). It should NOT be drawn between the revolutionaries and the mass of the people. For example, it would be bad strategy for the revolutionaries to condemn Americans for their habits of consumption. Instead, the average American should be portrayed as a victim of the advertising and marketing industry, which has suckered him into buying a lot of junk that he doesn’t need and that is very poor compensation for his lost freedom. Either approach is consistent with the facts. It is merely a matter of attitude whether you blame the advertising industry for manipulating the public or blame the public for allowing itself to be manipulated. As a matter of strategy one should generally avoid blaming the public.

191. One should think twice before encouraging any other social conflict than that between the power- holding elite (which wields technology) and the general public (over which technology exerts its power). For one thing, other conflicts tend to distract attention from the important conflicts (between power-elite and ordinary people, between technology and nature); for another thing, other conflicts may actually tend to encourage technologization, because each side in such a conflict wants to use technological power to gain advantages over its adversary. This is clearly seen in rivalries between nations. It also appears in ethnic conflicts within nations. For example, in America many black leaders are anxious to gain power for African Americans by placing back individuals in the technological power-elite. They want there to be many black government officials, scientists, corporation executives and so forth. In this way they are helping to absorb the African American subculture into the technological system. Generally speaking, one should encourage only those social conflicts that can be fitted into the framework of the conflicts of power-elite vs. ordinary people, technology vs nature.

192. But the way to discourage ethnic conflict is NOT through militant advocacy of minority rights (see paragraphs 21, 29). Instead, the revolutionaries should emphasize that although minorities do suffer more or less disadvantage, this disadvantage is of peripheral significance. Our real enemy is the industrial- technological system, and in the struggle against the system, ethnic distinctions are of no importance.

193. The kind of revolution we have in mind will not necessarily involve an armed uprising against any government. It may or may not involve physical violence, but it will not be a POLITICAL revolution. Its focus will be on technology and economics, not politics. [32]

194. Probably the revolutionaries should even AVOID assuming political power, whether by legal or illegal means, until the industrial system is stressed to the danger point and has proved itself to be a failure in the eyes of most people. Suppose for example that some “green” party should win control of the United States Congress in an election. In order to avoid betraying or watering down their own ideology they would have to take vigorous measures to turn economic growth into economic shrinkage. To the average man the results would appear disastrous: There would be massive unemployment, shortages of commodities, etc. Even if the grosser ill effects could be avoided through superhumanly skillful management, still people would have to begin giving up the luxuries to which they have become addicted. Dissatisfaction would grow, the “green” party would be voted out of office and the revolutionaries would have suffered a severe setback. For this reason the revolutionaries should not try to acquire political power until the system has gotten itself into such a mess that any hardships will be seen as resulting from the failures of the industrial system itself and not from the policies of the revolutionaries. The revolution against technology will probably have to be a revolution by outsiders, a revolution from below and not from above.

195. The revolution must be international and worldwide. It cannot be carried out on a nation-by-nation basis. Whenever it is suggested that the United States, for example, should cut back on technological progress or economic growth, people get hysterical and start screaming that if we fall behind in technology the Japanese will get ahead of us. Holy robots! The world will fly off its orbit if the Japanese ever sell more cars than we do! (Nationalism is a great promoter of technology.) More reasonably, it is argued that if the relatively democratic nations of the world fall behind in technology while nasty, dictatorial nations like China, Vietnam and North Korea continue to progress, eventually the dictators may come to dominate the world. That is why the industrial system should be attacked in all nations simultaneously, to the extent that this may be possible. True, there is no assurance that the industrial system can be destroyed at approximately the same time all over the world, and it is even conceivable that the attempt to overthrow the system could lead instead to the domination of the system by dictators. That is a risk that has to be taken. And it is worth taking, since the difference between a “democratic” industrial system and one controlled by dictators is small compared with the difference between an industrial system and a non-industrial one. [33] It might even be argued that an industrial system controlled by dictators would be preferable, because dictator-controlled systems usually have proved inefficient, hence they are presumably more likely to break down. Look at Cuba.

196. Revolutionaries might consider favoring measures that tend to bind the world economy into a unified whole. Free trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT are probably harmful to the environment in the short run, but in the long run they may perhaps be advantageous because they foster economic interdependence between nations. It will be easier to destroy the industrial system on a worldwide basis if the world economy is so unified that its breakdown in any one major nation will lead to its breakdown in all industrialized nations.

197. Some people take the line that modern man has too much power, too much control over nature; they argue for a more passive attitude on the part of the human race. At best these people are expressing themselves unclearly, because they fail to distinguish between power for LARGE ORGANIZATIONS and power for INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS. It is a mistake to argue for powerlessness and passivity, because people NEED power. Modern man as a collective entity—that is, the industrial system—has immense power over nature, and we (FC) regard this as evil. But modern INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS OF INDIVIDUALS have far less power than primitive man ever did. Generally speaking, the vast power of “modern man” over nature is exercised not by individuals or small groups but by large organizations. To the extent that the average modern INDIVIDUAL can wield the power of technology, he is permitted to do so only within narrow limits and only under the supervision and control of the system. (You need a license for everything and with the license come rules and regulations.) The individual has only those technological powers with which the system chooses to provide him. His PERSONAL power over nature is slight.

198. Primitive INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS actually had considerable power over nature; or maybe it would be better to say power WITHIN nature. When primitive man needed food he knew how to find and prepare edible roots, how to track game and take it with homemade weapons. He knew how to protect himself from heat, cold, rain, dangerous animals, etc. But primitive man did relatively little damage to nature because the COLLECTIVE power of primitive society was negligible compared to the COLLECTIVE power of industrial society.

199. Instead of arguing for powerlessness and passivity, one should argue that the power of the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM should be broken, and that this will greatly INCREASE the power and freedom of INDIVIDUALS and SMALL GROUPS.

200. Until the industrial system has been thoroughly wrecked, the destruction of that system must be the revolutionaries’ ONLY goal. Other goals would distract attention and energy from the main goal. More importantly, if the revolutionaries permit themselves to have any other goal than the destruction of technology, they will be tempted to use technology as a tool for reaching that other goal. If they give in to that temptation, they will fall right back into the technological trap, because modern technology is a unified, tightly organized system, so that, in order to retain SOME technology, one finds oneself obliged to retain MOST technology, hence one ends up sacrificing only token amounts of technology.

201. Suppose for example that the revolutionaries took “social justice” as a goal. Human nature being what it is, social justice would not come about spontaneously; it would have to be enforced. In order to enforce it the revolutionaries would have to retain central organization and control. For that they would need rapid long-distance transportation and communication, and therefore all the technology needed to support the transportation and communication systems. To feed and clothe poor people they would have to use agricultural and manufacturing technology. And so forth. So that the attempt to insure social justice would force them to retain most parts of the technological system. Not that we have anything against social justice, but it must not be allowed to interfere with the effort to get rid of the technological system.

202. It would be hopeless for revolutionaries to try to attack the system without using SOME modern technology. If nothing else they must use the communications media to spread their message. But they should use modern technology for only ONE purpose: to attack the technological system.

203. Imagine an alcoholic sitting with a barrel of wine in front of him. Suppose he starts saying to himself, “Wine isn’t bad for you if used in moderation. Why, they say small amounts of wine are even good for you! It won’t do me any harm if I take just one little drink.... “ Well you know what is going to happen. Never forget that the human race with technology is just like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine.

204. Revolutionaries should have as many children as they can. There is strong scientific evidence that social attitudes are to a significant extent inherited. No one suggests that a social attitude is a direct outcome of a person’s genetic constitution, but it appears that personality traits are partly inherited and that certain personality traits tend, within the context of our society, to make a person more likely to hold this or that social attitude. Objections to these findings have been raised, but the objections are feeble and seem to be ideologically motivated. In any event, no one denies that children tend on the average to hold social attitudes similar to those of their parents. From our point of view it doesn’t matter all that much whether the attitudes are passed on genetically or through childhood training. In either case they ARE passed on.

205. The trouble is that many of the people who are inclined to rebel against the industrial system are also concerned about the population problems, hence they are apt to have few or no children. In this way they may be handing the world over to the sort of people who support or at least accept the industrial system. To insure the strength of the next generation of revolutionaries the present generation should reproduce itself abundantly. In doing so they will be worsening the population problem only slightly. And the important problem is to get rid of the industrial system, because once the industrial system is gone the world’s population necessarily will decrease (see paragraph 167); whereas, if the industrial system survives, it will continue developing new techniques of food production that may enable the world’s population to keep increasing almost indefinitely.

206. With regard to revolutionary strategy, the only points on which we absolutely insist are that the single overriding goal must be the elimination of modern technology, and that no other goal can be allowed to compete with this one. For the rest, revolutionaries should take an empirical approach. If experience indicates that some of the recommendations made in the foregoing paragraphs are not going to give good results, then those recommendations should be discarded.


207. An argument likely to be raised against our proposed revolution is that it is bound to fail, because (it is claimed) throughout history technology has always progressed, never regressed, hence technological regression is impossible. But this claim is false.

208. We distinguish between two kinds of technology, which we will call small-scale technology and organization-dependent technology. Small-scale technology is technology that can be used by small-scale communities without outside assistance. Organization-dependent technology is technology that depends on large-scale social organization. We are aware of no significant cases of regression in small-scale technology. But organization-dependent technology DOES regress when the social organization on which it depends breaks down. Example: When the Roman Empire fell apart the Romans’ small-scale technology survived because any clever village craftsman could build, for instance, a water wheel, any skilled smith could make steel by Roman methods, and so forth. But the Romans’ organization-dependent technology DID regress. Their aqueducts fell into disrepair and were never rebuilt. Their techniques of road construction were lost. The Roman system of urban sanitation was forgotten, so that not until rather recent times did the sanitation of European cities equal that of Ancient Rome.

209. The reason why technology has seemed always to progress is that, until perhaps a century or two before the Industrial Revolution, most technology was small-scale technology. But most of the technology developed since the Industrial Revolution is organization-dependent technology. Take the refrigerator for example. Without factory-made parts or the facilities of a post-industrial machine shop it would be virtually impossible for a handful of local craftsmen to build a refrigerator. If by some miracle they did succeed in building one it would be useless to them without a reliable source of electric power. So they would have to dam a stream and build a generator. Generators require large amounts of copper wire. Imagine trying to make that wire without modern machinery. And where would they get a gas suitable for refrigeration? It would be much easier to build an icehouse or preserve food by drying or picking, as was done before the invention of the refrigerator.

210. So it is clear that if the industrial system were once thoroughly broken down, refrigeration technology would quickly be lost. The same is true of other organization-dependent technology. And once this technology had been lost for a generation or so it would take centuries to rebuild it, just as it took centuries to build it the first time around. Surviving technical books would be few and scattered. An industrial society, if built from scratch without outside help, can only be built in a series of stages: You need tools to make tools to make tools to make tools ... . A long process of economic development and progress in social organization is required. And, even in the absence of an ideology opposed to technology, there is no reason to believe that anyone would be interested in rebuilding industrial society. The enthusiasm for “progress” is a phenomenon peculiar to the modern form of society, and it seems not to have existed prior to the 17th century or thereabouts.

211. In the late Middle Ages there were four main civilizations that were about equally “advanced”: Europe, the Islamic world, India, and the Far East (China, Japan, Korea). Three of those civilizations remained more or less stable, and only Europe became dynamic. No one knows why Europe became dynamic at that time; historians have their theories but these are only speculation. At any rate, it is clear that rapid development toward a technological form of society occurs only under special conditions. So there is no reason to assume that a long-lasting technological regression cannot be brought about.

212. Would society EVENTUALLY develop again toward an industrial-technological form? Maybe, but there is no use in worrying about it, since we can’t predict or control events 500 or 1,000 years in the future. Those problems must be dealt with by the people who will live at that time.


213. Because of their need for rebellion and for membership in a movement, leftists or persons of similar psychological type often are unattracted to a rebellious or activist movement whose goals and membership are not initially leftist. The resulting influx of leftish types can easily turn a non-leftist movement into a leftist one, so that leftist goals replace or distort the original goals of the movement.

214. To avoid this, a movement that exalts nature and opposes technology must take a resolutely anti-leftist stance and must avoid all collaboration with leftists. Leftism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature, with human freedom and with the elimination of modern technology. Leftism is collectivist; it seeks to bind together the entire world (both nature and the human race) into a unified whole. But this implies management of nature and of human life by organized society, and it requires advanced technology. You can’t have a united world without rapid transportation and communication, you can’t make all people love one another without sophisticated psychological techniques, you can’t have a “planned society” without the necessary technological base. Above all, leftism is driven by the need for power, and the leftist seeks power on a collective basis, through identification with a mass movement or an organization. Leftism is unlikely ever to give up technology, because technology is too valuable a source of collective power.

215. The anarchist [34] too seeks power, but he seeks it on an individual or small-group basis; he wants individuals and small groups to be able to control the circumstances of their own lives. He opposes technology because it makes small groups dependent on large organizations.

216. Some leftists may seem to oppose technology, but they will oppose it only so long as they are outsiders and the technological system is controlled by non-leftists. If leftism ever becomes dominant in society, so that the technological system becomes a tool in the hands of leftists, they will enthusiastically use it and promote its growth. In doing this they will be repeating a pattern that leftism has shown again and again in the past. When the Bolsheviks in Russia were outsiders, they vigorously opposed censorship and the secret police, they advocated self-determination for ethnic minorities, and so forth; but as soon as they came into power themselves, they imposed a tighter censorship and created a more ruthless secret police than any that had existed under the tsars, and they oppressed ethnic minorities at least as much as the tsars had done. In the United States, a couple of decades ago when leftists were a minority in our universities, leftist professors were vigorous proponents of academic freedom, but today, in those of our universities where leftists have become dominant, they have shown themselves ready to take away from everyone else’s academic freedom. (This is “political correctness.”) The same will happen with leftists and technology: They will use it to oppress everyone else if they ever get it under their own control.

217. In earlier revolutions, leftists of the most power-hungry type, repeatedly, have first cooperated with non-leftist revolutionaries, as well as with leftists of a more libertarian inclination, and later have double- crossed them to seize power for themselves. Robespierre did this in the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks did it in the Russian Revolution, the communists did it in Spain in 1938 and Castro and his followers did it in Cuba. Given the past history of leftism, it would be utterly foolish for non-leftist revolutionaries today to collaborate with leftists.

218. Various thinkers have pointed out that leftism is a kind of religion. Leftism is not a religion in the strict sense because leftist doctrine does not postulate the existence of any supernatural being. But, for the leftist, leftism plays a psychological role much like that which religion plays for some people. The leftist NEEDS to believe in leftism; it plays a vital role in his psychological economy. His beliefs are not easily modified by logic or facts. He has a deep conviction that leftism is morally Right with a capital R, and that he has not only a right but a duty to impose leftist morality on everyone. (However, many of the people we are referring to as “leftists” do not think of themselves as leftists and would not describe their system of beliefs as leftism. We use the term “leftism” because we don’t know of any better words to designate the spectrum of related creeds that includes the feminist, gay rights, political correctness, etc., movements, and because these movements have a strong affinity with the old left. See paragraphs 227-230.)

219. Leftism is a totalitarian force. Wherever leftism is in a position of power it tends to invade every private corner and force every thought into a leftist mold. In part this is because of the quasi-religious character of leftism; everything contrary to leftist beliefs represents Sin. More importantly, leftism is a totalitarian force because of the leftists’ drive for power. The leftist seeks to satisfy his need for power through identification with a social movement and he tries to go through the power process by helping to pursue and attain the goals of the movement (see paragraph 83). But no matter how far the movement has gone in attaining its goals the leftist is never satisfied, because his activism is a surrogate activity (see paragraph 41). That is, the leftist’s real motive is not to attain the ostensible goals of leftism; in reality he is motivated by the sense of power he gets from struggling for and then reaching a social goal. [35] Consequently the leftist is never satisfied with the goals he has already attained; his need for the power process leads him always to pursue some new goal. The leftist wants equal opportunities for minorities. When that is attained he insists on statistical equality of achievement by minorities. And as long as anyone harbors in some corner of his mind a negative attitude toward some minority, the leftist has to re-educated him. And ethnic minorities are not enough; no one can be allowed to have a negative attitude toward homosexuals, disabled people, fat people, old people, ugly people, and on and on and on. It’s not enough that the public should be informed about the hazards of smoking; a warning has to be stamped on every package of cigarettes. Then cigarette advertising has to be restricted if not banned. The activists will never be satisfied until tobacco is outlawed, and after that it will be alcohol, then junk food, etc. Activists have fought gross child abuse, which is reasonable. But now they want to stop all spanking. When they have done that they will want to ban something else they consider unwholesome, then another thing and then another. They will never be satisfied until they have complete control over all child rearing practices. And then they will move on to another cause.

220. Suppose you asked leftists to make a list of ALL the things that were wrong with society, and then suppose you instituted EVERY social change that they demanded. It is safe to say that within a couple of years the majority of leftists would find something new to complain about, some new social “evil” to correct because, once again, the leftist is motivated less by distress at society’s ills than by the need to satisfy his drive for power by imposing his solutions on society.

221. Because of the restrictions placed on their thoughts and behavior by their high level of socialization, many leftists of the over-socialized type cannot pursue power in the ways that other people do. For them the drive for power has only one morally acceptable outlet, and that is in the struggle to impose their morality on everyone.

222. Leftists, especially those of the oversocialized type, are True Believers in the sense of Eric Hoffer’s book, “The True Believer.” But not all True Believers are of the same psychological type as leftists. Presumably a true-believing nazi, for instance, is very different psychologically from a true-believing leftist. Because of their capacity for single-minded devotion to a cause, True Believers are a useful, perhaps a necessary, ingredient of any revolutionary movement. This presents a problem with which we must admit we don’t know how to deal. We aren’t sure how to harness the energies of the True Believer to a revolution against technology. At present all we can say is that no True Believer will make a safe recruit to the revolution unless his commitment is exclusively to the destruction of technology. If he is committed also to another ideal, he may want to use technology as a tool for pursuing that other ideal (see paragraphs 220, 221).

223. Some readers may say, “This stuff about leftism is a lot of crap. I know John and Jane who are leftish types and they don’t have all these totalitarian tendencies.” It’s quite true that many leftists, possibly even a numerical majority, are decent people who sincerely believe in tolerating others’ values (up to a point) and wouldn’t want to use high-handed methods to reach their social goals. Our remarks about leftism are not meant to apply to every individual leftist but to describe the general character of leftism as a movement. And the general character of a movement is not necessarily determined by the numerical proportions of the various kinds of people involved in the movement.

224. The people who rise to positions of power in leftist movements tend to be leftists of the most power- hungry type, because power-hungry people are those who strive hardest to get into positions of power. Once the power-hungry types have captured control of the movement, there are many leftists of a gentler breed who inwardly disapprove of many of the actions of the leaders, but cannot bring themselves to oppose them. They NEED their faith in the movement, and because they cannot give up this faith they go along with the leaders. True, SOME leftists do have the guts to oppose the totalitarian tendencies that emerge, but they generally lose, because the power-hungry types are better organized, are more ruthless and Machiavellian and have taken care to build themselves a strong power base.

225. These phenomena appeared clearly in Russia and other countries that were taken over by leftists. Similarly, before the breakdown of communism in the USSR, leftish types in the West would seldom criticize that country. If prodded they would admit that the USSR did many wrong things, but then they would try to find excuses for the communists and begin talking about the faults of the West. They always opposed Western military resistance to communist aggression. Leftish types all over the world vigorously protested the U.S. military action in Vietnam, but when the USSR invaded Afghanistan they did nothing. Not that they approved of the Soviet actions; but because of their leftist faith, they just couldn’t bear to put themselves in opposition to communism. Today, in those of our universities where “political correctness” has become dominant, there are probably many leftish types who privately disapprove of the suppression of academic freedom, but they go along with it anyway.

226. Thus the fact that many individual leftists are personally mild and fairly tolerant people by no means prevents leftism as a whole form having a totalitarian tendency.

227. Our discussion of leftism has a serious weakness. It is still far from clear what we mean by the word “leftist.” There doesn’t seem to be much we can do about this. Today leftism is fragmented into a whole spectrum of activist movements. Yet not all activist movements are leftist, and some activist movements (e.g., radical environmentalism) seem to include both personalities of the leftist type and personalities of thoroughly un-leftist types who ought to know better than to collaborate with leftists. Varieties of leftists fade out gradually into varieties of non-leftists and we ourselves would often be hard-pressed to decide whether a given individual is or is not a leftist. To the extent that it is defined at all, our conception of leftism is defined by the discussion of it that we have given in this article, and we can only advise the reader to use his own judgment in deciding who is a leftist.

228. But it will be helpful to list some criteria for diagnosing leftism. These criteria cannot be applied in a cut and dried manner. Some individuals may meet some of the criteria without being leftists, some leftists may not meet any of the criteria. Again, you just have to use your judgment.

229. The leftist is oriented toward large-scale collectivism. He emphasizes the duty of the individual to serve society and the duty of society to take care of the individual. He has a negative attitude toward individualism. He often takes a moralistic tone. He tends to be for gun control, for sex education and other psychologically “enlightened” educational methods, for social planning, for affirmative action, for multiculturalism. He tends to identify with victims. He tends to be against competition and against violence, but he often finds excuses for those leftists who do commit violence. He is fond of using the common catch- phrases of the left, like “racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “capitalism,” “imperialism,” “neocolonialism,” “genocide,” “social change,” “social justice,” “social responsibility.” Maybe the best diagnostic trait of the leftist is his tendency to sympathize with the following movements: feminism, gay rights, ethnic rights, disability rights, animal rights, political correctness. Anyone who strongly sympathizes with ALL of these movements is almost certainly a leftist. [36]

230. The more dangerous leftists, that is, those who are most power-hungry, are often characterized by arrogance or by a dogmatic approach to ideology. However, the most dangerous leftists of all may be certain oversocialized types who avoid irritating displays of aggressiveness and refrain from advertising their leftism, but work quietly and unobtrusively to promote collectivist values, “enlightened” psychological techniques for socializing children, dependence of the individual on the system, and so forth. These crypto- leftists (as we may call them) approximate certain bourgeois types as far as practical action is concerned, but differ from them in psychology, ideology and motivation. The ordinary bourgeois tries to bring people under control of the system in order to protect his way of life, or he does so simply because his attitudes are conventional. The crypto-leftist tries to bring people under control of the system because he is a True Believer in a collectivistic ideology. The crypto-leftist is differentiated from the average leftist of the oversocialized type by the fact that his rebellious impulse is weaker and he is more securely socialized. He is differentiated from the ordinary well-socialized bourgeois by the fact that there is some deep lack within him that makes it necessary for him to devote himself to a cause and immerse himself in a collectivity. And maybe his (well-sublimated) drive for power is stronger than that of the average bourgeois.


231. Throughout this article we’ve made imprecise statements and statements that ought to have had all sorts of qualifications and reservations attached to them; and some of our statements may be flatly false. Lack of sufficient information and the need for brevity made it impossible for us to formulate our assertions more precisely or add all the necessary qualifications. And of course in a discussion of this kind one must rely heavily on intuitive judgment, and that can sometimes be wrong. So we don’t claim that this article expresses more than a crude approximation to the truth.

232. All the same, we are reasonably confident that the general outlines of the picture we have painted here are roughly correct. Just one possible weak point needs to be mentioned. We have portrayed leftism in its modern form as a phenomenon peculiar to our time and as a symptom of the disruption of the power process. But we might possibly be wrong about this. Oversocialized types who try to satisfy their drive for power by imposing their morality on everyone have certainly been around for a long time. But we THINK that the decisive role played by feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, powerlessness, identification with victims by people who are not themselves victims, is a peculiarity of modern leftism. Identification with victims by people not themselves victims can be seen to some extent in 19th century leftism and early Christianity but as far as we can make out, symptoms of low self-esteem, etc., were not nearly so evident in these movements, or in any other movements, as they are in modern leftism. But we are not in a position to assert confidently that no such movements have existed prior to modern leftism. This is a significant question to which historians ought to give their attention.

[1]. (Paragraph 19) We are asserting that ALL, or even most, bullies and ruthless competitors suffer from feelings of inferiority.

[2] (Paragraph 25) During the Victorian period many oversocialized people suffered from serious psychological problems as a result of repressing or trying to repress their sexual feelings. Freud apparently based his theories on people of this type. Today the focus of socialization has shifted from sex to aggression.

[3] (Paragraph 27) Not necessarily including specialists in engineering or the “hard” sciences.

[4] (Paragraph 28) There are many individuals of the middle and upper classes who resist some of these values, but usually their resistance is more or less covert. Such resistance appears in the mass media only to a very limited extent. The main thrust of propaganda in our society is in favor of the stated values.

The main reason why these values have become, so to speak, the official values of our society is that they are useful to the industrial system. Violence is discouraged because it disrupts the functioning of the system. Racism is discouraged because ethnic conflicts also disrupt the system, and discrimination wastes the talents of minority-group members who could be useful to the system. Poverty must be “cured” because the underclass causes problems for the system and contact with the underclass lowers the morale of the other classes. Women are encouraged to have careers because their talents are useful to the system and, more importantly, because by having regular jobs women become better integrated into the system and tied directly to it rather than to their families. This helps to weaken family solidarity. (The leaders of the system say they want to strengthen the family, but they really mean is that they want the family to serve as an effective tool for socializing children in accord with the needs of the system. We argue in paragraphs 51, 52 that the system cannot afford to let the family or other small-scale social groups be strong or autonomous.)

[5] (Paragraph 42) It may be argued that the majority of people don’t want to make their own decisions but want leaders to do their thinking for them. There is an element of truth in this. People like to make their own decisions in small matters, but making decisions on difficult, fundamental questions requires facing up to psychological conflict, and most people hate psychological conflict. Hence they tend to lean on others in making difficult decisions. But it does not follow that they like to have decisions imposed upon them without having any opportunity to influence those decisions. The majority of people are natural followers, not leaders, but they like to have direct personal access to their leaders, they want to be able to influence the leaders and participate to some extent in making even the difficult decisions. At least to that degree they need autonomy.

[6] (Paragraph 44) Some of the symptoms listed are similar to those shown by caged animals.

To explain how these symptoms arise from deprivation with respect to the power process:

Common-sense understanding of human nature tells one that lack of goals whose attainment requires effort leads to boredom and that boredom, long continued, often leads eventually to depression. Failure to attain goals leads to frustration and lowering of self-esteem. Frustration leads to anger, anger to aggression, often in the form of spouse or child abuse. It has been shown that long-continued frustration commonly leads to depression and that depression tends to cause guilt, sleep disorders, eating disorders and bad feelings about oneself. Those who are tending toward depression seek pleasure as an antidote; hence insatiable hedonism and excessive sex, with perversions as a means of getting new kicks. Boredom too tends to cause excessive pleasure-seeking since, lacking other goals, people often use pleasure as a goal. See accompanying diagram.

The foregoing is a simplification. Reality is more complex, and of course, deprivation with respect to the power process is not the ONLY cause of the symptoms described.

By the way, when we mention depression we do not necessarily mean depression that is severe enough to be treated by a psychiatrist. Often only mild forms of depression are involved. And when we speak of goals we do not necessarily mean long-term, thought-out goals. For many or most people through much of human history, the goals of a hand-to-mouth existence (merely providing oneself and one’s family with food from day to day) have been quite sufficient.

[7] (Paragraph 52) A partial exception may be made for a few passive, inward-looking groups, such as the Amish, which have little effect on the wider society. Apart from these, some genuine small-scale communities do exist in America today. For instance, youth gangs and “cults.” Everyone regards them as dangerous, and so they are, because the members of these groups are loyal primarily to one another rather than to the system, hence the system cannot control them.

Or take the gypsies. The gypsies commonly get away with theft and fraud because their loyalties are such that they can always get other gypsies to give testimony that “proves” their innocence. Obviously the system would be in serious trouble if too many people belonged to such groups.

Some of the early-20th century Chinese thinkers who were concerned with modernizing China recognized the necessity breaking down small-scale social groups such as the family: “(According to Sun Yat-sen) the Chinese people needed a new surge of patriotism, which would lead to a transfer of loyalty from the family to the state.... (According to Li Huang) traditional attachments, particularly to the family had to be abandoned if nationalism were to develop in China.” (Chester C. Tan, “Chinese Political Thought in the Twentieth Century,” page 125, page 297.)

[8] (Paragraph 56) Yes, we know that 19th century America had its problems, and serious ones, but for the sake of brevity we have to express ourselves in simplified terms.

[9] (Paragraph 61) We leave aside the “underclass.” We are speaking of the mainstream.

[10] (Paragraph 62) Some social scientists, educators, “mental health” professionals and the like are doing their best to push the social drives into group 1 by trying to see to it that everyone has a satisfactory social life.

[11] (Paragraphs 63, 82) Is the drive for endless material acquisition really an artificial creation of the advertising and marketing industry? Certainly there is no innate human drive for material acquisition. There have been many cultures in which people have desired little material wealth beyond what was necessary to satisfy their basic physical needs (Australian aborigines, traditional Mexican peasant culture, some African cultures). On the other hand there have also been many pre-industrial cultures in which material acquisition has played an important role. So we can’t claim that today’s acquisition-oriented culture is exclusively a creation of the advertising and marketing industry. But it is clear that the advertising and marketing industry has had an important part in creating that culture. The big corporations that spend millions on advertising wouldn’t be spending that kind of money without solid proof that they were getting it back in increased sales. One member of FC met a sales manager a couple of years ago who was frank enough to tell him, “Our job is to make people buy things they don’t want and don’t need.” He then described how an untrained novice could present people with the facts about a product, and make no sales at all, while a trained and experienced professional salesman would make lots of sales to the same people. This shows that people are manipulated into buying things they don’t really want.

[12] (Paragraph 64) The problem of purposelessness seems to have become less serious during the last 15 years or so, because people now feel less secure physically and economically than they did earlier, and the need for security provides them with a goal. But purposelessness has been replaced by frustration over the difficulty of attaining security. We emphasize the problem of purposelessness because the liberals and leftists would wish to solve our social problems by having society guarantee everyone’s security; but if that could be done it would only bring back the problem of purposelessness. The real issue is not whether society provides well or poorly for people’s security; the trouble is that people are dependent on the system for their security rather than having it in their own hands. This, by the way, is part of the reason why some people get worked up about the right to bear arms; possession of a gun puts that aspect of their security in their own hands.

[13] (Paragraph 66) Conservatives’ efforts to decrease the amount of government regulation are of little benefit to the average man. For one thing, only a fraction of the regulations can be eliminated because most regulations are necessary. For another thing, most of the deregulation affects business rather than the average individual, so that its main effect is to take power from the government and give it to private corporations. What this means for the average man is that government interference in his life is replaced by interference from big corporations, which may be permitted, for example, to dump more chemicals that get into his water supply and give him cancer. The conservatives are just taking the average man for a sucker, exploiting his resentment of Big Government to promote the power of Big Business.

[14] (Paragraph 73) When someone approves of the purpose for which propaganda is being used in a given case, he generally calls it “education” or applies to it some similar euphemism. But propaganda is propaganda regardless of the purpose for which it is used.

[11] (Paragraphs 63, 82) Is the drive for endless material acquisition really an artificial creation of the advertising and marketing industry? Certainly there is no innate human drive for material acquisition. There have been many cultures in which people have desired little material wealth beyond what was necessary to satisfy their basic physical needs (Australian aborigines, traditional Mexican peasant culture, some African cultures). On the other hand there have also been many pre-industrial cultures in which material acquisition has played an important role. So we can’t claim that today’s acquisition-oriented culture is exclusively a creation of the advertising and marketing industry. But it is clear that the advertising and marketing industry has had an important part in creating that culture. The big corporations that spend millions on advertising wouldn’t be spending that kind of money without solid proof that they were getting it back in increased sales. One member of FC met a sales manager a couple of years ago who was frank enough to tell him, “Our job is to make people buy things they don’t want and don’t need.” He then described how an untrained novice could present people with the facts about a product, and make no sales at all, while a trained and experienced professional salesman would make lots of sales to the same people. This shows that people are manipulated into buying things they don’t really want.

[15] (Paragraph 83) We are not expressing approval or disapproval of the Panama invasion. We only use it to illustrate a point.

[16] (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies were under British rule there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there was more personal freedom in pre-industrial America, both before and after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial Revolution took hold in this country. We quote from “Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives,” edited by Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, pages 476-478:

“The progressive heightening of standards of propriety, and with it the increasing reliance on official law enforcement (in 19th century America) ... were common to the whole society.... [T]he change in social behavior is so long term and so widespread as to suggest a connection with the most fundamental of contemporary social processes; that of industrial urbanization itself....”Massachusetts in 1835 had a population of some 660,940, 81 percent rural, overwhelmingly preindustrial and native born. It’s citizens were used to considerable personal freedom. Whether teamsters, farmers or artisans, they were all accustomed to setting their own schedules, and the nature of their work made them physically independent of each other.... Individual problems, sins or even crimes, were not generally cause for wider social concern....”But the impact of the twin movements to the city and to the factory, both just gathering force in 1835, had a progressive effect on personal behavior throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. The factory demanded regularity of behavior, a life governed by obedience to the rhythms of clock and calendar, the demands of foreman and supervisor. In the city or town, the needs of living in closely packed neighborhoods inhibited many actions previously unobjectionable. Both blue- and white-collar employees in larger establishments were mutually dependent on their fellows; as one man’s work fit into anther’s, so one man’s business was no longer his own.

“The results of the new organization of life and work were apparent by 1900, when some 76 percent of the 2,805,346 inhabitants of Massachusetts were classified as urbanites. Much violent or irregular behavior which had been tolerable in a casual, independent society was no longer acceptable in the more formalized, cooperative atmosphere of the later period.... The move to the cities had, in short, produced a more tractable, more socialized, more ‘civilized’ generation than its predecessors.”

If copyright problems make it impossible for this long quotation to be printed, then please change Note 16 to read as follows:

16. (Paragraph 95) When the American colonies were under British rule there were fewer and less effective legal guarantees of freedom than there were after the American Constitution went into effect, yet there was more personal freedom in pre-industrial America, both before and after the War of Independence, than there was after the Industrial Revolution took hold in this country. In “Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives,” edited by Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, Chapter 12 by Roger Lane, it is explained how in pre-industrial America the average person had greater independence and autonomy than he does today, and how the process of industrialization necessarily led to the restriction of personal freedom.

[17] (Paragraph 117) Apologists for the system are fond of citing cases in which elections have been decided by one or two votes, but such cases are rare.

[18] (Paragraph 119) “Today, in technologically advanced lands, men live very similar lives in spite of geographical, religious, and political differences. The daily lives of a Christian bank clerk in Chicago, a Buddhist bank clerk in Tokyo, and a Communist bank clerk in Moscow are far more alike than the life of any one of them is like that of any single man who lived a thousand years ago. These similarities are the result of a common technology....” L. Sprague de Camp, “The Ancient Engineers,” Ballantine edition, page 17.

The lives of the three bank clerks are not IDENTICAL. Ideology does have SOME effect. But all technological societies, in order to survive, must evolve along APPROXIMATELY the same trajectory.

[19] (Paragraph 123) Just think an irresponsible genetic engineer might create a lot of terrorists.

[20] (Paragraph 124) For a further example of undesirable consequences of medical progress, suppose a reliable cure for cancer is discovered. Even if the treatment is too expensive to be available to any but the elite, it will greatly reduce their incentive to stop the escape of carcinogens into the environment.

[21] (Paragraph 128) Since many people may find paradoxical the notion that a large number of good things can add up to a bad thing, we illustrate with an analogy. Suppose Mr. A is playing chess with Mr. B. Mr. C, a Grand Master, is looking over Mr. A’s shoulder. Mr. A of course wants to win his game, so if Mr. C points out a good move for him to make, he is doing Mr. A a favor. But suppose now that Mr. C tells Mr. A how to make ALL of his moves. In each particular instance he does Mr. A a favor by showing him his best move, but by making ALL of his moves for him he spoils his game, since there is not point in Mr. A’s playing the game at all if someone else makes all his moves.

The situation of modern man is analogous to that of Mr. A. The system makes an individual’s life easier for him in innumerable ways, but in doing so it deprives him of control over his own fate.

[22] (Paragraph 137) Here we are considering only the conflict of values within the mainstream. For the sake of simplicity we leave out of the picture “outsider” values like the idea that wild nature is more important than human economic welfare.

[23] (Paragraph 137) Self-interest is not necessarily MATERIAL self-interest. It can consist in fulfillment of some psychological need, for example, by promoting one’s own ideology or religion.

[24] (Paragraph 139) A qualification: It is in the interest of the system to permit a certain prescribed degree of freedom in some areas. For example, economic freedom (with suitable limitations and restraints) has proved effective in promoting economic growth. But only planned, circumscribed, limited freedom is in the interest of the system. The individual must always be kept on a leash, even if the leash is sometimes long (see paragraphs 94, 97).

[25] (Paragraph 143) We don’t mean to suggest that the efficiency or the potential for survival of a society has always been inversely proportional to the amount of pressure or discomfort to which the society subjects people. That certainly is not the case. There is good reason to believe that many primitive societies subjected people to less pressure than European society did, but European society proved far more efficient than any primitive society and always won out in conflicts with such societies because of the advantages conferred by technology.

[26] (Paragraph 147) If you think that more effective law enforcement is unequivocally good because it suppresses crime, then remember that crime as defined by the system is not necessarily what YOU would call crime. Today, smoking marijuana is a “crime,” and, in some places in the U.S., so is possession of an unregistered handgun. Tomorrow, possession of ANY firearm, registered or not, may be made a crime, and the same thing may happen with disapproved methods of child-rearing, such as spanking. In some countries, expression of dissident political opinions is a crime, and there is no certainty that this will never happen in the U.S., since no constitution or political system lasts forever.

If a society needs a large, powerful law enforcement establishment, then there is something gravely wrong with that society; it must be subjecting people to severe pressures if so many refuse to follow the rules, or follow them only because forced. Many societies in the past have gotten by with little or no formal law- enforcement.

[27] (Paragraph 151) To be sure, past societies have had means of influencing human behavior, but these have been primitive and of low effectiveness compared with the technological means that are now being developed.

[28] (Paragraph 152) However, some psychologists have publicly expressed opinions indicating their contempt for human freedom. And the mathematician Claude Shannon was quoted in Omni (August 1987) as saying, “I visualize a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans, and I’m rooting for the machines.”

[29] (Paragraph 154) This is no science fiction! After writing paragraph 154 we came across an article in Scientific American according to which scientists are actively developing techniques for identifying possible future criminals and for treating them by a combination of biological and psychological means. Some scientists advocate compulsory application of the treatment, which may be available in the near future. (See “Seeking the Criminal Element,” by W. Wayt Gibbs, Scientific American, March 1995.) Maybe you think this is OK because the treatment would be applied to those who might become violent criminals. But of course it won’t stop there. Next, a treatment will be applied to those who might become drunk drivers (they endanger human life too), then perhaps to peel who spank their children, then to environmentalists who sabotage logging equipment, eventually to anyone whose behavior is inconvenient for the system.

[30] (Paragraph 184) A further advantage of nature as a counter-ideal to technology is that, in many people, nature inspires the kind of reverence that is associated with religion, so that nature could perhaps be idealized on a religious basis. It is true that in many societies religion has served as a support and justification for the established order, but it is also true that religion has often provided a basis for rebellion. Thus it may be useful to introduce a religious element into the rebellion against technology, the more so because Western society today has no strong religious foundation. Religion, nowadays either is used as cheap and transparent support for narrow, short-sighted selfishness (some conservatives use it this way), or even is cynically exploited to make easy money (by many evangelists), or has degenerated into crude irrationalism (fundamentalist protestant sects, “cults”), or is simply stagnant (Catholicism, main-line Protestantism). The nearest thing to a strong, widespread, dynamic religion that the West has seen in recent times has been the quasi-religion of leftism, but leftism today is fragmented and has no clear, unified, inspiring goal.

Thus there is a religious vacuum in our society that could perhaps be filled by a religion focused on nature in opposition to technology. But it would be a mistake to try to concoct artificially a religion to fill this role. Such an invented religion would probably be a failure. Take the “Gaia” religion for example. Do its adherents REALLY believe in it or are they just play-acting? If they are just play-acting their religion will be a flop in the end.

It is probably best not to try to introduce religion into the conflict of nature vs. technology unless you REALLY believe in that religion yourself and find that it arouses a deep, strong, genuine response in many other people.

[31] (Paragraph 189) Assuming that such a final push occurs. Conceivably the industrial system might be eliminated in a somewhat gradual or piecemeal fashion (see paragraphs 4, 167 and Note 4).

[32] (Paragraph 193) It is even conceivable (remotely) that the revolution might consist only of a massive change of attitudes toward technology resulting in a relatively gradual and painless disintegration of the industrial system. But if this happens we’ll be very lucky. It’s far more probably that the transition to a nontechnological society will be very difficult and full of conflicts and disasters.

[33] (Paragraph 195) The economic and technological structure of a society are far more important than its political structure in determining the way the average man lives (see paragraphs 95, 119 and Notes 16, 18).

[34] (Paragraph 215) This statement refers to our particular brand of anarchism. A wide variety of social attitudes have been called “anarchist,” and it may be that many who consider themselves anarchists would not accept our statement of paragraph 215. It should be noted, by the way, that there is a nonviolent anarchist movement whose members probably would not accept FC as anarchist and certainly would not approve of FC’s violent methods.

[35] (Paragraph 219) Many leftists are motivated also by hostility, but the hostility probably results in part from a frustrated need for power.

[36] (Paragraph 229) It is important to understand that we mean someone who sympathizes with these MOVEMENTS as they exist today in our society. One who believes that women, homosexuals, etc., should have equal rights is not necessary a leftist. The feminist, gay rights, etc., movements that exist in our society have the particular ideological tone that characterizes leftism, and if one believes, for example, that women should have equal rights it does not necessarily follow that one must sympathize with the feminist movement as it exists today.



The computer is transforming our society and our way of life. At first confined to the central offices of large corporations, scientific research institutions, and government agencies, computers are finding widespread application in automobiles, appliances, and small businesses.

Many people have grown concerned about the changes resulting from the spread of computers.
While computers give us welcome relief from drudgery, they have other effects which we do not welcome.

The computer is special because of its relation to the spiritual being here called “Ahriman.”
In the latter parts of this book, Mr. Black attempts to make clear the exact nature of the relation between the computer and the being Ahriman.

1. Introduction

2. Methodology

3. Premises of the History/Demonstration

4. History of the Incarnation of Ahriman in its Macrocosmic Aspect

5. From the Beginning of Time to the End

1. Introduction

The computer is transforming our society and our way of life. At first confined to the central offices of large corporations, scientific research institutions, and government agencies, computers are finding widespread application in automobiles, appliances, and small businesses. In 1980, about 400,000 “personal computers” were sold, bringing the computer as such into many of our lives, more directly than the ubiquitous computer-generated bill.

Many people have grown concerned about the changes resulting from the spread of computers. While few would maintain that having armies of clerks adding columns of figures is better (for the clerks or for the rest of us) than having computers do the work, people complain that they are being dehumanized, reduced to a number or a machine, being made servants of inhuman masters, and in general feeling their lives changed in ways they cannot control and do not like. While computers give us welcome relief from drudgery, they have other effects which we do not welcome.

Norbert Wiener took up this theme as early as 1948. [1] He described the unprecedented rapidity of the changes that science and technology as a whole have brought to society, and emphasized the key role played by cybernetics in bringing this about in its later stages. He also described some of the evil consequences of the changes, but seemed to feel that the evil resided in the social aspect of the new situation, in the uses to which we are putting our new powers.

Since Wiener's time, the field known as “artificial intelligence,” in which one tries to make computers mimic human intelligence, has been established and grown. What started out as dumb, fast machines have developed into automatons which are increasingly able to exhibit human-like characteristics. Joseph Weizenbaum, who devised a program to carry on an intimate conversation in English with a person, reported [2] his dismay when people took what he imagined to be a clever experiment completely seriously. For example, “A number of practicing psychiatrists seriously believed the DOCTOR computer program would grow into a nearly complete automatic form of psychotherapy.” [3] Amidst other important observations and insights, Weizenbaum worried about how, as the machines grow more capable, we imagine ourselves less capable, more like machines, and grow more committed to a mindlessly “scientistic” [4] approach to the world.

Some people have the idea that things with the computer are getting out of control, that the machines are acquiring a kind of autonomy. “In summarizing her recent survey of 50 computer owners, Sherry Turkle, an associate professor of sociology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said consumers liked the feeling of power associated with programming a computer. 'When you program a computer, you feel a great deal of control and mastery,' she said. 'People begin with a desire to make the computer do something, and end up being absorbed by its doing something to them,' she said.” [5] This experience of having the tables turned on one is being repeated at many levels and in many contexts.

This brings us to the idea that the computer is no ordinary machine, that it can wield a power over us that no mere tool could. What is it about the computer that makes it special?

To me this is no abstract question. After programming computers at an advanced level for many years and watching what happened to me and to others who developed intimate relationships with the machines, I confronted this question with a sense of personal urgency and in a troubled mood. Most of the experiences I had were not discussed by those who worked with me; indeed, in the atmosphere that attaches itself to computers, certain things about the machines are nearly unthinkable, though nonetheless true. I had no desire to engage in a romantic reaction against the machines, or to struggle against rationality in any way. What troubled me was that I felt my reasoning powers being boxed in and limited, and I found it difficult to be as rational about all of my experience as I wished to be. I felt the need for more understanding, not less, and began to realize that the computer itself had something to do with my lack of intellectual penetration.

What happened to me many other people have also experienced in varying degrees. Specifically, I noticed that my thinking became more refined and exact, able to carry out extensive logical analyses with facility, but at the same time more superficial and less tolerant of ambiguity or conflicting points of view. My feeling life somehow gradually detached itself from the rest of me. The feelings that were closer to me grew flat and grey; they lost their strength and color, and correspondingly played a less prominent role in my life. The feelings that were farther from me, on the other hand, grew stronger and cruder; they lost much of their human quality and modulation. Finally, in the life of the will, I developed a tremendous capacity for application to the solution of problems connected with the computer, and ability for sustained intellectual concentration far above average, so long as the focus of concentration was the computer. In other areas, I lost will power, and what I had took on an obsessive character. Many other things happened to me as well, but the transformations I have just described are of a general nature, widely experienced, and will serve for the present.

The computer is special because of its relation to the spiritual being here called “Ahriman.” The name Ahriman comes from the Zoroastrian god of darkness, the being eternally opposed to the god of light, who is called Ormazd. In Rudolf Steiner's conception, Ahriman is opposed to Lucifer (literally, light-vessel), and the two of them together are opposed by the redeeming power of the Christ. Steiner's thought is formally similar to the one advanced by Aristotle in the Nichomachean Ethics, in which evil is pictured as having the form of mutually contradictory excessive opposites, both of which are opposed by a good which stands at the mean of the two evils. The general idea, which it is the point of this book to explain in detail, is that the world has been coming increasingly under the sway of this being Ahriman in the course of the last two millennia, with an ever increasing pace in recent centuries, and that the computer represents the vanguard of this development.

It took me a long time to see what relevance such a seemingly abstract and religious concept could have to the manifest realities of electronic technology. The key point in seeing the relevance is to recognize that the division we make between religion and science is a false one, and that the subject matter of both religion and science suffer because, for example, we do not know how to be rational and observant about perfectly objective phenomena which we categorize as religious. As soon as we actively investigate such a subject as the relation between a spiritual being and electronic technology, or even just attempt to penetrate to the core of the technology while leaving none of the facts out of account, it is possible to learn how to be scientific and objective about a wider range of phenomena than is generally thought open to such investigation. This research leads to such results as are described in the later sections of this book, in which I will attempt to make clear the exact nature of the relation between the computer and the being Ahriman.

2. Methodology

“We have demonstrations about the circle, but only conjectures about the soul; the laws of nature are presented with mathematical rigor, but nobody applies a comparable diligence to research on the secrets of thinking. The source of human misery lies in the fact that man devotes more thought to everything but the highest good in life ... Whence we have the clandestine atheism planted in men, the fear of death, doubts about the nature of the soul, the weakest or at least, vacillating pronouncements about God, and the fact that many men are honest by habit or necessity rather than by virtue of their judgment.” [6]

A rather long discussion of methodology will be required if a modern reader is to be expected to make sense out of the arguments and descriptions that follow. The results I have reached are nonsensical in terms of generally accepted scientific notions. But there is a framework in which the results make good sense, and which provides a clear, logical way for arriving at results of this kind. So it is the task of this section to describe this framework, in particular focusing on the methodology I have followed. In addition, I provide an active defense of it on two points which grate on moderns: the reliance on authority (in this case, centrally that of Rudolf Steiner), and taking supersensible beings without a physical body in the ordinary sense to be fully real. Finally, I give a brief description of the logic implicit in my approach, which again is different from the forms ordinarily accepted. While we have come to realize the arbitrary character of axiomatic systems since the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries in the nineteenth century, we have not yet seen that our notion of axiomatic systems as a whole is one of several alternatives, each valid for a particular realm of experience.

2.1 Metaphysical Method

The methodology employed here is one that has been adapted from a more general metaphysical method, [7] that is, from a method designed for and suited to the treatment of questions concerning the totality of the world, which is assumed to contain a component above and beyond what is ordinarily thought of as “matter.” [8]This is not the place to state the general argument for why the world does have a non-material component, and thus why there is a need for a metaphysical method as a more inclusive replacement of the manifestly simpler materialist method. [9] Such questions are in any case generally not settled by means of arguments, however astute and cogent the arguments may be. Our powers of reasoning have been so weakened through prolonged exposure to scientism that we have learned not to trust our rational faculty whenever a truly important question is at hand, and thus sacrifice use of the facility which could most positively settle the issue. So I will simply employ the broader method, and hope that few will regret the lack of argument in its defense.

Metaphysical method starts from the recognition that every person has (whether as a result of individual striving or unconscious schooling) an attitude or stance with respect to the world and the knowledge that can be won from it. In practice, it is impossible to take a “neutral” stance to the world while one conducts an exhaustive investigation and inventory of its contents, reserving all judgment until the full results have been tabulated. So each of us necessarily adopts some stance or other usually not even on the basis of partial information, but as a result of his or her class, culture, schooling, etc. The materialist method either ignores the question of stance, or considers it to be inconsequential, imagining all the “facts” in the world to be of roughly uniform size and density, and that a determined pursuit of what it imagines to be objectively existing “facts” will put them all right in the end. Metaphysical method, on the other hand, considers the stance that humans take toward them to be of at least as much importance as the facts themselves, playing a large role in establishing or even creating the facts in the first place, and a determining role in the path a person takes through this world (i.e., the selection of the tiny portion actually experienced from the myriad of what might potentially be experienced).

The main task of metaphysical method (in this context) is to establish the “true” attitude towards a given set of facts. There is room for legitimate disagreement among those who pursue this method, just as there is among those who work in an accepted scientific field, and there are also right and wrong answers, and fruitful and fruitless avenues of investigation. Metaphysical method maintains that it is out of such stuff as “attitudes” that the destiny of souls is woven, and that this is the source of the method's importance.

Now it must be admitted that attitudes and facts are woven together, and reflect upon each other. (Modern philosophers of science have gone so far as to admit that our attitudes affect our perception of facts. [10] ) This has already been mentioned, and far from being a defect, is a motivation for taking our attitudes seriously and making a special study of them.

The drama of a good detective story provides an illustration of the relationship between faceless facts and our weighing and weaving of them into a single web. As the story proceeds, all the facts on which the final understanding is based are mentioned, but because they make no sense in the context of the theory being built up, they are ignored by the reader and by the story's detective. As each fact is recognized for what it is, one's understanding of all the other facts shifts and alters; a wholesale alteration can occur repeatedly in the course of a single story. The master detective has to pursue two contradictory courses simultaneously, first, he has to build up as complete a theory as he can out of the facts at his disposal and pursue it as though it were certainly true, and second he has to doubt his theory with unalloyed cynicism, always looking for facts or perspectives which would cause it to collapse.

The detective's attitude is very much like that of a certain kind of scientist, the kind who can bolster a theory and rip it apart with equal facility. As one moves along the progression from detective to scientist to metaphysicist (or spiritual scientist), the range of facts to be accounted for goes from narrowly limited to as nearly all-inclusive as possible, and the focus of attention goes from being largely absorbed with the facts to being explicitly concerned with the response to the facts, or with the facts as seen in the broadest context. One starts out seeing facts as fixed and primary, and ends up seeing them as flexible and secondary.

It is possible to imagine that metaphysics is something like a psychology of scientific discovery. Actually, metaphysics has little to do with the subject matter of modem psychology, or even with the supposed “psychic” world that parapsychology attempts to penetrate. Imagine that a person starts out life a totally isolated ego, unable to make contact of any kind with an outer world. Then the person reaches out, and eventually finds a full, coherent, objective world which fills his experience. This is what the modern world understands as the normal condition of an adult human being. Now ask the question: what has reached? Where and of what is the “arm” that reached? Because we are ordinarily not aware of the reaching, and do not think of it, we picture the physical world as being immediately there, nothing more than sound or light waves (which are also a part of it) being required to bring it to us. We relegate the choice of what comes to our awareness to the psychological notion of “attention.” But in fact, the physical world which seems so immediate to us is (as a whole) as distant from us as it is possible for something to be. The gap between us and the world is filled with living substance, with a stuff which is a varied mixture of me, us, not-me, and not-us, any part of which is closer to us and more real than any part of what we think of as the physical world. It is this which maintains the distance between subject and object, and also which keeps them together. It is in this ultra-real world that our destiny is made into events and experiences. And this is the world which the metaphysician studies.

The world which the metaphysician studies is the unity or oneness in which our dual or split world has its origin. Since that world is nowhere to be found here, the researcher must position himself in the emptiness where it would be if it were here, which is in the gulf which separates subject and object, and to which our most immediate access is given by what I have characterized as “stance.” The modern scientist ordinarily absorbs himself in the object world, and takes all that his senses convey to him as being the ground of reality. The world of the subject he experiences as something present but inessential, an observer, and a source of generally unreliable commentary. The critical idealist (of which Kant is the prototype) is aware of the logical incongruities inherent in this position. He takes with full seriousness the way we confront the world from within ourselves and unavoidably impose our theories on our perceptions, constructing all sorts of notions about the source of our perceptions, but unable actually to meet or confront that source directly. The existence of realists and idealists, each caught in worlds which seem phantom-like to the other, provides a stark illustration of the subject and object worlds which are separated from each other by a seemingly unbridgeable gap. The metaphysician, affirming what is positive in each of these positions, and taking what is negative as a signpost to the interworld “emptiness” he seeks, stands resolutely in both worlds, using the contradictions between them as the force which sustains him in the emptiness, rising, until the single creative source of each reveals itself to him.

This experience is not a merely subjective experience of mystical unity or cosmic ecstasy, having no significance in the world of facts or theoretical understanding. It is like discovering a theory which has the perceptual thereness and irrefutable permanence of an observed fact, and at the same time a fact which has the transparent clarity and connectedness of a penetrating theory. It is for this reason that metaphysical method requires as a prerequisite the acquisition of the skills ordinarily valued in the subjective and objective realms, and in addition certain religious virtues which provide the actual conduit for the experiences described here.

2.2 Defense of the Methodology

A defense of metaphysical method on every point is too large a task to attempt here. I have chosen instead to consider in detail two points of apparent conflict between modern thought and metaphysical method to illustrate the kinds of defense that can be made. I have chosen a single type of argument among many as being appropriate, namely, showing that the differences are not as great as we think, so that attacks made on this method are equally appropriate to modern method.

First, the question of authorities. The contrast we draw between the present practice and the previous one (which has much in common with the metaphysical method) is that “pre-scientific” papers used to establish points by referring to the revered figures who agreed with the author (a popularity contest), while now they establish points by a combination of experimental, data and strict mathematical reasoning (the test of experience and truth). There are many ways in which this contrast is misleading and self-serving.

Many important points are now established by a modern version of the popularity contest. An example is the way in which the von Neumann “disproof” of the hidden variable theory in quantum mechanics gained broad acceptance in spite of the small number of people who understood it. Von Neumann's tremendous prestige as a mathematician, coupled with his extremely long, abstruse proof, resulted in the nearly immediate acceptance of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, in spite of the fact that the proof, as has since been shown., has serious difficulties. [11]

More importantly, the scientific system as a whole is something we accept on authority. We do not go carefully, assuring ourselves of its validity a step at a time, as we learn to accept science. We accept it first, and may or may not actually internalize any of its explicitly held precepts. Most of us are not educated in science, and even those few of us who become proficient in some science do so after having first been thoroughly steeped in an atmosphere in which science is assumed to be authoritative. Our idea of who or what constitutes authority has changed, but our reliance on authority as such certainly has not.

It is disingenuous to claim that the ancients eschewed experience as a path of knowledge in favor of authority. They respected experience so much that they believed haying experience to be a skill in itself. They took highly skilled “experiencers” to be like fine Instruments, and put faith and trust in them just as we do in our machines. We, too, have our authorities, only they are for the most part not people; they are machines and logic.

When the ancients wished to examine physical things, they used their senses and built instruments to aid them when necessary. But they were not as concerned with the material world as we are. To answer most of the questions posed in the books we castigate as being authority-ridden, we would be unable to construct physical instruments to aid us. But the ancients knew that instruments were nonetheless needed, that the naive and untutored are unlikely to stumble across the answers to deep and subtle questions. So they subjected talented people to rigorous training, to make these people into instruments of (directly seen) knowledge, and listened with respect to what they reported. What can seem to us as undue reliance on authorities is often simply proper respect for the sort of instrument most relevant to the question at hand.

This brings us to the role of Rudolf Steiner, the primary “authority” in this case. His role is the same as the research scientist who presents his findings to a product development group of a company. The group could not have arrived at the results themselves, but they are in a position to test them, and to judge them based on their overall knowledge of the field and the previous results of the scientist. In order to do this, they have to know and trust the scientist's methods — if his previous successes have been the result only of happy coincidence, there is no reason to trust the next one. A superstitious person and a scientist might make the same prediction in a particular case, and our differing responses depend on our knowledge of the methodology which led to the result.

But the case of the spiritual investigator is different from the ordinary scientist in that his explicit work on himself has transformed what was simply attitudes towards facts (the attitudes being subjective and the facts objective) into a whole new world of facts, just as objective but more real (deeper, more inclusive, and there) than the usual set. This is the origin as facts of the supersensible beings which will be mentioned in this book, and which are treated as are any other fact which one did not discover on one's own.

Having considered the question of authority, I will now turn to the question of occult worlds and unseen beings. What we say is that people used to project their feelings on nature, and imagine an animate world hidden behind the inanimate one, while now we simply investigate the phenomena we find, and construct testable theories to account for them. But what is so much better about projecting our thoughts onto phenomena in the way we suppose the ancients to have projected their feelings? The whole point of modern science is not to rest content with the phenomena as experienced, but to “pierce through them” to the supposed “physical laws” they express, in other words, to construct a hidden or occult world which orders the manifest phenomena. The occult nature of modern physical science has long been recognized; Newton was attacked by his contemporaries not for his science, but because of what was seen as the occult nature of the gravitational force. And we are more content in our occult world than we are in the supposed primary one; theory now often precedes observation, rather than following it, and our greatest scientists put as much or more credence in good theories as they do in observations. [12]

Once we recognize the way in which modern science describes a speculative occult world which lies behind the phenomena we experience, we can consider the next level of argument. Even if modern science has a certain occult quality, the argument goes, it is an occultism which is superior to the old occultism. Because of science's strict reliance on experimental method, it obtains better results than the old occultism, and is therefore to be preferred to it.

Certainly we have been able to make many measurements and predictions more accurately than the ancients — but this is in spite of our “occult” method rather than because of it. We have won many battles over accurate measurements not because of superior weapons, but because of having more of them; we have won by means of the scale of our war machine, not its efficiency or appropriateness. The history of astronomy, usually taken to exemplify the triumph of modern science, can be used to show precisely the opposite: the misrepresentation of its history incidentally provides evidence of the disingenuousness and lack of self-consciousness of modem “occultism.”

The picture we have is that Ptolemy constructed his arbitrary system of planetary spheres in a primitive attempt at celestial mechanics, and had to introduce all sorts of “fixes” just to make it work at all. [13] Then along came Copernicus, who advanced the heliocentric view against a millennium of tradition, because the emerging scientific mood demanded a theory which fit the facts better than Ptolemy's. Finally, Kepler saw that orbits were ellipses, and the modem age was launched.

The real story is more interesting. It starts with the Babylonians, who accumulated many centuries of planetary observations, and who by the third century before Christ determined things like the period of the Sun to an accuracy not surpassed by modem astronomy until the nineteenth century, using a purely empirical theory. [14] Then, using Babylonian observations, Ptolemy (c. 100 - c. 178) constructed his theory to “save the appearances.” [15] That he needed such a theory shows that modernism was already at work in him, but he did not reify his concepts, nor did he introduce elaborate ideal notions into them. Although he maintained that all motion in the heavens is spherical, he introduced the equant into his constructions, which made his circles mathematically equivalent to ellipses.

Copernicus appeared on the scene in the sixteenth century. He admitted that he rarely made observations, and stated a prime motivation to be establishing the planetary orbits as perfect circles. [16] Therefore, putting theory ahead of observation he threw out Ptolemy's ellipse construction, and talked about how the Sun is “really” the center of our system. Actually, of course, one can treat either the earth or the Sun as the center of our system — it is only a question of where one would prefer (as a matter of convenience) the center of the coordinate system to be. Copernicus, however, thought this matter of coordinate systems — which does not affect the phenomena one way or the other — to be crucially important. In so doing, he is properly thought to stand at the beginning of our age, because he took what is not and cannot be seen and which does not alter phenomena to be more important than the phenomena themselves. The significance of Kepler is that he worked within the new “occult” realm and showed how more elaborate ideas may be used within it; he improved the efficiency of the method without altering its quality. [17] History shows that, to the extent they cared about what we care about, the ancients obtained unqualifiedly admirable results, and that they did so without postulating elaborate worlds which stand unseen behind the phenomena; we are the occultists, not they. And if we use “results” as the measurement of virtue, our method does not stand up as well as theirs, since we have a commitment to the direct connection between the occult world and the world of phenomena which the ancients were not hobbled by. Perhaps that is why they were able to obtain results more accurate than the accuracy of their observational tools with such an economy of means.

There are important differences between the occult world postulated by modem science and the one observed by some of the ancients and a few modern spiritual scientists. In particular, my occult world is populated by living beings. But an occult world of living beings is not intrinsically more difficult to justify than an occult world of mathematically expressed “laws,” or other mathematical quasi-objects such as “atoms” or “electrons,” once some occult world has been admitted to exist. Of course, we are not used to having our occult world populated by living beings; we find it strange and uncomfortable — but what of that? The only scientific question is: can we know that world (to the extent that an occult world is knowable), can we show by its use that we can account for phenomena which otherwise leave us perplexed? Once we arrive at this question, it is possible that the ground is emotionally and intellectually cleared for the new thoughts to be advanced here, and we may proceed.

2.3 Material and Spiritual Logic

Since this is a book about computers and not methodology itself, the present discussion of methodology must soon come to an end. But because something called “Ahriman” will be brought into a definite association with the machines, one more set of thoughts must still be conveyed, thoughts about the logic which permeates our thinking.

The laws of thought and logic which have developed in the west starting with the Greeks are adequate for treating the nature of the computer in a clear way. But it is impossible to treat adequately the notion of “Ahriman” and remain within the bounds of ordinary logic; one is compelled to choose between being truthful but unclear and illogical, and clear and consistent but misleading. The source of the problem is that, with a few notable exceptions, our logic has come to us through immersion in the material aspect of the world. It is not ail-inclusively about thought, but is more narrowly about thought-of-matter. As a result, we cannot think clearly (in the ordinary sense) about something such as Ahriman which does not have a simply material existence.

So as a final methodological subject, I must indicate briefly the nature of the logic which underlies the main content of this book, and which also underlies other internally transparent expositions of spiritual realities. For simplicity's sake, I will call all the ordinary logics from the syllogism through the predicate calculus “material logic,” and the family of logics whose general characteristics I will outline here “spiritual logic.”

Material logic has appeared in many different forms, and has undergone significant transformations during its history. Even relatively small differences of notation have at times had a major impact. But there are certain characteristics which all material logics share. All are based on a relatively small set of statements called axioms or postulates. Axioms are the basis of any logical system because they appear first, asserted by the constructor of the system for his own meta-logical reasons. Axioms are extremely simple statements, so simple that their truth is self-evident. At one time axioms were held to be universally true, but now it is generally accepted that they are arbitrary, that they form a system's basis not because of their necessary truth, but because a system must be based on something.

A famous axiom in geometry is “parallel lines in a plane never meet.” [18] In symbolic logic, a typical axiom is “a or not-a,” which states that a proposition must either be true or its negation must be true.

Two distinct sorts of objects which are found within logical systems may be called operands and operators. [19] Operands are the passive objects of the system. In geometry, they are things like points and lines, while in propositional logic they might consist simply of “true” and “false.” Operators are the dynamic actors of the system, typically serving to relate operands to each other. In arithmetic, “plus” is an operator, and in propositional logic, “and” is a typical operator. Statements in the logical system consist of lawful sequences of operands and operators.

Logical systems must also have transformation rules, which turn one true statement into another true statement. These are perhaps most familiar to us in algebra, in which a simple transformation rule might be

This rule expresses the thought that if one starts with any equation “s=t” and adds a constant “c” to each side of the equation, the truth-value of the equation is unaltered. When applied to the axioms, the transformation rules allow one to produce an indefinitely large number of true statements, the most significant of which are termed theorems. Theorems are simply compound statements which have been spun out of the axioms by means of the application of the transformation rules in a particular order.

Just as axioms are the basis of a logical system, the theorems are in a sense the goal of it. Theorems are often complicated enough so that their truth is not self-evident to most of us, but can nonetheless be shown to be as true as the axioms. In the appropriate circumstances, showing a statement to be necessarily true or false (proving or disproving a conjectured theorem) can be challenging and useful.

To make the notion of a logical system clear, consider a system which we may call “the odd numbers.” [20]

The system's definition has three parts. The first is the alphabet, which is the set of signs which may appear in statements. In this case, the alphabet has only one sign, “1”. The second is the set of axioms, in this case the single axiom “1”. Finally, there is a single production rule as illustrated,

where “x” is understood to stand for any statement (axiom or theorem). The rule states that any true statement remains true after “II” is appended to it. Successive application of the production rule to the axiom results in the theorems “111”, “11111”, “1111111”, etc. If one interprets each series of ones as representing a number (in the unary number system), it is evident that our logical system encompasses the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. While this system is trivial, more complicated systems are different only in having larger alphabets, more axioms, [21] and more production rules.

The power of material logic derives from the fact that it is purely formal. It is nothing but a set of rules which tell how to transform strings of signs into other strings of signs. The signs have no meaning of their own. They are not symbols or even signs of anything: it is not necessary to admit any commonality between four objects and the sign “4” in order to have a logically sound system of arithmetic. In fact, it is a miracle of felicity that correspondences nonetheless exist, that accurate maps of much of the world can be made out of a totally vacuous system. To a logician, though, perhaps a greater delight is the way that theorems of such power, beauty, and subtlety can be built up out of a small pile of trivialities.

In material logic, the idea of higher order logics is already present. For example, one speaks of primary logic or simple propositional logic, and then of general logic which includes quantifiers such as “some” and “every.” This way of building a logic brings into play a (symbolically speaking) vertical element, but the vertical element is unfortunately of a false kind. This point may be grasped by a comparison to the plant and animal kingdoms, in which animals are a genuinely higher order of being than plants; they add a qualitative element (with appropriate physical expression) not present in plants. If the animal kingdom were higher order in the sense that term may be understood in material logic, animals would be constructed out of the same principles and materials as plants, the only difference being that they would somehow feed on other plants instead of or in addition to conducting photosynthesis. Indeed, parasitic plants such as mistletoe and insect eating plants such as the Venus's-fly trap are counterfeit animals, higher-order plants, in this sense.

Truly higher-order logics are, however, possible. I know of two levels, and more may exist. The level immediately above material logic is a logic of metamorphosis and transformation in a world ruled by dynamic polarities. Goethe sensed this logic while he did his botanical studies, and Hegel developed it under the rubric of dialectics. I have described this logic in a preliminary way and demonstrated its application in detail elsewhere. While material logic is appropriate to the mineral world, this first higher order logic permeates wherever living being unfolds itself organically,

It is the second order logic which is of interest to us here, and which I have termed spiritual logic. So far as I know, a formalism in which statements in this logic may be expressed has never been devised, nor will I present one here. Nonetheless, it is possible to see that spiritual logic permeates spiritual realities in a way appropriate to their nature, and that people who have investigated these realities in an exact way have intuitively made their descriptions conform to spiritual logic, whether or not they were consciously aware of the fact. In what follows, I will attempt to characterize and describe spiritual logic, but not fully define it.

Spiritual logic is related to material logic by a series of inversions, reversals, and coalescings involving its central elements and characteristics. The most obvious inversion involves the vacuousness that characterizes material logic as a whole. Its signs and strings are empty, arbitrary, and trivially obvious. The alphabet is nothing but a set of place holders. The theorems, however clever, are mechanically derivable from the axioms via the production rules. In spiritual logic, it is appropriate to say that one finds not signs but symbols. All the statements, both axioms and theorems, indicate sources of meaning, being, and quality. Of course, the marks that one might make on a piece of paper superficially appear similar to those of material logic. The point is that material logic may be fully represented by marks on paper, while spiritual logic may only be appropriately indicated by correctly formed graphic symbols.

Material logic is more trivial in its axioms and more sophisticated in its theorems, some of which take a stroke of genius to discover. Its axioms are so obvious that beginning students are often confused by them: who in his right mind would trouble to state the principle of identity, that any variable or constant is equal to itself? In spiritual logic, this relation is reversed — the axioms are full, necessary, and the part of the system which is the most profound and difficult to understand, while the theorems are (relatively speaking) easier to grasp and arbitrary. The point in material logic is to discover and elucidate theorems; in spiritual logic, one stumbles across theorems more easily, and the point is to elucidate the axioms, the profound sources of the system.

Another aspect of the reversal of the relation between axioms and theorems concerns unity and compounded-ness. In material logic, axioms are simple statements, while theorems are almost always compound. In spiritual logic, the axioms are still in some sense unities, but they are so in a complex, multi-faceted way, while by the time one gets out to the consequents, the theorems, the complexity is at least greatly reduced. The theorems most distant from the axioms are simple irreducibles, such as individual percepts experienced by humans.

In most instances of material logic (though not in the example given above — think instead of algebra), there is a clear distinction between passive operands and active operators. A similar distinction holds between passive logic systems and active abstract (e.g. Turing) machines, even though one can completely model one in terms of the other. [22] Again, one distinguishes between active production rules and passive theorems. Although such dualities pervade material logic, it is as a whole passive (substance-like) in relation to spiritual logic, which as a whole is active (essence-like). A facet of this relation appeared in the discussion of the fullness and emptiness of the logics above.

As one moves from passive (as a whole) material logic to active spiritual logic, the duality active/passive recedes into the background, so that for example the clear distinction between operands (such as variables in an equation) and operators (such as “+”) disappears. The symbols of spiritual logic partake of the natures of substance and of essence at the same time.

Spiritual logic is not an alternative to material logic, because it does not supersede material logic in that logic's proper realm of application. One must still be able to ferret out and eliminate ordinary-logic contradictions. However, this admirable practice universally applied, effectively makes one unable to think about phenomena which have a primarily spiritual basis. Hence spiritual logic, which provides a basis for thinking clearly about spiritual realities, and which is implicit in (and thus necessary for rationally comprehending) existing expositions of spiritual phenomena.

3. Premises of the History/Demonstration

In this section I will describe the premises or axioms on which the more concrete history that follows is based, or, from another point of view, which permeate and animate the historical events. According to the principles of the logic introduced in the previous section, all that it will be possible to do here is to identify the relevant premises, name them, and give a preliminary, rather structural description of them. Nonetheless, I will try to enliven the descriptions by giving some of the direct consequences and correlates of the axioms by way of illustration.

In the world as we usually think of it there is no room or place for any beings which are not manifestly and obviously part of it. Since I will draw a connection between such a being and the world, evidently I am not talking about the world as we usually conceive it, which conception is in itself a symptom of the influence of Ahriman. In order to reveal the existence and presence of Ahriman we must put aside the concealing conception and replace it with something that may be (for convenience) called the “created world.” This is the first axiom.

A created world is one which does occupy a certain level of existence, but does not do so necessarily. It does not generate its existence out of itself. One need not say that the creation took place at a certain time, before which there was nothing; rather, one says that the major work of creation is the establishment of the world's matrix, the (metaphorically speaking) place which will contain the world's content. This matrix or vessel we call space and time. From this it is clear that the world was created at the beginning of time, since there was not time before it was created.

The “place” where the world would be was empty before the world was created, but this requires that there be something in some other (symbolically speaking, higher) “place” which does exist and is capable of initiating existence, and which did in fact perform the act of creating our world. It is irrelevant to explore this world further. To think of it as “heaven” or “God” would be improper and inexact. It is sufficient to realize that an existence of a different and higher kind than our own is a logical necessity if our world may properly be termed “created.”

The condition of the created world is formed or permeated by an axiom of high order which we may call “twoness.” This axiom appears in many guises, and is at the root of several concepts which will prove fundamental to our discussion. It is perhaps more familiar to us as the notion of “polarity” in which two mutually contradictory principles are seen as dynamically opposed to each other, and are in fact complementary aspects of a unified entity. The physicist Niels Bohr, who did so much to establish such polarities as wave/particle duality against great resistance, stated it as, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” Polarity, while serving as a good introduction to it, is not identical to twoness, but is only one of its facets; we shall meet more of them later.

Leaving “oneness” aside for the moment, let us now turn to the axiom “zeroness,” or “nothingness,” which we have already touched upon in describing what there was when there was no created world. The difficulties we have in understanding this axiom within the context of the created world, itself ruled by twoness, provide a good illustration of the meaning of twoness. For how are we to understand nothingness, except by imagining what there is when there is not something? We have trouble picturing nothingness as an absolute, depending on itself alone for its definition — we are forced to admit that nothingness would be »indefinable, have no meaning at all, were it not for a “something” with which to contrast it. But zeroness is an axiom that exists independently of twoness, even though we are bound to picture it from within a created world where twoness is the rule. Beyond what little has already been hinted at, though, there is (appropriately) little indeed that may be said of zeroness.

Oneness, which may also be termed “unity”, stands intermediate to the previous two axioms. Oneness rules when the world has been created in its existence, but before it has been given form. Unity prevails in the matrix of the world mentioned above, the being which holds the world, which is then cast into a state of multiplicity, the state in which we encounter the unified being. Unity prevails if one manages to climb back up the ontogenetic ladder of creation out of where twoness rules — then one speaks, as the Buddhists do, of overcoming the false distinction between subject and object (a facet of twoness), or, as in Islam, of the absolute and unqualified unity of God.

Now we will explore several of the major facets of twoness in the created world. One such facet is known by the names of its two ends, microcosm (little world) and macrocosm (great world). This facet is important because it is identified with the human being, and is a door through which knowledge of the things described here may be obtained directly. Specifically, every person participates in and is a variation of the prototypical human, which is the microcosm. Universal man, the macrocosm, is identified generally with the non-human world at large, and specifically with the celestial world — the world of the seven planets and the twelve signs. Microcosm/macrocosm is an aspect of twoness which defines the structure of the world as it is experienced by every human being; it describes how a potential human being is inserted into the created world.

The process of inserting a human into the created world which has just been mentioned is generally referred to as “incarnation,” and merits discussion in its own right. In order for a potential human being to become a part of the created world, he must follow the path of the world's creation — otherwise, he would end up in some place other than merged into the created world, which is the presumptive goal of the incarnation process. The human is first lifted out of nothingness and into simple being, into what is for us the way station of oneness or unity. Then the human crosses the boundary from oneness to twoness, appearing simultaneously at the two boundaries of the created world. The first boundary, corresponding to the microcosm, is the indefinitely small point, physically represented by the fertilized egg cell. The second boundary, corresponding to the macrocosm, is the indefinitely distant plane or sphere, the periphery of the universe, symbolized by the zodiac. This transition point between oneness and twoness is represented symbolically by the ouroboros (the snake biting its tail), because the head and tail of the snake are more distant from each other than any parts of the snake, but may also be joined more intimately than any other parts, in which state the snake is a closed figure, without beginning or end. Once the transition into twoness has been effected, essential merger with the created world has been achieved, and the incarnation is completed by means of a metamorphic development, the details of which need not concern us here.

A facet of twoness which is directly manifested in human experience is that of subject and object. The subject is what (or, more typically, who) we are, while the object is what (rarely who) we are not. Like all aspects of twoness, these appear to be absolutely distinct from each other, with no possibility of their being joined or even truly communicating.

A closely related facet of twoness is that of spirit and matter. The status of this polarity has become clouded in modern times because of the increasingly widespread denial that the term “spirit” denotes anything but delusional thinking. The closest the modern world has come to recognizing this polarity is in the notion in physics of matter and energy, and the equivalence between them. In this conception, a “piece” of matter is seen as a tightly bound concentration of a tremendous quantity of energy, which, like spirit, is thought of as pure dynamism, activity without any substantial or physical basis whatsoever. In Hindu doctrine, the analog of matter is Prakriti, which is passive and substantial, while spirit is analogous to Purusha, which is active and essential.

In the manifestation of a created world, the numbers each rule the world in sequence, though none of them ever ceases every form of existence, as is shown by the possibility of experiencing oneness through mysticism while incarnated into a world where twoness is the rule. This brings us to the notion of sequence in the forms of manifestation of the created world. (I use the word “sequence” in an attempt to dissociate the changes from our ordinary notion of time, which requires the experience of differences, an experience which was first made possible by the rule of twoness.) During oneness, all of creation is together, without real separateness; this state is represented in the Bible as the Garden of Eden. After the Expulsion, the reign of twoness began, and along with it our present time and what may be termed “evolution.” This term is the exclusive property of twoness, and denotes the working out of the essential properties of twoness, the most central of which revolve around difference and distinction. During evolution, distinctions appear where there had been none, and existing differences are sharpened and increased. So one may say that during evolution man is separated from the gods (expelled from the Garden, cut off from higher levels of being); man is separated from his own self (the separation of microcosm and macrocosm, the limiting of communication with the higher self to the “voice of conscience”); languages (the tower of Babel), races, nations, and sexes appear; species appear and differentiate; and in general all being grows fragmented and separate.

The introduction of “threeness” is the turning point in the development of twoness and of evolution. Just as two is the number of evolution, three is the number of what has been called “involution,” which is the inverse of evolution, namely, an overcoming of the differences and a return of a transformed man to the lap of the gods. When threeness completely overcomes twoness, time will come to an end and the sequentiality of the created world in anything resembling its present state will be at an end.

At this point it is appropriate to introduce our three main concepts in the form in which they will appear in the rest of this book: Lucifer, the personified facet of oneness, Ahriman, of twoness, and the Christ, of threeness. Our main protagonist is of course Ahriman, who personifies the tendencies unique to the age in which we live, and who will be associated with that characteristic product of our age, the computer. But understanding something means at least in part seeing it in its proper context, and the context of Ahriman includes Lucifer and the Christ.

In order to form a more vivid initial picture of Ahriman, let us turn to what may be called the mythology of Ahriman. Rudolf Steiner tells us that the ahrimanic beings [23] are “the greatest, the most comprehensive and penetrating intelligences in the Cosmos.” [24] But this intelligence is calculating, it is freezing cold, so much so that “the more [Ahriman] achieves his aims the severer is the frost around him ...” [25] The intelligence of Ahriman reduces everything it works with to measure, weight, and number. It is mechanistic and deterministic. There are ways of being intelligent that are not Ahriman's way; but since “the Gods ... release[d] the cosmic intellectuality so that it may become a part of human nature,” and since the ahrimanic beings used their capacity “to unite with their own being the sum-total of all intellectuality,” [26] Ahriman stands firmly identified (from one point of view) with a kind of real intelligence.

It should not be difficult to see how Steiner's description related to what has previously been said about Ahriman; it all follows from the nature of twoness. Intelligence, especially when it is cold, sets itself apart from the world, treats the world as an object, and observes it. Separateness is essential to its functioning. The development of intelligence tends to go hand-in-hand with the experience of alienation, in which the gulfs which accompany twoness are made to seem unbridgeable.

Leaving his traits aside for the moment, let us now turn to the activities of Ahriman in history. One central fact is of concern to us here, namely, that Ahriman will incarnate in a human physical body in the west during the third millennium after the Incarnation of Christ. [27] This event will provide a symmetry to the incarnation of Lucifer which occurred in the orient in the third millennium before Christ's Incarnation.

I will now attempt to elucidate this event from two directions. First, in the remainder of the present section, I will show how the axioms already presented shine down into it from various points of view. Second, in the historical section, I will trace the concrete events that have resulted from the coming incarnation, in a way that I hope will make clear their connection to the axioms.

What does it mean for Ahriman to incarnate? From our previous discussion, we know that an incarnation of any kind involves an entry into the created world of the being in two forms: macrocosmic and microcosmic. When the entity that incarnates is an ordinary human, he remains on the surface of things; that is, he has his body, and his nativity is properly expressed in the configurations now studied as “astrology,” but “nothing special” needs to be done to accommodate him. However it may be that Ahriman will take human shape, he is no human; he has roots deeper in the world-structure than any mortal, being actually a part of that structure. When Ahriman incarnates, he cannot remain on the surface of things, since in one guise he himself makes or constitutes the surface of things. This depth is expressed in the fact that what is smallest and what is largest are not, in him, indefinitely distant from each other as they are for mortals, but stretch towards each other and draw close: the microcosmic form of Ahriman grows to fill space, while the macrocosmic aspect, far from remaining confined to the world-periphery, shrinks down and actually permeates our local space.

So Ahriman's embodiment (microcosmically speaking) would extend a considerable distance beyond the palpable bounds of his body, while still retaining in that space its microcosmic character. A consequence of this is that Ahriman would seem remarkably personal and open; meeting him deeply and in a touching, individual way without any feeling of social falseness would be the norm. Similarly, the bodies of those physically near his would change to appear as they would were he to have incarnated in them. In the case of a weakly individuated associate, the result would be a physical likeness; with a strongly individuated associate, the result would be an accentuated development of those features which were consistent with the nature of Ahriman's being.

A consequence of the macrocosmic aspect of Ahriman's incarnation is that the world would take on an ahrimanic hue. One could look out and seem to see, not quite tangible, Ahriman grinning back at one. In particular places or objects, especially in ones whose character or function was not well-formed or did not exist prior to the commencement of the incarnation process, one would be able to see (the macrocosmic aspect of) Ahriman's visage quite clearly. One small example of this is the way we think of the heavens themselves. I need only mention the fact that the Babylonians had a single word which meant both “god” and “star,” a confluence which does not reflect the experience of most of our contemporaries when they look at the sky.

The subject-object polarity has been mentioned as a facet of the twoness that now rules the created world. We can view the incarnation from the perspective of that facet as we can the others. From one end of the polarity, the incarnation consists of the collection of certain (ahrimanic) changes occurring in the subjective aspect of the experiences of large groups of people. These changes would not appear with equal intensity in all individuals, nor in all groups. But the progress of the incarnation would consist of an overall trend in an ahrimanic direction. The existence of a trend affecting nearly everyone at least a little reflects the universal or inclusively human character of the incarnation. The fact that the trend is found markedly pronounced in certain groups and in certain individuals identifies those as being the leaders or particular embodiments of the trend; they are more sensitive or open to it, and at the same time more able to influence those less affected by it.

From the perspective of the other end of the polarity, the incarnation consists of the collection of alterations in the external world which result in the objective aspect of our experience being filled with objects and events of an increasingly ahrimanic character. Again, parts of the world would hardly change at all, and others would change greatly, but there must exist a clearly discernible trend, and certain leading elements which particularly embody the influence and contribute to its spread.

If we view the incarnation from the perspective of the spirit-matter aspect of twoness, what we see is more dynamic than structural. The incarnation process involves bringing about an apparent union of spirit and matter, during which process the two react to each other, and grow to a joining point.

In the case of ordinary human beings, the response of the material sphere to the approach of a spiritual ego towards incarnation is shown in the gathering of various hereditary streams over the course of several generations into a single fertilized egg cell, the genetic properties of which provide a suitable physical basis for the experiences which should take place during the incarnation. Similarly, the passage of the ego through the planetary spheres depicts the spiritual response to the merger process. Intermediate “bodies” are created out of “substances” which are neither purely spirit nor purely matter; in the course of their formation, they too condense and take on a more definite relation to space and time, stretching out in a qualitative sense towards the matter with which they will merge.

In the case of the incarnation of an exalted spiritual being, the physical body is prepared with great care through many generations, with specific foreknowledge of the use to which it will be put. The body comes from two parents, each of whom have two parents, and so on; the number of people involved increases so rapidly that the number at any one ancestral generation exceeds the sum of all the generations in the direct lineage that follow. To include just one more generation in the preparation process is to more than double the magnitude of the physical entities involved in the process. This is simply to emphasize the tremendous gathering, selecting, and intensifying of hereditary forces that accompanies a great incarnation. The genealogy of Jesus given in the gospels illustrates the concern accorded this issue in sacred literature.

Just as a physical body (microcosm) must rise to suit the nature of the spirit which descends to it, so must the physical world as a whole (macrocosm) rise to meet its spiritual correlate. In the case of an ordinary incarnation, the individual has no noticeable affect in this sphere, although the nature of a whole group of similar egos can make a difference. But in the case of a special incarnation of the sort we are discussing, the physical world as a whole must be prepared “through the generations,” so that it (as a whole, not just a special part of it) will be ready. We should be able to see the reciprocal action of the physical world in its macrocosmic aspect as it responds to the gradual approach of Ahriman. Ahriman the microcosm will appear in a single place at a definite time; Ahriman the macrocosm appears everywhere with no sharp moment in time dividing “here” from “not here.”

4. History of the Incarnation of Ahriman in its Macrocosmic Aspect

The macrocosmic incarnation of Ahriman just mentioned leads us to the possibility of an objective, external, physical history of the incarnation, occurring as a gradual process spread out in time. Such a history is nothing other than one self-consistent set of theorems in the form of simple historical facts that results from the fundamental axioms which have been presented in the previous section.

The history is intended to be as accurate as possible from its point of view; it necessarily contradicts equally accurate descriptions given from a contrasting point of view. No argument is being made to the effect that because Ahriman will incarnate in a non-human physical form, he will not incarnate in human form. However, Ahriman in human form will preach love and confer clairvoyant faculties on his followers, whereas Ahriman in the form described here looks more like what he truly is; so there are certain advantages to pursuing an investigation from the perspective described above.

Let us review briefly what we will be looking for in our history and why. We know that when Ahriman incarnates, there will be new physical objects in the world, which will embody Ahriman in his macrocosmic aspect; our history will consist centrally of identifying those objects and tracing their development, along with related conceptual developments. Our history is focused on physical developments because of the nature of Ahriman. The existence of Lucifer and Ahriman in their present form can be traced back to the time when the original unity of the world was divided in two, when the earth was separated from the heavens, and when spirit and matter first appeared as distinct categories; Ahriman embodied the pole of matter, while Lucifer embodied the pole of spirit, neither being higher or lower than the other. When we picture Ahriman as an individual being, we are thinking in anthropomorphic, microcosmic terms. In macrocosmic terms, Ahriman is identical to the entire material pole of reality, and so his appearance here is naturally accompanied by an intensification of the presence of material objects, and embodied in the appearance of objects especially suited to his nature. These new objects are (macrocosmically) his incarnation.

By the time of the appearance of the microcosm as a physical body, these new objects must be widespread and truly of the nature of Ahriman. But long before that appearance, there must be objects which, while not fully of Ahriman's nature, are definitely tending in that direction; this is required by the reciprocal response of the macrocosmic aspect of the physical world to the approach of the being. We should be able to characterize these objects, find them in history, and trace a development which shows their ahrimanic nature growing stronger, purer, and more broadly involved in human affairs.

The objects most purely embodying the ahrimanic presence are calculating and computing machines. The earliest of these machines was a device for adding and subtracting constructed by Pascal in 1642-4. Leibniz completed a more elaborate machine which would also multiply and divide in 1673.

At the earliest stage, the ahrimanic character of these devices is already clear, although it was not nearly so pure or so pronounced as it was later to become. [28] The ahrimanic character is shown in the function of these devices as manipulators of quantified, intellectual entities; no analog of their function can be found in nature. The other characteristics include being constructed out of familiar (albeit refined and processed) materials, and out of familiar sub-components (gears, cylinders, levers, etc.). the fact that the function performed mimics human activity and rates fairly closely, and the fact that a calculator is still closer to an elaborated tool (that is, an extension of human activity) than to a fully realized free-standing machine (that is, a device that does something like what a human could do, but in a different and usually more “efficient” way, and all on its own — it is not used by a human, but stands next to one).

At roughly the same time, philosophies appeared which vividly pictured the whole world as conforming to the nature of what could be plainly manifested only in the relatively simple and limited calculating machines.

Leibniz intuited in his youth a universal logical calculus which consisted of two parts: an inventory of all the simple, irreducible items in the world (a collection of axioms), and a method of combination and analysis which would enable all possible knowledge to be extracted from a given set of postulates. He maintained that this system was at the root of every one of his important accomplishments and was the key to building a science that would embrace all possible knowledge, up to and including theology. [29] In this he went much farther than either Newton or Descartes were willing or able to go.

These philosophies did not reflect the general state of human consciousness at the time they arose; like the calculating machines they were forerunners of what was to come. The philosophies described a vision of the world which, centuries later, would be shared in an implicit way by broad segments of the population, especially in its leading and “progressive” parts; in the same way the calculating devices foreshadowed mechanisms which would cover the globe.

The calculating machines developed slowly after their invention. Many people were able to see their potential, but something always stood in the way of realizing it even though the more general process of mechanization was proceeding apace. The programmable loom invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1805, for example, embodies many notions central to the modern computer only applied to the weaving of physical cloth rather than ideal logic. The machine, which applied pre-established patterns to the loom's operation, was an immediate success; by 1812 there were 11,000 Jacquard looms in operation in France.

The calculator/computer proper, on the other hand, remained stalled throughout most of the century, in spite of the inspiration of the Jacquard invention. Charles Babbage got the idea for his Difference Engine in 1812 or 1813 and began serious work on it in 1823. The purpose of the machine was to automate the calculation of tables of polynomial approximations to mathematical functions, especially for the purpose of constructing astronomical tables. Babbage had a nervous breakdown in 1827 and never completed the work. In 1833 he conceived the Analytical Engine, which he explained was an adaptation of the idea of the Jacquard loom to the process of numerical computation. It was remarkably similar to the Mark I computer that was eventually built at Harvard in 1944. He worked on the machine until he died in 1871, but never completed it, nor did anyone join him in the work on it, in spite of the enthusiastic support and propagandizing effort of Lady Lovelace.

The lack of a fully operational machine was not the obstacle, however, as is shown by the work of Pehr Georg Scheutz (1785-1873), who managed to construct a Difference Engine based on Babbage's design in 1834. A grant from the Swedish government enabled him to make an improved version in 1853; the machine won a Gold Medal at the Exhibition in Paris in 1855, was shown in London, and ended up being used in Albany, New York. Apparently the English government had a copy made of it. In spite of all this exposure of a fully operational machine, coupled with the prominent position held by Babbage in the intellectual life of the nineteenth century, no offspring came directly from the effort. [30]

In the philosophical sphere, there was a significant advance in the middle of the century, which, when its effects trickled down into the physical, removed the obstacles just mentioned. George Boole, an Englishman, invented what has become known as “boolean algebra,” which he understood as a sort of universal calculus, an algebra of the processes underlying thought itself. [31] All algebras are symbolic systems for the manipulation of items taken from a well-defined set of elementary, ideal, irreducible objects, without the necessity for specifying exactly which of the objects is intended at every point in a sequence of operations. The algebras most of us are familiar with have the set of normal, rational, or real numbers as their elementary objects. These sets are infinite in extent. Boolean algebra takes for its elementary objects a set of just two elements, which may be called (depending on the context) true and false, one and zero, on and off, or any other dichotomous pair of names. In this algebra, the relation that has always existed between intellectual operations and the objects of those operations was stood on its head: before, we were faced with a vast, infinitely varied world (set of elementary objects) and could perform only relatively simple (in intellectual terms) operations on it; now, the world is so simple, there are only two sorts of objects in it, and to make anything interesting out of them, we must (and with the new algebra, can) perform vast numbers of infinitely varied operations on them. The world is reduced to a minimum, and intellectual operation on what is left takes its place. And in fact it turned out that one could produce equivalents of the original variety of the elementary objects by means of complex manipulations of the binary elements of boolean algebra.

As a result of the practical necessities arising from the design of computer circuits, a similar process of analysis and reduction has occurred within the realm of the operators on numbers. It was discovered that all operations could be built up out of a combination of a single kind of operator or “gate,” namely the not-and or not-or operator. The not-and operator, for example, produces a result of zero or false if and only if all of its operands are one or true; otherwise, it produces a one or true.

In producing a practical binary logic, Boole not only explored the number and logic system on which computers would be based, but he also completed the process of emptying out the content from numbers and making them into arbitrary signs. The earliest known number systems have a high number as their base (the number beyond which one begins to use a place system and repeat the number sequence from the beginning), as high as sixty for the Babylonians. Reducing the base reduces the number of individually characteristic numbers which have their own existence, rather than one constructed out of more primitive entities. Although numbers are inherently discrete or digital (as opposed to continuous or analog), within a given number system, the numbers themselves represent the more analog end, while the place system is more digital. As one counts up the numbers, the marching is smooth and regular, but there is a sharp break at the highest number, when one changes the form of the number's representation, and the final digit leaps from the highest value to the lowest. In the binary system, counting involves as much place system manipulation as simple replacement of digits, and so the digital element, which is the hollow or intellectual end of the polarity, is at a maximum.

1879 was mentioned by Rudolf Steiner as having particular significance in the history of Ahriman and most specifically November of that year. [32] At that time, a battle between the being Michael (the countenance of the Christ) and Ahriman, begun in 1841, ended with Ahriman being cast out of the heavenly spheres to the earth, specifically into the heads of humans. Direct results of this event were experienced by Thomas Edison and Hermann Hollerith, and will be described shortly.

In the field of politics, Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin were born. (Lenin was born the same year as Steiner, 1861) They exemplified the bright (such as it is) and dark sides of Ahriman; Trotsky, for example, was a passionate believer in the virtues of technology, and felt that a communist society was naturally also a highly technological one. In printing, Merganthaler invented the linotype machine, which opened the door to modern printing technique. In heavy industry, Bessemer introduced his process for producing hard steel, which greatly expanded the possibilities for use of this versatile metal, and laid the groundwork for many future devices.

In our field of interest, the significant event was the hiring of Hermann Hollerith by the U. S. Census Office in October of 1879. This brought him into contact with John Shaw Billings, who was in charge of the work in vital statistics for the 1880 and the 1890 census. Billings made a suggestion to Hollerith about how the work might be made more efficient, and Hollerith responded by inventing a system of punched cards and tabulating machines.

In its modern form, the Hollerith card is a rectangular piece of heavy paper marked into eighty columns and twelve rows. One uses the card to store information by punching holes in it according to a consistent coding scheme. Machines can then be built which sense the presence or absence of holes in certain locations on a set of cards, and respond in various useful ways. For example, one could encode a card with a person's name, salary, marital status, sex, and town, and then automatically cull out from a huge set of cards the names of all single women over 50 living in Yonkers making less than $5000.

Hollerith's system was first applied to the tabulation of the 1890 census, and met with great success. [33] Hollerith established the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896 to exploit his invention commercially. After several transformations, this company became IBM.

The invention of the Hollerith card and the machines to process it was a breakthrough out of the realm of the calculator and into the realm of the computer. The difference lies in the location of the direct control over the machine's operations. A machine like a calculator is directly controlled by its operator; even though the result of a command may be elaborate, there is no qualitative distinction between a pencil and a typewriter from this perspective. In a machine like a computer, at least some of the control over the operations passes into the machine itself; even though the operator retains ultimate control, he takes a step back, and the machine acquires a degree of autonomy. The Hollerith card machines are in fact very simple computers: one wires them up, loads in a stack of cards, and then stands back while the machine carries out a sequence of operations on each of the cards.

With the advent of this first computer, the autonomous will of Ahriman first appears on earth in an independent, physical embodiment. Like a swimmer slowly entering the water, who does not feel “in” until his head is wet, so is Ahriman's body in the earth while he himself looks on from outside during the calculator phase, until the development of a machine with the technological equivalent of will makes an actual identification possible. We can look with impunity on a calculator; its autonomous nature allows the computer to look back at us, albeit weakly in these first instances.

The difference is also shown in this: a damaged tool is simply broken; a damaged control-bearing machine may be simply broken, but it may also continue to perform its intended function perfectly well, while ignoring our commands — if the control mechanism is broken, it may run amok.

Between the wars, elaborate special purpose calculators were built, mostly to solve military ballistics problems. A “differential analyzer” was built around 1930 at MIT, which was a mechanical analog computer which could solve systems of differential equations. Commercial electro-mechanical calculators were also developed and saw widespread application in business and science.

Now, at the brink of the appearance of the first truly modern computer, we will have to introduce several new streams of development which had been at work for some time, and which merged with the direct evolutionary line we have been describing to produce the next great advance. One of these streams is a line of physical development, and the other is a philosophical and mathematical development; these will incidentally provide examples for theoretical points to be made about the formal progress of the incarnation.

Although fully satisfactory mechanical calculating machines were eventually developed, their powers were greatly limited. The crucial factor which allowed the inherent limitations to be overcome and made further developments possible was electricity. Now electricity had been known by the Greeks; moreover, it is not such an unusual thing, being found in all animal nerves. But in nature, electricity plays a subsidiary function, one that is completely buried in the structure of things (inter- and intra-atomic binding) or secondary to a more basic phenomenon (the electrical impulses in the nerves come from differential migration of ions across the axon membranes).

Early in the nineteenth century, the properties of electricity as an isolated, primary phenomenon were explored. A key development was the invention of the electrical generator in 1831 by Michael Faraday. The invention was soon exploited in the form of the telegraph, which led to electricity-bearing wires being strung between all centers of commercial activity.

However, the turning point in the appearance of free-standing electricity on earth was October 19 to 21, 1879, when Thomas Edison made the first successful trial of a practical light bulb for the home. The announcement of the discovery on December 21 created a world-wide sensation, which led to Edison's being dubbed the “wizard of Menlo Park.” The invention of the light bulb led to the construction of electrical generating stations and distribution systems.

The appearance of electricity as an independent, free-standing phenomenon may be regarded as the beginning of the incarnation of the substantial body of Ahriman, while the calculator or computer is the formal or functional body of Ahriman. It is interesting that these two aspects first appeared independently of each other but at just the same time.

The incarnation process proceeds from the spiritual towards the material. At any one stage, the more spiritual a stratum one considers, the more advanced the process is, just as the process is more advanced in leading individuals or groups. Furthermore, the “advance guard” of incarnation, the first appearances of the process at a given point in the spirit-matter continuum, can seem disconnected from the movement of which they are a part; but this is only because the unity of the process lies well below the surface of things, and in any case, further development brings the advance guard into explicit connection with older, more evident manifestations of the process.

Thus, Leibniz was able to develop a full philosophical picture manifesting the advanced state of the incarnation in the conceptual stratum, evidenced also by concurrent developments in physics, astronomy, and the other sciences. But he was only able to build a machine embodying a tiny part of these ideas, and even then, one could not say that the machine in its evident physicalness embodied Ahriman, only that the machine in its functional working imitated (in a limited way) the form of Ahriman; it did what Ahriman does, but was not yet itself a member of Ahriman. Leibniz could do nothing in the final stratum.

A century later, the incarnation had proceeded far enough so that the body of Ahriman could make its first appearance, in the form of free-standing electricity. It was important at the start that this embodiment simply appear, so that it might enjoy a period of development and refinement; the relevant analogy is to the appearance on earth of physical forms like the apes and proto-humanoids, prior to human incarnation, to make possible a purely physical line of development resulting in bodies suitable for incarnation by humans. In the same way, electricity appeared and went through a period of preliminary development resulting in a suitable “body” for the progress of the incarnation to the stage of the incorporation of substance. The achievement of this stage was marked by a merger of the functional embodiment (calculators) with the substantial embodiment (electricity), the result being unified objects (electrical calculators in particular, electro-mechanical devices in general).

During the time when electricity was still undergoing its pre-incarnation evolution, the uses to which it was put were highly prophetic. These uses were communication (telegraph, telephone) and light (light bulb and all its applications). These applications seem natural to us because we are used to them, but they could hardly have been predicted. Both uses serve and embody Ahriman's chief characteristic: intelligence. In the communications applications, this is seen from a human point of view, since when we talk, we convey concepts to each other. It may be argued that in human conversation more is exchanged than concepts, but this only makes the point stand out more clearly, since the devices communicate by reducing what is said to an ordered sequence of signs, to “information”; they eliminate or greatly distort everything but the clear, cold, quantitative intellectual content. Light is the occult version of the same thing; that is, what underlies what we see as light is thought. We recognize this when we draw a light bulb over the head of a cartoon character to signify that he has had an idea. And just as the pane of glass that best lets the light into the room is “clear,” so is the head that best lets in the ideas. Future developments brought the human and occult aspects of thought together in a remarkable way.

In this century, especially since the first World War, the incarnation process seems to have advanced very rapidly. We can see this in the time separating the appearance of a new stage in the conceptual stratum from the appearance in more material strata. The first appearances of a true, modern computer on the conceptual and then on the functional levels demonstrates this quick succession. I will trace the development on the conceptual level, which culminated in the 1930's, and which was rapidly followed by the first functional computer. The equivalent appearance on the fully substantial level is very much in progress, but is not yet complete.

Leibniz' notion of a universal calculus was applied and developed in myriad ways, but the advance of imparting to it a kind of mechanical, autonomous life appeared only in this century. So long as the calculus remained eternal and timeless, it would be unable to sustain the pseudo-life which was necessary as a manifestation of the incarnation. The limitation came from the fact that humans are best able to think the pure, empty, lifeless thoughts of Ahriman in the form of mathematics; when they think about nature, these thoughts are not so easy. Even though one talks of time in mathematics, and even though certain mathematical formulations can be made of processes occurring in time, in the mathematics itself (as opposed to what we imagine it to be about), time appears as the variable “t”, a variable like any other, qualitatively indistinguishable from space. We model time as a dimension in a multi-dimensional space, and a process that occurs in time is simply a functional relation with time as the independent variable. Time is modeled in mathematics, but does not appear as such in it.

Efforts to overcome this fundamental barrier, to learn how to infuse a real time-existence into mathematical form, were undertaken in many fields. Of course, finding ways to express in mathematical terms processes observed in nature was part of this effort, but notice that the greatest progress was made in physics, in the treatment of lifeless nature. The philosophical and astronomical theories of Laplace represented an advance over those of Leibniz, in that they were more explicit and worked-out, and were based on observed processes in nature itself.

Attempts were made both to bring the ideas closer to observed processes and to broaden their sphere of application. An outstanding figure in broadening the applicability of these notions was C. S. Pierce, who made the first systematic attempt to apply the notions of logic to a full-fledged philosophical analysis of the problems of reality and knowledge. Similarly, in mathematics there were efforts to establish a foundation for all of mathematics in a fully axiomized system of logic, represented by such figures as Frege, Peano, Russell and Whitehead. This effort resulted in advances in the technical apparatus of logic which made possible the real breakthrough in the central line of evolution.

The penultimate step was the development of the predicate calculus, especially Church's development of the lambda calculus. This enabled for the first time a complete separation between the objects of intellectual operations and the intellectual operations themselves. It gave in fully developed form what was potentially established by George Boole. Boole had reduced the objects of the calculus to, the simplest possible form, while the lambda calculus showed how to create worlds of intellectual operators standing in vast, intricately interconnected structures, ready to go into action, lacking only the final push out of a universe of structure and into a world of process. [34]

This final push was provided, in a primitive form, by the creation of a theory of finite state machines, and in fuller form, by the theory of Turing machines. A Turing machine is an intellectual object that may be pictured as reading a tape of infinite length marked into squares which may be filled with either X or O. The machine may read from the tape, write onto it, move it in either direction, and changes states depending on what it reads.

For example, the following Turing machine determines whether the sequence of X's on the tape is odd or even in number. The machine starts in the state marked A, in which it reads the tape. If the tape holds O, the machine halts and reports that there are an even number of X's (zero of them) on the tape. Otherwise, it advances the tape and goes into state B, in which it again reads the tape. If the tape holds O, the machine halts and reports that there are an odd number of X's (one of them) on the tape. Otherwise, it advances the tape and returns to state A, having passed over two X's. The process continues, with the machine passing between states A and B and advancing the tape, so long as there are X's on the tape. As soon as an O is encountered, the machine halts and, depending on the state it was in, is able to report whether it halted after an odd or even number of X's.

Although Turing machines are very simple, it is possible to construct universal Turing machines which read their programs from a tape, just like a computer; and it can be shown that a Turing machine can compute anything computable, that is, that (theoretically speaking) all computers are equally powerful if they are as powerful as a Turing machine, and that no computer is more powerful than a Turing machine. [35]

Even in the conceptual realm, realizations of these ideas which were less definite were more universal. The outstanding example is the logical positivist movement in general, and Rudolf Carnap's The Logical Structure of the World in particular, which was in effect an attempt to devise a system of logic capable of expressing a human's entire experience of the world. Here, the relevant expression is: capable of sustaining a comprehension of the world as pure intellect, that is, capable of serving as the vehicle of the incarnation at its stratum. Work to complete Carnap's program has continued up to the present; witness Nelson Goodman's The Structure of Appearance. While it is the intention of this line of work to produce logical structures which are as transparent as Turing machines and as obviously mechanizable, the vast scope of their application has so far precluded any real pretensions to automatization.

Around 1930, building on developments from several years before, two events took place which, while not part of the ahrimanic incarnation process, had a decisive impact on it. One event took place at the frontiers of mathematical logic and constituted one of the greatest conceptual achievements of our time, while the other event took place at the frontiers of the solar system, and crowned the efforts of the greatest astronomical discovery program undertaken up until that time. The first event, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, [36] put an insurmountable roadblock in the path of the incarnation process, and forced it either to halt or to redirect its momentum into paths in which its true nature was more evident. This event was a direct result of the new coming of Christ “in the clouds.” [37] The second event, the discovery of the planet Pluto, mythologically lord of the underworld, expressed the appearance of a new figure on the scene, whose impact on world events was immediately evident. [38] Taken together, these two events represent a polarization of humanity into radical groups, small in membership at first, aligned with the forces of transcendent good or transcendent evil.

Gödel's result, which was anticipated by several years (but without all the technical baggage) by Paul Finsler, was a full working out of the implications of the paradox of self-reference. Russell and Whitehead had stumbled on the paradox in working out their Principia Mathematica, in the form of “the set which contains all sets which do not contain themselves;” they did not solve it, but shunted it to the side by means of the theory of types. Gödel did not shun the paradox, but grasped it firmly, and drove it through the heart of the development of nontrivial, complete systems of mechanical logic. His result showed that they could not succeed.

This result had two major implications, in this context. The development of the simple mechanical automaton was halted through the introduction of an analog of a thinking which thinks about its thinking, that is, it was halted through the power of the self-conscious knower. This was an act of redemption. However, it made possible a new and far more powerful perversion: the mechanization of the process of self-knowing. Whole theories of recursive, self-modifying, and self-reproducing automata [39] have developed from that seed, which lay the conceptual basis for the incarnation of a self-knowing entity into a machine. This possibility is currently being pursued at a more primitive level in the modern work in artificial intelligence.

The discovery of Pluto, hailed as a textbook demonstration of the scientific method, was a comedy of felicitous errors from start to finish, and is a textbook demonstration of the occult guidance of history. First of all, its position is supposed to have been deduced from observed perturbations in the orbit of Neptune, and calculations to that effect were in fact made which resulted in positions close to where Pluto was found. [40] But the recent accurate determination of Pluto's mass based on observations of its newly discovered moon show it to have been far too light to produce the effects which supposedly led to its discovery. Second, Pluto appeared on at least a dozen plates taken before the discovery plates, including four images on plates taken at Mount Wilson in 1919 while looking for Pickering's planet O; Pluto appears just outside the plate area subjected to the most thorough scrutiny. [41] Finally, aside from the necessity of coinciding with Godel's proof, certain necessities of an astrological nature were involved in the timing of the planet's discovery in concordance with the destiny of the cultural impulses which would come in its wake. By transits of Saturn and Uranus to the position of Pluto's discovery, the timing of the explosion at Hiroshima and of the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb in 1952 were determined with great accuracy. [42] This coincidence also makes clear the nature of at least part of the forces introduced through Pluto.

Now let us return to the main narrative, where we are on the brink of the invention of the first modern computer. There are several machines which vie for the designation, all built within a decade. The most primitive one, the Mark I, was conceived by Aiken in 1937, and finished about 1944. It was built at Harvard with IBM for the Navy, was completely electro-mechanical, had 730,000 parts, and could perform three addition operations per second. The famous ENIAC was also funded by the military. It was built from 1942 to 1946, contained 18,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform 5000 additions per second. Note the increase in speed, three orders of magnitude, won by replacing mechanical components with electronic ones.

John von Neumann, the great mathematician who joined the ENIAC project as a consultant, is usually credited with the decisive development which marks the difference between a calculator (however huge and capable) and a true computer: the concept of the stored program, in which the sequence of operations to be performed by the machine is not wired into it, but is read into the memory in numeric form, just as though it were data. Since the machine's program is data to it, it can operate on its own program with just as much facility as it can operate on ordinary data. This simple invention created a division between machine development and program development; programs would have to be written so that a certain machine could execute them, but this practical consideration could be delayed to the last moment. So long as synchronization was maintained, machines could pursue a separate line of development in which their general virtue as machines for unspecified purposes was improved, while programs that applied the machine's non-specific capabilities to particular problem areas were developed in synchronization but not strict conjunction with the machines. From then on, (machine independent) program development was one thing, and (machine dependent) program conversion and installation another. The first machine fully embodying the stored program concept was the BINAC, completed in August, 1950.

The significance of this development at a deeper level is revealed by the striking parallelism to the relation of humans to the lower animals. In primitive animals, the neuron nets can be shown to act like simple hard-wired calculators, each circuit with a highly limited, fixed function to perform. Given certain inputs from the sensory nerves, the nerves will “fire'' in certain ways, resulting in a characteristic patterned response. In humans, attempts to tie down the function of a given set of neurons in the brain typically fail, either because no specific function can be found, or because the function can be performed elsewhere if damage to the neurons usually responsible for the function requires it. The human “biocomputer” is always running a program, but the program is not part of the biocomputer itself (although it seems to be “stored” there), and is subject to self-codification.

This is a dangerous point. When this analogy is mentioned, it is usually taken to mean that humans (which we find difficult to understand) are like computers (which we think we understand, even though the people who make this point are rarely actual computer experts), and so we can understand people by imagining them to be computers. Carrying such a picture in one's head creates a spiritual impulsion: “may the world be true to my vision of it”; the sincere belief that the vision is already true only adds to the force to make it so. This meditation and its effects are destructive.

The point being made is the reverse: with the separation of control of function (like thought) from performance of function (like will or muscle), the computer has taken a giant step in furthering its ability to imitate the human being. In particular, the technical basis for a separate, incarnating consciousness has been laid — but a consciousness of a purely intellectual, mechanical (albeit self-aware) nature. With the achievement of the stored program computer, it begins to be possible to talk in terms of a (macrocosmic) incarnation vehicle capable of sustaining the being of Ahriman. We are not reducing the human to the level of the computer, but describing how the computer attains (in a narrow, highly particularized fashion) a level of development analogous to the human.

The first commercial computer, the Univac I, was used in the census of 1950. By 1960 there were 5000 computers in the U. S., about 350 of them very large ones. Those numbers then doubled every two to three years.

The discovery of the semiconductor phenomenon, marked by the invention of the transistor in 1947, made technically possible the tremendous advance in speed, miniaturization, and cost-effectiveness that have characterized the development of computers. Transistors bring together those two aspects of (the physical things in the world which are specifically polar to) thinking, namely, electricity and light. The vast majority of a transistor is made out of a silica (silicon dioxide), familiar to us as simple glass. Glass is the thing in the world which is transparent — it shields us from the world but lets the light through, just like our head which (one hopes) lets the thoughts stream in. Now silica, when properly manufactured and when inoculated with certain minute impurities, responds in very useful ways to the passage of electricity. In the transistor, it is electricity (ahrimanic light) instead of light which passes through the tainted glass — pure glass will not work. Because of the qualitative agreement of the material substrate used with what was incarnating, the way was smoothed, and the advances came breathtakingly quickly. There were major technical hurdles, but they fell so quickly that one lost respect for how awesome (abstractly speaking) they were.

I will pass over the many fascinating developments of the last two decades, including the entire field of artificial intelligence, and consider one last line of development in the most concrete, physical aspect of these machines. This will show how the qualities of Ahriman are finding concrete, physical expression in the very materials chosen to build computers; how the internal momentum of the field, consciously directed by no person, out of the necessities of the technical tasks leads by seeming happenstance to machines which contain more and more that is consonant with Ahriman's nature, and less and less that is not.

While transistors are superior to vacuum tubes, which in turn were superior to electro-mechanical relays, they still “resist” the passage of electricity through them. Technically, the resistance of a wire to electricity passing through it results in the kinetic dissipation of some of the energy; not all the electricity comes out the other end of the wire, and the wire grows warmer. The wire, insofar as it is a “neutral” part of the world, expressing neither the qualities of Lucifer or Ahriman to an unusual degree, responds to “ahrimanization” by 'luciferizing;” in becoming warm, it becomes luciferic, and thus rights the balance that the electricity upset. The wire is not Ahriman's own; it is only used to an ahrimanic end, and at a price. Moreover, the wire will only put up with so much abuse; pushed beyond its limits, it will melt in an excess of luciferic passion, and render further abuse useless.

This problem led to efforts to reduce the amount of material (thus also the resistance and heat generated) in electronic components. The ideal solution would have been tiny components connected by long wires, so there would be lots of space between them and they would not suffer the effects of their combined heat. But electricity does not travel along wires instantaneously; it travels roughly one foot in one nanosecond (one billionth of a second), and since modern components do their jobs (have “switching times”) in just a few nanoseconds, the length of the wire connecting components becomes a significant limiting factor in the overall speed of the machine. So the ideal solution is untenable, and the components must be placed in as small a space as possible. But then, even if you manage to cool off the components at the outside very quickly, the heat soon builds up in the center of a component block to intolerable levels.

The solution to this problem, forming the basis of the state of the art in computer hardware, is based on the Josephson effect, which allows the construction of semiconductors out of superconducting materials. You should be able to guess which of Ahriman's qualities is given physical expression in this new advance. Already measure, weight, number, intellect, and mechanism are expressed; but so far, no physical expression has been given to the fact that Ahriman is cold, freezing cold. “The more [Ahriman] achieves his aims the severer is the frost around him ...”. [43] The new advance is based on the fact that matter loses its electrical resistance (capitulates and becomes of Ahriman's nature) when it is brought to a temperature very near to absolute zero. The extreme cold destroys the natural neutrality of the material, and it loses its ability to generate heat in response to the passage of electricity. This “superconductivity1' was discovered in 1911, but only recently was it possible to make semiconductors and thus computers out of matter in this extreme state.

The fact that matter is in a peculiarly unbalanced state when it is superconductive is shown by the details of its response to electricity and magnetism. We know that ordinarily a fine symmetry expressed in Maxwell's equation holds between these two forces, just as we would expect in the sub-natural manifestations of the polarized cosmic beings Ahriman and Lucifer. But when matter is in this state (that is, is unreservedly identified with the ahrimanic sphere) and a small magnetic field is applied to it, a permanent supercurrent arises at the surface of the material, and it loses its superconductive properties.

IBM's most advanced computer, which is not yet in commercial use, is entirely contained in a cube six inches on a side, and is held at a constant temperature just a few degrees above absolute zero. Its small dimensions notwithstanding, it will be faster and more powerful than any presently existing computer. Meanwhile, large research efforts are underway to increase the amount of magnetic flux a material can withstand before collapsing into a more ordinary state, so that superconductive technology may also be applied to the generation and transmission of electric power. Furthermore, an organic compound has been discovered which will exhibit this phenomenon. The new stage of physical incarnation thus will penetrate ever more deeply (as “intelligence” is brought into it) and broadly (as widespread applications for it are found).

At what stage does the incarnation process stand in 1981? The formal qualities of Ahriman have all been embodied in machines on which the practical life of our culture depends. When the machines first incorporated electricity, they also began to embody the very substance of Ahriman, and when practical computers operating near absolute zero appear, they will be wholly comprised of Ahriman's substance; what little matter they contain will be unreservedly (albeit not irrevocably) given over to his domination. The penetration will then be as “deep” as it can be, and all that will remain is proliferation.

However, the process will then by no means be complete. What we will have will be something like retarded country cousins of the awful figure of Ahriman himself. What is now being dreamed by artificial intelligence workers will have to be made a physical reality: the incorporation of “true” intelligence into the machines. Much has already been achieved in this direction, although the end is not yet in sight. For example, machines have solved mathematical integration problems that no human was able to solve [44] ; beaten the world backgammon champion; held extended conversations in unstilted English about a severely limited “world” of blocks; [45] played ping-pong with itself, wielding a paddle with its arm and guiding it with its eye; [46] conversed with people about their personal problems cleverly enough so that intelligent people feel personally attached to it, and exclude others from the room for the duration of such a private conversation.' [47] The expert knows that these and other impressive results are based on highly specialized mechanisms which cannot be generalized easily. But the reactions lay people have when confronted with achievements such as these is part of the problem. It is proper to be respectful of the awesome technical achievement which these demonstrated capabilities represent, while it is also necessary to keep one's equilibrium, to avoid anthropomorphizing the machine, to maintain the healthy knowledge that the machines are less than they seem (a machine which can beat you in chess cannot thereby be said to “think better” than you), and the prudent suspicion that they are more than they seem (they have occult effects belied by their overwhelming ordinariness). The first signs of “free will” can be seen by whoever knows where to look, and beings of a higher order than elementals are beginning to appear within the machines. In sum, the process is rather far along, but is still decades from being complete [48]

“Man must & will have Some Religion: if he has not the Religion of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan & will erect the Synagog of Satan, calling the Prince of this World, God, and destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God.” [49]

5. From the Beginning of Time to the End

We all know that “hell” is a swear word. Does “hell” also refer to something? Is hell a reality?

Assuming there is a hell, we then think: whatever else hell may be it is also a state of being. But we — humans — are beings. So “hell” may be the name for a particular state of our being, a possible condition of the human being.

Whatever the state of a human being, that state continually undergoes change. The change is accompanied, not always fully, by attention. By paying attention, we direct what is creative in us and acquire an altered state of being. All degrees of attentiveness, from watching television to meditating, alter the state of our being. They differ not in whether attention is exercised but in how much will is exercised.

The human being took on a hellish tinge in events described in Genesis. The alteration of the human being in the direction of hell took place in two stages. In the first stage the serpent captured Eve's attention. She turned from attending exclusively to God and attended to the minister of hell who at that time still shared a residence with God and the human being. In the second stage Adam and Eve exercised their will and ate the apple. After directing themselves towards hell, they propelled themselves into it and it into themselves. Thus began a spiral of degeneration.

The spiral began with the expulsion from the Garden. What were Adam and Eve expelled into? Was there such a place before the apple? They were expelled from the “Edenic” state of being into the “fallen” state of being, the distinguishing characteristic of which is the active participation of the powers of hell. The Edenic unity of the human state of being was broken and access to one of the pieces given to the powers of hell.

The spiral of degeneration deepened as the human state of being increasingly became hell. The earth hardened and dried as a reflection of the changing human state. The being who appeared as a serpent was not yet in the earth, but the earth reflected its presence in us.

In the beginning, before all of this, there was the Word. That Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and glory. The Word offered to each human being power to become a child of God, to each who receives the Word, believes in His name, who is born of God. Proper attention to the Word gives will to transform the human in the Edenic direction.

In 1879, after extended battle, Satan was cast down to earth. Already established as part of humanity, Satan could then be in the world of objects. In that year the first electric, artificial light burned. All other lights had been like the Sun, ultimately derived from the Sun. Electricity and the electric light have their own basis, unrelated to the Sun. Also in that year a pivotal event in the development of mathematical logic logic broke the dominion of the word over the human mind, when Frege published his Begriffschrift. With this concept-script, Frege established logic as an intellectual object with a free basis unrelated to the word, just as electricity made light unrelated to the Sun.Sunless light and Wordless logic intertwined, and out of them came the computer.

In twenty one years this renegade, objectified logic developed to the crisis of self-awareness which in logic is the paradox of self-reference. In Russell this took the form of understanding the set of all sets which do not contain themselves. (Does it contain itself? If it does, it is not such a set. If it does not, it is such a set.)

In 1948 von Neumann worked out the details of automata, creatures of logic, which are able to reproduce themselves entirely, including their means of reproduction. All life processes were now possible within the realm of logic alone, from analysis to reflection to reproduction. This world of possibilities is now being incorporated into practical computers. Its basis, their basis, appeared in the Garden as the serpent, established a foothold in our being, and now is building a new world of its own, a world with light not of the Sun and logic not of the Word. Just as the Word offers each person the power to become a child of God, so each person is now offered the power to become a child of hell.

[1] Norbert Wiener: Cybernetics, 1948; The Human Use of Human Beings, 1950-1954

[2] Joseph Weizenbaum: Computer Power and Human Reason, San Francisco, 1975

[3] ibid. , p. 5

[4] “With science itself there can be no quarrel. Scientism is another matter. Whereas science is positive, contenting itself with reporting what it discovers, scientism is negative. It goes beyond the actual findings of science to deny that other approaches to knowledge are valid and other truths true In doing so it deserts science in favor of metaphysics — bad metaphysics, as it happens, for as the contention that there are no truths save those of science is not itself a scientific truth, in affirming it scientism contradicts itself.” Huston Smith: Forgotten Truth, New York, 1976

[5] Michael de Courey Hinds: “New Fixture in the Home: The Computer”, New York Times, June 4, 1981, p. C1

[6] Leibniz: “On True Method in Philosophy and Theology”, 1686, from Selections, P. Wiener, Ed., New York, 1951.

[7] The most succinct summary of metaphysical method outside the work of Rudolf Steiner is given in Rene Guenon: “Oriental Metaphysics”, Tomorrow, vol. 12, no. 1; also in Jacob Needleman: The Sword of Gnosis, Baltimore, 1974.

[8] This does not necessarily involve adopting a dualistic position, which is an artifact of the approach to a materialistic world conception. The “supersensible component” referred to rests on a conceptual distinction between spirit and matter necessitated by the modem context, but which should not be taken to imply an ontological distinction between them operative at all levels.

[9] See Guenon: The Reign of Quantity, Baltimore, 1972, and Symbolism of the Cross, London, 1945, for argumentation along these lines.

[10] See for example, N. R. Hansen: Patterns of Discovery, Cambridge, 1958, especially chapter one.

[11] This example is explained in detail in Feyerabend: Science in & Free Society, London, 1978, p. go

[12] Einstein regarded negative results of a test of special relativity as “improbable because their basic assumption ... are not suggested by theoretical systems which encompass wider complexes of phenomena.” With regard to a test of the general theory of relativity, he said, “It is really strange that human beings are normally deaf to the strongest arguments while they are always inclined to overestimate measuring accuracies.” References and further discussion of this point are given in Feyerabend: Against Method, London 1975

[13] We are so convinced of this that one of these, the “epicycle,” has come to mean any ad hoc mechanism which elaborately extends a theory without deepening it.

[14] “It is now recognized that [Oppolzer's 1887] value for the motion of the sun from the node was 0.7” too small per annum; (the fourth century B.C. Babylonian} Kidinnu was actually nearer the truth with an error of 0.5 “too great.” Quoted in Toulmin and Goodfield: The Fabric of the Heavens, New York, 1961, p. 39.

[15] This is the phrase used by Ptolemy to express what he wished to achieve in his mathematical theory. Owen Barfield, in his Saving the Appearances, New York, 1965, goes far in making clear the implications of this phrase in subject-object relations, and in the evolution of consciousness.

[16] “The movement of the celestial bodies is regular, circular, and everlasting — or else compounded of circular movements.” heading of Book I, section 4, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

[17] Mathematically speaking, Kepler's celebrated “discovery” of the elliptical nature of the orbit of Mars would be more justly termed a “recovery,” since it did no more than bring astronomical theory back to where It had been in Ptolemy's time. There is an exact equivalence between the three Ptolemaic points 1) the earth, 2) the center of the eccentric, and 3) the center of the equant, and the three Keplerian points 1) the sun at one focus of the ellipse, 2) the center of the ellipse, and 3) the other focus of the ellipse.

[18] “That, if a straight line failing on two straight lines make the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, the two straight lines, if produced indefinitely, meet on that Bide on which are the angles less than the two right angles.” Euclid: The Elements , Book I, Postulate 5. Euclid based his system on what may be translated as 23 definitions, 5 postulates, and 5 common notions. The differences between these and the changes they hare undergone, while of great importance within the history of material logic, are unimportant in the present attempt to characterize material logic as a whole.

[19] This distinction is central to formulations of logic for practical purposes such b computer languages, and thus pervades the thinking of those who work with it. In the purely theoretical forms of logic devised for the purpose of proving theorems about the boundaries and powers of logical systems as such, this distinction is typically unimportant.

[20] The form taken by the example is that of a Post production system. As Poet showed (“Formal reductions of the general combinatorial decision problem*, Am. Journal of Math, €5, pp. 197-268, and described in Minsky), any formal system, including Turing machines, may be reduced to the canonical form of a production system of the type illustrated here. More examples may be found in Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach, New York, 1980. For an intermediate presentation, see Mínsky: Computation: Finite and Infinite Machines, Englewood Cliffs, 1967.

[21] Unless the system is in Post “normal” form, in which case there is always a single axiom.

[22] This distinction is more than just one of notation. Even since the isomorphism of all such systems has been definitely demonstrated, logicians still think in terms of modeling a Turing machine with a Post production system, rather than simply translating between notations.

[23] Rudolf Steiner uses the terms “Ahriman” and “ahrimanic beings” virtually interchangeably. One might imagine that he does so because Ahriman is the head of a host of beings who may be described as “ahrimanic,” and that his phrasing resembles that of a historian who speaks of “Napoleon's invasion of Russia.,” apparently indifferent to the fact that he was accompanied by a “napoleonic host” of considerable extent. But this does not do justice to the difference in kind between Ahriman and Napoleon, nor to Rudolf Steiner's appreciation of that fact. From certain points of view, one can find no such thing 38 the anthropomorphic being “Ahriman,” but only “ahrimanic beings”; it is as though one saw a Napoleon-less invading army when looking from the south.

[24] Rudolf Steiner: Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, London, 1973, p. 77

[25] ibid, p. 99

[26] ibid, p. 77

[27] See, for example, Rudolf Steiner The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman, North Vancouver, 1976 (lectures given during November, 1919).

[28] “It is hard to look back and imagine the feelings of those who first saw toothed wheels performing additions and multiplications of large numbers. Perhaps they experienced a sense of awe at seeing 'thoughts' flow in their very physical hardware. In any case, we do know that nearly a century later, when the first electronic computers were constructed, their inventors did experience an awesome and mystical sense of being in the presence of another kind of 'thinking being'.” Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach, New York, 1979, p. 601.

[29] This aspect of Leibniz' work was first given a thorough exposition in Bertrand Russell: A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz London 1900.

[30] On Babbage and Scheutz, see H. Goldstine: The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann , Princeton, 1972, pp. 10-27

[31] Boole: The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, 1848; An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, 1854

[32] See the lecture, “Christ in Relation to Lucifer and Ahriman,” given May 18, 1919, New York, 1978

[33] Leon E. Truesdell: The Development of Punch Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census, 1890 - 1940, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1965

[34] The lambda calculus does not stand out in the «ay indicated here when examined just within the history of logic; its special role is made clear in the way it was picked up by computer workers, especially artificial intelligence workers. In particular, John McCarthy's work on the lambda calculus gave birth to the programming language LISP, which is the language of preference for artificial intelligence work.

[35] Alan Turing: “On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem,” Proc. London Math. Soc. , Ser 2-42, pp. 230-265. For a discussion, see Minsky's Computation.

[36] Gödel, “Uber Formal Unentscheidbare Satze der Principía Mathematics und Verwandter Systeme, I” Monatschefte für Mathematik und Physik, 38 1931, pp. 173-198. A translation appears in van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel: A Source Book in Mathematical Logic, Cambridge, Mass., 1977. A good prose description of the proof is given in Nagel and Newman, Gödel's Proof, New York, 1958, although the authors tend to downplay the extent of the proofs implications.

[37] Revelations, 1:7. Steiner describes this event in his The True Nature of the Second Coming, London, 1961, lectures given January 25, 1910 and March 6, 1910.

[38] Pluto was discovered at about the time of Godel's proof, and so would have some association with it. However, the observations of Pluto in astrological charts have shown it to be difficult to handle for most people. Pluto may be directly associated with the first appearance in human consciousness of beings that have been termed Asuras. For more on them, see Steiner's lecture on March 22, 1909, “The Deed of Christ and the Opposing Spiritual Powers. Lucifer, Ahriman, Asuras.”

[39] John von Neumann pioneered the theory of self-reproducing automata, that is, of theoretical machines resembling the Turing machines described above which contain reproductive subsystems capable of duplicating the machine in its entirety. See von Neumann: Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata, Urbana, 1966.

[40] The discovery was made on February 18, 1930, at about 4 p.m. at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by Clyde Tombaugh. The discovery position was within about six degrees of the orbit determined by Percival Lowell, and was also close to the position predicted for a trans-Neptunian planet, “planet O,” by William H. Pickering.

[41] Pluto appeared on several plates taken In Europe, one as early as 1908. Images were taken by Gill on March 19 and April 7, 1915 in the search for Lowell's planet. Among the other images were ones taken at Yerkes Observatory in 1921 and at Harvard in 1927.

[42] It is difficult to say exactly what Pluto's position at discovery was, because it was found using a device known as a blink comparator, which allows the rapid comparison of photographic plates taken several weeks apart. The dates of the discovery plates were January 21, January 23, and January 29, 1930, when Pluto stood at 18:18, 18:15, and 18:08 degrees of the sign Cancer, respectively. At the moment when Pluto was first recognized as a planet, however, which is what I would take to be its “discovery position,” it stood at 107:46 of celestial longitude, which is 17:46 of the tropical sign Cancer. On August 6, 1945, when the atom bomb exploded at Hiroshima, Saturn stood at 18:13 of Cancer, its position having been identical to Pluto's on the second of August, a conjunction accurate to about one tenth of a percent in longitude. On November 1, 1952, the U. S. exploded the first full-scale thermonuclear bomb (the fusion bomb or H-bomb) at Enewetok Atoll in the Pacific. On that date, Uranus was nearly stationary at 18:31 of Cancer, its position identical to Pluto's on September 13 and December 6. The discrepancy in longitude amounts to about two tenths of one percent. See generally Tombaugh and Moore, Out of the Darkness: the Planet Pluto, Harrisburg, 1980

[43] Steiner: Leading Thoughts, p. 99

[44] Joel Moses, “Symbolic Integration, the Stormy Decade”, Communications of the Assoc. for Computing Machinery, vol. 14, no. 8, 1971

[45] Winograd, Procedures as a Representation for Data in & Computer Program for Understanding Natural Language, MAC TR-84, MIT PhD thesis, 1971

[46] I saw the equipment for this at project MAC in MIT

[47] Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason, San Francisco, 1975

[48] It should be noted that the timing of the macrocosmic progress of the incarnation does not allow us to determine exactly the date of the microcosmic incarnation, which could conceivably take place at any time from the present (given that the full ahrimanic ego would not immediately enter the body) to some time not long after the macrocosmic process has culminated.

[49] Wm. Blake: Jerusalem, plate 52, “To the Deists”.