April 17, 2012

Masks of Rage


As the trial of mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik proceeds in Norway this week, it's worth noting a technology-related anomaly in the press coverage of his crimes.

Breivik is the right-wing terrorist who killed more than 70 people, most of them students attending an island summer camp, in July 2011. At the time, it was widely noted that significant sections of his "European Declaration of Independence" had been lifted verbatim from Ted Kaczynski's "Industrial Society and Its Future," aka "the Unabomber Manifesto." What wasn't noted was how dramatically at odds Breivik's beliefs are from Kaczynski's.

Like Kaczynski, Breivik hates leftists, and it was Kaczynski's passages excoriating those enemies that Breivik copied. But where the Unabomber set out to destroy the Kingdom of Technology, Breivik spoke of using technology – technology in general, that is, in addition to bombs and guns – to further his goals. His agenda was aimed at cleansing European nations of "multicultural" influences. Toward that end, he urged that the technological advantage of European nations be widened, recommending that twenty per cent of their national budgets be reserved "for research and development in relation to science and technology."

For the same reason, he also urged that Western technology be kept out of the hands of Muslim countries. Christian nations should focus their energies solely on their own economic development, the declaration said, "allowing unlimited research and development relating to every aspect of technology and science (including all aspects of biological research, reprogenetics etc.)."

Another significant difference was their respective positions on genetic engineering. Kaczynski specifically warned that using those techniques was a step in the direction of technological totalitarianism, but Breivik specifically endorsed them. "Reproduction clinics" should be established, Breivik said, in order to promote population growth from "pure sources," defined as "non-diluted (95-99% pure) Nordic genotypes." Kaczynski urged that all forms of genetic engineering be outlawed, but predicted that in a technological society they wouldn't be. (See paragraphs 122-124). 

Many of us who have doubts regarding the technological project deeply regretted Kaczynski's discrediting of the issue with his terror campaign. If there's a lesson here it may be that hatred seeks justifications for its slaughters under whatever guise happens to be convenient. 

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