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The Enigmatic Life and Crimes of Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber

Here is my correction and improvement of the article:

On the 10th of June in the year 2023, Theodore Kaczynski, whose ghastly deeds had once plunged the entire United States into a state of deepest dread, departed this world which he had come to so bitterly resent. He had been confined within the ghastlier confines of the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, since the year 1998, and was later transferred to the federal medical center for prisoners in North Carolina in 2021. In the dim antecedent hours of the 10th, the guards came upon Kaczynski in an unconscious state and hastily removed him to the infirmary in hopes of resurrection. Alas, he was pronounced expired shortly thereafter, with the initial determination of suicide offered as the cause of his demise.

This grim intelligence served to remind many Americans of that era dominated by pervasive anxiety. Kaczynski stands recorded as one of the most infamous bombists in the history of our nation. From between the years 1978 until 1995, he perpetrated multiple bomb attacks, resulting in a full three lives forfeited and three and twenty others grievously injured. The Federal Bureau of Investigation mobilized the most time-consuming manhunt ever undertaken against him, the longest, most expansive, and costly search in the agency’s annals. Unlike others of his ilk, he possessed an intellect of truly rare acuity, having been approved entrance into Harvard University at the tender age of sixteen and acclaimed a mathematical genius of true genius. How then did Kaczynski, one so equipped for a life of true intellectual splendor, come to embark upon a path of deeds so horrific? What designs or logic lay behind this string of most heinous crimes?

Born on the 22nd of May in the year 1942 into a family of great means in Chicago, Kaczynski’s parents traced their lineage back to immigrants from the nation of Poland. His father earned his living through the family concern and his mother devoted herself entirely to her household duties. From a very young age did Kaczynski exhibit talents most marked. On an intelligence assessment administered in the fifth grade did he score a hundred and sixty-seven points, placing his faculties on a par with names like Einstein and Hawking.

Due to his intellect proving too magnificent to contain, Kaczynski proceeded to skip fully two successive grades. In the year 1958, at the youthful age of sixteen, he commenced his studies within the department of mathematics at Harvard University. Following graduation, he continued his education toward a masters and doctorate at Michigan State University. As a graduate student, he saw papers of his own published in journals of the first caliber, continuing along his path toward true genius. As one classmate characterized, “It was as if he could compose verse as the rest of us struggled with our grammars.” Yet more legendary was that during the months allotted to his doctoral thesis, he solved a mathematical difficulty that had vexed his mentor for over a decade. During his oral defense, the assessing committee found themselves unable to comprehend even his thesis. One professor went so far as to claim that fewer than ten persons in the entire nation could grasp its contents.

In the year 1967, Kaczynski gained a position as assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley whilst still only five and twenty years of age, and with his elevation among the mathematical elite seeming all but predestined. Yet during his lectures did he only discuss that already within textbooks, declining all questions from students. In 1969, he resigned his post. He took to living alternately with his parents and drifting hither and yon. In the year 1971, he purchased land in the remotest reaches of Montana and there constructed for himself a simple wooden abode lacking any access to water or power, placing himself at great remove from modern society.

But Kaczynski proved no ordinary hermit, removing himself from the troubles of the world so as to better savor its tranquility. Rather had he become an artist of the criminal dimension, one who “plotted his schemes from thousands of miles away”, a mysterious and chilling terrorist. From 1971 until his arrest in April 1996 did he take up residence here, sustaining himself apart from the financial support still provided by his parents through growing vegetables, hunting game, and sporadic odd jobs. Yet most vital was that this simple wooden dwelling served as his workshop for devising bombs, adopting varied disguises as he mailed his deadly packages across the country, precipitating many incidents striking horror throughout the United States.

  Kaczynski taught himself explosives-making techniques in a cabin in Montana and committed crimes so elusively that police could not trace his exact address.
  After making such a big noise, Kaczynski not only did not stop, but intensified his actions. In June 1980, the president of United Airlines received a package, which was a hollowed-out book with a bomb hidden inside. Wood was injured in many places throughout his body. In May 1982 and May 1985, Kaczynski carried out two bombings at Brigham Young University and the University of California, Berkeley, both causing serious personal injuries to the victims. In December 1985, after many attempts, Kaczynski “finally” committed his first murder: a computer store owner in Sacramento, California, was killed in a bombing in the parking lot outside the store. The scene was horrific.
  In addition to targeting universities and airlines, the FBI has discovered that these bombs are becoming more sophisticated and more destructive. Moreover, the raw materials of the bomb were very simple, mostly nails, cans, bark, branches, etc. The materials also deliberately left some fingerprints that were later found to be irrelevant to the case, which misled the police in the direction of their investigation and made years of investigation fruitless. However, the FBI has repeatedly found the letters “FC” on bombs or near crime scenes. The police speculated that the word meant “Fuck Computers”, and based on this, they believed that the murderer might be a lonely, highly intelligent otaku with a strong hostility to modern technology. However, the true meaning of the letters was “Freedom Club,” and Kaczynski hoped police would mistake it for an organized operation rather than a one-man fight. The police missed the mark and painted a rather accurate picture of the bomber.
  Of course, this is only a personality and psychological portrait, and the subsequent Salt Lake City bombing left a physical portrait of him. In February 1987, Kaczynski placed a package with a bomb in a Salt Lake City computer store, and a woman witnessed the entire process. Based on her description, the police released a sketch of the suspect: wearing a hoodie, sunglasses, and a big beard, giving people a ruthless and unpredictable impression.
  I don’t know if he was afraid or not. After committing this crime, Kaczynski went through a “long intermission” and did not “reappear” until June 1993. He committed two bombings in three days, one of which occurred in California. Both men were seriously injured in the blast, which occurred at the home of University of San Francisco geneticist Charles Epstein and another in the office of Yale University computer scientist David Gallant.
  Two more murders followed. In December 1994, Burson-Marsteller executive Thomas Moser was bombed to death in his home. Kaczynski explained the rationale for the action in an anonymous letter to the New York Times: Burson-Marsteller worked for ExxonMobil following the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker. Develop strategies to restore public image and manipulate public opinion. In April 1995, Kaczynski committed his last crime, using the same method to kill Gilbert Murray, president of the California Forestry Association, a timber industry lobbying group.
  Kaczynski has become a well-known bomber, terrorist and criminal genius in the United States. The FBI has tried every possible means and racked its brains, but has been unable to find any clues about him. Yet Kaczynski was arrested, and quite by accident.
Arrest and trial

  It has to be admitted that many criminals do not have any direct criminal purpose, but have severe anti-social personalities due to psychological distortion. In order to vent their dissatisfaction, they carry out indiscriminate attacks on innocent victims. Does Kaczynski also fall into this category of criminals? It was not until a letter in April 1995 that people truly understood his criminal intentions. It was precisely because of this act that Kaczynski exposed his identity and ended his criminal career.

  On April 24, 1995, Kaczynski wrote to the two major American media, the New York Times and the Washington Post, in the name of the “terrorist organization FC”, requesting that his 35,000-word article be published within the specified time limit. Article “Industrial Society and Its Future”. As a deal (or threat), he offered that if the article was published, the bombings would cease, or else there would be consequences. Neither media dared to decide whether to publish it without authorization. Finally, with the consent of the Ministry of Justice, the article was published, which is also known as the “Unabomber Manifesto.”
  In this article, Kaczynski systematically explains his theoretical basis and ideological propositions. He believes that the industrial revolution and scientific and technological progress are a disaster for human society. People are increasingly trapped in the vortex of material desires and the quagmire of technology, and are alienated into mechanized and stylized animals; moreover, the fate of ordinary people has been changed by politicians and companies. Controlled by a very small elite such as executives and technicians, it has lost its autonomy and independence. Therefore, Kaczynski called on people to resist the development of technology and the exploitation and harm of individuals in industrial society, and called on humans to return to primitive society and recover their humanity and self from the wild and simple nature.
  The article explains why Kaczynski targeted universities, airlines, computer stores and corporate executives. But it has to be said that Kaczynski may have seen some of the ills of modern society, but made the wrong prescription. His attempt to “return to the ancestors” of human society is undoubtedly a superficial and anti-intellectual perception. His genius was mismatched into an unfamiliar field.
  The reason why the Ministry of Justice agreed to publish this article was partly out of necessity, and partly because it hoped to widely mobilize the masses and discover the “bombers” around them through this article. Sure enough, Kaczynski’s sister-in-law saw the article and felt that the ideas in the article seemed familiar, so she told her husband David. David found the letters his brother had written to him and found that the opinions were indeed very similar. He hired a private detective to secretly investigate his brother’s whereabouts. He also handed the collected information to a lawyer in Washington, who then Carry out analysis and organization. Finally, they contacted the FBI. On April 3, 1996, the police finally captured Kaczynski in a forest cabin in Montana. There was also conclusive physical evidence in the house: bomb-making materials, completed bombs, and 40,000 pages of handwritten diaries.
  After being arrested, prosecutors quickly charged Kaczynski with murder and illegal transportation, mailing and use of bombs. Kaczynski’s family and lawyers claim he is mentally ill and hope to exonerate him. Kaczynski was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. But he considered it an insult to his dignity and personality and refused to use it as a defense. Although the lawyer agreed on the surface, he planned to use this as a life insurance policy after the jury found guilty. This intention was also seen through by Kaczynski.
  On January 5, 1998, just as the trial began, Kaczynski asked the judge to change his defense lawyer. The trial was briefly interrupted and his request was dismissed. On January 7, Kaczynski tried to end his life in his underwear, but failed. On January 8, Kaczynski once again requested to withdraw his lawyer and defend himself, but was rejected by the judge again. On January 22, Kaczynski voluntarily pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four life sentences plus 30 years in prison, which meant that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. Sentencing the case, Judge Garland Burrell said: “The defendant has committed unspeakably heinous crimes for which he shows no remorse. As a result of these evil acts of terrorism and the callous nature of the crimes, Theodore Kaczynski poses a serious threat to society and should be sent to an institution where he can be closely monitored for life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

Modernity and its discontents

  Due to his extraordinary talent and superhuman intelligence, Kaczynski must also bear the weight of the “crown” while enjoying the halo of genius. During his school days, Kaczynski was taciturn and unsociable. Especially after skipping a grade, he was even more unable to communicate with older classmates, and his personality became increasingly depressed and dull. His high school classmates also felt that Kaczynski was never viewed as a living, breathing young man with a personality, but rather as a “walking brain.”
  In addition, while studying at Harvard University, Kaczynski underwent a three-year psychological experiment by the famous psychologist Henry Murray, which had a great impact on his mental health. Professor Murray recruited 22 undergraduate students to conduct an experiment. Through a simulated interrogation method, he deliberately insulted the subjects, devalued their beliefs and personality, and then tested their stress response. According to reports, the experiment was part of the FBI’s code-named MK-Ultra project. This project was a product of the shadow of the Cold War and the struggle for hegemony between the United States and the Soviet Union. It mainly studied how to implement mind control and brainwashing on people. In 2018, the CIA also admitted that the research was “disturbing” and “ethically untenable.” It is conceivable that this experiment must have had a serious negative impact on Kaczynski, exacerbating his already less than optimistic mental health problems.
  It is worth mentioning that Kaczynski has gained more and more fans after his arrest, especially those who are dissatisfied with modern civilization, technological hegemony, information autocracy, etc. In fact, Kaczynski’s ideas are not new. Reflections on modern society and material civilization have already begun. Max Weber, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Elu Thinkers such as you have relevant discussions. Under this cultural symptom, human society with prosperous materials and consumption can hardly hide the situation of cultural poverty, spiritual decadence and moral decline. As Benjamin said, all records of civilization are also records of barbarism. In the colorful consumer society, more and more modern people are trapped in the quagmire of emptiness and loneliness. This is what Marx calls “alienation”, Freud calls “repression”, or what Nietzsche calls “the last man” , Heidegger’s “ordinary people”.

In 1999, Kaczynski was imprisoned.

In 1971, Kaczynski purchased land in a remote area of ​​Montana and built a simple log house with no access to water or electricity.

Bomb-making materials and tools in Kaczynski’s cabin.

  Kaczynski is the extreme product of this thought. He uses murder as a method, and violent crimes and terrorist attacks as performance art to resist industrial society. It is tantamount to walking on a secret road with no visible exit. Now that he has left this world, the questions he raised have only become more apparent. At the crossroads of the modern world, how to balance material and spiritual, technology and soul, perhaps this is what the Kaczynski case left us to think about. In addition to negative cases, is it not a valuable “spiritual legacy”?