Distancing Environmentalism from the UniBomber Ted Kaczynski

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Distancing Environmentalism from the UniBomber Ted Kaczynski There's been some talk on this list lately about how we should distance environmentalism from the Unabomber, and foil attempts by the media to unite the two. Shouldn't we also look inward, and see if in any way a love of ature does or can lead to antipathy to humans? he relationship between environmentalism and violence had been on my mind prior to Ted Kaczynski's arrest, because I had been reading _MindHunter_, John Douglas's memoir of his career heading the FBI's serial crimes unit. In passing, Douglas mentions a number of cases in which the killers were ardent environmentalists or living back to nature. It was hard to know what, if anything, to make of this (or of the author's contention that an inordinate percentage of serial killers drive Volkwagen Beetles). atching the FBI take Kaczynski away as the prime suspect in the Unabomber case, I thought, of course, of Henry Thoreau. Both were Harvard graduates who chose to remove themselves from industrial America to go it alone in a simple wilderness retreat. Thoreau is America's most famous recluse -- isn't it likely that Kaczynski is familiar with Thoreau's writing, even that he was emulating him to a degree? If Kaczynski is the Unabomber, then an intellectual connection to Thoreau is even more possible. After all, Thoreau is the father of North American environmentalism, and the Unabomber is most definitely an environmentalist. In his manifesto, after an exceedingly long discussion of how technology had overwhelmed society and smothered persnal freedom, he writes, "But as an ideology, in order to gain support, must have positive ideals well as a negative one; it must be FOR something... ... middle of paper ... ...writes, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away." But just as important, in the passage preceding this, Thoreau writes, "Let every one mind his own business, and endeavour to be what he was made." Admittedly, this is an incomplete political philosophy. Environmental problems will not disappear by minding our own business. But neither will they disappear by sneering at society or threatening violence against it. Any environmentalism that works will necessarily be one that accepts human beings and seeks to accommodate them in nature. I take from _Walden_ that I must live principally in nature, I take from "Civil Disobedience" that I must live principally in society. But as Thoreau might say, hey, that's just my opinion.

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