I am enjoying my time reading the Unabomber's manifesto. In the first Unabomber post, I talked about oversocialization. In this post, I want to talk about another important topic which is the power process. Ted Kaczynski describes the power process as,
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.
He makes a very good point here. It is not in the human nature to sit around and do nothing. There is always a need to set goals. By setting goals, we can give both the body and the mind the exercise it needs to function at an optimal level. Some activities require more effort than others, but we all need something to do and something to strive for. It can be as advanced as finding a cure for cancer or as primitive as finding food. You can see this power process present in other animals as well. They have goals too; to eat, sleep, and reproduce. This phenomenon is difficult to explain but it seems to be ingrained in most if not all animals.
He also goes on to say,
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.
I think a lot of people can attest to this. Most of us are leisured and relatively secure aristocrats. We have access to all of our basic needs and then some. We have easy access to food, water, and shelter. Not only that we also have luxuries like cell phones, transportation, and electricity. Most laymen only needs to work a meager 9-5 job to enjoy all of these things at a moment's notice. We have come a long way from farming food, and riding horses. And a much farther way from hunting wild animals, and living in caves. So what's left to do? This is why we invented hobbies and dream of more prestigious jobs; we don't need them but in order to maintain our body, mind, and soul, we create new targets to replace the ones that we have already reached. We did not have that option hundreds of years ago. We had few goals and they were impossible to achieve every single day. So we always had something to strive for. Now we don't. We are bored and lost with no real direction. When people are without direction, they are without purpose. When people start questioning their purpose, then is when you get mental issues like depression.
Ted echoes this sediment when he says,
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.....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..
Now the next question is how do we choose a goal/hobby that continues to light the flame in our hearts? Ted refers to these hobbies as "surrogate activities" (I talk about this in another post). He provides some good insight when he says,
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.
Today, we look for hobbies that require effort and are attainable. Some examples that were already mentioned are athletics, social work, and artistry. Now I am going to add another dimension to this which is danger. Notice how all the activities that activities that Ted mentioned carries little to no risk to one's life. I believe that without danger, people have a difficult time acquiring the optimal amount of dopamine, the spark that lights the fire within us. When a hobby carries no danger, then there is a part of you that becomes numb to the result of your efforts. I believe that this is a contributor to attention seeking trends of live suicides and public shootings. The danger element to the preparators is important for them because it adds the dopamine rush that makes the activity fulfilling.
Before civilization, the element of danger was already intertwined with our simple goals, of eating, sleeping, reproducing etc. This made life more fulfilling for our ancestors. We took that away in exchange for safety and security.
That's it for now. Just want to say that this post is more of reflection piece. It is not saying that you are wasting your time with hobbies like socializing, drinking or reading this post. It is more of an explanation for why we do the things that we do.
I want to write more about this, but this post is already exhausting enough, especially with all of the long quotes. I will be making shorter posts in the future linking to the same subject so that things can make more sense. Feel free to post your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you guys think.
Thanks for reading!