Industrial Society and Its Future

I was writing a post about cop and crime shows and fittingly commenting on cops and crime, when my girlfriend turned on Manhunt: Unabomber, a series about serial bomber Ted Kaczynski. I remember when the FBI finally caught Ted and publicised this story, but I don’t know how much of the series was dramatised versus the facts, so my comments will be on the series and not the underlying events.

I title this post after his published ‘manifesto’, Industrial Society and Its Future, but it otherwise has nothing to do with this topic or his manifesto. To me, Ted Kaczynski seems to be a contemporary Thoreau or Rousseau, a primitivist born into the wrong century.

From a philosophical position, the series depicted the perils of taking a deontological approach. Process prevailed over consequences, which resulted taking 18 years to identify and capture Kaczynski. Time and again, process and pushing paper were promoted over new methods.

criminal profiling is the astrology of forensics

As people familiar with me know, I find the discipline of psychology to be pseudoscience (or perhaps simply a parascience), and so-called criminal profiling is the astrology of forensics, which are already a bit sketchy from the start.

Television promotes the logical rationalism underlying forensic science, connecting the dots to a forgone conclusion, if only the right dots are found. As with most law enforcement and court dramas, the focus is on the good guys overcoming the bad guys. Sometimes, it’s the good cop rooting out the bad cops or the perils of a cop who crosses the line to the dark side. These shows want to show how procedural criminology is in order to dissuade people from taking this path.

Knowingly or otherwise, this is propaganda. The fact is that most crime goes unsolved. Most criminals don’t get caught. Many who get caught are not convicted. Some convicted didn’t commit the crime they have been charged with. From an economic perspective, the vast monetary value is taken by white collar professionals with MBAs not burglars and bank robbers.

Systems need people to have confidence in systems. It’s self-serving. The propaganda is important to shore up confidence in the system of law & order, but it’s analogous to slot machines in Vegas or Atlantic City or wherever. When a person wins, there are bells and lights to increase the excitement in the room. But this misses the losers. If the sound was for losers and not winners, the cacophony might be deafening.

Henry Ford failed at 7 business before succeeding

This propaganda overplays winners and concentrates focus. This is classic cognitive survivorship bias. But don’t ask about the losers. This framing isn’t limited to law enforcement. It is also employed in the prevailing Capitalist narrative, but it under advertises the fact that most entrepreneurs fail. Counter arguments are presented in the likes of Henry Ford failed at 7 business before succeeding. If you fail, just try again. It has to work out for you eventually—unless, of course, you aren’t working hard enough—not working as hard as the winners, not paying your dues.

Whilst watching, I found myself scoffing time and again. I am not a Romantic and not a Primative, so I didn’t exactly side with Kaczynski, but I definitely didn’t side with the system, even if that’s not what he was railing against.

Of interest to me was the forensic linguistics. Humourous to me was his choice of spelling. Like me, he wrote in international English. The series represented his spelling as accepted variants, but this is a US-centric position. In fact, most the the world that speaks English employes the British flavour, which is closer to international English than so-called American English, which is only spoken in the US and Central and northern South America. The rest of the world doesn’t use American English. I chose to use international English after high school. Occasionally I get comments and criticisms, but my grammatical footing is stronger than the vast majority of these. The biggest factor is that I don’t identify as an American. Rather, I am a citizen of the world. Perhaps Esperanto?

7 thoughts on “Industrial Society and Its Future

  1. Interested to hear what you think about the recent US election fraud debacle. Isn’t it interesting to have “the right” now decrying the injustice/self preservation/power-knowledge of institutions; judicial, media, government, democratic? When there is that kind of an attack on these institutions, a big part of me wants to say, despite their corruption, they are still better/more trustworthy than say, Donald’s twitter feed. I’d be interested in your thoughts, did you connect our current moment with Postmodern critiques now manifesting in the right wing?

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    1. I was thinking of this paragraph in your essay:

      “Systems need people to have confidence in systems. It’s self-serving. The propaganda is important to shore up confidence in the system of law & order, but it’s analogous to slot machines in Vegas or Atlantic City or wherever.”

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      1. My point here is that selection and survivorship biases are in play here. Unapprehended suspects and lost cases go unmentioned, so the narrative is how law enforcement makes your life safer. Being safer was never the point. Perception is the only goal, and this is to maintain the status quo, whatever this happens to be at the time. Even Hitler and Stalin had law enforcement.

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    2. In my mind, both parties in the US are hypocritical, though the correlations between Republicans equal conservative equals right and Democrats equal liberal equals left are relics of bygone days.

      Republicans claim to be the mature institutionalists in the bunch, preserving some semblance of tradition. They are pro-military, pro-law enforcement, pro-family, pro-Christianity crowd under the auspices of freedom of religion. They are the pro-freedom crowd: you have the freedom to do and think as you please, so long as it conforms with my beliefs on the matter.

      Democrats claim to the party of diversity and inclusion, the party of Main Street not Wall Street, the party of compassion and the helping hand. They are the party of free speech so long as it’s approved, politically correct speech.

      The point about post-modernism as a political lens is that there is no point, it is deconstructive rather than constructive. It points out that no system is inherently superior to another without taking context into account. In a different context, a suboptimal construct may then be superior yet downright vile in another. As for me, I have political preferences. The difference is that I understand these to be preferences and not cast-in-stone superiority.

      As for the election fraud, this has been the hew and cry of Republicans for ages. Historically, this fraud has been nil to none. Most incidents have been by Conservatives—indicating a fundamental attribution error in perception over tort.

      As I commenced, The only institution nouveau Republicans want to maintain is one that includes them and their power position. They’d prefer no institution over one that doesn’t include them. This is why they are so singularly focused on stacking the deck, end over means. This is a victory of consequentialism over deontology, even though institutions are epistemologically deontological entities. So there’s a disturbance in the Force that undermines the institution they claim to support.

      Democrats, on the other hand, just want to maintain some sense of power. They are not guided by any political ideology. They just need to participate, effectually or otherwise. Performative signalling 101. This is why they can play Republican Lite without losing any sleep. And, let’s face it, no one really needs Lite when they can get the full-bodied version.

      Both parties are decidedly activists and revisionist. At least the Democrats can claim this is Progressive. Republicans just have to lie and claim this is how it had always been meant to be—if not for those pesky kids.

      I’m interested in the particular critiques you are referring to. In my eyes, the critique is that power exists for power’s sake and—borrowing from the notion of the selfish gene—just wants to propagate and perpetuate. What was are seeing are Nietzsche’s fears manifest: where there is no truth, what acts as arbiter?

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