**I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review - I feel sort of bad about the one star review but it's the only actual**I was provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review - I feel sort of bad about the one star review but it's the only actually negative score you can give on this site**
If you're familiar with Kaczynski's previous work, the title of this book should tell you exactly what you're getting - a meticulously, even laboriously argued 'why' and 'how' to organize an revolution against modern technology. The intent here is to present a series of concise and compelling arguments for such a revolution, backed up with a battery of historical examples, footnotes, and a few appendices to boot. Through distilling lessons from successful political movements such as the Bolsheviks, Irish nationalists, and Maoists in China, TK hopes to provide inspiration and a logical lens for a future anti-tech revolutionary moment.
The lesser weakness in this book is how it reads - again, the reader should be aware that TK's writing is generally very dry and logic-minded, and so is his approach to revolution. The 'why' of the book is very thorough and may benefit people who aren't very familiar with the anti-tech position that he holds, but readers who are already familiar with critiques of industrial society or critical of modern technology may find some relatively simple points and simple speculations over-argued. More generally, the author leans heavily on examples from history as evidence and treats revolution as a science or some kind of logic puzzle that can be solved through sifting through history with a sprinkling of social science - besides the dubiousness of this approach, the writing here also suffers somewhat from a lack of compelling source material (many of the citations earlier on in the book are from encyclopedias, though one can only fault him so much here as I'd imagine his access to texts is relatively limited). Even so, there is a constant sense that we're being presented with the 'facts' in a relatively bare way as if these arguments are evident from history.
The greater weakness lies in the 'how', and Kaczynski's approach to revolution doesn't escape the sources upon which he draws, no matter how much he qualifies himself by claiming one can abstract the lessons of Lenin and Mao to the point where they become some sort of neutral tool for success. His points are grounded in the proof of history - people like Lenin succeeded so we can learn from them - but given that history is littered with people who saw the Bolsheviks or Castro or Mao as inspirations and attempted to use their models to achieve success (and failed to do so) one would expect TK to push his arguments further. TK preempts this critique by saying he's only providing inspiration rather than instructions for success, but given how many specific points and proscriptions he produces these things don't seem so different.
While TK's 'how' disavows the ghost of Communism, it retains the faith in a scientific approach to revolution and fails to take into account how some of the lessons he's taken from 'successful' models - strict hierarchy, political vanguards, expecting total selflessness and sacrifice, treating people as a 'mass', maintaining the horizon of the 'revolution' itself - have and will continue to undermine radical struggles, including the one he wants to see happen. ...more