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The Brothers Kaczynski: One Hunts, The Other Doesn't
The Unibomber, a rogue neo-Luddite, held north america spellbound with his deadly guerrilla tactics against the Machine. (While law enforcement officials claim that Theodore Kaczynski is the Unibomber—with the media taking them at their word—let's remember that the man is innocent until proven guilty.)

After David Kaczynski went to the authorities with his suspicions about his brother, details surfaced about both of them. The following article pieces together a portrait of the two brothers as symbolic representations of the environmental movement. This essay was originally published in 1996 in Satya.

By Cathleen and Colleen McGuire

The FBI is indulging in a lot of back-slapping lately over their capture of the alleged Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. The agency deserves about as much credit as Dr. Robert Gallo did for "discovering" the HIV virus. (Does the name Dr. Luc Montagnier of France ring a bell?) In other words, someone else cracked the case! In the Unabomber matter, someone else turned out to be Ted’s younger brother, David Kaczynski.

Not since the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s has there been such anguish and soul searching over naming names and co-operating with the Feds. While McCarthy witnesses squealed for opportunistic political reasons, David Kaczynski was motivated by a spiritual consciousness: his priority was to stop the random murder of innocent lives.

Although, the younger Kaczynski probably won’t have any streets or schools named after him, his actions beg respect. It must have taken Herculean courage to identify his beloved kin as the potential culprit in an era when prosecutors and politicians salivate over the death penalty. The FBI’s million dollar reward reportedly never entered David’s decision-making process. One can imagine how the Brothers Menendez would have handled such a situation. Yes, Virginia, there still are principled people in post-O.J. America.

Like many progressives, the Kaczynskis shared a distrust of advanced capitalist society, abhorring its reverence for and dependence on The Machine. Both retreated into the wilds of nature opting for alternative, rugged life styles. David, however, returned to "civilization", and contributed to society by working at a shelter for runaway youths. Ted stayed put in voluntary isolation, solipsistically absorbed in his secret agenda. What message lies in the divergence of their paths?

It says something that David is the vegetarian and Ted the meat-eater. That David was a "bunny hugger" (as described by one Texas neighbor), while Ted stalked rabbits with military precision. That David is a Buddhist and Ted an agnostic, if not atheist. Perhaps even that David majored in literature (the humanities) while Ted excelled in the abstract rationalism of mathematics.

Ted is sort of an Earth First! Dave Foreman gone amok. While Earth First! long ago rejected Foreman’s macho world views, his notoriety lingers, particularly his repugnant belief that nature needs AIDS and hunger to combat overpopulation. Just as monkey wrenchers deemed human life expendable in their crusade to save the earth, Ted Kaczynski’s eco-jihad likewise represents extreme misanthropy.

From what little we know of David, on the other hand, his politics appear to be based on a spiritual reverence for all life. It is doubtful that he became a vegetarian strictly for health reasons. Although it cannot be said that vegetarians are more caring than carnivores, one can’t help but sense that David’s unwillingness to eat dead animals coincides with his compassionate urge to save lives.

While the public and press monopolize attention on the latest postmodern monster, the politics of the Unibomber’s brother go unexamined except as simplistic black/white, good brother/bad brother portraits. Perhaps useful lessons could be learned from David Kaczynski if the meaning behind his life choices – including his refusal to hunt and kill – were explored in greater depth.

Response and Reply to Article
The following exchange took place in the Letters to the Editor section of Satya, June, 1996.

Anonymous Response

I must take umbrage at many of the things said in "The Brothers Kaczynski" article. To me, equating Ted Kaczynski’s murderous behavior to his rabbit hunting is akin to equating Hitler’s murderous behavior to his vegetarianism [see Satya 1:1 for the question of Hitler’s supposed vegetarianism]. Although I do not condone the killing of rabbits for food, Mr. Kaczynski lived completely "off the grid" -- in a near-wilderness environment. The fact that he needed to hunt rabbits during the long winter is not aberrant or cruel behavior. For the rest of the year, he supposedly survived on the bounties of his organic garden. One resident of the near-by town even believed he was a vegetarian because he never bought (industrial produced) meat from the local supermarket. He would travel to the supermarket on his bicycle and always took a bus to get to further destinations. Can his brother claim such ecological high ground in his transportation choices? I would be that David Kaczynski drives a car. Does that then make Theodore the better person? The entire premise of the article seems trite and silly.

What also angered me was the authors’ remark about Dave Foreman, Earth First! and monkey wrenchers (eco-saboteurs). They were misleading at best, resembling apocryphal "rumors" and "press releases" from the FBI’s COINTELPRO program aimed at the radical ecology movement. The reason Dave Forman’s "notoriety lingers" concerning statements about human starvation and diseases is because articles such as the one in question continue to re-examine statements made by Foreman in 1986 in an interview with an Australian journalist. Foreman has explained many times in the past ten years his true feeling concerning human welfare, and deeply regrets some of the things he had said, most of which are typically taken out of context. Although his Deep Ecology convictions lead him and other Earth First!ers to believe in the rights of all species to exist ahead of trivial human interests like economic development, this hardly translates into murderous misanthropy.

I would finally like to question whether the authors know anything about monkey wrenching. I promise you, no monkey wrencher has ever deemed human life indispensable! Eco-sabotage is unequivocally a non-violent movement and is always directed at property damage to retard ecological destruction. Whether scuttling a whaling ship, freeing animals from a lab, or destroying road building equipment, people who monkey wrench take all precautions to ensure there is no risk to humans. (Concerning the tree spiking incident, there is considerable evidence that the tree which injured a logger in the early 1990s was spiked by either a property rights fanatic or the timber industry looking to discredit radical environmentalists.)

I find it sad that something written in Satya perpetuates some of the mainstream media’s negative stereotypes about people who are trying to save the Earth and her creatures through non-violent, but illegal, means.

Reply by Cathleen and Colleen McGuire

We appreciate your thoughtful comments, and perceive them as coming from an ally. The premise of our essay was not "silly." Its point was to accentuate conflicting core values these two brothers held in the face of their shared antipathy for advanced industrial capitalism. One hunts, the other doesn’t. One eats non-human animals, the other doesn’t. The reasons why "the other doesn’t" is what we want people to deeply explore.

We’re not so sure Mr. K. lived "completely" off the grid judging from the inventory of canned goods seized by the Feds. What about that tin of Spam? The larger issue you raise is important: should wilderness people who unplug from the money-exchange system be excused or condoned for hunting animals for food? We say no, not if their survival is contingent upon the killing of other beings. We hold a higher regard for those who live off the land, not off animals. (Indigenous peoples who hunt for food pose special issues. More Satya dialogue on that matter is welcomed.)

We wholeheartedly support Earth First! and completely share your point about the mainstream media’s libelous image of radical environmentalists. Our intent was not to further that false image, but to contexualize a Kaczynski within the historical continuum of ecologically motivated violence. We recommend Judi Bari’s excellent book Timber Wars for her trenchant insights on monkey wrenching and Dave Foreman’s alleged metamorphosis.

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