In this episode, I speak with journalist John H. Richardson. Former Writer at Large for Esquire, John is the author of the captivating article ‘Children of Ted: The Unlikely New Generation of Unabomber Acolytes,’ published December 2018 in New York Magazine.
In the article ‘Children of Ted,’ John takes a deep dive into the world of Theodore Kaczynski (aka the Unabomber) acolytes and apostates, a journey that documents his interactions with various individuals and groups that have been inspired (or adjacently-inspired) by the anti-civilizational writings and philosophy of Kaczynski (and even his multiple deadly acts of terrorism leading up to his arrest by the FBI in 1996). While John’s article is centered around the story of John Jacobi, who become radicalized (in part) through his exposure to Kaczynski’s manifesto ‘Industrial Society and Its Future’ and his subsequent correspondences with him, the article more broadly examines a phenomenon Richardson describes as Kaczynski Moments. “The Kaczynski moment dislocates. Suddenly, everyone seems to be living in a dream world. Why are they talking about binge TV and the latest political outrage when we’re turning the goddamn atmosphere into a vast tanker of Zyklon B? Was he right? Were we all gelded and put in harnesses without even knowing it? Is this just a simulation of life, not life itself?” (http://bit.ly/ChildrenOfTed) As John writes and states in this interview, Kaczynski Moments cut through almost every political tendency and ideology, and yield wide and varied results. In writing the piece, John interviewed some of the most prominent anti-civilizational activists, writers, and even a terror-friendly propagandist for an eco-extremist outfit operating in Mexico and South/Central America. We discuss John’s own Kaczynski Moment and interactions with the man himself, and how his research into the lives of Kaczynski-inspired or Kaczynski-adjacent-inspired individuals and groups has informed his journalism and life after the publication of ‘Children of Ted’ this past December.
It must be stated, for myself and John, that we do not condone or endorse the actions of Theodore Kaczynski, or those inspired or adjacently-inspired by his actions. The ethical/philosophical differences between the various parties discussed in this episode should be apparent and obvious to the listener, at least that is what I hope.
John H. Richardson is a journalist and former Writer at Large for Esquire Magazine. He is the author of three books, including ‘My Father The Spy, An Investigative Memoir.’ He was born in Washington D.C. in 1954, and grew up in Athens, Manila, Saigon, Washington, Seoul, Honolulu, and Los Angeles. John has worked at the Albuquerque Tribune, The Los Angeles Daily News, Premiere Magazine, New York Magazine, and Esquire Magazine and taught at the Columbia University, the University of New Mexico, and Purchase College.
- Read John’s article ‘Children of Ted: The Unlikely New Generation of Unabomber Acolytes’ at New York Magazine: http://bit.ly/ChildrenOfTed
- Read John’s article ‘When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job’ at Esquire: http://bit.ly/2WVIqCY
- Much of John’s work can be found at his website: http://johnhrichardson.com
- Read ‘Industrial Society and Its Future’ by Theodore Kaczynski: https://wapo.st/2ZiwzvZ
- Read Bill Joy’s ‘Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us’ at Wired: http://bit.ly/BillJoy
- The songs featured in this episode are “Akew” and “Subordinate CEO” by Miguel Baptista Benedict from the album Super(B)-Child-Ran.
- The title card features the photograph “Unabomber Cabin, 1998” by Richard Barnes.