The real problem with Transhumanism

Posted: September 8, 2008 in 2007, Articles

By Social Democrat in Social Democrat’s Diary

The real problem with Transhumanism is the fact that nearly all Transhumanists are either Neocons and Neocon influenced.  Dale Carrico at his excellent blog, Amor Mundi, has taken on Transhumanism which he refers to as “Superlative Technology Discourse”.  Dale Carrico provides an exemplary critique of Transhumanism and its anti-democratic and anti-social nature. This link provides a list of his critiques of Transhumanism/superlative technology discourse.

One of Dale’s critiques of Transhumanism/superlative technology discourse shows the direct link between the Neocon agenda and Transhumanism.  From that link: Another comment, from “Kim,” pointed out that since Singularitarians, like most people beguiled by Rapture rhetorics, are responding to deep fears and fantasies, passions that are not entirely rational when all is said and done, it is probably counterproductive to point out to them that they are being unreasonable or to patiently ennumerate more reasonable alternatives. This may be true, but I do think it is important to add that the brand of irrationality peddled by Singularitarians has powerful resonances with the intuitions of neoliberals and neoconservatives. Some neoliberals and neoconservatives have already started to drift in a broadly Singularitarian, or at any rate technocentric, direction to save their anti-democratic agenda in the face of its current catastrophic culmination (Thomas Friedman, Glenn Reynolds, and William Safire are pretty good examples of this in my view), and it is hard for me to see how the majority of neoliberals and neoconservatives could long resist the lure of Singularitarian arguments that

[1] provide a rationale for the circumvention of democratic politics
[2] provide a rationale for increased investment in military R&D
[3] make recourse to tried and true strategies of fearmongering
[4] appeal to Old School conservative intuitions about the special Destiny of the West
[5] appeal to Old School conservative intuitions about the indispensability of elite Gatekeepers of the True Knowledge
[6] appeal to more newfangled conservative intuitions about “spontaneous order” and “natural(ized) markets.”

You can see this link in other areas as well.  From one of the links in my last diary about the marriage strike, here is a comment on how men can benefit from “biotechnologial immortality”, a Transhumanist concept and use it to continue the marriage strike.  Another example comes from the Immortality Institute Forum.  In this comment from that forum the whole idea of invading Iran is considered a great idea where “only” 20,000 will die.  Of course he doesn’t care about the deaths of Muslims and other non-Westerners.

I know that I will be accused of being a luddite for pointing out what’s wrong with Transhumanism.  I’m not a luddite.  I’m a Technoprogressive.  As a technoprogressive, I understand that the issue isn’t technology.  The issue is the (Neocon capitalist controlled) political system.  A good example of this is this comment.  The reason why the person who wrote this comment can’t get proper dental care isn’t technological.  It’s because the Neocon capitalist government of America has decided to spend its money on imperialist wars of aggression and not universal health care for its citizens.  This problem does not get better with more technology.  If anything it will get worse as more technology reinforces the Neocon capitalist regime.

Since 99.5% of Transhumanists are white males, they don’t care about any of these issues.  A good example of this is Aubrey De Grey arguing that extending lives and saving lives is the same thing.  Technically, he is correct.  However, his statement hides the fact that “extending lives” primarily benefits rich and middle class white males, whereas the rest of us still die.  If Aubrey De Grey really wants to save lives, why doesn’t he help put an end to the war in Iraq, help make sure everyone on this planet has clean drinking water and enough food to eat, help agitate to reduce the power of the US/British military, and fight for a basic income guarantee.  Being a (Neocon influenced) white male he sees no benefit to things that actually save lives so he just dicks around with “immortality”

At the top of the amor mundi blog, it says, “Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All”.  When it comes to technology this is exactly what needs to happen.

  1. I know a lot of Transhumanists, and not one among those I know identifies with neoconservative political ideology, to the best of my knowledge. Of course, that doesn’t mean there are no neoconservative Transhumanists, but it probably does mean they are relatively rare. Moreover, to equivocate between Transhumanism and any particular political ideology only demonstrates a poor understanding of the diversity of Transhumanist political perspectives. Dale Carrico is an intelligent person who has knowingly invested in a rhetorical attack on a straw-man interpretation of Transhumanism for reasons that are not altogether clear to me — but straw-man nonetheless.

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