Re: What is to be done?

Damien Broderick (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 12:37:48 +0000

On Sat, 22 Mar 1997 13:33:11 -0800 (Jay Reynolds Freeman) wrote:


>> Thus a strategy for "what is to be done" might be to distance
>>transhumanist technological goals from libertarianism and
>>anarcho-capitalism, at least at the public-relations and educational
>>interface to the rest of the non-transcended world.

And at 03:44 PM 3/23/97 GMT, Guru George commented:

>Sorry, but this strikes me as cowardice.

>Guru George

Does it really? It strikes me as abundant good sense. The alternative
strikes me as narrow-minded, self-defeating sectarianism.

If we lived in a world where the only people promoting advanced
technological goals happened to be right-to-life fundamentalist Christians
(not as absurd as it might sound, given the standard historical arguments
linking transcendental goals, scientific practice, restraint now in the
service of attainment later, monotheism, etc), many people would proclaim
the `cowardice' of uncoupling those two components.

One (former?) member of this list recently proposed at some length that
rational people were obliged to question the testimony of Nazi Holocaust
victims. I was appalled, as were several other list contributors who
expressed their dismay. But I can imagine a situation in which that
disgraceful opinion might just happen to have been shared by most
list-members, and linked to other high technology enthusiasms (as they were
in the case of that person). If such had been the case I suppose I would
never have joined the list, but then I'd have lost access to all the useful
information that surges through the postings. Happily, most extropians
seemed to have been offended by that incident. Still, it is in principle
imaginable that the consensus might have pilloried any objections as

I've just completed a book on the Singularity that comes from an implied
political stance consistent with favourable attitudes to high tech among
intellectuals in the country where I live, Australia, and the peer group
that formed my attitudes, roughly speaking science fiction fandom
(specifically of the Aussie/Brit variety) and a kind of left anarchism
(perhaps meliorative heterotopic consentive tribalism is more accurate, but
a nasty mouthful). I am not going to abandon my background assumptions
just because people bully me with accusations of `cowardice', just as I'm
going to hold firm to my favourable opinion of the prospects of Faustian
technology despite the disdain of my largely poststructuralist colleagues.

These opinions might get me run out the Extopian list on a rail, which I
think would be a pity, because I have learned a great deal during my stay
here. But I'm damned if I'm going to salute the sectional doctrines of
those transhumanists who contingently happened to emerge in the nation with
the best access to the Internet. (Out of courtesy, however, I will
probably continue to avoid intruding my own political opinions into a forum
that is, after all, founded explicitly in a libertarian mode.)

Damien Broderick