Re: Extropian greed: an oxymoron, alas

E. Shaun Russell (
Sat, 29 Mar 1997 00:38:14 -0800 (PST)

Anonymous wrote:

>When I hear the "Extropian ideas are greedy" critique, it reminds me of the
>related misconception about Objectivists, shared by themseves and their
>critics alike, that they are "selfish". Nonsense. Many are the Objectivists
>out there living in near poverty (especially in light of their mental
>potential), expending their engergies in selflessly trying to promote their
>cause. Many have been the acts of immense ideological altruism among the
>Objectivists. Objectivists are altruists promoting selfishness, whereas
>they must compete with selfish people promoting altruism. If Objectvists
>were consistent they'd go over to the enemy.

I believe that one of Rand's key intentions with her terminology and
application of meanings to words was to focus on *why* we classify such
words as 'undesirable'. If you take a look at the word "selfish" without
any of the culturally provided baggage, it basically means: 'one who is
absorbed in his or her own interests'. I see nothing wrong with that as it
is, nor did Rand.
What is unfortunate is how discredited the word has become due to all the
baggage that has been associated with it through the decades. Now the word
"selfish" has been perverted to meaning "miserly", "conceited" and "uncaring".
"Selfish" is just one of the words that Rand took the liberty of
re-evaluating. There are thousands of fnords in the English language, and
it is a lot easier to create them than eliminate them.

>An analogous phenomenon exists with many Extropians. We have a philosophy
>of individual self-improvement but we practice it only in the abstract, in
>the imagination, in philosophizing and principalizing and argument, but
>not in our daily present lives.
>[...snipped generalizations...]

You forget that this is merely a list that deals with the arguments
and information provided by like-minded people...a list exclusively made for
such discourse. Most (if not all) on this list do more for extropy than
check their mail every hour and subscribe to a few magazines. Extropy's
something that I cannot even comprehend being idle and wishy-washy about. I
would wager that most people on this list were extropians before they even
heard the term spoken.

>It's great dreaming of the future, but the future will actually belong to
>those who make it there.

"...Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow..." (T.S. Eliot)

>+ Don't rant on about the virtues of selfishness, you are contradcting
>yourself. If you think selfishness is so great, then you should just be
>selfish and not let anybody else in on it.

As I said, it depends on how you want to look at the meaning of
selfishness. If you are totally unselfish (looking at the uncorrupted
meaning of the word) you are an altruist. How can *you* have a cause if
*you* are not selfish?

>+ we need to be much more _short_ sighted, greedy and local when it
>comes to most of our lives.

I simply disagree, though I hope you intended a different meaning
than I received. Extropy is generally a balance between short and long
sight, as well as a balance between optimism and realism. When you are
enacting the present, always consider the ramifications it can have on the


-E. Shaun Russell

~~~:~~~> E. ternity E. Shaun Russell
:~~> E. xpansion
:~~~> E. xtropy Extropic Artist,
Transhumanities editor for
The present is only an abstract concept Homo Excelsior Magazine
between past and future. -E.S.R.