Re: Public Relations?
Mon, 5 Jan 1998 15:45:07 -0800 (PST)

On Mon, 5 Jan 1998, Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:

> > I think there is a great deal of apprehension on this list toward
> > the words "movement", "ideology" and the like. I don't think it
> > does much good to do all kinds of handwaving, denying, and
> > neologizing to avoid such terms.
> Absolutely! The best way to combat irrational emotional reactions
> to accurate words is to "reclaim" them; to use them proudly and
> without apology.

Quite so. I'm still not convinced it is exactly accurate to describe
extropianism as a "movement" in the way you do. At least not yet.
Certainly there is something like an extropian community and a broad set
of extropian ideas. The community is quite diverse, though, as are the
ideas. In the five years I've been hanging out here I've seen lots of
strong personalities and strong agendas come and go, with the consequence
that the tenor of the ongoing extropian conversation has taken some fairly
extraordinary turns -- but the thing that has always remained consistent,
and consistently arresting, is that the participants in the conversation
always factor into their positions a sense of the possibilities, promises,
and dangers of the technological future that I have never found elsewhere.
These observations are also flavored by a gravitation toward a broadly
libertarian, critical optimism of a kind espoused in Max More's
principles, but rarely discussed in any detail or even really alluded to.
It's a great place to spend time and learn in, but it doesn't feel focused
enough to be properly described as a movement on its own terms. Maybe
it's more like a lifestyle looking to mature into a movement?

> I am an ideologue, and proud of it. I have no respect at all
> for those who /start/ an argument from pragmatism instead of
> settling for it when idealism fails. Masking over our own
> idealism for the sake of PR is exactly that--it is settling
> for defeat before we have even tried sticking to principle.
> A principled movement wants people to support its goals; if it
> sacrifices those goals just to get people, what are those people
> for? Such a movement, where numbers of people are a goal in
> itself, is no longer a principled movement, and is forever
> doomed to success in its mediocrity.

I actually agree with you. But are you talking about extropianism here?
There is a libertarian movement, a cryonics movement, a drug legalization
movement, a feminist movement, a secular humanist movement, and a number
of other movements which many/most individual extropians seem to have a
stake in. But what is the goal of the extropian movement? What is the
victory our idealism will secure? The future? It's coming whatever we
talk about here, and largely indifferent to what we talk about here. What
is the defeat we are presumably guarding against as a movement? An
unattractive future? A future less free than we would like? A future
that opts out of the technological promises we hope for out of fear or
fundamentalism? A future that stamps out diversity in a quest for a
singular vision of purity or propriety? If so, well, *now* you're
talking. And of course the *reason* I keep talking about all this (I
realized this after I penned a couple of posts about it, wondering vaguely
all the while why I was getting so overheated about all this in the first
place) is because the future extropianism talks about might just need a
movement after all to articulate it, and even maybe the kind of passionate
idealism you're talking about... But the agenda, the goals, the ideals
seem to me absolutely underspecified so far. Best, Dale

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

It is impossible to make significant change by force.
The only way to make significant change is
to make the thing you want to change obsolete. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
"Death, where is thy sting-a-ling?" -- Noel Coward