Re: New X-humanist forums (was/is: Not all >H's are Extropians(was RE: >H SLASH: Current topics.)

From: Max More (
Date: Thu Jun 22 2000 - 21:18:45 MDT

Brian, it's obvious that you have some serious political disagreements with
not only Extropians but perhaps most other transhumanists. Since you don't
distinctly lay out your views, I'm not sure how much and where you
disagree, but I get the impression that you favor a strong state that would
regulate transhumanizing technologies. Rather than speculating further,
I'll stick to responding to your comments.

At 05:57 PM 6/22/00, Brian Manning Delaney wrote:

>Max More wrote:
> > I let the first comment (the first paragraph above go by),
> > but this is too much. First, yes many extropians
> > call themselves libertarian or are very sympathetic
> > to libertarian approaches. This is true of very many
> > transhumanists, Extropians or not.

Okay, you agree. So why did you originally point at finger at Extropians,
rather than at us and all the other transhumanists whose political views
differ from yours? If you don't want me to think that you're attacking
Extropians, then perhaps it would help for you to include in your critique
all other relevant transhumanists.

> > But please not that, if you read the Extropian Principles,
> > libertarianism is not mentioned.
>True, but not relevant.

You've lost me. How can this not be relevant? Extropianism is defined in
terms of the Extropian Principles. The Principles do NOT require a
libertarian political view. I don't even call myself a libertarian. It
seems to me that what you have a problem with is individualism, and almost
all transhumanists that I've come across are strong individualists, even if
they do not call themselves libertarians and do not agree with all of what
libertarians say. Again, why specifically criticize Extropians if your beef
is with individualism? (It would help if you stated your political/economic

> > Extropians need not be libertarians.
>This seems difficult to believe (In truth, Max, I'm surprised at
>your efforts [here, and in the past] to distance Extropianism
>from libertarianism. There can be a right-wing trans-humanism
>and a left-wing. Extropianism can be the right-wing version. Why
>should that be a problem for you?)

Two things here: First, your use of "right-wing" and "left-wing" is just
going to add to the confusion. That one-dimensional categorization of
political views is almost worthless even without getting into any
transhumanist ideas. Describing Extropians as "right-wing" is unhelpful.
"Right-wing" covers an enormously diverse range of views. Perhaps that's
the source of your problem--you are taking some unsavory views labeled as
"right-wing" and assuming they apply to other people some of whose views
might be called "right-wing" in a different sense. That would explain your
comments about anti-Semitism (which I find bizarre and which I'm sure will
surprise my friend and long-time Extropian Simon Levy).

> > Brian's comments are more disturbing. They seem
> > extremely unfair, and misrepresent the Extropians
> > on the Extropian list (quite apart from the
> > broader community of Extropians beyond the list).
>(For the record, I just want to clarify that I was referring to
>the people one encounters in the main mailing list, and not all
>of them at that.)
>I'm glad you say "seem," though am disturbed that by the end
>here you've devolved to presumptuous charges of "slander."

You *did* misrepresent the people on the list. You did not qualify your
statements. That would lead most readers to assume that you were talking
about a universal or near-universal set of views about the issues you
mentioned. My assumption of slander is based on the manner in which you
singled out Extropians for a criticism that applies to other transhumanists
and which unreasonably overgeneralized from the views of a tiny fraction of
the list. Perhaps you were not slandering. The alternative is that you
expressed yourself very inaccurately and incautiously.

Brian, I have to say that your comments about anti-Semitism seem so far
off-base to me that I find it hard to respond. Your evidence for
anti-Semitism appears to be (a) that some people on the list argued that
circumcision is a bad idea (apparently contrary to your religious or
cultural views); (b) that people have mentioned Ayn Rand's Jewish birth
name (!!); (c) that libertarianism is inherently anti-Semitic.

The first piece of "evidence" is just incredible. You call for freedom to
criticize, yet apparently bristle when a practice that you favor
(circumcision) is challenged. Surely you can see that *even if* (contrary
to fact) all and only Jews were circumcised, critical discussion of
circumcision would not in the least imply anti-Semitism. It would imply
anti-circumcisionism among those who took that view. (I have no idea how
many Extropians or other transhumanists favor, oppose, or don't give a hoot
about circumcision.)

As for libertarianism being inherently anti-Semitic, this is laughable. You
mentioned Ayn Rand as someone many Extropians like (though many also
strongly dislike her work, or parts of it). She is of Jewish background. So
are numerous leading libertarian thinkers, such as Murray Rothbard and
Israel Kirzner. Come on, Brian, you're really off-base here. The fact that
you would try to stretch an already-incredible statement about libertarians
to smear Extropians with anti-Semitism does make me think that either you
are deliberately slandering Extropians, or else you have some paranoia
about the issue.

>#2 would be the strongest, except that I've only seen it
>exemplified occasionally. About #1: there's a long literature
>about the anti-Semitic implications of irrational circumcision

And, of course, all discussions of circumcision that reach a conclusion
different from yours are irrational? (Now I think we're clear what's going
on here!)

>I'm appalled that someone who started a movement that claims to
>want to do good things would raise the charge of slander without
>yet hearing the reasons for the charges purported to be
>slanderous. (Worse, still, you even claimed not to have read
>every Extropians post.)

Guilty as charged. Your honor, it's true--I have not read every post on the
Extropians list. I can't have read more than a couple of hundred thousand.
Brian, again, I will adjust my proposal this way: Either you are slandering
us, or else you are being exceedingly careless in your reasoning. It's
because of your intelligence that the latter did not occur to me.

As for the person telling you that I'm the root of all evil... Yes, I must
say that that person (don't assume it was a he) apparently did have some
affect on your thinking. "Natasha's ex-boyfriend"? Now who's making
assumptions? I've been the subject of enough death threats, and lesser
insults and attacks. I can handle those, but it bothers me when people lie
about me and succeed in slanting people against me.

>A movement that can't tolerate criticism -- SHARP criticism even
>-- is dangerous.

Very true. And one that fails to defend itself against false charges is
vulnerable to serious damage.


Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute.
CEO, MoreLogic Solutions. or

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