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

From: Brian Manning Delaney (
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 12:52:39 MDT

(Some snippage accidentally not marked by "[....]".)


I continue to find myself surprised by your reaction, including
your (seemingly willful) misreadings of my arguments, to the
point where I think we're coming from such different
intellectual/political/moral universes that discussing this in
depth further won't be worth it (for me, certainly). I feel I do
owe you 1) a justification for the preceding; and 2) a
restatement of my original claim.

#2 first:

What happened was: someone made a comment about Extropians that
CLEARLY was not a universal claim (how could ALL however many
hundred list members be "strident libertarians"?), and I added
other attributes, including anti-Semitism. Yes, the claims
(Joseph's and mine) about Extropians are claims that these
attributes are found more among Extropians than others
(otherwise the claims would have no content), but no, they are
not suggested to be universal -- well, I can't speak for Joseph,
but I certainly did not, and do not, mean to make a universal
claim about Extropians.

Indeed, I have learned a great deal from Extropians (and been
greatly entertained!). Further, I have met people as a result of
my participation in the Extropians list who have become friends,
in a few cases, very dear friends.

Nevertheless, I stand by my earlier statements. Max, I
completely understand why you might 1) find compressed versions
of these arguments absurd (they make little sense absent a long
historical argument -- see suggested reading), and, either way
2) have a strong enough desire to defend your Institute (the
reputation of which can even have a bearing on your livelihood,
given your new consulting business) that you might not be
entirely open-minded here. (And I also belief that, up to a
point, an open mind is an empty mind: one has to take a stand
somewhere, and terra firma must be terra incognita!)

As for #1, I'll just make points along the way here (also
responding briefly to the relatively less controversial question
of libertarianism and Extropianism).

Max More wrote:

> 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.

I'm not sure. I doubt we'll need a government stronger than that
we have now in the U.S. (but this would depend on circumstance).

> 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.

>> Yes.

> 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.

Point of logic:

There's a difference between:
1. "Extropians tend to be X," and
2. "Extropians are the only ones who tend to be X."

(Recall the original post to which I was responding.)

Sure, there are people who aren't Extropians who have the
characteristics in question. But Extropians have them to a
greater degree. So the question that interests me is the
possibility of a systematic connection between Extropianism and
these characteristics. (And it is indeed a question, not a
thesis cast in stone.) Thus, whether or not members of other
lists also have these characteristics is not relevant (given
that they don't have them to the same degree).

"Native Americans drink a lot." -"But Irish-Americans drink a
lot too! Why didn't you mention them?" If one wants to
understand Native American drinking, Irish-American drinking
isn't necessarily relevant (except as a comparison:
Irish-Americans drink a lot, but LESS than Native Americans. Why
is that?)

Sorry if the ex. is patronizing. Just want to be crystal clear.
I'm not interested in placing Evil labels on people. I'm
interested in understanding.

> > > 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?

Because one can be a libertarian without having a bumper sticker
(or princilple) saying "I'm a libertarian"; ergo, the absence of
any explicit claims about libertarianism in the Principles means
very little, if anything. (See the bit about political
expediency below.)


> > > 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.

I disagree. Left vs. right is an extremely useful
categorization. Of course it doesn't capture all aspects of
political views, but how could it? It does, however, capture one
important thing: differences in the relation of the individual
to the state. I think of it this way. When George Bush (daddy
Bush) warned in the 1988 pres. debates (or 92?) that people
might have to "hold on to their wallets," the VAST majority
people watching reacted in one of two ways:

1) They agreed, or could relate, because:
a) they strongly believe the wallet is theirs, and theirs alone,
b) they strongly think the group "taking" from their wallet is

2) They disagreed, or could not relate, because:
a) they don't quite so strongly believe the money in the wallet
is theirs, and theirs alone -- though, more often, and much more
b) they don't so strongly think the group "taking" from their
wallet is "NOT-ME": government is by and of the people.

#1 is right-wing, #2 is left-wing.

Of COURSE there are lots of other axes along which political
views can usefully be measured, and lots of different degrees of
leftism and rightism. So what?

What adds to the confusion is precisely the opposite of what
concerns you: the adding of extra dimensions to the measurement
of the political landscape that create fine divisions that
aren't generally relevant.

I do see, however, how it might be politically expedient to
bring all X-humanists under one umbrella, a goal which is
furthered by a masking of political differences in order to
highlight commonality. But political expedience has little
interest to me here. (NB: An interesting question is why more
Extropians who vote for a U.S. president will [most likely -- I
base this on public and private responses to the "ZOG vs. COG"
discussion] vote for Bush than any other candidate. It's
interesting because Bush is clearly not a very good choice for
X-humanists. Also interesting: guess what political view will be
overwhelmingly represented in the disagreements with my point
about the X-humanist credentials of Bush?)

> Describing Extropians as "right-wing" is unhelpful.

Again, per above, I disagree. For one thing, it's correct.
Whether or not it's bad is a different question. I'm not sure.
I've moved somewhat in a neo-conservative direction in recent
years, so I'm less inclined to see it as bad than many might be.
Far more importantly, to me, is that the generally right-wing
nature of Extropians is a fascinating phenomenon, given the
growing popularity of Extropianism. It raises interesting
sociological and political questions.


> 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.

Absolutely wrong (as far as I can inspect my soul accurately).

> 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).

Well, they didn't surprise my friend and long time
anti-Extropian, Molochai Simon.


> > > 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.

I disagree, as explained above, but, given that I don't quite
solidly feel I'm correct about the expositional question, let me
apologize again for not making clearer that I wasn't making a
universal or near universal statement. Such a statement would
not represent my views (nor the truth).


> 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);

Yikes! If you think it's contrary to my religious or culture
views, you were reading with extraordinary sloppiness. I
explicitly mentioned the irrational adduction of medical

For the record, I've been an atheist since the age of 7 (when
Father O'Whatever couldn't explain where the women of Nod came
from -- and, btw, where DO they come from?).

Hm.... this discussion probably isn't worth continuing much

Suggested reading:

_Judeophobia_, by Peter Schäfer

_A Legacy Of Hate: Anti-Semitism In America_, by Ernest Volknian

The second definitely borders on Jewish paranoia at points,
which I found annoying. But the American history is quite

Well, a bit more.

> (b) that people have mentioned Ayn Rand's Jewish birth
> name (!!);

Jeez.... Again, sloppy reading. It's not the mentioning of Ayn
Rand's birth name but the WAY that it's mentioned; and far more
importantly, this was just a quick example of a general
phenomenon. The GENERAL phenomenon is the reason, not this
PARTICULAR example. There are tons more examples -- the
irrational way that Israel has been singled out for criticism
about something that other countries also have done, for one.

You don't seem "to have ears" for this discusion (to speak
Nietzschean). So I think I'll stop here.

There seems to be much more general interest in the question of
Extropian libertarianism, so perhaps that would be worth
discussing further, if there's any desire to discuss any of this

Wait (again), one last thing --

> >#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
> >discussions.

> 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!)

Come on, Max, aren't you a philosopher? Consider the question of
the difference between "I believe X" and "I believe that X."
Wait, let me put it this way. Let's say you claim I'm being
irrational (or careless or slanderous) in my claims -- would it
make sense, or serve any purpose, for me to say: "And, of
course, all discussions of Extropianism that reach a conclusion
different from yours are irrational (or careless or slanderous)?
(Now I think we're clear what's going on here!)"?

Anyway, Max, I think you've started a great group that has
brought together many interesting people, above all scientists
and highly imaginative science fiction writers/fans. I think in
the future I'll leave the philosophical, political, historical
and sociological questions for the other X-humanist groups.

May we all be non-reactively self-reflective,

Harvey Newstrom wrote:

> Aargh! Just as we're being accused of
> anti-Semitism, Mike goes and blames the Jews!

Yup. Y'all gotta work on your PR!! (or something more
fundamental -- if you want to get serious -- but why ask why?)

(Though I'm not sure I would count Mike's comments as

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