Anti-Semitism (was New X-humanist forums) My personal take on things!

From: john grigg (
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 17:24:25 MDT

Joseph 1 wrote:
> >> I would point out that there are a number of us
> >> Transhumanists who are not Extropians. Personally,
> >> I get turned off by the strident libertarianism
> >> of the Extropians and don't feel comfortable in
> >> their fora (both mailing lists and alt.extropians).

Brian wrote:
>Yes, to say nothing of their "us vs. them" mentality,
>anti-Semitism, and reactionary men's movement misogyny, to name
>just a few problems. (Mind you, some of my best friends are Iron
>John loving, anti-Semite libertarians.)

Max wrote:
I don't know what "us vs. them" mentality Brian is talking about. I don't
see any more of that than in any other group or forum, including this list.

I certainly see this on the list!! Many of us(including me) like to post
links and messages about the latest luddite/religious/political group which
is threatening the Extropian agenda! We must hold back the forces which
threaten the oncoming of the singularity our our own individual posthuman
ascensions to higher forms!

If someone made an anti-Semitic comment, that was clearly not in the least
representative, and has nothing to do with Extropian thinking. The way you
say this, you irresponsibly give the impression that this is representative
or normal. As for "reactionary men's movement", I presume
you are referring to the views of one or two people out of the hundreds on
the list. Again, that has nothing to do with Extropian transhumanism.

I totally agree. Bryan is saying that like it or not, the posts by people
on the extro list do to a certain extent come across as representing the
movement. I see his point.

Alex Bokov
I'm always tempted to say "Well, let's settle
this through a contest, people. Whichever ideology builds the first
base on Mars, or revives the first cryonaut, or builds the first
general purpose nanoassembler... that is the one that gets my vote.

Alex, so you are going to be giving your vote to centrist Republicans? ;)

Robert Owen wrote
If permitted a reductionist psychological approach, one might find
that the entire Extropic standpoint is a reaction formation. In my
recollection, an Extropian does nothing if not protest too much.
Reminds me of Raskolnakov and the decrepit crone Lisaveta whom
he beat to death to prove he was not "a stop in an organ" [in the
words of the Beetle-Man]. As the French say, after a revolution,
everything's the same."

I can see the Extropian principles in a way as a protest or "reaction"
against some of the maladies of our time such as anti-science bias, disease,
aging, oppressive gov't, etc.. There is alot to stand up and fight against!
  But I think it definitely goes beyond that with a focus on
self-improvement and personal liberty(I did not say libertarian!).

I agree that extropians like to complain about the state of things with
endless posts! I am one of those people though! lol Aren't there good
reasons for people wanting to do that? I realize action by capable and
educated extropians to change things is better than everyone simply griping
about our state. Or am I missing a meaning here which Robert is making? I
think I am. I often found Robert's posts needing a second or third reading
to grasp the full meaning. "You doth protest to much?" hmmm

Max wrote:
Robert, I know that you had some vigorous disagreement with people on the
Extropians list, but just because people disagree with you some of the time
hardly justifies this "reaction formation" nonsense. I found many of your
posts on the Extropians list to be stimulating and well thought-out, even
when I disagreed (which I recall seemed to be often). When I disagreed with
you, I never felt the need to accuse you of some psychological malady.

I very much miss having Robert on the list. His statement to me is not an
insult regarding extropian concepts but instead a perspective he is throwing
out to be considered. Take it easy on him Max! :)

Max wrote:
Remember that the *real* enemy are the Romans! (Monty Python reference...)

Putting down the noble ancient Romans! They're not even around any more to
defend such slander! Why, they were in Palestine to simply protect the
people there from eachother! When writing graffiti against Rome in latin,
isn't it great to have a centurion walking by who is welling to correct for
bad grammar? lol!

Martin Ling wrote:
I think the points are clear - there's a lot of strong views on the
Extropians list, not all of those are inherent features of Extropians.

EXACTLY! But newcomers can get the wrong idea.

Alex Future Bokov wrote:
>I've yet to meet a single Libertarian or Extropian
>or Transhumanist who is Anti-Semitic. Ditto
>with the Iron John thing, though men's identity
>and Anti-Semitism are HARDLY in the same

Brian replied:
>Hi Alex. Correction (in my view): You've yet ... THAT YOU KNOW

There could be some real prejudice hidden in the hearts of some people who
post, I just don't know. I would like to think the list would be a place
where over time they would be exposed to views and ideas which would change

Brian wrote
If there is a SYSTEMATIC connection between ignoble political
views, and morally wrong action, on the one hand, and a
particular branch of trans-humanism on the other, then it is, in
my view, most definitely NOT a pointless thread, and, in fact,
we would be dishonoring ourselves by NOT pursuing it.

A good point. So let us pursue it than.

Max wrote:
>Something close to libertarian views follow quite
>naturally from the transhumanist goals of freedom of
>self-augmentation, and the widespread understand
>of how to manage complex systems.

Brian wrote:
I disagree completely. This is perhaps part of why the question
of the libertarian nature of Extropianism has a different
valence for you. (The fact that you put it as "FREEDOM of
self-augmentation," instead of "self-augmentation," is telling.)

The two of you do seem to see things very differently. I can easily see
governments heavily restricting attempts by common citizens to augment
themselves, and so I can see why Max would want a somewhat libertarian
approach to giving individual citizens freedom to at least an extent.

Brian wrote:
....Max, my goal was not to trash Extropianism as represented by you, or by
the Principles -- although I find myself, after considerable reflection, in
disagreement with much in the Principles (for reasons that have nothing to
do with anti-Semitism) -- but rather to point out
trends in the Extropians _list membership_ that I find disturbing.

Here Brian shows he is not looking to insult the extropian principles but to
simply put out his unique perspectives which I think are worth hearing.

I agree that there are trends in extro list membership which are disturbing.
  I think you have made us all aware for more than we were and this is a
very GOOD thing. I personally thank you.

Brian wrote:
When I first thought about it, I kept thinking, indeed, the
charge amounts to Jewish paranoia, but I no longer think that.
It has at least three components. 1. Anti-Semitism is the best
explanation for the irrationality of the eternally recurring
circumcision discussions (in these discussions, medical
evidence, as I've assessed it, is not adduced rationally). 2.
Things Jewish have more than once been referred to as funny or
odd or something (though of course not "evil," or "sucking
shit"). At least twice, for example, a Jewish name was referred
to as funny or odd or something along these lines (a reference
to Ayn Rand's birth name, "Alice Rosenbaum," was one example
that I recall offhand); 3. Far more interestingly (though
perhaps not relevantly), the case has been made that
libertarianism itself is anti-Semitic (the argument is
tortuously complex, but revolves around an equation of attempts
to avoid the Law [as in "People of The Law"] with attempts to
avoid governmental control. Very long story.

Whew!... some interesting points to say the least. 1. Perhaps in our day
blatant anti-semitism is often not allowed so some people(perhaps
unconsciously even) just barely hint at it. Circumcision is often seen as a
uniquely jewish topic even though it is not. That medical reasons for it
were not given is interesting. Tone, topic and facts to back it up DO

2. I have picked up on things jewish being referred to as funny or odd. I
remember my mind being "pricked" numerous times but than letting the matter
go. These were all on the surface at least very minor things, but still...

3. I never heard this before! I am now thinking about the post Mike Lorrey
wrote! I think what he says applies here. Mike is there anyplace you won't
go? lol I am glad you made us aware of this matter. I personally had no
idea. I have heard there is major jewish scholarship in methods and shades
of anti-semitism. I can see how jews being "people of the law" and having
been persecuted so horribly over the centuries would want strong(but just)
governments in place where they live so their rights would be respected.
Libertarianism could create an environment of vulnerability for jewish
people and culture should persecution arise without central authority to
squash it.

Brian wrote:
I find, in a sense, the strongest argument, but, in another
sense, the least relevant. If libertarianism is anti-Semitic in
this way, then it is anti-Semitic in such an indirect way that
th strongest argument one could make about Extropianism and
anti-Semitism is simply that Extropianism partakes more than
most movements in a mentality that might have historical
parallels with anti-Semitism. That's a pretty thin connection,
though I think it's there (but it simply isn't the sort of
connection that would justify the claim that this or that
Extropian person is an anti-Semite).

Brian, thank you for saying at the end it is a thin connection and would not
justify the claim that the Extropian Institute is anti-semitic.

Brian wrote:
But in reviewing my thoughts on this, I realize I put the
anti-Semitism claim too strongly (because too unqualifiedly),
for which I apologize (though if #3 is correct, then, given that
Extropianism is essentially libertarian -- I will continue to
believe this until see the case that a non-libertarian position
is articulated that doesn't violate the Principles --
Extropianism is anti-Semitic, but, again, not in a way that
isn't shared by most of U.S. culture). It should be more like,
"there are clear, not infrequent signs of (subtle) anti-Semitism
on the Extropians list."

You got it right with the last final statement. And we need to work on
that, but at the same time let people say what they want to even if they're
dead wrong. Then it's time to flame 'em!! Er, I mean gently but firmly
correct them. :)

Max wrote:
>I'm appalled that someone on the Transhumanist list
>would slander a cousin list in such an unjustified

Perhaps slander is too strong a word. Brian has tried to qualify his
statements to at least an extent. Alot of what he says is about fine

Brian wrote:
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.)

You have a point in wanting to be heard before you are judged to be a
certain way. Brian, I feel like you are generally making a "mountain out of
a molehill" in this thread, and yet despite that some valid points have been
brought up which I am grateful for.

Is Max SUPPOSED to read every extro list post??? Should he be allowed time
also for his career and family? LOL!! Oneday perhaps, an uploaded copy of
Max can read all posts and respond to those which need it. I have a feeling
the uploaded Max would grow a little bored and wind up moving on to other
things(like making time for the uploaded Natasha!).

Brian wrote:
Max, I should be completely open and admit that I may have been
unable to shake the influence of the psychotic asshole
(Natasha's ex-boyfriend? I can't think of any other reason...)
who until recently was emailing me telling me you're the root of
all evil. This person, I presume -- he won't identify himself
(or herself)

Huh? Was this the same raving person who a long while back posted on the
extro list saying "Max would not care if someone were shot in the head!"
That's who it sounds like to me. Max having to live with threats on his
life is horrible. I didn't realize the price of being in the public eye and
presenting a world view some disagreed with.

Alex Bokov wrote
I think it's fair to say that whatever our differences, we all have a
lot more in common with each other than we do with, say, EarthFirst!, or
PETA, or the Christian Coalition. Each one of those groups is vastly
more visible, wealthier, and more influential at the moment than all of
us put together. Given this, where would a rational person be directing
their energies?

A rational person would want to work toward common goals, but at the same
time be willing to risk some limited contention for the purpose of
changin things which in their view need to be corrected or at least

Brian wrote:
A brief note in Robert's defense. He has been treated VERY badly
by members of Extropians, far, far beyond any reasonable measure
(with only occasional intervening comment by the Extropian

I remember Robert seeming to be prominent among extropian poster due to his
intellect and strong language skills. But there was a discussion on what
"true extropians" were and several people condemned him as a
"non-extropian." When Robert left I thought those comments may have
offended him. It can take very thick skin sometimes to stand what goes on
in the list. And even than it is not always enough!

I miss Robert being there. I forget that the brightest people are sometimes
still simply human and have feelings which can be very hurt. I regret not
having quickly emailed Robert to ask him if anything was wrong. A part of
me just thought he was busy with his institute and
took a sabbatical from us.

Robert, please come back on the list.

Bryan wrote:
Thus: 1) I suggest cutting him some slack for being sardonic
here. 2) The idea of a "reaction-formation" is a very reasonable

1) He deserves the slack. 2) If you look at it not as an illness but as a
positive psychological reaction to unpleasant stimuli in one's environment.

Max wrote:
>Why this attack on Extropians? I'm saddened to
>this a few people deliberately and unfairly causing
>bad feelings....

Perhaps attack is too strong a word for what Brian is trying to do. I can
understand how Max being the leader of the Extropian Institute would want
there to be harmony among transhumanists and have us avoid even the
appearance of infighting. Max having appeared in the mass media so much to
discuss and debate, may have developed a mindset which is sensitive to
criticisms and quick to react forcefully(though kindly) for maximum effect.
This could also come from his background in acadamia.

I am not saying there is a right or wrong here. Simply, that two different
mindsets are having a difficult time "grokking" eachother.

Brian wrote:
Max, people can be principled in very different ways. Some
people would argue that you, yourself, here, are being extremely
unprincipled by attributing a "deliberate" attempt to cause bad
feelings, where none may exist. (And by presuming that it is
"unfair," before you've heard more.)

I agree that people can be principled in very different ways. I would think
Max loves the Extropian Institute(he has put his heart and soul into it) for
all that has been done so far by it and so does take your arguments a little
personally. I just think Max is having a hard time grasping some of the
subtle nuances of your points(as you see them-grasping the other person's
perspective can be so hard) and that you are again making "mountains out of
molehills" to an extent which really bothers him.

I can see why Max and others have a healthy respect for your intelligence
though. I have gotten between two intellectual titans! I hope I don't get
hit. :)

This means, more specifically: if a group attracts vile people
of any particular sort, it's an important (and INTERESTING)
philosophical, sociological, and/or psychological question as to
why this is so. (Further, a rational person wouldn't reduce a
complex series of claims to "sniping.")

It is an interesting question. But remember, there are bad apples in just
about every group. Someone obsessed with "doing whatever they want, no
matter how rotten" could conceivably be attracted to the extropians. That
does not mean the extropians are bad, just that this person wants to warp
the meaning of the principles to their own selfish wants.

Max wrote:
...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

A good question. Even if extropians are the most "libertarian" of
transhumanists, I would still say such leanings permeate all transhumanist
thought. Go after those WTA people! ;)

Max wrote:
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.

Brian wrote:
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.

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

I feel Max is to an extent oversimplifying here and yet IS showing how
really this is not a major problem on the extro list. Shades of
anti-semitism are there, but than real people(sometimes prejudiced) in the
real world are writing the posts. Again, Brian has made us more aware of
things and we can all be more on our toes. A good thing.

Max wrote:
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.

More good points from Max. While people are capable of self-hatred based on
race I just don't see how it truly applies here. But I do realize(and you
carefully tread in explaining) you were really just making us aware of a
"fringe" or at the edges theory of anti-semitism by telling us about how
libertarianism could be interpreted as against "the people of the law." You
would say in closing that the Extropian Institute and it's principles were
NOT anti-semitic. I think I grok you.

Brian wrote:
A movement that can't tolerate criticism -- SHARP criticism even
    -- is dangerous.

And I hope this thread continues as long as it stays meaningful. Max
allowed you to speak freely on the extro list. You were banned. Brian, you
are one of the shining lights here.

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

Yes, very true. I hope we can in future all better try to grasp what the
other person is trying to state without getting overly sensitive and
critical. But than emotions are in my view an integral part of the

Joseph wrote:
How, then, are those individuals who wish to augment themselves to do
so in a purely market-driven environment such as libertarianism
aspires to? A "moral right" should not be subject to the whims of
free market capitalism. Do I have a right to be secure in my home and
my property only if I can afford a high wall and moat around my home?
A moral right which only the wealthy are able to exercise is no right
at all.

That is a scary scenario! I want a world with vastly more personal freedom,
but also where through rule of law people are protected and cared for.
Getting there will be quite a challenge to say the least.

Joseph 1
The mere fact that we can have a discussion like this about our
differences, without rancor, is testament to that strength.

Very true! Honestly, we are all very fortunate to have a man of Max More's
caliber leading us. I am grateful to him(don't get a swelled head Max!).

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.

It will be interesting to see how the Extropian Institute and it's
membership develop over the next fifty years! As "The First Immortal" novel
claimed, in the future membership may be in the hundreds of millions!!! How
the political orientation will have evolved by than will be quite the thing
to watch... and influence.

Brian wrote:
Because so many Extropians are educated less in the humanities
than the sciences, it may be difficult to discuss this question
fruitfully here. We'd have to discuss at least a bit of Luther,
if not the early Church Fathers. And for many here that might
involve a lot of tedious reading of dusty texts.

And who the Hell wants to do that?! Once we stop aging, we can
get to philosophy, history and such. :)

(Of course, there won't be Judaism anymore at that point,
because the big hyper ai-unity will have sucked up everything
into itself, and thus there'll never be a minion.)



Brian, now you should like an oldtime Extropian! ;) Immortality and super
AI overminds is what we like most to talk about! lol

Max wrote:
If we are to discuss political and economic differences among
transhumanists, why not take the emphasis away from general criticisms and
instead ask which specific policies and procedures will best further our
shared transhumanist goals while respecting our personal values?



Yes, constructive work toward dealing with the matters discussed here is the
best way to go. Rather than being split apart by differences and rude
words, we need to reach out to eachother, not always agreeing but at least
trying to see the other's view.

best wishes,

John Grigg

P.S. Robert Owen, please come back. :)
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