RE: Politics of Transhumanism, Singularitarianism and Nazis

From: J. Hughes (
Date: Mon Jan 07 2002 - 20:45:19 MST

Eliezer wrote:

> The Singularity
> interest group comprises an entirely separate subsector of transhumanism,
> an interest group which includes "good progressive" transhumanists

Indeed, I wish I had paid more attention to your good work before writing
the essay, since you do seem to be addressing things in a very constructive
way. However I didn't see in the work of the SAIA any explicit political
viewpoint comparable to those expressed in the Extropian principles or the
WTA founding documents, so I didn't invest in studying what you were doing.

Re: the millenial impulse and the Singularity. Personally I confess to
millenial inspiration and longing, and see no shame in it. It has a long
history, and is present in every culture. Atheists express it in many ways,
such as in Marxism. It is a sociological observation not an epithet.
However, among the varieties of millenial expression, the most common is the
pre-millenialist who sees the vast majority of people as the damned,
condemned to perish in the tribulations, while the elect are taken up. The
post-millenialist, among which I would place you Eliezer, believe that the
millenium can only be established by working hard to make this world the
Kingdom. This is for instance the Buddhist eschatological vision: the world
becomes rich and fruitful, living in peace, ruled by a just government,
which then withers and renounces authority when the next Buddha comes.

Also, I don't think the material reality of the Singularity means that many
people are not inspired and effected by the millenial traditions when they
come to learn about Singularitarian possibilities. For instance, the reality
of nuclear war inspired many secualr and religious visions of apocalypse and
redemption. Most of apocalyptic science fiction can be read as secular
versions of End-times.

Re: Extrop List politics: I understand from some of the responses I received
that I have missed a set of serious political discussions on the list that
revealed that the vocal libertarians are in fact (at least now) a minority.
I'm happy to hear libertarian views, have learned a lot from them, and
become more libertarian as a result. Its not that I don't want to hear from
libertarians, I just don't want to be flamed off by them. For instance Mike
Lorrey's response to my essay:

> Don't you recognise who he is talking about? Anyone who thinks his
> 'vision' of a "sexy, democratic future" run by his social democratic
> (i.e. bolshevik) ideology is a dumb idea is 'obviously' part of the
> alleged 'neo-nazi wing' of transhumanism. Before you can send
> anyone off to reeducation camps, you have to
> properly identify them as members of a 'well documented'
> counter-revolutionary cabal.

...this is rather typical of what I have encountered on the list in the

As to my discussion of neo-Nazi transhumanism, I actually cite two kooks,
not just one, and I suspect they represent a handful of others out there.
But far more important than the potential troublemaking of these Volks is
the fact the majority of people (unfairly and irrationally) hear Nazi
undertones when they first hear of the transhumanist goal of humans
transcending limitations through technology. Both because of the stigma we
face from without and the occasional threat we may face from within, I think
it is important that transhumanists establish and defend a broad liberal
democratic expression of >Hist views (running from libertarian to social
democratic), and make clear that the majority of transhumanists condemn
authoritarianism and racism. That did not happen very clearly in the
go-round about the transhumanist webring I describe, and I think it needs to
happen more clearly in the future.

You, and Nick Bostrom BTW, assert that Nazi transhumanism is an oxymoron.
But a central point of my essay, and a point expressed by many, is that
transhumanism, i.e. the idea that human beings should be able to improve
themselves radically through technology, does not have much intrinsic
political content. It is probably imcompatible with theocracy, although I
bet a theocracy could prove us wrong (maybe the Scientologists). And
racialism is bad science. But I don't think it makes sense to say that
simply because most transhumanists are anti-Nazi that transhumanists can't
be Nazis.

Thanks again for your excellent comments.

J. Hughes

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