RE: Politics of Transhumanism, Singularitarianism and Nazis

From: Jacques Du Pasquier (
Date: Tue Jan 08 2002 - 08:38:59 MST

I am not sure why the content of this particular article is so
important, but as I've read it I'll add one comment.

The paper 1) stresses the libertarian aspect of Extropianism in a
somewhat negative way, 2) introduces WTA as a more open and
"reasonable" (= liberal democratic) platform, 3) finally presents at
length fascist versions of transhumanism.

The fascist versions are introduced through an alleged obvious
conceptual link with Extropianism. I quote from the paper :

   Today, when a social movement emerges such as the Extropians, which
   openly scorns liberal democracy, calls for an ubermenschlich elite
   to free themselves from traditional morality and pursue boundless
   expansion and optimism, and advocates the creation of a new
   humanity through genetic technology and the merging of humans with
   machines, it is *understandable* that critics would associate the
   movement with European fascism. [my emphasis]

Understandable ? Sure. Many errors are understandable. But I think a
responsible writer should assess whether such association is correct
or is an error, and to do so, he should clearly point out, not only
similarities (making the hasty association "understandable"), but also
the radical and essential differences (making the association an
error). This is absent, or at least given insufficient weight in the

When I had my first mental contact with the Extropy movement, by
reading the Extro Principles, the "Open society" element in the
principles (the one that relates to libertarianism) appeared very
important to me. Why ? Not because I already was a self-proclaimed
libertarian. I was not, and still am not. In fact, living in France, I
didn't even know the word "libertarianism". No -- they seemed
important to me because they asserted strongly the RESPECT of the
freedom of everyone. This intuitively sounded to me as the best
guarantee that such technologies could be developped without too much
risk of a nightmarish future.

Libertarianism is not simply about being free to do anything ; it is
also about preserving the freedom of the others. In fact it is one and
the same thing. This is why it's so important here.

The "Open society" principle of Extropian is about making possible the
development of such technologies and its free and responsible use,
while stressing the importance of respecting the freedom of all,
including those not interested in such pursuits.

How farther can you get from fascism ? (see also quotes below)
Social-democracy is in fact conceptually and potentially closer to
fascism. Someone could write a paper similar to this one, but
suggesting instead that WTA still shows no clear guarantee to avoid
such risk, while Extropy has taken care of that on the

So it might be that Max More simply got this right. Now it happens
that libertarianism as a political opinion is marginal. So there is an
"acceptance" problem. So (or at least it is part of the reason), you
have the WTA strategy, so that people of different political
convictions (or people without such convictions, but who associate
negative connotations to libertarianism), can get involved without
feeling they are forced into political ideas they don't feel attracted

I think both are fine and can coexist and strive to the same ends.
(And that the pro-WTA and anti-Extropy polemic conducted in the
article is therefore not very productive.)

But I also think that the specific tenets of Extropy might happen to
be the right ones, the less risky, the most respectful of everyone. It
is probably justified to hold on on these things if they are felt to
be true, rather than dilute them to try to rally more people. The
challenges are so great that if someone can think something through,
then in the "long" term this will be precious, and should not be
sacrificed for the sake of immediate popularity.

To conclude, here are quotes from the Extropian principles, in the
"Open Society" principle, in which anyone can see for himself or
herself that Extropianism is radically and essentially exclusive with
any kind of fascism. You don't have to trust the people about their
secret motives and interpretation. The PRINCIPLES are explicitely
exclusive with any kind of fascism.

    Excerpts from Extropian Principles - Open Society

    We oppose self-proclaimed and involuntarily imposed "authorities",
    and we are skeptical of coercive political solutions,
    unquestioning obedience to leaders, and inflexible hierarchies
    that smother initiative and intelligence. (...)

    Extropians avoid utopian plans for "the perfect society", instead
    appreciating the diversity in values, lifestyle preferences, and
    approaches to solving problems. In place of the static perfection
    of a utopia, we prefer an "extropia" -- simply an open, evolving
    framework allowing individuals and voluntary groupings to form the
    institutions and social forms they prefer. Even where we find some
    of those choices mistaken or foolish, we affirm the value of a
    system that allows all ideas to be tried with the consent of those

    We have no use for the technocratic idea of coercive central
    control by self-proclaimed experts. No group of experts can
    understand and control the endless complexity of an economy and
    society composed of other individuals like themselves. Unlike
    utopians of all stripes, Extropians do not seek to control the
    details of people's lives or the forms and functions of
    institutions according to a grand over-arching plan. Since we all
    live in society, we are deeply concerned with its improvement. But
    that improvement must respect the individual. Social engineering
    should be piecemeal as we enhance institutions one by one on a
    voluntary basis, not through a centrally planned coercive
    implementation of a single vision. We seek continually to improve
    social institutions and economic mechanisms. Yet we recognize the
    difficulties in improving complex systems. We are radical in
    intent but cautious in approach, being aware that alterations to
    complex systems bring unintended consequences. Simultaneous
    experimentation with numerous possible solutions and improvements
    -- social parallel processing -- works better than utopian
    centrally administered technocracy.


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