RE: The Politics of Transhumanism

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 09:25:58 MST

 Anders Sandberg [] wrote:

I think it is wrong to identify transhumanism with the technology part.
Mark is right in pointing at it as an distinguishing aspect of
transhumanism, but it is not enough to distinguish transhumanism in any
reasonable sense of the word from many other views. It is also very easy
to be made obsolete as technology develops.

### But then how will you in a concise manner refer to the "central meme"?
We need to have a name for it - it's easier to explain it to strangers if
there is a word for it.

First, how do you motivate the exclusion of nazis? You cannot motivate
it by saying they are not transhuman, so you have to motivate it from
some other core values, or in that while their views are acceptable
views they hurt the movement in a practical political sense.

### All you need is say they are bad people and you do not want to have
anything to do with them. If you are at a quantum physics conference, you do
not need to prove that the scientific views of Nazis are wrong, you just
kick them out because they are in your opinion evil. Same with an ecumenical
transhumanist organization devoted to the furtherance of human enhancement
technologies - you agree to disagree on a lot of issues (like Rifkinites and
the church when talking about reproductive medicine) but you work together
on things you can agree on. If somebody's views are beyond the pale, you do
not argue - you exclude them by fiat.


 Even worse,
what about the people who claim to be liberal democrats but advocate
government run eugenics programs? They are not nazis, so you cannot
exclude them for their ideology, and if they promise to promote their
policies discreetly and professionally so that nobody gets upset, will
you then agree that they are acceptable?

### If you truly believe eugenics is evil, exclude eugenicists, or if you
can't, form an organization which specifically opposes that.


And if damaging the movement by
having weird views is a problem, then what about us libertarians who
have the outrageous idea that less government and taxes will solve a lot
of problems?

### If you can keep the transhumanist meme separate from the rest of
politics, you can have a fruitful collaboration with many people.
Libertarian-minded transhumanists (like you and to a slightly lesser degree,
me) can stay Extropian and still work with outspoken statists to promote
ehancement technologies, in separate but collaborating organizations.


Second, and I think this is a more severe problem, is that trying to
appeal to a lot of people by having more diluted values or ideology will
mean that you get more people importing their own favorite ideologies
into the movement and more people who don't get understand whatever
central values there are and are more into it for the community or

### You can always have a restricted-entry organization for the special
people, and a free-entry club for the proles. The two together can achieve
more, without spoiling the experience for anybody (at least initially).

 As an example, compare this list now with how it was several
years back in terms of actual idea production: the huge increase in
diversity of people on the list has not led to an increase in quality or
even quantity of ideas. Some of the old issues of Extropy are composed
to a large extent of threads from the list, with amazing insight and
### But then, the low-lying fruit has been picked already. How much more can
you say about the right way of approaching the Singularity without new data?
New arrivals cannot keep inventing the wheel all over again, and building a
spaceship takes time.
Third, what use are the masses? 
### Demonstrations, marches, security, letter-writing. Don't underestimate
the value of a bunch of stalwart believers, even if their thinking is not as
fine as their leadership's.
I notice again and again that people try
to make transhumanism appealing to everybody, so that lots of people
will flock to its banner. But washed out ideologies not saying anything
has never appealed to anybody - in fact, many of the most successful
political movements have had narrowly defined programs.
### Exactly - a narrowly defined program (not fixing all the world at once,
just well-selected parts of it) with a broad mass appeal.
 But I question
the point in having a million members in WTA or ExI if their membership
doesn't *mean* anything. A far more successful strategy is to create a
real world view (and a world-view is far more than a view of
technology!), make the intellectuals and cultural leaders recognize it
and then watch the mainstream move in your direction. It has worked
well in the past.
### Why not take both roads?

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