Re: Public Relations
Sun, 4 Jan 1998 20:05:27 -0800 (PST)

On Sun, 4 Jan 1998, Twink wrote:

> I think there is a great deal of apprehension on this list toward the words
> "movement", "ideology" and the like. I don't think it does much good to
> do all kinds of handwaving, denying, and neologizing to avoid such terms.

This may be, tho' for me it is not so much that I am apprehensive about
movements or ideology, as that I think these words have meanings and I'm
simply not sure extropianism as I see it functioning in the world behaves
particularly *like* a movement. If it wants to be a "movement", I'm
curious to see just what its agenda finally amounts to.

> >I am not sure if it makes much sense to think of extropianism as a
> >movement, given the forms it seems to exhibit most characteristically over
> >the five years or so I've been looking it over. More like a constellation
> >of spaces in which a group of people discuss certain idiosyncratic
> >preoccupations (most of which I share)....
> I think you are too close to it. Step back and you will see the forest where
> there were only trees. You might also be able to see some of bad parts of
> the movement, and help to make repairs.

I don't know what you mean when you say I am too close to it. Certainly I
agree with you that this is a discussion about seeing the forest as well
as the trees. I don't see how I'm diagnosing "bad parts" of the
"movement," and I can't see how to recommend "repairs" when my question is
about what extropianism is functioning *as* in the first place. As a
clearinghouse for ideas about technological development and life-extension
practices, extropian fora seem to function admirably well.

> [snip] What we need are people not to speak
> out for a particular idea, but for "technology as good" for technotran-
> scendence, and growth. Having an actor or actress do this would make
> the ideas reach even more people.

"Technology is good" is as good a transhuman slogan as WIRED's recent
"change is good" -- that is to say, it is no good at all. Good technology
is good. Foresight in the face of exponential technological development
is good. Extropians seem to have a more robust sense than even most
conventional technophiles of just how sweeping technological
transformation may soon get (even if you are wary about the likelihood of
a singularity), and this puts us in a position to make a real difference
in preparing the world for these changes and ameliorating the worst of the
damage they might cause while embracing their benefits. *This* insight is
worth building a movement around, imho.

> A format that might come to mind is... A child is dying of some hormone
> deficiency. Clone sheep are producing the hormone through the wonders
> of genetic engineering. Show this stuff in action. Show the child living
> another day. Have the well known person read the copy and cry and
> cheer at the appropiate moments.

This would likely be of benefit (although I have some issues about the
unquestioning instrumentalization of nonhuman animal species in scenarios
like this), but I fail in any case to see how it is more than incidentally
"extropian," if "extropian" denotes a movement with a discernible agenda
beyond broadly humanistic optimism with a background in sf. How would
propaganda favorable to cloning connect up with right to die legislation,
competing security agencies, jupiter brains, and the like? Cloning
doesn't need extropianism, except insofar as cloning is a stepping stone
toward something like a singularity. This is why I agree with you that
this is a discussion about the forest *and* the trees where extropianism
as a movement properly so-called is concerned.

> This might get a lot of the fence sitters on your side and the masses, who
> then can be used to bully politicians into not outlawing cloning. It seems
> worth a try.

I can't for the life of me figure out what fence-sitting amounts to in
regard to what extropians want *as extropians*. Who are the
fence-sitters? Those who think the future won't happen? Those who don't
realize the changes are going to be big ones? Or the ones who aren't
actively in the labs and boardrooms doing the research and drumming up the
capital to incubate these changes? By all means, it's worth trying to
keep cloning legal in the face of unreasoning fear. That would be a good
thing. But is that enough on the face of it to make it an *extropian*

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

It is impossible to make significant change by force.
The only way to make significant change is
to make the thing you want to change obsolete. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
"Death, where is thy sting-a-ling?" -- Noel Coward
thing. Is that enough on thge face of it to make it an extropian thing?