Re: humanism vs. transhumanism

Reilly Jones (
Sat, 11 Apr 1998 11:22:58 -0400

D.L. Crocker wrote 4/11/98: <If it were legal to secede from democratic
decisions, the people who did so would have to either hire others to
provide the services they opted out of, or form other collectives to
provide them: in other words, anarcho-capitalism.>

Agreed. One of my critique's of David Brin's "Transparent Society" is that
all his emphasis is on some mystical idol called "accountability." But
secession is the surest way to secure liberty for a consensual moral polity
that is diverging (in the evolutionary sense) from those polities around
it. Secession, not accountability, because accountability only works when
the core ideals and core purposes are consensually agreed on within a
polity (or at minimum acquiesced to). If those ideals and purposes have
diverged, then secession is the only option. Anarcho-capitalism, as you
have used it above, would have to be *very* broadly defined to fit all the
different configurations that secession would form and preserve.

Back in the Roman Republic, the plebes used to secede to the Palatine Hill
until the patricians granted concessions to freedom. The oligarchy worked
fine as long as the old Roman religion was firmly in the hearts of the
elite and the people. But as Greek cynicism and skepticism worked its way
into Roman society to undermine the old religion, the oligarchy became more
tyrannical because they decided that man was the measure of all things and
therefore might made right. The plebes seceded and seceded, each time
gaining more freedom. But as the policemen inside the population's head
went away, more and more policemen outside their head were required. The
freedom gained through secessions threatened to turn into anarchy, i.e.,
non-stop civil wars between mafia dons. The oligarchy, in response,
crystallized into a single ruler to impose order and stop the anarchy.
Attempts to replace the old religion with a secular morality resulted in
the split between the stoicism of the elite and the epicureanism of the
slobs. The crystallization of the oligarchy behind a single ruler won out
over anarchy largely because the self-discipline of stoicism will always
trump the hedonism of epicureanism. The fall occurring from the older more
extropic republic towards first entropic anarchy, then to entropic
totalitarianism was the natural result of the loss of the old religion and
the failure of the secular morality designed to replace it. Secession did,
indeed, work to provide more freedom, but the freedom was lost because of a
loss of self-discipline. You cannot hold mafia dons accountable, you can
only beat 'em, accommodate 'em or try to get away from 'em.

BTW, I'm reading a delightful book by Walter Pater called "Marius the
Epicurean" (1885) set in Rome c.200. The dynamic optimism I feel about our
material advances is not matched by any advances in our modern writing
abilities over this.

Reilly Jones | Philosophy of Technology: | The rational, moral and political relations
| between 'How we create' and 'Why we create'