Re: Are guns extropian?

Harvey Newstrom (
Fri, 10 Jul 1998 02:34:29 -0400

On Thu, 09 Jul 1998 19:34:37 -0400, John Heritage <> said:
(Yes I'm new to this list, so cut me some slack if I'm offbalance :-)

No slack needed. You made very good comments. Thanks. I have clarified my question, partially in light of your good comments.

Guns are tools, and tools are useful. But "usefullness" is not enough to be extropian. Are guns merely useful tools, or are they somehow extropian? Are they transending tools of transhumans, or are they ordinary tools of humans? Are they futuristic intelligent technology, or are they old-style technology from the past?

It was late last night (early this morning actually) when I first posted this question. Now that I am thinking more clearly, let me try to answer my own question in an obvious and direct way. We have the extropian principals which define extropy. I believe that life-extension, smart AI, and the like serve these principals and are therefore extropian. A hammer does not serve these principals, although it may be a useful tool to an extropian doing some extropians things.

So lets look at guns in light of the extropian principals and see how they serve them. Since I may be biased, not being a gun owner, I would like to hear from gun advocates to see how they rate guns as extropian.

  1. Do guns promote Boundless Expansion? seek more intelligence, wisdom, effectiveness? increase lifespan? remove limits to selfactualization and self-realization? overcome constraints on progress and possibilities? expand into the universe advancing without end?
        My answer, no.  Guns only limit or terminate someone's ability for
        Boundless Expansion.  I think guns are only useful where one has
        decided that it is not possible for one's own future goals to co-exist
        with anothers, so that the other's plans for the future must be
        thwarted.  The gun is the tool used to stop the other from
        achievingd their future goals.  This seems anti-extropian by
        definition.  Only by using this unextropian tool against an
        unextropian person, does this indirectly promote extropian goals
        by destroying competeing unextropian goals.  This does not directly
        push extropians forward, but pushes the nonextropians farther back.

2.  Do guns promote Self-Transformation?
        affirm continual moral, intellectual, and physical self-improvement?
        work through reason and critical thinking, personal responsibility?
        seek biological and neurological augmentation?

        My answer, no.  Guns are not a tool for self-growth.  This is not
        applicable to guns.

3.  Do guns promote Dynamic Optimism?
        fuel dynamic action with positive expectations?
        adopt a rational action-based optimism?
        shun blind faith and stagnant pessimism?

        My answer, no.  Guns are required for the worst-case or bad-case
        scenario.  It implies that coexistance is not possible, peaceful
        resolution is not possible, and that threat of death or actual death
        will be required in future situations.  This may be an accurate
        assessment of the future, but it is not a positive expectation or
        an optimistic one.

4.  Do guns promote Intelligent Technology?
        Apply science and technology creatively to transcend "natural" limits?

        My answer, no.  Guns are low-technology.  Low-technology may be the
        best answer in certain cases, but it is not high technology,
        intelligent technology, or extropian technology.  Again, this does not
        mean that guns aren't the right answer, but that they are not the I.T.

5.  Do guns promote Spontaneous Order
        support decentralized, voluntaristic social coordination processes?
        foster tolerance?
        long-term thinking?
        personal responsibility?
        individual liberty?

        My answer, no... but I'm not totally sure about this one.
        Guns can support decentralized social coordination and individual
        liberty.  I wouldn't call the use of guns a voluntaristic process.
        Guns are a coersive process to force someone to cooperate who does not
        wish to do so.  Tolerance requires acceptance, while guns are used
        where other options are not acceptable.  I don't think guns work with
        long-term thinking.  Guns seem more of an immediate reaction with no
        chance for long-term consideration after they are used.  I do see
        where protecting one's own individual liberty could use guns.  But
        I don't see the guns fostering the liberty, but more of countering
        those who conflict with one's liberty.

The bottom line: I think guns are low-tech, old-style tools. They are not futuristic, intelligent technology. Guns destroy someone else's future options to limit their potential. (Hopefully because that person's future plans are deemed to be "bad".) They do not create options or expand future options. Guns are only useful in negative situations that are not progressing in an extropian-desireable manner.

Instead of pushing us "Onward and Upward", guns push our competition "Backward and Downward". In a competitive race this makes us seem farther ahead by comparison, but it doesn't move us any closer to the finish line. If there has to be a choice between "us" and "them", most people would choose "us". But I would hope that future technology will develop effective tools to protect "us" without having to destroy "them" in return. That would be an extropian tool.

Harvey Newstrom                                   <>
Author, Engineer, Entrepreneur,              <>
Consultant, Researcher, Scientist.           <ldap://>