Nichols' posthuman politics

From: J. Hughes (
Date: Sat Nov 10 2001 - 09:53:47 MST

Mr. Nichols,

I like your idea of a transhuman political project, and have just written an
essay about "The Politics of Transhumanism" that you may be interested in:

In fact, I welcome comments from the extrops in general as I'm preparing the
article for submission for publication.

However, point 1 in your four-point platform below is a little ambiguous,
perhaps intentionally so:

> (1) Social liberalism/ libertarianism
> (2) Support for new scientific research and accelerated
> technological programs (nanotech, nets, genetics, cryonics &c.)
> (3) Acceleration of programs for space colonisation.
> (4) Psychological "reform" ... particularly opposition to human-era
> religions & supernaturalism .... and other regressive forces.

The two principal ideological axes on which Western politics have situated
themselves have been cultural liberalism-conservatism and economic
liberalism-conservatism. I believe almost all transhumanists would be
cultural liberals since they generally reject religion, nationalism,
racialism, and support gay rights, abortion access, and women's equality. I
discuss in my essay the new phenomenon of self-styled "fascist
transhumanism" but I think that's a pretty rough row to hoe.

However, there is no intrinsic political economy in transhumanism, or your
points 2-3 above. One could support science and space through
government-financed R&D, market-based R&D, or a mixture of the two. One
might support market-based R&D, but support an egalitarian welfare state,
national health care and strong public health and safety regulations. The
extropians may be primarily libertarian economically, but it is likely that
you will find a larger audience for your ideas with a broader and more
pragmatic set of economic policies. Positioning yourself in economic policy
would be important for clarity, even if you intentionally say "I'm for
whatever gets us there, from state financing to market forces."

Secondly, have you explored what sort of opportunities exist within existing
parties? Labour has been the most aggressive supporter of science and
technology, increasing the science and NHS budgets, after a decade of Tory
starvation, strongly supporting scientists against animal rights terrorism,
and adopting more progressive policies on cloning and stem cells than we are
likely to see in the U.S. for a while. Labour is a large and fractious
beast, and there must be a faction or interest group that has an agenda
close to transhumanism's concerns - a space or biotech interest group. You
could learn a lot by joining a party and campaigning for a candidate that
was closest to your views for an election cycle before trying to launch your
own party.

You might also find some inspiration in Ken MacLeod's idea of a UK "Space
and Freedom Party" in _The Star Fraction_.

J. Hughes "What if there is no future?" Tristan Bock-Hughes

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