Receiving a link to this thread on Stormfront White Nationalist Community message board (NSFW, unless you work for racists or are this guy) from my “transhumanism ” Google Alert was the highlight of my afternoon. The Aryan Transhumanist: proof that a super race of super assholes is possible.
Weirdly, not ten minutes ago I was reading Francis Fukuyama’s Our Posthuman Future. Though a lot of Fukuyama’s claims make me nervous, he doesn’t make me half as nervous as some transhumanists. Straight-up white supremacists tend not to make me nervous at all (unless I actually meet them face to face) because my cultural optimism (Obamaptimism?) is such that I think their views will never again acquire the kind of currency they used to have (what kind of sub rosa currency they still have, though, is a different story). While crazy, transhumanism in its strong form is not racist, but it does share some features (misreadings of evolutionary theory, utopian hopes posited on wing-and-a-prayer cocktail napkin calculations, core beliefs whose sustainability strains common sense) that could render it appealing to those whose political affiliations it would probably shun.
December 14, 2008 at 12:56 pm
So I realize I commented on transhumanism later on, long before I read this post. Here’s my meaning of it.
Naturally, this whole ‘new eugenics’ business is complete bullshit. And I seriously doubt anyone’s going to buy into genetic engineering en masse to make their kids stronger, faster, better, more (although I’m not discounting it). Instead, I’m more for the scary/awesome man/machine interface. Y’know, verging on making us all cyborgs with nanotechnology and such. Personally, if we could cure all disease forever with nanobots, I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t.
Of course, the ‘wing-and-a-prayer cocktail napkin calculations’ business starts to take over. How possible is it really? I think science is more and more steadily finding out that all those dreams of what was possible of yesteryear (retrofuturism at its finest), is actually limited in huge quantities. See, it’s safe to believe in all this technological transhumanism because, well, it’ll never happen.
December 22, 2008 at 8:04 pm
Good to hear from you Joe – and sorry it’s taken a while to reply. End of semester, etc.
The thing that makes me most nervous about all of it is the overly optimistic, completely unskeptical Utopian attitude. Obviously if we can cure diseases, provide better care, make cleaner technology, what have, I’m all for it. I’m not a Luddite – I have a blog, after all.
But, really, when I read people like Nick Bostrom or Ray Kurzweil, it’s their fevered tone that freaks me out – as though all of the lessons of large-scale Utopian thinking have been lost. Kurzweil and Bostrom especially, as two of the most prominent voices in the movement, are worrying. In the first place, the notion of “guided evolution” is absurd – oxymoronic, actually. To say that one can “guide” evolution is to misunderstand evolution itself – Darwin conceptualized evolution as an agentless, unguided process that requires unguidedness, chaos, etc. Because evolutionary processes occur by way of the interaction between random mutation and geographical happenstance (availability of resources, presence of predators, etc), what you do when you try to “guide” evolution is simply to live. Evolution happens not because we struggle to survive, but regardless of whether we struggle to survive or not. There is no imperative there.
This is getting long – I have more things to say, but the laundry’s done.