Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Anti-Democratizing Politics of Superlativity

I maintain that Superlative Technology Discourses tend to disdain actually progressive engagement in technodevelopmental social struggle for an aspiration after technoconstituted super-predicated capacities.

Such superlative aspirations will often have a politics of their own, to be sure.

But these politics are almost always sub(cult)ural. This is not surprising, inasmuch as Superlative aspirations require the initial substitution of this-worldly concern, with its open futurity, for "other-worldly" investment in forcefully imagined and desired technodevelopmental outcomes -- typically designated as "the future."

This substitution solicits faithful True Belief and sub(cult)ural identification with the fellow-faithful who substantiate in their shared professions of True Belief the plausibility of beliefs that are not substantiated by experience otherwise. Probably needless to say, this is all quite familiar from conventional fundamentalist politicizations of religiosity, as well as in the politics of marginal cults, defensive subcultures, and ideological pan-movements.

Within the organizational life of Superlative Technocentric sub(cult)ural formations the politics will tend to be enormously defensive. This is especially the case so long as these organizations remain numerically marginal and conspicuously unconventional, as are the "transhumanists," the "singularitarians," and the "techno-immortalists" whose exemplary texts and figures are the most frequent focus of my critiques here. Sometimes the defensiveness of marginal Superlative sub(cult)ural politics will inspire a strategy of outreach and public relations to cultivate mainstream respectability and wider membership but one that requires a self-conscious course in stealth at best and deception at worse about the beliefs that are at once most definitive and most marginalizing in the outlook they would "promote." Sometimes this defensiveness will inspire instead a more stringently separatist and authoritarian organizational culture, providing for a marginalized but more monolithic membership the false bolstering confidence of obedience to the utterances of a priestly elite.

Neither the cynicism of the first tendency nor the authoritarianism of the second are particularly conducive, to say the least, to democratizing attitudes, strategies, or effects, and this is notwithstanding the fact that at least some who engage in these actually anti-democratizing politics may earnestly affirm democratic values as their own (of which they might simply have an inadequate or simply too glib and hence vacuous an understanding, or which they might subordinate to what they consider more "pragmatic" organizational considerations in the present, or what have you).

I have also repeatedly described a host of more concrete anti-democratizing tendencies in Superlative Technology discourses (of which there are sure to be many more than just these, but these will do for a start) that deserve scrutiny and even vigilance:

First, that in their hyperbolic foregrounding of "existential risk" and "accelerating change" they too readily provide rationales for the circumvention of democratic politics (and, no, this is not the same thing as a claim that there are no risks, nor that real risks like climate change, resource and energy descent, arms and weapons proliferation and so on are unimportant).

Second, that in their focus on security, software, and robotics, for example, they provide a handy justification for ever-increasing skewed investment in military research and development in particular.

Third, that in their constant reiteration of security concerns, existential risks, and apocalyptic imagery they seem to make recourse to now all-too-familiar, tried and true strategies of reactionary and authoritarian fearmongering.

Fourth, that in their sanctimonious assumption of a need for "us" to "save the world" they seem to appeal too eagerly to familiar exceptionalist and imperialist intuitions about the special Destiny of the "Civilized" World that reframes as a Burden its assumption of unearned privileges and authorities.

Fifth, that in their constant dismissal of majority input and opinion as definitively more ignorant or more irrational than their own, and in their consequent insistence (sometimes, oh so reluctant) on the need for technocratic decision-making they appeal to perfectly conventional intuitions of conservative and incumbent interests as to the indispensability of (self-appointed) elite and priestly Gatekeepers of "True Knowledge" and "The Way."

And sixth, that in making incessant recourse to notions of "innovation," "competitiveness," "investment," "modernization," "early adoption," "diffusion," "spontaneous order," "market exchange," "underdeveloped regions," among other comparable terms of art in particular highly prejudicial construals treated as though they were "politically neutral" as a way to describe planetary technodevelopmental struggles they privilege and so consolidate neoliberal and neoconservative narratives that serve incumbent interests above all, and conjure up in the name of "the future" an endless prolongation and intensification of the status quo, a foreclosure of open futures in the service of a parochial fantasy of "the future" that is always, in essence, retro-futurist.

As a curious complement to this last concern, it is also true that Superlative technocentrisms inspire in some of their adherents a kind of quiescent "apoliticism" or what they will even insist is an active "anti-politicism," but one that functions primarily to endorse key social and cultural assumptions of the status quo. This result is, of course, doubly ironic, since this is politics figured as anti-politics, but also because this essentially conservative attitude tends to frame itself precisely to the contrary as a radically transformational and forward-looking viewpoint, hence, once again, my designation of such discourses as retro-futurist.

Whatever these practical anti-democratizing effects, we also do well to bear in mind the basic incompatibility between a commitment to democratic politics and any exclusive or even primary commitment to sub(cult)ural or identity politics in the first place (a point not confined to the identity politics of sub(cult)ural futurisms). Politics is the ongoing contingent reconciliation of the aspirations of the diversity of stakeholders with whom one shares the world, and democratic politics struggles to provide nonviolent alternatives to duressed resolution of disputes by ensuring that ever more people have ever more of a say in the public decisions that affect them.

Democracy then, the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them, is not a project to implement some ideal order the form of which is known to some in advance of its actual realization, but is instead an ongoing and in fact interminable project of democratization, an opportunistic, collaborative, agonistic, improvisatory, experimentalist, never-ending struggle in which people have a say in shaping developments that affect them and work to implement architectures to facilitate ever more people having ever more of a say in shaping such developments.

Sub(cult)ural identification relies for its force on dis-identification with those who are cast as outside the bounds of that culture, and sub(cult)ural politics consists of policing those bounds, ensuring the continence of the culture of identification by ensuring its homogeneity (where it matters) within the boundary, defending the boundary itself from impurity and intrusion, and usually by seeking to expand the boundary through conversion and conquest beyond it.

Where politics seeks the reconciliation of differences (and many political variations are content to effect such reconciliation by violent means), sub(cult)ural politics always seeks to prevail over differences, to sweep the world, to implement its sub(cult)ural vision as a totality. Strictly speaking, then, sub(cult)ural politics are not politics at all, but the substitution of moralizing for politics.

Even political modalities that are more embracing of violence than I am as a properly democratically-minded person will still register the ineradicable fact of pluralism in the provision they make for resistance and revolt. Moralizing, on the contrary, in seeking to universalize the continence and homogeneity of moral-identification is always an anti-politics seeking to overturn the political as such. Techno-utopian discourses, especially in their Superlative and sub(cult)ural modalities are just an urgent contemporary illustration of a familiar and general tendency. It is in that light that we should understand the too-eager Superlative embrace of "the future" that obliterates open futurity, as well as the too-eager Superlative identification with a post-human species at the cost of dis-identification with the humanity with whom we actually share the world and actually share the work of collaboration and contestation in the present that opens onto futurity.

33 comments:

jfehlinger said...

Dale wrote:

> Where politics seeks the reconciliation of differences
> (and many political variations are content to effect such
> reconciliation by violent means), sub(cult)ural politics
> always seeks to prevail over differences, to sweep
> the world, to implement its sub(cult)ural vision as a
> totality. . .
>
> It is in that light that we should understand the too-eager
> Superlative. . . Superlative identification with a post-human
> species at the cost of dis-identification with the humanity
> with whom we actually share the world and actually share
> the work of collaboration and contestation in the present. . .

Yes, and of course, for many >Hists (especially those wedded
to certain hoary preconceptions about Artificial Intelligence),
that post-human species won't be doing anything as "primitive"
as "collaboration and contestation" either.

They'll just be doing math:

'Hobbes was the first to make explicit the syntactic conception
of thought as calculation: "When a man **reasons**, he
does nothing else but conceive a sum total from addition of
parcels," he wrote, "for REASON . . . is nothing but
reckoning. . ."

It only remained to work out the univocal parcels of "bits"
with which this purely syntactic calculator could operate;
Leibniz, the inventor of the binary system, dedicated
himself to working out the necessary unambiguous formal
language.

Leibniz thought he had found a universal and exact system of
notation, an algebra, a symbolic language, a "universal
characteristic" by means of which "we can assign to every
object its determined characteristic number." In this way
all concepts could be analyzed into a small number of
original and undefined ideas; all knowledge could be
expressed and brought together in one deductive system.
On the basis of these numbers and the rules for their
combination all problems could be solved and all controversies
ended: "if someone would doubt my results," Leibniz
said, "I would say to him: 'Let us calculate, Sir,' and
thus by taking pen and ink, we should settle the
question.'" . . .'

-- _What Computers Still Can't Do: A Critique of
Artifical Reason_, Hubert L. Dreyfus, MIT Press,
1992; Introduction, pp. 67-70

AnneC said...

You know, this might sound a bit "out of left field", but lately it's occurred to me that "superlative" discourse (as it pertains to such things as Technology and Progress and the Perils and Promises Thereof) is eerily similar to the kinds of stuff you hear from the anti-vaccination scaremongers who believe that there's some kind of government/pharmaceutical conspiracy to cover up (or even purposely create) an "autism epidemic" via childhood innoculations.

On the surface, many of these folks describe themselves as "merely concerned parents" or "benevolent lawyers who wish to help the concerned parents". But there's this whole underpinning of crazy that informs the whole thing yet only rarely bursts into daylight. Case in point of the crazy: recently, a fairly prominent (and very thorough and well-read, I might add) blogged was issued a subpoena by some lawyer who makes a living representing families of "vaccine injured" children.

Now, I'm not a legal expert or anything, but to me this clearly looks like an attempt to intimidate, rather than something "on the level", so to speak. As soon as I saw it, I thought, "Huh, this looks like the kind of thing Jim F. would describe as a $cientology-like tactic".

I know this isn't your area of primary study or interest, but it is interesting to note the parallels.

Sure, it's fine for people to expect accountability from the medical profession regarding the safety and efficacy of medicine, particularly medicine given to children, but the whole vaccine-conspiracy theory is ridiculous and crazy and pretty darn superlative if you ask me.

jfehlinger said...

Anne Corwin wrote:

> [T]he whole vaccine-conspiracy theory is ridiculous and crazy and
> pretty darn superlative if you ask me.

According to the Scientologists, it's **psychiatrists** who pose
the Great Threat to Mankind. Paradise will arrive when the evil mental
health professionals are neutralized, and their doctrines replaced by
the mental health "technology" of L. Ron Hubbard.

;->

giulio said...

Dale, can I recommend you a new hobby? How about collecting butterflies? A collection of butterflies is a nice decoration for an empty wall. I think people should have several hobbies - those with only one hobby get locked in a pathetic broken disk mode.

Or even better: stamps! A vintage stamp collection is also a nice decoration, and at the same time a protest against this Robot-God inspired, corporate-militarist Internet thing that, in an almost transhumanist (horror!!!) fashion, made us forget the beautiful holy finitude of waiting weeks for a letter.

jfehlinger said...

Giulio Prisco wrote:

> Dale, can I recommend you a new hobby? How about collecting butterflies? . . .
> Or even better: stamps!

This brilliant repartee is coming, note well, from somebody who would casually
plant his fat ass smack across the face of anybody who dared to disagree
with him in a forum he controlled.

In a forum he doesn't control, this seems to be the best he
can do.

bambi said...

First, that in their hyperbolic foregrounding of "existential risk" and "accelerating change" they too readily provide rationales for the circumvention of democratic politics

Any claim that "there might be a problem" CAN be used in this way (global warming, nuclear proliferation, scarcity of fossil fuels, etc spring to mind) -- but could you point to actual cases where "transhumanism" does actually advocate circumvention of democratic politics, as more than some widely-ignored crank on a mailing list or blog? Naming names, and all that, instead of vague big-word general swipes. I do personally agree that transhumanists tend to hyperventilate too much because it's so easy to to draw alarming conclusions from logical possibilities (it takes only a second to postulate a dozen technological revolutions)

Second, that in their focus on security, software, and robotics, for example, they provide a handy justification for ever-increasing skewed investment in military research and development in particular.

True. No more true than anything else though -- the right-wingers of any group will fight for bigger military budgets with whatever argument is at hand. I think it is unfortunate that technological advancements which we hope will be used for good purposes can be bent to bad purposes as well, but that's neither uncommon nor a reason to back off from them.

Third, that in their constant reiteration of security concerns, existential risks, and apocalyptic imagery they seem to make recourse to now all-too-familiar, tried and true strategies of reactionary and authoritarian fearmongering.

Spot on -- however, note that the things they are fearmongering about are exactly the same unlikely scenarios and technological advancements that are criticised for their inherent lunacy. That is, the only thing being put up for authoritarian suppression and control is AI research, nanotechnology laboratories, and so on.

Fourth, that in their sanctimonious assumption of a need for "us" to "save the world"

True, but this is true of greens, technoprogressives, neocons, and any other political viewpoint. There's always an "us" trying to save the world from "them". To the extent that the "us" and the "them" don't match your personal "us" and "them" I expect you to complain, but it's all very pedestrian.

Fifth, that in their constant dismissal of majority input and opinion as definitively more ignorant or more irrational than their own, and in their consequent insistence (sometimes, oh so reluctant) on the need for technocratic decision-making

Anybody who holds a minority view implicitly dismisses some view of a majority (by definition) but you seem to be saying something a lot more. Can you point to the best examples of what you are concerned about? My suspicion is that you do not do so because they would look foolish.

And sixth, that in making incessant recourse to notions of "innovation," "competitiveness," "investment," "modernization," "early adoption," "diffusion," "spontaneous order," "market exchange," "underdeveloped regions," among other comparable terms of art in particular highly prejudicial construals treated as though they were "politically neutral"

To me, this is and has always been your strongest point. I see it as a sort of "tone deafness" (no disrespect intended to those who cannot distinguish pitches... i am not very good at it myself so the metaphor suggests itself naturally to me) rather than malicious intent. That does not lessen the importance of trying to communicate this criticism though; I would be that most transhumanists cannot even parse the meaning of what you are saying here.

jfehlinger said...

Bambi wrote:

> [C]ould you point to actual cases where "transhumanism" does
> actually advocate circumvention of democratic politics, as
> more than some widely-ignored crank on a mailing list or blog?
> Naming names, and all that, instead of vague big-word general
> swipes. . .
>
> Can you point to the best examples of what you are concerned
> about? My suspicion is that you do not do so because they would
> look foolish. . .

You wouldn't happen to be an agent provocateur trying to tempt
Dale into saying something he could be sued for libel for,
would you? :-0

Seriously, though, if you've been paying attention to the lists
over the years, there are **plenty** of (obvious and egregious)
examples of what Dale is talking about.

"widely-ignored cranks"? Well, yes, in a sense **all** the >Hists
are widely-ignored cranks. Within the movement, though, some
of the most cranky are the ones with the most fervent followings
(they tend to have front-men these days, who do the quotidian
PR and "soften" their default diction to one of greater
palatability to the masses. The crankiest of cranks are still
the "brains" formulating the party line, though. Their PR
agents are little better than sockpuppets.)

bambi said...

jfehlinger:

Seriously, though, if you've been paying attention to the lists
over the years, there are **plenty** of (obvious and egregious)
examples of what Dale is talking about.

"widely-ignored cranks"? Well, yes, in a sense **all** the >Hists
are widely-ignored cranks. Within the movement, though, some
of the most cranky are the ones with the most fervent followings


Ha, ok, point taken. I don't follow the lists except for some technical material and for a time in the past the Extropian list which I found rather obnoxious so I quit. I probably shouldn't jump into the middle of what are apparently long-running arguments.

AnneC said...

Jim F. said: According to the Scientologists, it's **psychiatrists** who pose
the Great Threat to Mankind. Paradise will arrive when the evil mental
health professionals are neutralized, and their doctrines replaced by
the mental health "technology" of L. Ron Hubbard.


Yeah...I've heard about that. And one of the things that bugs me the most about it is that it makes it exceedingly difficult to offer *valid* and necessary critiques of problems in the psychiatric infrastructure and practice. There are plenty of psychiatrists who end up on power trips and who seek to, rather than helping the client grow in his/her own way more healthily, impose their own ideas of what "healthy" is.

E.g., I had one for a while who probably would have set off your narcissist-o-meter, as she was perfectly "nice" so long as you didn't benefit from anything besides her treatment -- once I started seeing a *psychologist* who was actually very helpful, and developing better communication and other skills as a result, she became extremely nasty and started trying to hide my records from me and insist on More Drugs, not to mention telling me that I "wasn't as high functioning as I should be". It was like she couldn't stand the fact that I was being helped by someone who wasn't her. And it does seem likely that the profession itself, as it is currently structured, could serve to attract people who enjoy power trips.

But the fact that some medications help some people is a fact -- I do think the system ought to be reformed so as to be less coercive and "optimality policing" in nature, but I don't advocate the abolition of the mere use of ALL brain-affecting medications, as the $cientologists seem to.

The antivaxers are also often opposed to the use of "allopathic medicine" -- though curiously, they seem to be much more okay with "off-label" uses of actual drugs. There are some that regularly inject their children with a chemical castration drug called Lupron, out of a bizarre belief that "testosterone binds with mercury in the body to form 'sheets'" and that by lowering the child's testosterone levels, they can "free up" the mercury for removal via chelation. Chelation is a really big deal for these folks -- many tout it as a kind of miracle cure, when in fact it is a very serious medical procedure that, while effective for actual cases of heavy metal poisoning, should under no circumstances be performed on individuals who don't need it. At least one child has already been killed by the practice. There are "labs" that operate that will basically give people back a whole sheet of bogus numbers about their "levels" of yeast, trace metals, etc., as well as places that will recommend special diets and supplements (which can reach a hefty price).

There are definitely people making money off this crap, all while trying to claim that those who oppose them are being "compensated" by the Evil Pharmaceutical Companies. Autistic adults who claim publicly not to want a cure are accused of being "pharma shills" as well, as we are supposedly trying to make autism sound "less awful" so that people will be less afraid of getting their kids vaccinated, thereby allowing the "epidemic" to perpetuate (honestly, if that's the case, I'm wondering where my check is!)

It's the whole superlative pattern of, "Hey, here's this threat that The Mainstream Doesn't Want You To Know About, here are some products we can sell you to replace the usual ones, and here's some hand-waving/pseudoscience to back up our claims" thing, for sure. They've even got their resident Charismatic Warriors -- Jenny McCarthy is apparently one now, seeing as she's written a book about her son's journey from "crystal child" (Jenny is an "Indigo", or at least she claimed to be for a while) to autistic child to "recovered" child, with the help of various inteventions designed to "get the yeast out of his system", etc.

(ok, sorry if that was an off-topic ramble, but I did think the parallels were worth pointing out)

peco said...

there are **plenty** of (obvious and egregious)
examples of what Dale is talking about


There are obvious examples for most of what Dale is talking about, but there are no examples for some of the wierder things (transhumanists think "majority input and opinion" is "definitively more ignorant or more irrational than their own?!?"). Also, people who haven't subscribed to the mailing list (like bambi) wouldn't know.

Dale Carrico said...

I write because I'm a writer. It actually is more like a vocation than a hobby -- something about which I feel a passion and from which I get a pleasure akin to what I give and get in teaching.

Giulio's comment is really an effort to denigrate a set of critiques of his Robot Cult that he can't cope with on other terms.

Professionally, my area of research is science and technology studies, especially technocultural and technoethical theory, and my primary interest is the political theory of networked societies in a moment of transition from broadcast to p2p, especially [1] what I think of as peer-to-peer democratization (netroots organizing, copyfight, basic income advocacy as pay-to-peer, and also connections between p2p formations and the history of nonviolent activism, what I think of as p2p peacework or peace in pieces), [2] what I see as the conjunction of p2p networks and permaculture practices (commons models of seed/water sovereignty politics, networked/decentralized models of renewable resource provision, networked localisms, what I call appropriate and appropriable technology discourses), and [3] what I think of as the prevailing biopolitical regime of neoliberal-eugenic bioremedial networks (medical surveillance, normalizing therapization in the name of universal care, enclosure of the genomic commons, duressed experimental subjection, and so on) together with the possibilities for informed nonduressed consensual prosthetic self-determination and planetary lifeway multiculture as an alternative regime facilitated by p2p networks. That's what I work on, think about, and teach in my courses when I can.

The superlative discourses I am talking about in this and other posts fascinatingly symptomize prevailing irrationalities of technodevelopmental discourse in a neoliberal/neoconservative epoch. These would be well worth understanding on terms other than the ones they use to promote themselves for that reason alone, quite apart from my sense they are dangerously anti-democratizing as well.

From that more polemical standpoint, transhumanism, singularitarianism, techno-immortalism, neoliberal-eugenicism, technocratic elitism, scientistic reductionist triumphalism and my other usual targets for critique are marginal (some more than others) sub(cult)ural locations that are connected to more prevailing and more influential discourses and rhetoric and frames (on which they depend and to which they perniciously contribute) that stand in a complex relationship to corporate-militarist technodevelopmental formations in the present in ways that demand the scrutiny of democratically-minded people. However marginal they are (and the fact of their marginality in some respects is intriguingly different from the fact of their actual influence rhetorically/discursively) they also could become far more actively dangerous even where they are now palpably marginalized by way of more than one plausible funding or organizational pathway (inklings of which I already see in motion in some cases) and it is good to expose these possibilities and fight them on that level as well in my view.

I don't make a particular secret of any of this, and so it is difficult to imagine why Giulio Prisco, a key figure in the "transhumanist" and "techno-immortalist" communities, a board member of many of their organizations and a widely read writer by their members -- who used to go into transports about much insight he gleaned from my writing however much he disagreed with it -- would suddenly decide to pretend this work of mine is facile or pathetic or what have you, unless he is exhibiting precisely the sort of desperately defensive and cynical public-relations spin mode discourse I describe in the piece to which he is responding in the first place.

One need only observe the stunning elegance and power of the results.

jfehlinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jfehlinger said...

Anne Corwin wrote:

> There are plenty of psychiatrists who end up on power trips. . .
>
> E.g., I had one for a while who probably would have set off
> your narcissist-o-meter, as she was perfectly "nice" so long
> as you didn't benefit from anything besides her treatment -- once
> I started seeing a *psychologist* who was actually very helpful. . .
> she became extremely nasty and started trying to hide my records
> from me and insist on More Drugs. . .

Oh my God, I certainly believe you here. I'm very chary of
all "professionals", for that reason. Yes, many of them are
absolutely on power trips.

I've read books on the subject (e.g., Dorothy Tennov's
_Psychotherapy: The Hazardous Cure_ and Ellen Plasil's
chilling _Therapist_).

Sam Vaknin himself has the following advice for the wives or
girlfriends of narcissistic and abusive husbands or boyfriends:

"Most abusers are men and most victims are women. Even the most advanced
communities in the world are largely patriarchal. Misogynistic gender stereotypes,
superstitions, and prejudices are strong.

Therapists are not immune to these ubiquitous and age-old influences and biases.

They are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness
of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible
rendition of the events and interprets them to his favor. The therapist rarely
has a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters.
In contrast, the abused are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed,
unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.

Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser
and his harried casualties - it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim
is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey's acts of
self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression,
lability, or a mental health problem.

The profession's propensity to pathologize extends to the wrongdoers as well. Alas,
few therapists are equipped to do proper clinical work, including diagnosis. . .

Consummate abusers use the right vocabulary and feign the appropriate "emotions"
and affect and, thus, sway the evaluator's judgment.

But while the victim's "pathology" works against her - especially in custody battles -
the culprit's "illness" works for him, as a mitigating circumstance, especially in criminal
proceedings.

In his seminal essay, "Understanding the Batterer in Visitation and Custody Disputes",
Lundy Bancroft sums up the asymmetry in favor of the offender:

> Batterers ... adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn't understand how things
> got so bad and just wants to work it all out 'for the good of the children.' He may cry ...
> and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings.
> He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against
> him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge ... He commonly
> accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends
> agree with him ... that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends
> to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making
> baseless statements. The abuser benefits ... when professionals believe that they can
> "just tell" who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate.
>
> Because of the effects of trauma, the victim of battering will often seem hostile, disjointed,
> and agitated, while the abuser appears friendly, articulate, and calm. Evaluators are thus
> tempted to conclude that the victim is the source of the problems in the relationship.

There is little the victim can do to "educate" the therapist or "prove" to him who is
the guilty party. Mental health professionals are as ego-centered as the next person.
They are emotionally invested in opinions they form or in their interpretation of the
abusive relationship. They perceive every disagreement as a challenge to their authority
and are likely to pathologize such behavior, labeling it "resistance" (or worse).

In the process of mediation, marital therapy, or evaluation, counselors frequently propose
various techniques to ameliorate the abuse or bring it under control. Woe betide the party
that dares object or turn these "recommendations" down. Thus, an abuse victim who declines
to have any further contact with her batterer - is bound to be chastised by her therapist
for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.

Better to play ball and adopt the sleek mannerisms of your abuser. Sadly, sometimes the
only way to convince your therapist that it is not all in your head and that you are
a victim - is by being insincere and by staging a well-calibrated performance, replete
with the correct vocabulary. Therapists have Pavlovian reactions to certain phrases
and theories and to certain "presenting signs and symptoms" (behaviors during the first
few sessions). Learn these - and use them to your advantage. It is your only chance."

-- Sam Vaknin, "Pathologizing the Victim"


And then there's this heartbreaking scenario:

http://groups.msn.com/CopingwiththePsychopathNarcissistChild/copingwiththeadolescentp.msnw

> My 15-year-old stepson has Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD).
> However, until he is 18 years old he cannot be “officially” diagnosed
> nor treated as such. Consequently, he is not being treated at all. . .
>
> Initially, no one wants to accept he is ASPD. We have been through
> numerous therapists. They waste a great deal of our money and time
> while we wait for them to finally come to the same conclusion
> everyone else eventually comes to. Then they refuse to attempt to
> treat him. We have gone through the same thing with his schools.
> He is the master at identifying and latching on to a co-dependent
> teacher or counselor and exploiting them most of the school year
> before we finally get the call of resignation and agreement that
> he is indeed ASPD. We have repeated this over and over. We begin
> every school year and every first counseling session the same way:
> begging for them to address this for what it is as opposed to trying
> everything else that has already been tried unsuccessfully. We
> usually have put up with the attitude that they know better. We
> have been told they are sure he does have emotions, he just suppresses
> them. We have been assured they can get to the bottom of it all.
> Most of the time they are a little arrogant about it. Most of the
> time they treat us as if we are horrible for believing such a thing
> about our son. But, eventually, they admit defeat. Then they act
> like something must be wrong with us to have birthed such a twisted
> kid. (In fact, he is adopted). . .

Dale Carrico said...

The objections I am hearing about needing to provide examples where transhumanists disdain majority input, or affirm eugenic or reductionist postures and so on are enormously frustrating in a way, but also they have a certain undeniable force.

As someone who has been observing transhumanists very closely for over fifteen years I am calling on the sense of thousands upon thousands of unchallenged statements, scarcely veiled references, book recommendations, back-handed comments and so on. I understand Jim's exasperation when he responds to the demand for "proof" of all this, that anybody who spends any sustained time in the discursive spaces of Superlative technocentricity, transhumanist mailing lists, conferences, recommended readings and so on will almost surely become increasingly nervous about these undercurrents (unless of course they are proper candidates for True Belief). That is my own sense of things as well.

But that doesn't actually mean it is an easy thing to wade back into mailing lists and archives and essays scouting out especially egregious examples. And in any case this very gesture usually solicits a deranging fixation on that one example's so-called non-representativeness or the demand that one dive into days and days of debate about dime-thin doctrinal and terminological subtleties exhibited by the example, endlessly on and on, all in an effort to distract attention from their conspicuous vulnerabilities while pretending to direct attention to how "misunderstood" they are and so on.

It's a fool's game, really, when the thing to do is to locate the level of generality at which one can pitch one's critique most forcefully and lodge it there and make them cope on your own terms rather than theirs.

All that said, again, I agree that there is something in these pleas for evidence that has me thinking there should be an easy solution to the dilemma of providing contact with the sort of evidence that we're talking about, but one that doesn't demand too much time/effort from critics. We should open source a whistleblowing wiki devoted to archiving examples over the years of unchallenged comments in "popular" superlative technocentric fora and doctrinal assertions by authorities in superlative technocentric discourse that illustrate the tendencies I critique.

We could document megalomaniacal guru utterances.

We could document market fundamentalist cheerleading.

We could document climate change denial.

We could document technocratic elitism -- for example, claims that things are moving too fast for everyday people to understand the stakes, so "we" Robot Cultist soopergeniuses need to step in and make decisions for everybody's sake whatever they have to say in the matter.

We could document neoliberal-eugenicism -- the claims about the duressed imposition of neurotypicality as an "Enlightenment" project, the champions of the Bell Curve, the discussions of deafness as child abuse, the idea that nonhuman animals are somehow de facto demanding "uplift" into more human-legible cognition merely by existing differently than humans.

We could document the confident predictive claims about incredibly implausible and sometimes logically impossible outcomes, as well as the claims that some predictions are consummately "scientific" even when scientific consensus suggests these are the claims of cranks.

We could document the terminological recourse to corporate-militarist rhetoric -- "security" as always only support for hierarchizing centralized industrial responses to problems, total information awareness, nuclear plant archipelagos, geoengineering fantasias, Star Wars missile defense shields -- "innovation" as always only support for welfare for incumbent interests market discipline for the vulnerable -- mappings of the "developed" versus the "developing" and "underdeveloped" world to obscure the reality of the difference between the exploiters and the exploited and overexploited people in the world -- the denigration of democratic "precaution" by championing a recklessness and disregard that functions as a stealthy tax on the vulnerable always in the service of welfare and subsidy for incumbent interests framed as, of all things, "proaction"!

Let's create categories, and then archive examples of these claims, attitudes, and other comparably anti-democratizing ones. One must always provide a name, a date, and a link anybody can follow the track of.

There should also be an open source project identifying the boards and donors of all the organizations in the superlative archipelago, their years of service, their other affiliations -- so we can map these connections as well when the time comes for mainstream muckracking journalists to connect the dots in exposes occasioned by the inevitable scandal when it arrives.

e-mail me with information, or with advice about how to get these p2p archival projects underway. Vladimir, this sounds like something you could connect to your debunking book project. Jim I have a feeling you have personal archives that could function as the acorn from which the mighty oak of a public archive could eventually spring. We'll have to respect anonymity concerns of private communications and so on, but there is plenty available on the record to substantiate these points. Others who are interested, e-mail me, dalec@berkeley.edu

De Thezier said...

Dale Carrico said:

We should open source a whistleblowing wiki devoted to archiving examples over the years of unchallenged comments in "popular" superlative technocentric fora and doctrinal assertions by authorities in superlative technocentric discourse that illustrate the tendencies I critique.

Actually, this is something I facetiously proposed on the wta-talk list in a witty reply to a female libertarian transhumanist ideologue a few months ago.

Vladimir, this sounds like something you could connect to your debunking book project.

Indeed. :)

De Thezier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bambi said...

Dale:

this very gesture usually solicits a deranging fixation on that one example's so-called non-representativeness

Yeah, now that you mention it that is exactly what would happen.

Dale Carrico said...

I wrote: this very gesture usually solicits a deranging fixation on that one example's so-called non-representativeness

bambi admitted: Yeah, now that you mention it that is exactly what would happen.

But the fact remains that I think there is enormous evidence to substantiate my observations and that those who are honest newcomers or skeptics to this scene are reasonable to ask for evidence to support my generalizations. The overall dynamics of arguing with True Believers makes this incredibly frustrating at times, but the reason I find myself wanting to organize a documentary archival project in this area is precisely because I agree that concise documentation is a useful tool, and p2p would make gathering this readily available information less of an onerous burden for one person.

By the way, in justice to my critiques over the last years, one actually does find an enormous amount of citation of actual quotations from online essays, conversations, books, and so on that do provide an extensive evidenciary basis for these claims, you just have to chisel through a lot of material to gather up the whole case. It isn't as if I provide no grounds for these tendencies I am delineating (no doubt the techno-faithful will howl and sputter and tear the turf at this comment) -- but it seems to me the transhumanists wouldn't panic about what I write so much if I didn't, nor would anti-transhumanists come back to my formulations so regularly if I didn't. YMMV, as always.

Dale Carrico said...

It intrigues me that the discussion of what democracy consists of is generating no response, that the discussion of the difference between moralizing and politics (which provides an example from another domain of the same sort of argument I was using elsewhere in the discussion of the differences between the aesthetic and the scientific) is generating no response, that the distinction of futurity and the future is generating no response. There is no question for me personally but that these are the most substantive and provocative things happening in this little blog post, but few ever take up such aspects, but prefer to pretend none of that is happening the better to pout and stamp about my defamation of their Robot Cult and accuse me of failing to make analytic points of precisely the kind that they so studiously ignore. This is a general comment, nobody here in the Moot should interpret that as an attack directed at them or anything, it isn't that at all... I'm just saying.

peco said...

It intrigues me that the discussion of what democracy consists of is generating no response, that the discussion of the difference between moralizing and politics (which provides an example from another domain of the same sort of argument I was using elsewhere in the discussion of the differences between the aesthetic and the scientific) is generating no response, that the distinction of futurity and the future is generating no response. There is no question for me personally but that these are the most substantive and provocative things happening in this little blog post, but few ever take up such aspects, but prefer to pretend none of that is happening the better to pout and stamp about my defamation of their Robot Cult and accuse me of failing to make analytic points of precisely the kind that they so studiously ignore. This is a general comment, nobody here in the Moot should interpret that as an attack directed at them or anything, it isn't that at all... I'm just saying.

Either people don't find it interesting, or they agree with you.

Michael Anissimov said...

Two words to describe this thread: long and boring.

bambi said...

peco:

Either people don't find it interesting, or they agree with you.

Basically.

Dale:

Democracy ... the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them

Sounds about right. The next issue is where to draw the battle lines re: what decisions should count as public, what "affects" means, and how a "say" should be exercised.

I can see how people would find that irresistably fascinating, and it makes me happy that people are writing and debating it, but not everybody will use the little bits of time left over from work, family, health, and other time consuming trappings of life to devote to that particular topic.

Especially given this:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23955772/

De Thezier said...

Dale Carrico said:

It intrigues me that the discussion of what democracy consists of is generating no response, that the discussion of the difference between moralizing and politics (which provides an example from another domain of the same sort of argument I was using elsewhere in the discussion of the differences between the aesthetic and the scientific) is generating no response, that the distinction of futurity and the future is generating no response. There is no question for me personally but that these are the most substantive and provocative things happening in this little blog post, but few ever take up such aspects

I thought it was exquisitely incisive. I almost felt and still feel like posting it on the wta-talk list to get some people thinking.

This is a general comment, nobody here in the Moot should interpret that as an attack directed at them or anything, it isn't that at all... I'm just saying.

Obviously, I know this wasn't an attack directed at me. However, I would't want to respond and be accused by some smartypants that I am your applause soundtrack or something. :/ ;)

Dale Carrico said...

Two words to describe this thread: long and boring.

That's three words.

Lincoln Cannon said...

Dale, your faith in superlative death has negative practical consequences that are analogous to the faith in superlative life that you criticize. As exclusive focus on the future can turn us to apathy regarding the present, so exclusive focus on the present can turn us to apathy regarding the future. Both are dangerous focuses. As the one detracts from quality of life, the other detracts from quantity -- and the lack of either detracts from the value of the other.

Your faith in superlative death also has anti-democratizing effects analogous to those you attribute to faith in superlative life. Your hyperbolic foregrounding of actual experience provides rationale for circumventing democratic responses to possible experience. In your constant reiteration of sub(cult)ural concerns, life-actual risks and priestly gatekeeping, you make recourse to reactionary and anarchistic fearmongering. In your assumption of a need to save others from faith in superlative life, you appeal to elitist intuitions of secularism. Your constant dismissal of the majority faith in superlative life as more ignorant or irrational than your own, further appeals to elite interests. In making constant recourse to rhetoric that is highly peculiar to your faith, while pretending the rhetoric reflects mainstream perspectives, you privilege narrow narratives.

Your faith in superlative death is also a form of moralizing. You seek disidentification with those who do not share your faith, and passionately police the application of labels to your faith. Outside those bounds of purity, you pursue conversion toward increased homogeneity, as manifest in your attack on those with faith in superlative life, and in your work to persuade others to faith in superlative death.

In your too-eager superlative embrace of death, you would obliterate an open present, at the cost of disidentification with humanity with whom we share not only life actual, but also possible futures.

By the way, for what it's worth, I enjoyed reading your description of democracy, and agree with much of it -- although I don't share your apparent rejection of group identification. While I imagine you don't care, I'll add that your description of the democratic process resonates highly with my understanding of Christian atonement (within which even reconciliation with democrats is pursued).

jfehlinger said...

Lincoln Cannon wrote:

> Your hyperbolic foregrounding of actual experience provides
> rationale for circumventing democratic responses to possible
> experience.

You mean "clap if you believe in fairies" and Tinker Bell will
come to life?

This discussion is really heading into La La Land.

And the interesting thing about that is that **nobody** from
among the >Hists -- not Giulio Prisco, not Michael Anissimov,
not even Eliezer Yudkowsky, has stepped in and said so.

So much for "rationality".

jfehlinger said...

Anne Corwin wrote:

> There are definitely people making money off this crap,
> all while trying to claim that those who oppose them are
> being "compensated" by the Evil Pharmaceutical Companies. . .
>
> It's the whole superlative pattern of, "Hey, here's this
> threat that The Mainstream Doesn't Want You To Know About,
> here are some products we can sell you to replace the usual
> ones, and here's some hand-waving/pseudoscience to back up
> our claims" thing, for sure. They've even got their resident
> Charismatic Warriors -- Jenny McCarthy is apparently one now,
> seeing as she's written a book about her son's journey from
> "crystal child" (Jenny is an "Indigo", or at least she
> claimed to be for a while) to autistic child to "recovered"
> child, with the help of various inteventions designed to
> "get the yeast out of his system", etc.

I have to admit I didn't know who Jenny McCarthy was (I was
thinking Jenny Jones), but --

A comment from the thread at
http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/archive/2007/04/15/indigos-crystals-jenny-mccarthy-what-s-the-deal.aspx

----------------------------------
Indigo Rose said:

well... I am an Indigo... I am what I am. I am an old soul,
older than most of you can comprehend... we are real, we are
people, we do have a very special mission to help this world.
It saddens me to hear you all hating on something you do not
even comprehend, which is why you spew the hate... misunderstanding
and an unwillingness to understand.

I dare one of you to tell me that I am "horseshit" to my face!

While not all autistic children are Indigo, many Indigos are
mislabeled autistic... and giving them all those autism drugs
does bad things to our bodies, minds and souls.

I feel very sorry for the children of the commenters, that they
must grow up with parents who are so full of anger, and cannot
see the possibilities of what is in this world and the ones
beyond it.

For what it's worth... I am not "metaphysical kookiness..."
I am a human being. And none of your commenters even "got" what
being an Indigo is about, by the way... how can you describe and
judge what we are if you aren't one yourself? Check out
www.starchildglobal.com... that will tell you a lot more.

And I want to thank the person who wrote this blog that she
is at least willing to entertain the possibility of our existence.

Thank you.
----------------------------------

I don't know what one could possibly say to this person.
(I mean, I could think of things to say **about** this
person, but I couldn't think of anything to say **to**
the person.)

Lincoln Cannon said...

Oh, yes, jfehlinger, I do believe in fairies -- if not actual then at least possible. That you don't says more about you than about possibilities.

Dale Carrico said...

Dale, your faith in superlative death

Everybody dies. There's nothing either faithful or superlative in saying so.

has negative practical consequences that are analogous to the faith in superlative life that you criticize.

I don't speak of "superlative life," I speak of "Superlative Technology Discourses," among them transhumanism, singularitarianism, and techno-immortalism (between which there are many overlaps, clearly), all techno-utopian discourses that seize on the confusion of customary capacities and expectations introduced by actually-emerging medical techniques, and invest these confusions with the theological iconography of omni-predication to create sub(cult)ural identification among True Believers in otherwordly visions of "the future" that are unscientific but promote themselves as supremely scientific.

As exclusive focus on the future can turn us to apathy regarding the present, so exclusive focus on the present can turn us to apathy regarding the future.

Open futurity arises out of present practice, "the future" is a racket parochially owned by self-appointed "elite" minorities who pretend to the power of prophesy while seeking to implement outcomes undemocratically to their preferential benefit.

Both are dangerous focuses. As the one detracts from quality of life, the other detracts from quantity -- and the lack of either detracts from the value of the other.

Nonsense.

Your faith in superlative death

Repeat repeat repeat repeat -- but it will never become meaningful or true.

also has anti-democratizing effects analogous to those you attribute to faith in superlative life.

Oh, this should be good.

Your hyperbolic foregrounding of actual experience provides rationale for circumventing democratic responses

Because democratic responses demand foregrounding of deceptions or confusions of values or tastes or mores for facts? You'll have to do better than this.

to possible experience.

I strongly disagree with you and I would strongly disapprove of this result. I do not agree that we must pretend moral, aesthetic, ethical, or political experiences are actually scientific experiences to do justice to their substance or significance -- in fact, I think precisely the contrary is the case.

In your constant reiteration of sub(cult)ural concerns, life-actual risks and priestly gatekeeping, you make recourse to reactionary and anarchistic fearmongering.

Uh-huh. Only the priests, the cultists, the gatekeepers, and their indifference to actual risks can save us from anarchy and fear! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!

In your assumption of a need to save others from faith in superlative life,

I'm not interested in saving anybody. I say it like I think it is, especially when I think it matters, and provide reasons and arguments as to why I think so as best I can. That's all I do.

you appeal to elitist intuitions of secularism.

Only elites believe in a separation of church and state?

Your constant dismissal of the majority faith in superlative life as more ignorant or irrational than your own, further appeals to elite interests.

Apparently the only avenue available to the nonbeliever who would not want to seem dismissive of the faithful is to be or pretend to be faithful himself. Typical. Here's what I say to you: Fuck that shit.

In making constant recourse to rhetoric that is highly peculiar to your faith,

You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it does.

while pretending the rhetoric reflects mainstream perspectives, you privilege narrow narratives.

Ah, Dale, and his narrowminded advocacy of consensual lifeway multiculture! Ah, the elitism! Ah, the arrogance!

Your faith in superlative death

-- the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck the record's stuck --

is also a form of moralizing. You seek disidentification with those who do not share your faith, and passionately police the application of labels to your faith.

Moral practices of identification and disidentification are indispensable to human flourishing, including my own. Most of us belong only partially to multiple moral communities. The formal universalization of ethical normativity arises in part out of the complexities of these multiple partial identifications. Moralizing is a different strategy -- seeking to police subcultural identification into something more monolithic, more fulsome, more prevalent over differences outside the subculture. That's how I think of this issue, at any rate.

Outside those bounds of purity, you pursue conversion toward increased homogeneity, as manifest in your attack on those with faith in superlative life, and in your work to persuade others to faith in superlative death.

What in the bloody hell are you talking about? I say what I believe and say why. Does that hurt your feelings? Too bad!

In your too-eager superlative embrace of death,

Pointing out the obvious fact that everybody dies is not an "eager... embrace of death" in any remotely intelligble sense. And, again, I don't know what you mean by the term Superlative. You clearly don't mean by the term what I do, even though you are presumably responding to my critiques employing the term according to definitions I make as clear as may be.

you would obliterate an open present, at the cost of disidentification with humanity with whom we share not only life actual, but also possible futures.

Hey, fella, I'm not the one who wants to trade in his body for a robot body, who wants to trade in society for nanosanta, who wants to trade in history for the arrival of the Robot God, who identifies with a non-existent "post-human" species. It's like you people don't even know how to read. You are just literally repeating my words back at me, as though they are incantations or advertising bromides. Just as with Giulio, transhumanists reduce to sputtering I know you are but what am I! over and over like four-year-olds.

By the way, for what it's worth, I enjoyed reading your description of democracy, and agree with much of it -- although I don't share your apparent rejection of group identification.

I don't reject group identification. I locate "belonging" to moral belief -- from mores, "we intentions" -- and distinguish it from scientific, aesthetic, ethical, and political beliefs. I affirm its dignity on its own terms, I understand its reasonable warrants on their own terms, I refuse to pretend it is otherwise than it is or that it is dispensable to other modes. This is the same gesture I make in demanding we distinguish science from aesthetics, or morals from politics in other arguments we have been having.

While I imagine you don't care, I'll add that your description of the democratic process resonates highly with my understanding of Christian atonement (within which even reconciliation with democrats is pursued).

I am far from not caring. I like very much to think that my ideas could be enriching to people who believe differently than I do. Once one properly distinguishes scientific, moral, aesthetic, ethical, and political modes and affirms each in their differences there really needn't be much conflict between one's democratic beliefs and one's religious beliefs, properly speaking, as far as I can see. There are plenty of Christians who are profoundly democratic, certainly. It would never even occur to me to think otherwise. The Chistianists and theologians make a lot of noise and generate a lot of bad behaviour with their fearmongering, but they hardly properly represent the majority of the faithful in this secular nation or across this secularizing planet. I personally feel more sympathy for folks in the interfaith alliance despite my own atheism and their various faithful practices than I do for many so-called militant atheists and so-called Brights who share my atheism but often insist on what looks to me a pointlessly impoverished scientism.

jfehlinger said...

Lincoln Cannon wrote:

> Oh, yes, jfehlinger, I do believe in fairies -- if not actual
> then at least possible. That you don't says more about you than
> about possibilities.

Well, perhaps I can redeem myself by admitting that I can certainly
enjoy **reading** about fairies -- and Elves, more particularly --
but as even J. R. R. Tolkien commented:

---------------------------------------
BBC:
So your characters and your story really took... took charge?

T:
[lights pipe]

BBC:
I say took charge... I don't mean that you were completely under
their spell or anything of this sort.

T:
Oh no, no, no, no, no! I don't walk about, uh... dreaming at all,
no I'm a... [laughs] not a bit. No, no, no, it isn't an obsession
in any way. At lot of people have had, uh... written large things...
they have the same sensation that, um, you have sometimes...
It may be a ps... purely psychological, um, um... delusion!
You have a sensation that, um... that at this point... [raps four
times on table] A, B, C, D -- only A... one of them is right,
and you've got to wait until you see.
---------------------------------------

A necessary part of growing up, particularly in our media-saturated
culture, is locating and maintaining the boundary between reality and
fantasy.

Dale Carrico said...

I believe in fairies. I am one.

giulio said...

"Giulio's comment is really an effort to denigrate a set of critiques of his Robot Cult that he can't cope with on other terms."

Very true. When rational communication fails because the other part does not really want to listen or discuss, calling BS BS is all that one can do.

Lincoln Cannon said...

Dale, while I fully agree that we'll die at least to varying extents, there is indeed much room for faith and superlativity in the idea that everybody dies, depending on how one understands "everybody" and "dies". To what extent is "death" properly applicable, even by analogy, to all possible persons, and more particularly to those we are now becoming? To what extent will everyone always remain dead? According to your faith, everyone dies absolutely and forever; everyone becomes not only dead or deader, but absolutely deadest. This is reflected in your unqualified and unevidenced claim that resurrection is impossible. I don't share your faith in superlative death.

While you don't explicitly speak of "superlative life", I understand and intend to use it as an economical equivalent of your critique of immortality. So far as I have understood your criticism of absolutes in theology and their corresponding manifestations among some Transhumanists, I share your concerns. Indeed, Mormon theology is itself a criticism of absolutes in theology. Moreover, so far as I have understood your criticism that some Transhumanists confuse objective scientific theories with positions of faith, I agree with your criticism. However, I obviously do not share your attitude toward Transhumanism, which will, in my estimation, prove to be a valuable tool in the work of reconciling objective scientific theories with a broad set of varying faiths. I am, indeed, a True Believer! And I am confident that I can be one without either rejecting science or pretending to science.

I agree that open futurity arises out of present practice, and that to the extent "the future" is understood with monolithic dogmatism it reflects oppressive intentions. While there are certainly some Transhumanists that have such a perspective regarding the future, most in my experience do not.

Obviously it's in your interest to think that my criticism of your faith is nonsense, but I'm far from persuaded that it is. As faith in superlative life detracts from living life, so faith in superlative death detracts from living life, as manifest in your exclusive focus on "life lived" or "life actual" at the expense of "living life" and "life potential". I agree that repetition of my criticism does not make it more true, but it also does not make it more false, as it does not make my criticism more false when you repetitively deny the criticism without reason.

Your hyperbolic foregrounding of actual experience provides rationale for circumventing democratic processes for all the reasons that lack of preparation has historically resulted in disempowerment. To the extent that focus on actual experience blinds us from possible experience, we do not prepare and will suffer the consequences. That's just common sense, as is the opposite problem, on which you focus and with which I agree -- really, I do agree, even if you choose to insist that I'm guilty of the opposite. There simply should be no hyperbolic foregrounding of either actual or possible experience. Both circumvent democratic processes, because democratic processes depend on reflecting human experience, both actual and anticipated, whether you individually agree with all of the anticipations or not.

Whether or not you think your rhetoric will promote focus on actual experience at the expense of possible experience is not my primary point, as it is not your primary point to criticize the intentions behind some Transhumanists' rhetoric. Obviously, as you would protest any anti-democratic results of your rhetoric, some of the Transhumanists you criticize would protest any anti-democratic results of their rhetoric. The point really is that your focus is quite as dangerous to democracy as the one you are criticizing.

You say that we do not need to pretend moral, esthetic, ethical or political experiences are scientific. I agree. You imply that I have claimed otherwise. You are incorrect.

You ridicule the idea that you have engaged in fearmongering, yet ridicule does not change the record of your rhetoric. You clearly appeal to fear, and that regularly. The fear to which you appeal is fear of authority, which is quite as defeating for democracy as are appeals to fear of the lack of authority.

You say you're not interested in saving anyone, but your blog is substantial evidence to the contrary, and your response, itself, was sufficient evidence to the contrary. You say it like you think it is, especially when you think it matters, but "matters" is meaningless unless it matters to someone, which is salvation. In the very least, you evidence interest in saving yourself in whatever form salvation takes for you. It seems, though, that your compassion also extends beyond yourself, but maybe you've fooled me. You charge the Transhumanists with seeking others' salvation, and I plead guilty -- you should, too.

You wonder, as if it responds to my criticism, whether only elites believe in separation of church and state. But it does not respond to my criticism, which is that your assumption of the need to save others from faith in superlative life appeals to elitist intuitions of secularism. The church and state can remain quite as separate as we now commonly suppose them to be without working, as you do, to save others from faith in superlative life.

You respond violently to my criticism of your rejection of majority faith in superlative life. I'll assume, then, that you recognize your elitism in this. Note, too, that to the extent that elitism is, in itself, one of your anti-democratic concerns, you are engaged in anti-democratic behavior.

Ironically, you apparently don't recognize that your broad-minded advocacy of consensual lifeway multiculture is an extraordinarily narrow narrative, relative to the set of human narratives. You privilege it, as I think you should, but you also pretend that it is broader in relation to human narratives than it is actually, and that, ironically, is one of the anti-democratic behaviors you've identified among some Transhumanists.

You insist that your behavior is not moralizing, pointing to something like monolithic dogmatism as grounds for charges of moralizing. While I disagere with your use of "moralizing", I'll yet point out that you, too, are guilty of monolithic dogmatism. Resurrection is impossible, you say. How does that not undermine democracy, while "we'll become immortal" does?

The fact that you say what you believe and say why certainly does not hurt my feelings. To the contrary, I feel to benefit from it. My point, however, is that you, quite as much as any Transhumanist, are engaged in the work of evangelism. That's what a blog is, whether you've recognized that or not.

While pointing out that "eveyone dies" is not an over-eager embrace of death, your absolute rejection of resurrection certainly is over-eager, if over-eagerness can be judged in relation to evidence (or its lack). To claim that everyone will eventually be deadest, which is an equivalent to your rejection of the possibility of resurrection, lacks evidentiary support at least as much (if not more so) than the claim that everyone will eventually live forever. Your rejection of the possibility of resurrection is your faith in superlative death. It is not observation of death. It is not speculation about the relative difficulty of restoring deader humans to life. It is a creed of deadest: there is no possible restoration; you will be dead absolutely forever. That's what I mean when I say you have faith in superlative death, and it is quite as faithful and detrimental as some forms of faith in superlative life.

You tell me that you're not the one who wants to trade your body, society or history for technology. Okay. I don't want to trade them for technology either. I don't even think I can in any meaningful way, as I already consider my body, society and history to be manifestations of technology. What I do want, like you, is to improve on the body and society I have. I also want to gain greater knowledge of history, even if possible to the point of restoring to life persons from history, to the extent doing so would accord with their wills and desires. I don't claim to identify with a non-existent posthuman species. I claim, in faith, to be a child of God, a being that progresses eternally. I claim trust in, and will and desire toward, discovery of a posthuman species to the extent it already exists, and creation of a posthuman species to the extent it does not yet exist.

If you think I'm doing nothing more than repeating your words back at you, it is you, not I, that has not read well. While I've certainly used your words, as an attempt to reduce noise in your reception of my words, I have adjusted them where needed to reflect the criticism: you are treating death as some Transhumanists are treating life. What better way to demonstrate that analogy than through analogous application of your own words?

Finally, thank you for clarifying your perspective on the value of including my religious perspectives in this discussion. I was becoming increasingly impressed that my allusions to religious ideas were only annoying you. I don't have anything against secularism, in itself. To the contrary, I value much that it has afforded me and my religious community, which certainly would not exist as it does today had it not been for secularism. I'll add, too, that I expect, as you have indicated, that the world will continue to become increasingly secular, and that this is valuable overall.