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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Racism of "Enhancing for Competitiveness"

Upgraded from an exchange in the Moot with "Esebian," who wrote:
Wherever I see "enhancement" I see just the same old ways of self-centered, rich racist patriarchal heteronormative white males to impose their views on the rest of the world, smiting any divergent culture under their boot. Ol' Gernsback, inventor of the SF fandom and possibly Nerd(TM) subculture in general, already fantasized about fixing humanity before the transhumanuts were a twinkle in their parents' eyes. That his idea to "solve" racism by... building a skin-bleaching gadget/process to make blacks white materialized in the real world a Nazi doktors blinding KZ inmates by injecting blue dye into their eyes should say you something about the foundation and goals of the entire "enhancement" woo complex.
To which I replied:
You are not wrong to say so. The "competitiveness" in the service of which "optimization" is always imagined and argued for (whatever the "neutral" utilitarian, consequentialist, cost-benefit, scenarist stress-test vocabularies in which it is couched) rationalizes plutocracy as (if) meritocracy "at home" and imperial/colonial exploitation as (if) progressive development "abroad": "Competition" always naturalizes corporate-militarist norms and forms. And white racism (not to mention patriarchy) is always there at the heartless heart of corporate militarism, not only as a foundational history reverberating into those norms and forms but as an ongoing set of structural forces and unconscious biases enabling their maintenance. Of course the techno-transcendentalists will deny this -- but there would be no techno-fixation or techno-utopianism without a whole hell of a lot of bad faith and fetishisms roiling beneath the surface fueling its mania and denial.
If this blog has proved nothing else over the decade of its existence, it has shown that there is rich fun to be had poking fun at the flabbergasting foolishness of the Robot Cultists. But it is crucial to recall that their chief interest is as a kind of reductio ad absurdum exposing the pathologies and contradictions of more prevailing assumptions and aspirations driving extractive-industrial consumer culture and developmental globalism, in all their cruelty and denial, of which transhumanoid eugenicism and digi-denialism is just a revealingly extreme expression. (Which is not to deny that Robot Cultic rhetoric can do plenty of damage on its own terms when a bunch of libertechbrotarian skim and scam artists with god complexes and billions of unearned dollars on their hands start organizing politically to rewrite the world in the image of their deadly delusions.)

1 comment:

jimf said...

> "Enhancing for Competitiveness"

slippery slopes and soapy suds:

"Key figures include. . . Michael Anissimov of More Right. . .

One common feature of the movement is a long-winded — ridiculously
long-winded — and oblique prose style, eager to show off its mastery
of historical trivia; it seems more poetry than politics at times."

I'll be your pot if you'll be my kettle.