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

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Post-Lagomorphine Future

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot: A transhumanist-identified futurologist claims to agree with the consensual prosthetic self-determination of my last post, approving my affirmation of actually wanted culturally/prosthetically enabled lifeways, whether normalizing or not, "unless the wanted lifeway represents a palpable threat of harm to others -- where 'harm' is considerably more than some so-called violation of 'dignity' or 'nature' or 'decorum' as indicated by the discomfort of social or religious conservatives in the presence of a difference they have a distaste for" as a formulation which "nicely summarizes [his] own view."

I must say, I doubt it.

"Transhumanism" as a discourse typically mobilizes a notion of "enhancement" that stealths all sorts of parochial prejudices as to "better" and "worse" lifeways, underdetermined by lethality, undersensitive to considerations of what is wanted and what is consented to, as though these were "neutral" "scientific" or "hygienic" matters, conferring objective already-agreed-upon "advantages," always only enabling rather than also always disabling in respect to available ends, and all the while embedded in a reductive pseudo-"progressive" narrative of technical amplification presumably eventuating in the arrival of an idealized post-human "species" and "future" which solicits their identification (at the cost of dis-identification with human plurality and the open futurity inhering in it in every present) figured as homo superior.

Whatever haggling PR considerations or conflicting personal values lead individual transhumanists to qualify their "enhancement" discourse to accommodate civil libertarian or democratic or social justice intuitions the underlying contrary eugenicist thrust of the discourse is always making its play, whether subtly or gratuitously.

Of course, this is the actual concern that preoccupies my exchange with Jason Moss in the prior post. Agreeing in a general way with a statement occurring at the tail end of an argument isn't the same thing as agreeing with the argument, and to the extent that it is the argument which produces the statement with which you claim agreement, agreement with the statement but not the argument is likely superficial at best.

My experience with transhumanist-identified futurologists has taught me to be enormously leery of highly selective, rather superficial appropriations of ideas of mine in the service of their efforts to legitimize their reactionary crackpot robot cult (see: technoprogressive).


Giulio Prisco said...

I must say, I doubt it.

Dale, you may of course doubt whatever you like, but I hope you will concede that I know my own opinions better than you.

In this spirit, I confirm that your statement quoted in the first paragraph nicely summarizes my own view.

Whatever haggling PR considerations or conflicting personal values lead individual transhumanists to qualify their "enhancement" discourse to accommodate civil libertarian or democratic or social justice intuitions the underlying contrary eugenicist thrust of the discourse is always making its play, whether subtly or gratuitously.

One word: bullshit.

Dale Carrico said...

My doubt was that you actually grasped my point, with the consequence that your superficial agreement with the tail-end of it (taken to be something like a congenial bumper sticker, in the usual futurological manner) didn't finally count for much. My elaboration why meets your declaration "bullshit" with the sunny smile of a doubt confirmed.

Giulio Prisco said...

Then, please tell me where "the underlying contrary eugenicist thrust of the discourse is making its play" in this case.

I will stand corrected if you show it to me, otherwise I still call your strawman bullshit.

Dale Carrico said...

I call bullshit on your calling bullshit, for whatever that's supposed to be worth.

Honestly, do you have any memory at all? Are you capable of understanding anything at all beyond promotional slogans? What force do you imagine a declaration of "strawman bullshit" has coming from someone apparently so relentlessly incapable of indicating the barest comprehension of the points to which you are presumably responding?

Rather than "tell you where 'the underlying contrary eugenicist thrust of [transhumanist] discourse is making its play'" -- that is to say, rather than telling you again, telling you again not for the first time, not for the dozenth time, but time after time after time after time, in variation after variation after variation, through illustration after illustration after illustration -- I will instead redirect your attention to the posts on this topic under the sidebar heading The Progressive Politics of Prosthetic Self Determination and the Reactionary Politics of Eugenics.

I hold no hopes that this could actually change anything about the way you would respond to my arguments of course, I hold no hopes that you would try to understand my points before declaring them no more than ad hominem attacks or blank bullshit in your usual manner, since they undermine the True Beliefs of your transhuman techno-immortalist Robot Cult. Why pretend otherwise? Why grind interminably mechanically along replaying yet again the joyless bloodless brainless moves of this dance of death of dreary incomprehension?

Any newcomers to the blog who are unfamiliar with you are encouraged to Google "Amor Mundi Giulio Prisco" which should acquaint them with the facile fulminating flabbergasting stylings of His High Holy Pontifex of the Cosmic Engineers quickly enough to explain this dismissal. For that is indeed what it is. Giulio Prisco, you are dismissed.

RadicalCoolDude said...


giulio: Eugenics is normative—something you force on others. Most transhumanists talk of voluntary, personal enhancement—live and let live.

“Normative” doesn't necessarily imply coercion. It simply means promoting the idea that there is a norm or, more precisely, a “better” state that everyone should strive to. You might argue that it is up to the individual to decide what is “better” for him or her but social ideals and pressures influence our personal perception of what is and isn't “better”. How many people do you know think becoming blind is “better”? An extremely small number and there is a reason why that number will always remain small...

That being said, you seem to be confusing transhumanist talk of “personal enhancement” with transhumanist talk of eugenics. It is the latter that critics like Carrico are focusing on and denouncing.

Eugenics isn't about “personal enhancement”. As you should know, eugenics is the study of, or belief in, the possibility of enhancing the qualities of the human species or a human population by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).

In his essay Democratic Transhumanism 2.0., James Hughes positively mentions the Oneida community as America’s longest-lived nineteenth century communist group, which practiced extensive eugenic engineering through arranged breeding. He also wrote a sentence that can be and is interpreted by many as favoring normative eugenics:

“One of the most important progressive demands will be to ensure universal access to genetic choice technologies which permit parents to guarantee their children biological capacities equal to those of other children.”

Riccardo Campa, founder of the Italian Transhumanist Association, is on record on the wta-talk list as praising a fellow Italian transhumanist simply because he approves of eugenics. What is troubling is that transhumanism is (supposedly) quite popular in Italy but, as far as I know, Campa never uses the adjective “liberal” when discussing eugenics...

So it seems that transhumanists, such as yourself, protest too much when they are criticized for promoting eugenics...

Dale Carrico said...

RCD: See Eugenics and the Demigration of Consent.

You should know that Prisco will be unable to engage with you directly here in response to your points since I am now deleting all his comments to the Moot unread.

Unless he is literally one of the most stupid people drawing breath on this earth (given his futurological predilections one cannot rule this out), he is not actually ignorant of my positions on these question -- however strident are his demands for "clarifications," however cartoonish are his misrepresentations of my views -- since he and I have had numerous joyless endlessly elaborated exchanges on these questions already over the years.

I've given up on him, but if you have not I recommend you try to find whatever he is calling his blog these days to continue the conversation there. Like most transhumanists -- er, "humanity-plustrons," er, "technoprogressives" -- Prisco is big on recycling and repacking his endlessly failed and falsified notions to bamboozle the next line of rubes.