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

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Escapism Is Neither Progressive Nor Practical

My partner Eric fighting the good fight over on dKos, writes:
There is no "elsewhere" -- We can't live on any other known planet. To say that we'll find a suitable planet AND the means to reach it in mass AND the means to effectively colonize it within under 200 years is much more far-fetched than applying that effort to not destroying the one we have now.
When someone earlier in the thread very sensibly pointed out that pretending libertopian libertechian for-profit space escape hatches and geo-engineering boondoggles constitute any kind of serious environmentalist politics (rather than just another form of what I have called corporate-military greenwashing) is even more foolish than Elon Musk pretending high orbit low-gravity amusement park rides for the superrich constitute any kind of serious space program. This looked to me to be nothing more than a bit of modest but necessary corrective to the prevailing reactionary neoliberal techno-triumphalism such tech-inflected discussions of environmental issues tend to inspire in liberal spaces like dKos, TPM, HuffPo, and so on. I will add that this prevailing techno-triumphalism opens onto forms of techno-theology, pseudo-science, and plutocratic complacency to which liberals are now paradoxically more prone than many of them have become other variations of fundamentalist faith and plutocratic self-congratulation in part precisely because of their contemporary positioning as liberals against conservative anti-science religious fundamentalisms in education and drug policy contexts and pseudo-scientific corporate-spin doctoring in medical and environmental policy contexts. Anyway, in response to the sensible call to caution and skepticism of corporate-military cheerleaders a put-upon techno-progressive (who no doubt fancies himself a Brite Green techno-ecologist rather than a White-Greenwash techno-apologist) snarked: "Since mankind has < 200 years left to colonize elsewhere than a deliberately destroyed planet... what is your suggestion for survival? Go underground and survive in the dank bowels of the earth???? ... At what point in time do we begin the efforts to lift off in "personed spaceflight" as Stephen Hawking says and viably consider life elsewhere... with less than 200 years to go?" It was to this exercise in patent wish-fulfillment fantasizing and sad acquiescence to needless self-destruction masquerading as hard-boiled "realism" and transhumanoid "activism" that Eric offered his reminder that we must save ourselves and that this planet we are destroying is our indispensable partner in that effort. (Annalee Newitz would do well to remember this as well as she proposes in her new book the same sort of reactionary techno-escapism and hence suicidal capitulation as if it were some kind of daring progressive activism -- for shame!)

1 comment:

jimf said...

> At what point in time do we begin the efforts to lift off
> in "personed spaceflight" as Stephen Hawking says and viably
> consider life elsewhere... with less than 200 years to go?

Cf. _When Worlds Collide_?
( )

Hey, they had a lot fewer than 200 years in the novel!

"Governments are skeptical, but the scientists persist. . ."